This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
John Stanford International Elementary School1
Posted April 21, 2014
- a parent
We have had two different students in two different schools, and while we were really excited to get our son into their immersion program, everything else about the school has been a disappointment. The academics vary greatly depending on the teacher, and the community is extremely cliquish. If you are not part of the inner circle of the PTA, you don't exist and do not matter, until they need money for the annual fund. The administration has been cold and often unreachable, while the staff can be rude and downright nasty. I've even had the scare of my child being lost or sent home on the wrong bus on more than one occasion, with not so much as an apology afterwards. I've wanted to move my son, but he does love his friends and prefers to stay, so for now I just have to be extra vigilant. If language is not an imperative, there are better schools close by.
Our experience with two kids here has not been great. Because immersion is only half the day and students change classes, the teachers are overwhelmed with their student load of up to 54 kids. I am not sure why any experienced teacher would want this job on the English side. There does not seem to be special training for new immersion teachers. Instruction in reading and writing (in English much less the L2) has been weak. Some teachers are very strong, others struggle. Some students learn the language pretty well. Others do not. Oh, and nearly every child I know here has tutoring outside of school either for needed enrichment or needed remediation. I used to be a fan of immersion education, but as it is executed in Seattle, I don't think it's worth what is lost. It is ironic that this school is so sought after. Believe me, it's not worth buying an overpriced house to send your kid here.
JSIS is a warm and welcoming community with very involved parents. The teachers are highly committed and wonderful. The immersion program is a highlight. The new principal is energetic and highly engaged. Overall, we feel quite lucky to be in this school.
I am sorry to say I am somehow disappointed with our experience at JSIS. While some teachers are outstanding some others are not, but I understand that is a fact of life. The principal Miss Alvarez does not seem to be available, it is the vice principal that usually meets with parents when we have concerns. As PTSA board member I am well informed of the school "going ons" but do not believe there is a strong sense of community like other people think. Regarding the language immersion aspect of the program, I can say it is wonderful to see children learn math and science in a foreign language but this DOES NOT make the fluent speakers. I recently realized (from speaking with my child's classmates during a playdate) that none of them spoke their foreign language at a level I would expect from students being immersed" for the last 5 plus years (my child is in 5th grade, and a native speaker). I came to the realization the program does not teach any grammar or sentence structure, so kids always speak in the third person. Finally, the "international school" label is misleading. There are just a handful of "heritage speakers" attending the school. Diversity is slim.
My daughter attended this school for three years. Simply put, their program did not work for her. I had to pull her out of this school. She needed more phonics. Also the classroom sizes have grown to big at this school - around 31 per class. And the teachers always seem overwhelmed.
I find that principle to be unavailable and close minded. I don't feel that parents are given the respect of deserved. While the school does have a good reputation, I hope the management can become less focused on himself and more focused on the people.
John Stanford is struggling a bit under the new student assignment plan to accommodate all the students in the neighborhood. There were close to 90 Kindergarteners last year and 100 KIndergarteners this year. The school will rapidly be struggling with serious capacity issues if the district doesn't make some adjustments soon. The school offers a great program with a strong teaching staff and excellent, supportive principal. The high quality exacerbates the crowding issues as parents move into the area to gain access. The parent community is friendly and strong, but the diversity of the student body is rapidly dropping as the English Language Learners are being moved out to accommodate the neighborhood kids.
JSIS is a language immersion school that offers either Spanish or Japanese Immersion. Students complete 5th grade being fairly fluent in their chosen language. They have an international outlook on the world and are accepting of all cultures. It is an amazing place to be!