This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Sangster Elementary School4
Posted July 26, 2014
- a community member
I had a great experience at Sangster this last year. I come from a military family, and spent 6th grade at Sangster. I had an awesome bunch of teachers. We had some homework, although not a lot. We had fun while still learning. Some of the kids were great people, and I couldn't be more happy with the friends I made this year. Specials were amazing, and I couldn't have been more happy about how the year turned out. But, I give Sangster 4 stars. My gripes are in Musical Theater and the sever GT and Gen Ed division. In theater, everyone who tried out had to get a part, so it turned into 65 kids on a small stage. Also, a lot of people with amazing voices got put in extras, and only her favorites got leads. Some of them had good voices and some there were people with not so good voices. Another thing, the person running it had no control over the kids. Everyone talked and talked, even while others were preforming. And the GT Gen ED division was terrible. There was no real social interaction, and one thought that the other was snobbish and rude, or know it all's and dumb. It was not true in anyway, as both had good people. Overall, it was a good school, but some things could be better.
We are a military family transferred to northern Virginia. Sangster is it is a typical southern school. The Fairfax County Public School system as latched on to the Common Core fad where profiteering belies education. Typical of Virginia schools, we were met by the "sorting hat" for pigeon-holing based on some nebulous criteria. Students in this school are either college bound or McDonald's bound; there is no middle. Students are either taught critical thinking skills, or fantastic regurgitation skills. I've never encountered a more scripted curriculum than at Sangster. Students who are not deemed college material are discouraged from thinking outside the box (it interferes with the script). The grading system is as cryptic as a Nostradamus prophecy; students are graded 4,3,2, or 1 in two areas - academic performance and "effort." Academic performance is based what you would expect - graded tests, papers, and homework. Effort considers subjective factors like academic endurance, group dynamics, and personality traits such as introversion and eye contact. Applying for advanced placement programs is worse than filing taxes. We'll be glad when this assignment is over!
Good school. High academic standards. Impressive counseling program. Very engaged and helpful to students and parents. Most teachers huddle in groups to gab while bullying and other rude behavior between the kids occurs outside. Unbalanced tech program. Gen Ed kids don't have the same access as GT kids. Parents are generally split on new principal and assistant principal. They are doing a good job implementing new behavior program inside school for being quiet in line, etc. I wish it extended to being kind to others, sharing, being friendly, etc. Principal hired a lot of parents and other inexperienced teachers. PTA can be exclusive. Anyone can join but leadership positions and choice of programs are pushed through by new president who frequently gossips with parents and administrators. She literally laughed at a parent giving an opinion during a PTA meeting. Very different from previous years. A lot of parent involvement during the school day. Not a very culturally sensitive school that doesn't seem like a priority. Nice emphasis on exercise and healthy eating. Great library, music, art and PE programs.
This is a huge elementary school with tremendous parental involvement. This is our first year at this school and overall have been happy with it. Our child's main teacher is responsive and dedicated. There are always instructional aides in and out of the classroom for extra help and supervision. There is a lot of team teaching which is a great concept but there is a lack of communication with the non homeroom teacher. Academically, for our child the work is rather easy and it would be nice to see her more challenged in the core subjects. I am not thrilled with the language arts program but that seems to be a county guideline not school specific. There is a heavy focus on preparing for the SOL testing this time of year. I think time could be bette than on test taking but that seems to be the way of the world now. The music teacher my child has Ms. R seems to be really great too. My child seems to enjoy art, library and sometimes PE as well.
Our family thinks that the last review is atypical. The Sangster community is a grounded, middle-class bedroom community with friendly families, many of whom work for the military or government. In Fairfax County, there are snobby, exclusive, name-dropping, competitive communities, but these communities are NOT located in Springfield or Burke, which is precisely why my family relocated here (I grew up in the FCPS system and then moved quite a bit). Sangster is very welcoming and helpful to new families. Many students who have voluntarily transferred here from other local schools are very satisfied with the switch. Based on personal experience, the satisfaction of our kids, and the experiences of the other families in this community who we've known over the past eight years, Sangster is a fantastic elementary school. The teachers are kind and helpful. The academics are challenging. The homework is fair and does not burn out the students. We agree with the majority of reviewers who think Sangster is a wonderful school in a down-to-earth neighborhood with tremendous opportunities for kids both in the school and within the community.
We moved to the Fairfax system and the Sangster catchment area on the strength of its profile. We are ready to move just about anywhere but here. What the scores don't tell you is that the parents are competitive, materialistic and exclusive snobs who breed competitive, materialistic and exclusive children. Parents with children who have trouble adapting to the unwelcoming environment are told their kids are the ones with the problems. They shunt them into useless "lunch bunch" support groups or recommend professional counseling rather than admit that perhaps they are not creating a welcoming environment. The kids, who were happy and well-adjusted before, are now miserable. Be aware if this if moving here.
Sangster is a great school! I have 2 kids at Sangster and they are happy and challenged. The school has a new young principal - he is available to students and parents and on the cutting edge. The class size is larger than I would like but that seems to be an issue across the county. I am very happy with the atmosphere of the school - a wonderful place to be. On a side note - the new young principal could be a J. Crew Model!
Two years ago, I would have rated this school a 3-star based on agreement with the two 2010 posts (and the previous principal's over-interest on non-educational issues). The new principal (Chris Summers) seems to have better interest in parent involvement/support (not defensive/paranoid/interested in gossip-y issues like his predessor). And more importantly that frees up his time to focus on what's important: all the kid's education and the best tools possible for the teachers to succeed. Under his leadership, we fully expect the PTA to grow as well. Not important to us but may be to others: Sangster lost some sort of AAP rating this past summer (where as Hunt Valley got theirs)-- they got below passing score on their advanced academics programs.
I am very happy with the school. I have a 2nd grader in Sangster right now. This school has the best SACC (School Age Child Care) staffs. As a working mom I really appreciate it. PTA is very active. But, the school still offers half day kindergarten.
As a parent of two kids in 4th and 6th grade, who both started at Sangster, this has been a wonderful experience that I wish all family could have. Principal pretty much knows all kids by name as she greets them when they leave for the weekend on Fridays. Mrs Kinsey even finds time to teach math to younger kids. Teachers have all been wonderful, and they have caring counselors, like Mr Gillum. PTA is active and while we can't compare to other schools, talking to parents from other schools gives us an idea that we have simply been blessed with a "perfect" school.