I couldn't be happier at this school. My child has done so much better this year, not just academically but socially. This school is not strict about unnecessary and petty things, they focus on what's really important and anytime there is a slight issue they will call you and ask you how they can help. They truly care and I recommend Countryside to anyone who wants the best for their child. Specially if their child needs extra help.
There are a lot of really good public schools in the DC area. Compared to that standard, Countryside has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side, we've met some really great families with kids at Countryside; caring, motivated parents who want their kids to do great without putting them in a pressure cooker (like many schools in this area). I adore a lot of the parents at this school. We've had mixed experiences with the teachers - we've had great ones and ok ones. None that were bad. We've had one or two that weren't a good fit for one of my children, but generally the teachers put a lot of effort into placing kids with someone who is a good fit. The office is well run. We've had great experiences with the school nurse. Our biggest complaint has been with the principal. He seems to spend a fair amount of time hanging out around the students, but makes very little effort to have an impact on their education. He seems to want all children to fit into a one-size-fits-all program and doesn't like anyone who stands out as different. As long as everyone is behaving and doing ok on their SOLs, he doesn't seem interested in whether or not learning is taking place.
The new Principal has been here a few years now and the change is palpable. The good teachers/staff are moving on fast whilst the others are hanging in, barely. Doesn't seem like there is much support. He is slowly whittling away at the fun and personality of the school. No santa at the Winter Bazaar after ALWAYS having one, no input when in years past parents were asked to fill out info at the end of the year to explain what the children's strengths and weaknesses are for placement the following year. The method seems to be just silently taking things away and hope the parents and staff don't notice. It's sad to see.
Two years ago a new principal took over and he has made some disturbing changes. First he took away the school's fun Friday which upset numerous parents. This incentive helped to promote the positive behavioral system by allowing students to earn free time for fun on Friday afternoons. The great thing was that in the system students who needed additional help or didn't finish assignments were excluded, a built in positive consequence. Now the motivation seems to be "earn stuff" which isn't as effective since this doesn't motivate all children and creates the "what is in it for me" mentality in some. A more disturbing change is the tranasparency-- or lack there of. Don't expect to know what is going on in the classroom-- their idea of communication may differ from yours. Parents are not encouraged to see what is going on in the school or classroom, infact your pressence in the classroom is often discouraged. The amount of transperancy when volunteering is controlled by the teacher (some are fantastic and still appreciate parent involvement)often parents are given busy work such as coppies to keep them out of the classroom. BTW,the principal is not open to constructive feedback.
I wish I knew what was going on more in the classroom, get emails from the PTA, get phone recordings from the principal, but nothing from the teacher. I have no idea what is going on in the classroom, sometimes I ask my daughter but she is 5 and doesn't say much. My friends daughter at another county school gets a weekly letter of what is being done and what is going to be done. I would love to know what they are doing so I can work on at home as well.
My daughter was in Ms Peaks class and I love it, she took her under her wings and gave her the push she needed to understand more when she reads and comprehend what she reads, I love and appreciate her for that. Other than that I really did not care too much for the school, I have a son there and observed a teacher constantly calling his name when something is going on behind her and not even looking to see the problem she automatically called my sons name, not sure what that was about, I do not like that fact that you cannot just come in to observe your child in their classroom, especially when they are saying that he or she is not paying attention and not focusing on what they are suppose to be doing in class, and they keep you in the dark about the lessons they are teaching not having the slightest idea of what the teachers are doing in the class, when you can go over it with your child, and by the look of the SOL scores maybe if they gave us the chance to go over the work as well, then their test scores would be better and the SOL's would be better........... 5 Stars for teachers is for Ms Peak