This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
National Cathedral School5
Posted March 12, 2014
- a parent
My daughter attended NCS and loved it. She learned to speak French fluently, play the piano, row crew, sing in a choir, and compete, yes compete. There is nothing wrong with that word! She went to a top ivy league university and a top ivy graduate school program, never distracted by wondering whether she was "good enough." I love this school and all it did for my daughter. It was truly the smartest decision my husband and I ever made.
I attended NCS over a decade ago. I had only one average teacher as a lifer there which I consider to be pretty amazing. It was a hard school back then and they demanded excellence on a daily basis. You could never get away with a second rate effort which I think was a difficult, but powerful lesson in life. Amazing things happen when you expect a lot from students. It was never about memorization, but about applying what you have learned in new ways. The test were designed to keep you on your toes. press you for time and make you good at producing excellent work under pressure. It's not everybody's cup of tea...but it was mazing to be in a place where the standards were so high for so many years. We were also encouraged to use our voice and be opinionated. Without a doubt my 60 classmates were all inspiring in their own way. I'm thankful for my time at NCS. It was tough, but I'm thankful.
National Cathedral school is a challenging school. I have a few children there but also children in the public school system. One of my children would not have survived the academic challenges of NCS. She does best in the easy public schools. Do not think that just because your child has straight As in the public school that that child will do well at NCS. You are wrong. Trust me. The children learn a lot. Grades are NOT inflated. My children spend most of their time studying. Lunch is amazing. Children who are not doing well leave the school. Many high achieving parents are not happy with one A, one B and the rest Cs. We have had friends leave for that reason (more than one) One went to another private school and three went to public schools. The teachers are excellent this year. You can always email and call and hear back the same day. This is what I don't like about NCS 1. The school year is too short (DC does it better) 2. School day is too long. 3. There are not enough math levels in lower and middle school. 4. Too much chorus, and it is theoretic. 5.If you ever complain about a teacher, remember, the faculty supports each other (just like in the public schools)
Leaving at the end of this year. The teachers are not at all what you would expect. Anyone considering this school should check the number of high schoolers who leave the school (like us). Obviously that is not a decision undertaken lightly. When you have ten students leave at the end of 9th grade, there's a problem. A HUGE problem. Much better schools in the area. Until the present administration is gone and the focus is on education again, forget this one.
My daughter is in her second year at NCS. If I had to summarize NCS, I would say it is the best education that money can buy. It literally, is impossible to not get a great education. The teachers are always good, and some are great. I don't want to attack anyone else's opinion or motivation for posting, but the negative experiences some recount, I have not seen. When I bring up my daughter's challenges to this school, they care deeply. The administration is first rate. I don't know the headmaster, and I am not anyone important. The one cautionary thing I would say, is this school is about educational excellence. If you are going for any other reason, this school may not be for you. It is harder than any school I have seen. But this school cares, and you should not listen to anyone that says otherwise, it is just not true. The great majority of parents I have spoken to are highly satisfied with the school.
IThe atmosphere is toxic. Very few girls in my daughter's class were happy by 11th or 12th grade. The problem at NCS is that the administration just doesn't care about the emotional well being of the students. The head is completely disengaged from the life of the school. The culture of the place is cold and competitive. If a girl has any issues, the administration's view is that she can't cut it and the other girls see any weakness as an opportunity to have one less girl to compete against. My daughter was a top student and hated being surrounded by girls who just wanted to check off the right boxes to get into the right college. She hated the fact that love of learning fell by the wayside. She hated the way girls could treat others so badly without anyone stepping in, standing up for a girl who is being victimized. (Fellow students and administrators). They give you the idea that this is somehow THE BEST school but there are so many others that engage and challenge girls, and teach them to care for each other. Stay away. You may think it will be different for you. I did and i was so wrong. Worst parenting decision I made.
Don't be fooled by the money at this school. It is NOT the school is used to be and does not deserve the reputation it once did. We changed schools because the high school is run by administrators and teachers who do not care about education or students. They care about money, elitism and power. We were shocked at the behavior we witnessed (by teachers and administrators) and there is no accountability since the Head of School is only interested in raising money. There is no, repeat NO, integrity at this school and the quality of education is not close to top level. The school needs a massive shake up before it can begin to compete with the other excellent schools in the area. Old or experienced teachers leave and young, frightened, and cowed teachers are hired. The girls suffer. Also--everyone knows the glowing reports written on this page were done as damage control by the admin. They are very worried about their reputation and think faking great reports will fool the public.
I love my school, and I feel like I need to give a present-day student's POV. Looking through here, the main complaints I see are: You have to be DC elite: My mom is a middle school teacher and I've had no problem making friends. Nobody cares how much money you have. I don't even know what my friends' parents do for a living. Nobody asks, because nobody cares about status. Simply if you're friendly, kind, and outgoing, people will like you. You only memorize: If you're a procrastinator who hasn't been constantly studying for a test. If you procrastinate, you'll likely find yourself cramming and memorizing instead of learning. Yet in the classroom, we're challenged to question & voice our ideas, as long as we have solid evidence. Teachers/admin don't care about the students, only reputation: This is just not true. Our mental health is placed before all else & every teacher is totally understanding if we need to reschedule a test or step out of the room. They're aware of the sometimes-stressful atmosphere, & they do their best to make sure we're not overwhelmed. The people saying otherwise are probably just bitter. No student I know feels that way.
I have strong feelings about NCS. I attended many years ago and, while I found it very difficult, the teachers worked very hard to get me up to speed. I owe a great deal in my life to having had the privilege of going to NCS. My sister also attended and has been tremendously successful in her very technical field, which she loves. A number of years ago I sent my daughter to NCS for 4-6 grades. Unfortunately, she has a chronic illness and struggled terribly. The teachers and the administration were excellent; nurturing, incredibly patient, and really first rate, in the face of a very challenging situation. NCS is a very competitive school and the parents send their children there to succeed, so be mindful that not every girl will be at the top of the class, and the focus is on academics, rather than happiness. However, the hard work will be certain to pay off in the long run, and I have never met an NCS graduate I did not find interesting and very intelligent.
From a 2011 parent. Wonderful school, but not for everyone. My daughter thrived, but she was very social, smart and driven. If I had another daughter, I would think long and hard about sending here there, because the same place might not be right for her. We are upper middle class, but by no means rich. There are plenty of "it" girls who do not come from the Washington elite.