This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
St. Albans School5
Posted January 27, 2015
- a parent
What to say about St. Albans? It is a truly exceptional academic environment for young men. Our son graduated several years ago. He was not one of the "best and brightest," which can be a challenge, but, he had a strong sense of himself in in a highly competitive environment filled with accomplished young men. St. Albans is not for everyone. It requires an odd combination of personal intensity, steadiness, capacity and tranquility. The school possesses one of the most gifted and engaging group of teachers within it's lower and upper schools - ready to assist and ready to acknowledge the individual talents in all. We found that the school lives its credo, unlike others. Although St. Albans is not immune to many of the shenanigans of many city schools, there is honor, wisdom, kindness and integrity at the school that is unique. They work hard to develop young men of character and, in our son's case, they assisted us in instilling and evoking those important values.
This is a school that knows who it is, what it values, and how to produce a top-notch citizen. St. Albans is highly academic, fun, supportive and puts a HUGE emphasis on character. My son struggled, succeeded, persevered, and grew into a young man who knows how to "take the hard right over the easy wrong." He's a hard worker, generous, empathetic, and eager to fight injustice. Thank you Saint Albans teachers and staff!
St. Albans takes ordinary boys and makes them extraordinary. The teaching is top notch, and the schools academic reputation precedes them. In Washington D.C. (the most competitive district when it comes to national academic honors), 21 of the 48 presidential scholars (the most prestigious academic award in the country) have graduated from STA. Unlike what other reviews have said, the school will not bend on a whim to the demands of the richer students or parents. The administration focuses solely on providing the best education, both physical and intellectual for its students. If your son is willing to buy into the values that STA is trying to teach him, such as: hard work, brotherhood, an appreciation for religion and excellence in all endeavors, then this is the place for your son. Because STA will take your son and push him until he achieves his maximum potential. And then some more. The relationship between the boys is also one that you will not find anywhere else in the world. The moment you cross the threshold, you are surrounded by brothers, brothers who you will remain close to for the rest of your life.
Like many elite private school in the metro area SA is a WASP stronghold where social connections, family status and grade grubbing rule the day. The school suffers from a toxic level of conformity and preppiness. As a former teacher, I truly fear for students who don't fit the elite mold. The psychological damage rendered to them by their peer group borders on the immoral and is a perennial problem the administration does its best to ignore.
St Albans has many of the strengths of a british boarding school (elite student population, uniforms, excellent sports, challenging academics) and many of the weaknesses (competitive, even rough student inter dynamics, inflexibility ,and emphasis on tradition and form over substance. The school that is curriculum centric, not child centric. They treat every child the same and they must adapt to the STA way. If you have a hyperlexic, self starting child who would do well anywhere and needs a challenge, this may be your place. If you have a brilliant, out of the box thinker, he will be forced to conform.. If your son has academic strengths and weaknesses, do not expect help. Their response ids likely to be get him a tutor.even at $35K per year..Unlike peers, there is no full time staff in learning alternatives or accommodations. Some teachers are amazing and sensitive, others are subject matter experts with no training in child development The primary approach to teaching is "drill and kill" - rote learning and testing. Few assignments are genuinely creative. Many are tedious and time intensive. Other schools deliver equally strong results without sacrificing a boy's childhood.
St. Albans' great reputation and past history unfortunately do not match up with the current school. The campus and new buildings are very impressive. However, this is a school for the very studious self-learner or for the very wealthy family who can afford tutoring. The emphasis on money and competition (both social and academic) is both stressful and destructive. For the top 10% of the class, the school provides copious praise and support. For the remaining 90% of students, you just have to cope with the heirarchy. It is not an enviromnet that fosters self confidence or outward thinking for most of its students.
Saint Albans was the best decision our family has ever made for our son. He entered the upper school from what would be considered a non-tradtional background of the Fairfax Public School System. At Saint Albans he learned quickly that hard work and talent does not guarantee success. He learned that by working hard, by managing his time well and by engaging his teachers respectfully there would always be some academic, cultural or athletic activity where he could feel accomplished and welcome. Saint Albans was a very rigorous and challenging environment for our whole family. Fortunately for the students attending the school does not strive to be everything for all students. I guess that anyone that has chosen a new school has hopefully made the appropriate correction for their particular student. Saint Albans was and will continue to be the most appropriate and cherished decision our family has ever made.