It can be a stressful learning environment unless you are a PTA parent or a PTA parent's child. Otherwise, you may feel afraid to speak up. But the kids are screened and that's one good thing. Maybe when the new school gets built it will be better. It's no private school that's for sure!
My children are all young adults now and the education they all received at KLMS was the best experience they received in education. It was the cornerstone of their education and established relationships with their teachers as mentors . They learned how to think out of the box, be creative, be different, there wasn't just one way of learning that was acceptable and opinions matter. There was an honor code, and that was cool they said. And the respect they had for each other in school was something they learned from their teachers who respected them as individuals.
A one-size fits all approach to gifted education, canned assignments, usually worksheets, and same projects for years. High volume of class work & homework, unnecessary for many students. Most work is not hard, a lot of busy work. It's like an endurance test to see how students perform under those conditions. Pre-screen kids to get the best in the city, so it's shocking all scores aren't in advanced range. Some mandatory SOL prep, back-to-back tests & daily review sheets to complete a few weeks before SOLs, is grueling! Focus is on overall school image, not individual gifted students, who need more than a regular gifted program, progressing. Student athletes are praised. Not all students get all A s, even those who entered with it. Great place if type A or motivated by grades. But, students, who love learning & value free-time, can continue to like learning, but may not continue liking school as much. Parent input is not always welcome, unless for PTA fundraisers, celebrations, etc. No real grading transparency. Well-mannered hard working students, teachers vary on niceness & quality. Managing workload better & positive feedback could improve student morale.
The academic program is intense, and is not for all gifted kids, it is for a certain type of gifted kid. If your child is gifted in all subjects and has little interest in anything but academics, Kemps is the school for your child. If your gifted child is remotely struggling in any subject, and by struggling I mean getting a B, and has an interest in creative activities or sports, Kemps is not for your child, and don't even think about it if your child is twice exceptional. Kemps is excellent at academics, it is not excellent at addressing the social and emotional issues that many gifted children have. Asynchronistic emotional development is common amongst gifted children and neither Kemps nor its feed school ODC has a good program to assist with that. There is a gifted child "mold" that they attempt to squeeze each student into and the children very much feel it in ODC when they don't measure up to the Kemps mold, which can affect their self esteem. Kemps kids may very well be on their way to MIT but I have to wonder about their social adjustment once they leave high school.
Kemps Landing Magnet School is truly the best middle school around. Before going there, I went to private school and actually found the quality of education to be much better at KLMS than at my old school. The teachers are great, and strive to make sure that all the students succeed. 6th grade is normally a struggle for all students, and it is not uncommon to stay up past midnight to finish homework. Despite this, KLMS has an amazing program. Although all sixth graders must take Latin, in seventh and eighth grade they have the opportunity to continue Latin, or start Spanish, French, or Japanese. For math (I'm not sure if they still do this), children who score well on a test were able to learn Algebra I in sixth grade. Overall, the classes really do prepare a child for high school. Parents, take note: do not send your child here simply because he/she is gifted and the school has a good education. Your child needs to be motivated to learn and work hard so that he/she will not fall behind in class, which is an issue that I have observed throughout my years here.
KLMS is an awesome school. The rumors of tons of homework in 6th grade are true. I'm hoping the rumor that homework decreases in 7th & 8th is equally true. My child came from ODC so we knew what to expect but it was still a bit of a transition. Your child must WANT to go to this school. My child has gotten straight A's the first 3 quarters of 6th grade because she wants it but she is stressed out a lot. KLMS definitely stretches her to her maximum potential. Orchestra alone is worth going to this school. Mr. Baird's orchestra program is incredible. My child is flourishing in his class. Even on days when we want to quit, we stay due to the outstanding orchestra program. The pre-algebra teacher is frustrating because she teaches by giving the kids worksheets to figure out instead of working the new concepts with them. The other core teachers are great. Latin teacher is great. Overall, great experience for gifted kids. It's nice that their classmates are all similarly gifted and friendships are easier in this environment for "smart" kids. Parental support is critical for success in 6th grade. I have seen huge strides in organization and work habits this year. Necessary to survive!
My child is happy and finally starting to achieve to the best of their ability. What more can I ask? Having previously been to a school where we felt that our child was not having the chance to reach their full potential - it is reassuring to see them being stretched at KLMS. Whilst not achieving the highest scores in the Grade, I can see growth, both academically and in maturity, and my child is starting to grasp important life skills, such as being proactive, organized, hard working and working smartly. Yes, we have had complaints about the amount of work and grumblings about the odd teacher. However, we know that, as the parent of a new 'middle-schooler', we would see all of those points in any school (and to a point, see it as preparation for adult life). To us, the fact that our child has good friends, is happy, achieving better than ever before and has a positive, well-adjusted outlook, tells me that we have done the right thing. I highly commend this school to you.