Great neighborhood school that is a true gem! My daughter is in kindergarten. She has flourished in both reading and math. In fact, she is now above grade level. Her teacher is very vested as well as the school community. There is also good parent involvement. I'm excited to see what lays ahead.
This is definitely a rising school. The new principal (Vroman) is very engaged and enthusiastic. The school has created some new programs in aftercare for a fee (karate and yoga once a week). The culture of the school is very positive and the children are very respectful and kind to each other. It definitely feels like a family community and there's a lot of school spirit. The preschool classes are amazing and the teachers are so enthusiastic and well-trained. I'm very happy my child is there and it's great to be a part of the school and the neighborhood. There's still some work to do regarding renovation, and I'm not sure if the school will be academically challenging enough as we get to the higher grades, but for now it's great. I really hope to see the test scores of this school rise in a couple of years.
Teachers are professionals and should be treated as such. However, in this environment that seldom occurs. Teachers are treated worse than the children. A good leader knows how to command respect and attention from the people their subordinates. However, the principal at this school does not fit the definition of a good leader. She yells at and demeans staff on a consistent basis creating an untenable work environment.
The teachers at this school work extremely hard for their students. They will do anything for the students as long as it is in their power. They will buy food for children who are hungry, stay late to help students among a host of other things.
Overall, we're happy with the school. We had a couple of concerns going in that turned out to be no big deal. First, we were concerned about how the middle school grade kids would be around the early childhood kids. It turns out that they're almost never around each other because of the way the school is laid out. And when they are, the middle school kids are really great - like in mentor programs. Second, we were concerned about the "open classroom" layout, until we saw the school in action. The classrooms are set apart from each other, just not completely closed off. But the noise levels are fine, and don't seem to be a distraction from classes. I think any other issues we've had have been pretty routine, and the school has been good about working with us. I also get a great feeling from the other parents - it's a really nice / genuine vibe.
In terms of the good, aside from a few favorite teachers that have left over the years, I have had a positive experience with early childhood at West. I get the sense that most of the posters preceding me can echo this sentiment. The teachers and aides work hard, and the specials teachers are great. In the early years, I do appreciate the smaller community feeling. In terms of the bad: I think that the previous posts match many of the conclusions that I've come to when it comes to staff turnover. For 2013, the DCPS site says that only 3/4 of the school's "effective teachers remained, well below even the DCPS average. Add teachers in the developing range of the district's (imo flawed) rating system, and it's easy to believe that nearly half of the staff chose to leave. A look at West s site confirmed to me that this year saw new faces for PK3, K, 4, 5, 6, and 4/5 middle school teachers. The principal has enthusiasm, but I also know that leadership means inspiring and developing your team. While I really want West to succeed and grow, I can't ignore the fact that this reality troubles me as I consider my family's future with the school beyond the primary years.
One of the things I love about West is that it IS a small school. Even though my son is in kindergarten, all of the teachers know him and interact with him. Principal Caruthers is incredibly energetic, and she sets a great tone for the school. We have a wonderful art teacher. And, our current PSCO leadership is doing great things for the school. West very much has a "family" feeling to it and that makes it a great place to be.