Billings is wonderful for our seventh grade daughter. She is inspired by her teachers and loves going to school--not true most years she was in a good suburban school. Some teachers should push her more and others perhaps push a little too hard, but the school provides an environment for students to learn to advocate for themselves. Much depends on the philosophy of the parents and whether it fits with the school's mission. An ideal Billings parent is highly involved with their child's school but shares the belief that handling problems with as little adult help as possible is the way to make a healthy, happy person. Our daughter wants to avoid her weaknesses like most of us. Billings does not let her. She stays challenged on all fronts and has even come away convinced that she is good at phys ed and math after all--a great moment. 5 stars for us.
Our son is in eighth grade this year and is loving it! The past two years at Billings have been outstanding academically, our son has a group of really nice friends, and I have been very impressed with the caring and skill of the teachers. Billings has just expanded and modernized their campus and it has brought a lot of excitement to the kids. When it was time to look at middle schools I was sorry his elementary school didn't go through 8th grade because he was so happy there - now I have the same feeling about Billings. I wish it went through high school (although that would change their whole mission of focusing on middle school-age development) because it has been such a positive experience. It is clear he is going to be well-prepared for high school, but academically and socially. Thanks Billings!
Billings is a fantastic small middle school in Seattle. Located right near Greenlake, the students have many outings, both close as well as many overnight trips each year. Plenty of chances to learn by experiece!
Any parent considering this school will be confused by these reviews: Love and hate are what abound!! Unfortunately, both are true (with little middle ground) for a private school that promotes itself to all comers, but actually best serves a limited few. To be among the 'lovers,' you should be: the parent of a kid with social challenges, not particularly concerned with academics, and ready to step back from involvement in your child's school life. However, if your child has learning challenges, you really want him/her to advance acedemically, you want a relationship with the teachers and admin, and/or if you child might be the victim of bullying: Run, run, run away! It is truely time for the trustees to step up to the plate, table the idea of doubling the size of a school in turmoil, and insist on a thorough examination of real strengths and goals.
Exposure and insight abound! As the parent of an eighth grade student we have been delighted by our son's middle school experience at Billings. The school has exposed him to both variety and rigor in academics as well as offering a diverse set of extra-curricular activities. As a result the staff has tremendous insight into our child's strengths and limitations. This is where we see the impact Billings has had on his development and growth as an adolescent. The teachers are very thoughtful about the curriculum and cross-integrate key concepts into nearly every aspect of learning. We are consistently amazed at how intimately they understand our son and provide feedback about how he can aspire to the next level. 5 stars!
We won't be going back. Terrible experience for us from beginning to end. The administration and many of the staff were unwilling or unable to respond positively to our requests and concerns. Defensiveness often turned to avoidance. Class expectations and assignments seemed all over the map, and there didn't seem to be any coordination between teachers. We also had some safety and social climate concerns. Some people seem to feel good about the 'self-advocacy', but in our experience it was the instant defense to any request, passing responsibility from the school to the student. As many have said, middle school is a transition period. It is not, however, a time to throw up our hands and dump all the responsibility on 12-14 year olds.
I am the parent of an eighth grade girl at Billings and I have to add my enthusiasm for the school to the list. My daughter came to the school as a bright, curious and socially unsure child. Her many fabulous experiences with the extraordinary Billings faculty and the amazing things she has accomplished with her peers have prepared her not just for high school but for life. 'Self Advocacy' is not just a buzzword it is a deep value which when taught allows kids to be who they want to be in relation to their peers and adults. My daughter will be able to ask for what she needs and know how to stand up to people who don't have her best interest at heart. What's more she's had fun and was accepted at all of the high schools she applied to.
We love Billings Middle School!! it is the best three year investment you can make. I am the parent of a sixth grader, as well as an alumna who is off to college this fall. Middle school is the time students begin to exert independence and yes, begin to learn self-advocacy. Billings provides a safe and supportive place to begin learning these skills. There are always adults around to help, but sometimes middle schoolers need to begin to learn this on their own and sometimes there are hard challenges to overcome. There are bright and highly capable students here. Our oldest left Billings ready to enter Integrated Math II, Spanish II, Honors LA, and is ending highschool with Calculus, Adv Physics, AP Spanish, and AP European History. I expect our youngest to be equally prepared, Not every school is right for every kid. Check it out, it is worth your time.
Billings Middle School has been a very expensive mistake for our family. Yes, the teachers are very nice and the kids seem to love all the fun field trips. I would also agree that there are some very nice kids and families here. However, at the high cost of tuition, we expected a lot more. When we interviewed with the Head of School we were impressed by his keen insights into our child's personality, learning style, and academic strengths and weaknesses. We also really liked the school's promise of personal attention and guidance. However, in our experience, this was a promise without much follow through. We found the staff, including teachers and administration very inflexible, and were dismayed by the lack of communication between staff about our child, and felt the communication with parents was especially poor. We,too, have been extremely disappointed
Billings has not been a good experience for our family. We are currently in the 6th grade, and will be returning to public school next year. In reading the recent reviews, I noticed that the highest rankings are from alumni families, while those giving the lowest marks are from current families. Our family is experiencing many of the problems discussed below, including bullying without any effective solutions, defensive teachers and a curriculum that is not integrated and does not show a good understanding of age appropriateness. We feel that our child is falling seriously behind and have hired tutors to prepare our child to re-enter public school. We chose Billings based on impressive marketing materials and convincing conversations with the administrators, but we have not seen much of it in action. When discussing these issues with teachers/admins we hear a lot of understanding, but have not seen follow through. Disappointing.
My older daughter graduated last year from Billings and my younger daughter will attend next year as a freshman... I've continued to volunteer during this past 'gap' year, because Billings is too great a place not to stay involved. One of the best parts of volunteering has been the opportunity to watch the staff work with the kids outside of the classroom. The interactions are skillful -- even masterful -- at creating inclusion for all the diverse students. The teachers know the students inside out after the first few weeks of school, and work carefully together to create a comfortable cohort. My older daughter and 5 of her Billings cohort were accepted by the prestigious Northwest School. Four of these students chose to attend, and all are thriving thanks to the preparation they received at Billings.
I enthusiastically recommend Billings! I am an alumni parent, 2007 & 2008. I can not say enough about what this school did for both of my children. Billings has a strong curriculum, a passion for self advocacy (that I didn't fully understand until they entered high school) and a staff and administration that goes above and beyond the call of duty. While my friends were relating their horror stories of the 'middle school years' we had happy, successful kids. Upon entering middle school, both of my kids suffered from what I call an 'educational lack of self-esteem.' Boy did that disappear quickly! By the way, I am a certified Trainer for the Johnson Institute's No Bullying Program - professionally speaking - this school does all the right things when these problems are brought to their attention. Billings was the best thing we did for our children's education to date!
This is a really great school. My son has a diagnosed language-based learning disability. Billings embraced his learning challenges and helped him figure out how to overcome these. I am thankful for the attention that the teachers devoted to him - I know this has made a difference in who is today. I think the school could improve their communications with parents but I am very happy with the education my son is receiving.
Our son entered Billings with all of the trepidation a sixth grader could have. He was shy, a little behind in his reading and math, and blessed with a touch of ADD. Enough issues that the public school system, and most private schools were simply not prepared to help him through the adolescent years. Billings not only embraced our son and his learning issues, they virtually became a non-issue for the full 3 years he attended (graduated in 2008). As a parent, you want the middle school years to bolster basic skills, teach your child to apply those skills, advance the child's understanding of where they fit in the world, and advocate for themselves in a broader context. And by the way, deal with mass hormones, incredible physical growth, and a new awareness of their own bodies. Billings did all this and more. I cannot recommend the school more highly.
I can't say how pleased we were with our son's educational and personal growth while he was at Billings. He is a bright boy who needed some extra support with time and attention and he received both generously. He loved to go to school every day! He learned how to advocate for what he needed and developed deep relationships with teachers and administrators. His ability to advocate for himself has really helped his transition to a large public high school. Teachers encouraged his musical talents and helped build his self confidence which transfered over into his academics. Billings was a wholeheartedly positive experience for our son and our family.
I cannot speak more highly of how Billings educates middle school students. Both my daughters graduated from Billings. My eldest child was highly academic, but she needed to find an outlet and experience more joy as a student. At Billings, she grew academically, but she also discovered a love for drama where she combined her love of reading with using her physical body for performance. My eldest daughter s love for literature, political affairs, and nature developed while she was at Billings, and she has since flourished in college. My youngest daughter came to Billings as someone who needed to develop her independence. Her experiences in the outdoor program gave her confidence and great pride in her achievements. In 8th grade, she went to Turkey with a group of Billings students representing the US as a student ambassador through the United Nations. She is
Billings has been a godsend for our family! We pulled our kids from public school after my older daughter had an academically vapid and socially dysfunctional experience at a Shoreline Middle School. Middle school is a difficult transitional stage (for parents too!) and we knew we needed a nurturing environment that could teach to a variety of learning styles - not just to The Test. The faculty at Billings know our daughter well, know how to reach her and how to teach her. She is thriving in a close knit, supportive community. The Head of School has an amazing, intuitive understanding of adolescents and a gift for communicating with them and with the parents. We have been involved with our daughter's education in a way we never were allowed to be in the public middle school miasma. Nurturing, experiential, conscientious, preparation for life. What more can you ask?
I'm glad someone is having a good experience at Billings. Our experience, however, has been a nightmare of bullying, bad mouthed kids, and arrogant, dismissive teachers and administrators. If I hear one more time that my chid needs to 'self advocate' when faculty or admins should be taking responsibility, I just might explode. The faculty doesn't talk to each other, and certainly not to the parents. So much for 'personalized curriculum.' What's worse is that there is very little education going on here. Public school has never looked better. Don't send your child to Billings. Based on the reviews you have at least a 50% chance of being very, very sorry if you do.
I had to double check that I was reading about the right school when reading some of the reviews here! Our student is in 8th grade this year and is growing into an amazing young adult thanks to the individual attention and mentor relationships she has made at Billings Middle School. Our daughter was assigned an advisor, who manages her social, emotional and academic successes and works as a liaison between teachers and parents. Teachers are always available to talk about what is going on in our daughter's life, even if we don't get to hear about it directly from her. The Billings faculty not only help our student, they are helping us learn how to parent a teenager - deep breaths are required as I learn not to micro-manage my independent daughter's entire life.
I agree with the parent who advised people considering Billings to 'take their money to another private school.' Billings seems to have too many behavior problems, and as others have said, the staff and leaders can be defensive or just plain unresponsive. They put way too much emphasis on student 'self-advocacy' which seems to be an excuse to dismiss or ignore parents. If one of the reasons you are considering private school is because you expect a more adaptive and responsive atmosphere, then Billings probably isn't for you.
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