The staff is bored, disinterested, and sometimes outright mean. I don't drive by the crosswalk on my way to school, however the crosswalk guard just came up to me in a fury, screaming at me that I did not see her. Even if it was my fault, she should not have screamed at me in front of my child. This does not set a good example.
I am not impressed with the Lake Washington School District. My daughter went up to fourth grade at Sunny Hills. The district website said she could finish out the fifth grade there, but the mean woman in charge refused to honor their policy. So, she ended up here. They have nothing special for the fifth graders - Sunny Hills offers a fifth grade trip, pioneer day picnic, lots of great activities and parent involvement as well as a fun fair. The only activities Samantha Smith has emailed me about are things to raise money for the school. She doesn't care for the curriculum, or the teacher. I'm not impressed with the curriculum. They don't have to do any reports in front of the class. And the staff at the school in general are not very nice. The crossing guards are rude, the office staff is rather stiff - and I always feel like they are rushing me out. The only nice thing is the nurse. I wish she had never gone here.
My kid had been with Smith's Quest program, and the experience had been great! The main classroom teachers are experienced and skilled in both challenging and encouraging students. They did good job in organizing and adding interesting spins to a rigor academic program...we are happy to see our kid matured over years in taking on more and more challenging school work, and yet still happy to go to school every day. Extra-curriculums are also good...library and music teacher are excellent and loved by kids. The end-of-year music concerts have always been a high-note and memorable moment for many. Very good students and parents involvement too...
The academic rigor with new curriculum for 2013/14 is great, BUT there is lack of consistency with teachers understanding and articulating the grading in the new system. Also teachers are not responsive to parents and when this issue comes up, the school protects the teachers not the parents (makes it hard to advocate for your child). Wish they encouraged more of an open communication partnership with teachers and parents.
Curriculum is strong so my kid does not get bored, and that's a good thing. Teachers are nice, lots and lots of after school programs. On the negative side, way too much parental involvement. Helicopter parents doing everything not just for their kids but instead of them. Herding and protecting them as if they never need to get independent .
I agree with the comment about the Kindergarten program not being challenging enough for many students. I'd expand this remark to include the first grade program also. Otherwise, we're pretty happy with the upper grade programs.
I cannot say enough good things about Samantha Smith Elementary. This school has experienced teachers and staff with a true focus on how students learn individually. The PTSA is strong and the after-school activities offer a wide range of interests and arts. Fantastic!