It bothers me that the school is overcrowded and it's hard for all children to be taught equally. There are many things talked about with education and learning but getting it done appears not to be happening and maybe that's why they haven't been making their bench mark. Parents and problems are still being dismissed at Keister and at the leadership level it seems they don't have much interest in working hard to meet what is needed.
In some ways i appreciate a de-emphasis on homework, but there could be a little more and it would be perfect. My son, a third grader, has 2 math problems, 10 mins of reading and 2 sentences to summarize what he read.
There is some emphasis to sensitivity towards economically-disadvantaged children. During a book fair, for example, funds were used to ensure that each child in the entire school could go home with one book, regardless of the ability to pay. The school has a large ESL population with 18 languages other than English spoken in the home. There is also a large population of speakers and a dual-immersion program in it's 3rd year. The Administration has shown great leadership in cultural sensitivity. For example, there have been informal evening gatherings with the largest cultural groups to listen to stories and gain cultural understanding. Finally, the 3rd grade team this year has decided to scrap a behavior chart and instead integrate a system of remediation between students. They have talked about empathy and making amends, which I feel has a better connection to real life than stars or colors on a chart.
It's time for a Keister review update as the previous reviews do not reflect my family's experience, nor the experience of the many families we know. The administration of this school is excellent and is not just "warm and caring" but attracts many of the best teachers around. Teachers are nurtured, work in teams, and are encouraged to use best teaching practices rather than focusing on the ever-changing tide regarding high-stakes testing (while completing the necessary steps required legally). It appears, that the teachers thrive and are empowered in this school to teach with the focus on deeper learning. Teachers are happy and teaching, and as a consequence, kids are happy and learning. The dual-immersion program, in it's third year, is very strong, as a result of hiring teachers with experience in addition to being qualified to teach Spanish/English. Keister is also a school with a true "neighborhood" feel and not only focuses on academics, but the individual child as well as the Keister Community. There are 18 languages spoken at Keister, but the school manages to have one voice.
Some of the other ratings are old. My family's experience with Keister allows me to say it is an outstanding elementary school! Other comments refer to over-crowding and a principal who is no longer at the school. Over-crowding is no longer a problem for two reasons; 5th graders now attend middle school (they used to be at Keister) and city-wide there is a slightly lower number of children in the lowest grades. The current principal and leadership at Keister is outstanding. The mission of the school is clearly backed by action and responsiveness to individual students, teachers, staff and the school community as a whole. The school has great scores in regard to testing. But what sets it apart are the many and diverse programs that are not dictated by standardized programs; Keister involves families in every aspect of the school experience; they are attentive to students' needs and are willing to empower teachers. Keister has "walking days" three times a week, when they encourage all children to walk (or bike) to school; bused students walk upon arrival. The school has a garden that students get to work in, and provide food for the cafeteria. A dual immersion language program.
Keister is over crowded, and has really let instruction slip. There is a lot of talk about learning, but not a lot of anything except SOL prep worksheets. A huge disconnect between what gets said and what actually gets done makes it difficult for anyone to change anything.
We are very particular about our kids school. We visited 4 local county and city schools before selecting Keister. We have not been disappointed. The teachers are exceptional. The school uses Singapore math and ISTEM, two evidence based instructional methods. Our children are learning Spanish in the early grades. The testing used by Keister was able to identify gifted abilities in our children. We have been happy with the challenge classes. Many of the parents are educated and/or invested in their child's success. The principal is hands down one of the best leaders I have met. She maintains a presence in the classrooms, considers the needs of the group well and builds an atmosphere of teamwork among teachers/staff/parents. She is truly exceptional. The diversity among the student body is a great benefit.
Though this is an average to good school overall with a number of strong teachers, it has been in a steady decline under the current/new principal (as evidenced by test scores and parent feedback). The principal may be "warm and caring," but shows no leadership or initiative in making the school better and appears to just be riding the school's previous reputation. Keister's ESL and free lunch population is lower than other city schools and it makes less progress with its student population than other schools. Keister's previous principal is now at Spotswood Elem and is making significantly more progress with a more challenging student population. As the 4 star review parent notes, parents and problems are dismissed at Keister and gifted and other programs are all but non-existent. There just seems to be less interest and less hard work at the leadership level at Keister.
Keister has been under the leadership of a new principal for the past 3 years which has caused the school to loose it's excellent reputation. This school has not been good for my child because issues that I present as a parent are not taken seriously. I would not recommend Keister to anyone new moving into the area.