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.
My family has been at West forever - through good and bad. Right now I'm excited to say that we are on a definite upswing. Parental involvement (which is one of the biggest keys to success at any school) is growing rapidly, the curriculum is evolving to exceed standards set nationwide, and the staff are wonderful. I've read through the other reviews, and do see some things that distress me, however I can honestly say that those opinions are the definite minority. I strongly encourage you to come and visit anytime.
West is really a great school. The principal Ms. Caruthers is energetic and pushes to get resources - exactly what you want to see in a DC administrator. The teachers we have had are really amazing - warm and caring, resourceful and smart. Our daughter loves the school. It is truly a great learning environment. To top it off, there is a very involved group of parents who are forming the basis for a really good neighborhood school. We love West.
This is the worst school I have ever worked at. The staff turnover is unreal--over half of the staff last year and the same is slated to happen again this year. The high turnover is due to a toxic work environment which the general community is unaware of because teachers and staff are penalized on their evaluations whenever anyone--downtown or parents--hear anything but that things at West are all rainbows and unicorns.
I live in the neighborhood and was really keen to support a local DCPS but like many, was skeptical about the quality of education and nervous about having our PK3 child with older students. After almost 8 months at school, our son is thriving and I have been impressed by his teachers and the care and interest they have in him and the variety of activities he has been exposed to. The school keeps the little children very separate from the older ones and the older kids I have met have been very respectful and a credit to the school. Principal Caruthers, is really working hard to make the school one of the top elementarys in DC and she has strong support from the staff and parents. The building definitely needs modernizing but the school is working with DC govt to ensure that happens. I would encourage any prospective parent to visit and speak with other parents to see for yourself.
Avoid this school. It's tiny and under resourced. There are no consequences for students that misbehave which is really a shame for the students in the class that want to learn. I wonder if this lack of consequences for students is what makes at least 1 classroom be filled by a long-term substitute every year because teachers quit mid year. Last year it was the 5th grade teacher and this year it's the middle grades mathematics teacher.
West has been a great school for us. We strongly support the Principal and her strong vision and energy. Our child's teachers have been excellent the past three years. We love being able to walk to school and participate in after school activities easily. Our child is thriving there and we are friends with many parents and teachers. Support your local DC Public School- we have a while community working to make West the best it can be!
Our Daughter has attended West for the last four years and I would definitely recommend others consider attending. All of her teachers have been excellent. She has attended the school's aftercare program and they have also helped her develop very well both socially and academically. The principal has vision and the competence to achieve it. The parents are supportive and engaged. I'm looking forward to our child continuing her success after the preparation she is getting here.