As a parent of two children that attended WGS I am surprised by the negative comments about the academic focus for the 2 and 3 year olds children. I felt the instructional material was age appropriate and encouraged self-expression and curiosity. The teachers were loving and concerned about the welfare and safety of the children. The website describes the teachers education and experience, which seemed to me to be more than adequate. I would recommend the school to anyone looking for a great place to start your child's education.
West Ghent School is Norfolk best kept secret. They offer so much for such a small private school. I'm not sure why the previous person posted about staff turnover. Almost all the teachers there right now have been there for six or more years. Their music program is phenomenal. As well as their academics. They start with an awesome curriculum in the two year old class. The kindergarten and first grade even learn German. You must go visit the school. You will be pleasantly surprised.
This school has been around for close to 100 years. The teaching staff is incredible starting from the two year old teachers to the first grade teachers. You won't find more of a devoted staff like these Ladies they are truly genuine people who care and love the children they teach.
My wo little girls went to West Ghent during several years while I was at graduate school at Old Dominion. It was long long time ago but I still have fond memories from that time, with a warm family environment and Michele Burkhart, Sharon Cook and wonderful Laurie Reilly as the best possible teachers.
The best part about WGS are the families that send their kids there. However, staff turnover is high and the 3 year old program is seriously lacking. The children are not encouraged to do their own creative work and its obvious the teachers do the majority of the art work in the 3 year old class. Lots of standing around on the playground by the teachers and little interaction with kids when I did pick up early. There was not much academic focus at all for the 2 year old class and 3 year old class when we were there. Also, the director of the school is harsh with the students as she teaches kdg and 1st, often poking fun of students mistakes. Lots of busy worksheets and less hands on learning in kdg and grade 1. WGS has great field trips and lots of stage performances for show but if you really pull back the curtains the quality of teaching is sub par.
If your child is a perfect princess then they will do well at West Ghent School. If they aren't, then they will look for your child to make mistakes and point it out in front of the other kids. They are nice people who are moms dealing with perfect princesses but were not capable of redirecting for positive situations.
We have been absolutely thrilled with West Ghent School. The teachers and staff are fantastic, they have a separate music teacher who utilizes a piano and other instruments (when so many schools have cut music), they do lots of art and even cooking, and the community of families is incredible--welcoming, social, and supportive. We're a military family that just moved into the area 6 months ago, and WGS has made us feel like we've been here forever and made us feel so welcome. I'm not sure why the previous reviewer said WGS won't honor PCS orders as a reason to stop paying tuition; the registration form specifically says (I'm looking at it as I type and quoting directly) "The parent/guardian agrees to pay tuition for the [academic year] unless the family moves more than 20 miles away." So maybe if you were "PCS'd" in the immediate area and tried to get out mid-year there would be an issue, but I'm not sure why you'd ever do that if you were staying in the area. Just another perspective for anyone considering this school.......we would highly recommend it.
BEWARE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES! The teachers are terrific and the curriculum is fantastic, but the administrators WILL NOT honor a "military clause" for families that have to transfer mid-year. Even if you have PCS orders the school will use legal means to ensure that the full year's tuition is paid. This is an unfortunate philosophy... particularly in a military town such as Norfolk.
This school is absolutely wonderful! My little boy went there for pre-K at 3 and at 4 and has learned so much, really came out of his shy shell, and loved it. The teachers are fantastic, kind, people who care so much. Highly recommend it!