The state of the theory unfortunately favors the side of those imagining stressed out caffeine junkies in 3rd-grade bodies. While I don't want my son troubling over calculus in elementary school, I'd like him to have some reinforcement at home to continue yesterday's discussion into tomorrow's class session.
There is lots of personal attention and feedback for kids and parents. My son started off as kind of a 'rascal' and we had plenty of opportunity to straighten things out at home and set him up for success at school. Additionally, there is a very broad cultural array of students and families, giving my son a much better base for developing fewer racial/cultural biases than I was able to enjoy.
We have two kids at the school, and are very happy with their experience. The overall tenure hasn't been optimal, but that's more a function of the school district's bumbling.
To counter some of the comments here, for those considering moving to the area, if the school has its ups and downs, it's definitely in an "up" phase. With a new school in the neighboring assignment area (Fairmount Park), the class sizes are optimal and the teacher roster is top-notch. Our son is in his third year there and our daughter just started kindergarten, and I don't know what else they could possibly be doing for us that isn't already happening. I'm the proud parent of a boy who is off the end of the reading and math charts in 2nd grade, where he entered the school completely unable to do anything but identify letters and count on his hands. Contradicting another review, roughly 10% of the input on the school is a spiteful parent, angry that the school didn't close for the Seahawks parade.
Additionally, the school has an excellent independently-run daycare/pre-school that is in the annex of the school. There are separate areas for younger and older students, and the before/after school care extends to the cafeteria for the really older students. Both of our children went there from ages 3 to their current grades. They are flexible and helpful to accommodate busy parents' schedules.
Where I'll concede to some of the not-positive feedback, it doesn't have special facilities for those on either end of the academic continuum. There are programs to cover those on the fringe of either gifted or special-needs accommodation, but those with more involved needs would likely have to relocate. Luckily, for West Seattle, we have schools that specialize for all kinds of needs.
We're really happy. Nice community, great staff, nice kids, and good policy. If you don't like this school, you won't find anything better elsewhere, as it's the district's terrible management that makes anything sub-awesome here.
My daughter graduated from Gatewood in 2012. She is now in an awesome private middle school - near the top of her class. We were very very impressed with Gatewood. It has excellent leadership, staff and a strong parent community that supports it. I would agree with critiques in other reviews that the 2-year bands are a good idea that doesn't seem to work out. It never seemed to work out that she had the same teachers 2 years in a row I am a big fan of the staff - and amazed at all they accomplish but the District overcrowded them several years ago. Consequently, the staff seems to have little space for supporting higher-achieving kids. But for a public school, it's great. The emphasis on writing is strong. Math is good. The social environment excellent. I was impressed at the integration of special needs services. They had music and DID have a food PE teacher. I withheld one star for the limitations for achievers. I think it is a district-level issue. But, as I indicated above, our daughter got a scholarship to a private Middle School so it is hard to say her Gatewood education was lacking. Go Gators!
This school has had its ups and downs for years. We had two children there five years ago, and perhaps things have improved, but we were frustrated with lack of challenge for high-performing kids, as well as with lack of staff in areas like art and PE (the school has a great gym that has gone unused without a PE teacher). We were also taken aback to discover that our kids were being used to mentor underperformers from nearby public housing but weren't being coached to their own potential. Which may be why when we moved to another city, our "top performing" kids had some catching up to do. Gatewood does a decent job with a very mixed community, but if the school doesn't do more for its advanced students it will continue to lose them.
My son is in kindergarten at Gatewood. We were originally disappointed that we didn't get into a different school. But we couldn't be happier with Gatewood. The school is a hidden gem with a unique approach that promotes individual attention and challenges each child at their level (rather than an arbitrary one-size-fits-all level). Grades are banded together and team taught. So, K and 1st grade classes are teamed together with two teachers. This allows all kids to know more than one adult in the building well and for them to know each child. It also allows kids to go into different reading and math groups depending on their level. The community is a welcoming, down-to-earth group committed to quality education for all. Our PTA raises money to keep classes sizes smaller and develops after school additional enrichment such as Spanish, sign language, science bloopers, piano, etc.
Gatewood is a very progressive school, using real-life projects to teach kids basic skills and relevant knowledge. It has a very creative approach that engages kids at all levels. It mixes kids from different grades together. Both the faculty and the student body reflects the diverse neighborhood.
This school is great about not letting a child fall behind, or 'hide in the back of the class'. When we moved here at the end of the school year two years ago, I didn't know how much my son was not learning, because he was 'hiding in the back of the class'. He ended up repeating that grade, but I saw a huge improvement over the previous year. If parents are involved in the childs education, teachers will go the extra mile and then some. I was amazed how much just stating my concerns to the teachers during a conference made a difference. Now, because all the teachers in the school know how we expect all of our children to perform grade wise, the teachers are there to keep our three kids at that level. The whole staff is quick to respond to questions either by phone or email.