We love this school. The sense of community is maxing, and like no other I have seen in the many, many moves our family has made. The teachers and staff are extremely open and friendly, and most importantly, you can tell they love their jobs. Ms Kimball in the front office is especially wonderful and very warm with both kids and parents. Last year, great schools rated Larchmont a 10 out of 10 and Taylor a 5 out of 10, though this year both are 7s. I doubt that that much has changed in just one year, and feel that Larchmont is closer to that 10. We love it!
Our district is riddled with problems, but LES is a wonderful school. Its location close to ODU and NATO means a culturally diverse student body from all around the world. Chinese is offered as a weekly resource and many of my children's friends are bilingual. With over 500 students, the school only has 3 buses because most of the children live within walking distance. This "neighborhood school" feel is rare in the city and creates a great community feel every morning as families all walk and ride their bikes to campus. The PTA is the most active I've ever seen, offering regular after school enrichment activities and raising money to fill in the gaps with district funding. Such a great environment (and strong parental network) means high teacher retention and quick turnover of not-so-great teachers. On the downside, the building is ancient, some of the grades are over-crowded (we don't get any sympathy from the district), the gifted program is weak (because district standards are so low, a huge percentage of LES kids qualify as "gifted"), and some of my friends with "special needs" kids have been frustrated with the school. Our personal experience, however, has been very positive.
If you have a special needs child, think educational success is more than just high SOL scores, value arts/music/creativity, believe kids should have access to a playground, or have a child who is different in any way this is NOT the school for you. I was repeatedly told my son was getting services when he wasn't. He was also forced to stand against a brick wall at recess most days as punishment for things related to his disability instead of being given help. He was bullied relentlessly and punished when he tried to defend himself. 3 kids told me separately that they could say or do whatever they wanted to him because they knew they wouldn't get in trouble. We are vegetarian; at lunch kids repeatedly shoved meat into his face. A teacher wrote the names of kids who were in danger of failing on the board in front of the whole class, which was denied.The list goes on. He turned into an angry, defensive child, gave up trying in school & came home crying at least once a week.A year later in a private school, he is finally making friends, getting good grades, starting to believe there are teachers who care & will help, & happy. So much for rights to free, appropriate (& safe) education
My three children attended this school for several years but we ultimately became discouraged by the overcrowding, lack of resources and condition of the building. The school is about 25 years beyond the need for a renovation. The class sizes are beyond the max allowed limit and the lunchroom situation is a true shame. My husband and I always wanted to support urban public schools but Larchmont Elementary School does not live up to its prior reputation.
We have had a very positive experience at Larchmont. It is unique as many of the kids walk to this neighborhood school. I believe this fosters a closer community. We've had great teachers and our children have thrived. No school is perfect, and my only issues with the school stem from the school district's heavy emphasis on standardized testing. Overall this school has great teachers, staff, parental involvement, and extracurricular activities. Get involved! There are many opportunities to get involved in the school community at LES and your children will benefit!
We have a 13 yo that graduated from Larchmont and 2 boys still attending. We have had great academic and social experiences every year. The best way to encourage your children to receive a great education is to be involved and show up to volunteer when you are able. The Principal at Larchmont is very encouraging to the teachers and staff, as well as to the PTA. When I have had situations arise that I questioned, I have gone directly to the teacher/and or Principal and they are very willing to help resolve the issue. If you are looking to choose between a public or private school, save your money (or donate it) and send your children to Larchmont.
My child is in 2nd grade at Larchmont, it has been a great year so far. Last year was a different story, but the Guidance and Gifted Resource team helped get through the challenging times and are the best in the district!
My daughter attended LES K-5 (just graduated) and my son is a rising fourth grader who has been there since kindergarten. Overall, we have been very happy with Larchmont. The teachers are caring and committed, parental involvement is encouraged and the learning environment encourages achievement. As a parent of two gifted children, I have been less than thrilled with the school s gifted program (more of an NPS than LES problem), but that does not outweigh the positives of the school. If we could go back in time and choose any school in the Tidewater area, we would still choose Larchmont. The academics are great and the strong sense of community here is priceless. Your children will be smarter and happier for attending LES.