Beth Hamilton is, quite possibly, a barrier to progress. She doesn't seem like a good listener and spends a lot of time treating parents as adversaries instead of partners which, ultimately, comes at the expense of the students. Surprising that she has managed to be a Principal for so long, really, given how unpopular she is.
The language is all there - kindness, respect, etc., but it feels like a lot of lip service. We were shocked at the Veteran's Day Assembly to see the kids had been asked to learn songs which, literally, glorified raining fire, hell and death upon others. Uhhhh... so much for kindness and respect. We know that war is ugly and our veterans deserve our respect but to have the kids sing songs glorifying it is pretty out of touch.
We have seen a lot of apathy. In one case, we asked for a very, very small thing - to have our teacher ask our child once a week whether they needed help staying organized. Not only did she not do it, she went to the principal, Beth Hamilton, who (shockingly!) told her NOT to help our child. What kind of a teacher goes to the Principal to avoid asking a 30 second question once a week?
We moved into this neighborhood when coming to Seattle from Boston specifically because the school was supposed to be rated highly but we have, unfortunately, been quite disappointed (despite the fact that our child is in the Gifted program). They teach to a curriculum and not the kids and apathy is pervasive. Academics are largely unimaginative (lots of worksheets) and the teachers are not even a little bit interested in getting better at working with individual kids. We get that they have a lot of parents making demands (many of them unreasonable even) but in our case we were willing to do most of the work - we just needed to coordinate with the teacher so we were working off of the same page. No luck - they will not do ANY extra work outside of what is specifically required by the curriculum (even if it doesn't take them any extra time). I am amazed that we spend so much to send our child to a school that is so well-funded only to find that they just DON'T CARE about the kids - they care about their test scores. Parents who complain about recess are not lying - Recess is, point blank, physically dangerous (our child had multiple injuries from getting knocked around by other kids). The first time it happened, we figured it was just kids being kids but now we are at a point where we are wondering where the adults are because it happens so often.
The school does well on test scores because the families make sure their kids get what they need academically. It isn't a reflection of the quality of the school, it is a reflection of the quality of the demographics of the neighborhood. If you are looking for a good EDUCATION, where they care about your child holistically, you will be much better off going to a private school (like Overlake) than going here.
The students are all upper middle class jerks and none of them have any manners to speak of, and are taught that they'll do fine on mommy's/daddy's money and economic boost for the rest of their lives.
As a student, I was consistently bullied by entitled white students for multiple things that I couldn't change (race, height, etc). Teachers were not helpful and I wouldn't get any help on topics I missed when I was in Enrichment class.
I have very mixed feelings about this school. I feel that there is staff who TRULY care about the success of our students and will go the extra mile. And when your child gets one of those teachers - hallelujah. However, the impression given by a good number of teachers is that they chose to work in a school where there are affluent parents who can afford tutoring when the school can't meet their child's needs, and that because there is such high parent involvement, they don't need to go the extra mile for those kids who need it. These teachers seem like they chose this school so they can go home when the bell rings. My child doesn't qualify for gifted but is definitely well above the average. However my child's writing skills, spelling and handwriting have all been overlooked - no one has challenged my child to improve, it's been up to us. Feedback is often limited - and I feel we have to chase it down.
That being said, I do feel that the school does an excellent job in keeping up with the latest technology through the use of district programs, Bellevue School Foundation programs and PTA funding.
I can't speak to the bullying comments as my child has never had such an experience. I know that the school is quite limited in actions due to district rules - but from my friends voicing experiences their children have had, I do think this is an area the school could improve upon.
I must also disagree with those reviewers in regards to the PTA and cliques. Being a PTA member since day one (I'm going on 5 years at this school), I have never felt left out or not welcome. My observation is that it is the same people that step up to help all of the time, hence making it look like there is a clique. It's not - it's just looks that way when the same people are stepping up when no one else will. I am always surprised that out of a school of 550 students (=approx. 1100 parents) that we are begging for volunteers.