Billings has been the greatest gift to our entire family. When we first enrolled our daughter we hoped the faculty would help us to raising a strong and independent critical thinker. At the time I thought this was a lofty goal. Boy, was I wrong. Billings has helped her to recognize the importance of her voice while keeping an open mind to the opinions of those around her. They have fulfilled our goal and taken it even further. The people at this school know the middle school mind. They study it and understand it in a way I don't but as a parent, should. We chose Billings for our daughter but it ended up being a great learning experience for the entire family. I feel the need to address the reviewer who insinuated these positive reviews must be fake. This accusation worries me that some families may opt not to send their child to Billings. Truth is, when we were looking for our daughter, your review and a few others made me hesitate. Thankfully I went with my gut on this one. I think the reason there are so many stellar reviews for such a small school is because many parents feel the way I feel about Billings. Passionate and grateful.
Billings is a great place for most kids. Everybody has a right to his or her opinion--but it is wrong for unhappy folks to suggest that the more numerous happy reviews were faked. During the past 10 years, very few families have pulled their children out of the school. During the same 10 years, the average number of alums visiting and/or volunteering at Billings each year has been almost equal to the number enrolled. The middle school years are challenging and issues arise, as they do at all schools, but at Billings there is a strong culture of respect, responsibility and restorative justice. This is reflected in the curriculum and the exemplary advisory program. Most Billings alums will tell you they were lucky to spend some years there, and they will be able to tell you why.
A nurturing, intentional school that nudges each student into doing his or her best. My daughter has loved it here and as I look over the past 2+ years I can see exactly how well-prepared she has been for high school. There are a few weak teachers but they seem to be self-selecting out.
Five and one star reviews are typical when the only people who comment are those who either love it or hate it. The haters comment to get back at the school for a perceived injustice, the lovers comment to counter the haters...and so it goes. I have been affiliated with Billings for 10 years . It's sad to say, but so few haters come through that I can pretty much identify them on this site. If the child is troubled or a trouble-maker and parents refuse to work with the school, they will leave unhappily. This goes for Billings and every school. But go to an open house - you'll interact with students who love to represent the school, see the work that students do in class, talk to teachers who love their work, listen to the passionate, articulate and dedicated head of school, and see photos of hand-on, minds-on, experiential learning of kids who love school. Is it for everyone? Nope. Choose well according to what your child needs, because they are as wonderfully different as the schools you see. But if you seek honest, compassionate, highly educated teachers who are enthusiastic about sharing their love for learning with your child, look at Billings.
I just graduated from billings a few weeks ago, and it was interesting. Let me just that if you are super concerned about academics, then I don't recommend billings. We didn't learn a whole lot that will likely translate to high school, with a few exceptions (mainly math, which is more or less your typical math class in terms of what is studied, but also language arts and foreign language). For example, billings has a different social studies class for every grade. In sixth grade, there is geography. In seventh grade, there is history. And in eighth grade, there is global studies. What is global studies you may ask? It was literally our teacher teaching us whatever the heck she wanted to teach us about, which did include some "global studies," but also included many unrelated subjects. For example, one class she lectured us for the entire time about logical fallacies, a perfectly good waste of 1 and a half hours that I don't think anyone learned from. The teachers are also hit or miss -- I had some really awesome teachers, like my eighth grade math teacher, eighth grade science teacher, and sixth grade geography/seventh grade history teacher (though now she only teaches (part 1)
Nice outdoor education program with academic enrichment if that's what you are looking for. Lots of weeks are 4-day instruction. Nice, well-meaning teachers, strong sense of community. It often seems like there is lots of theory and lofty ideas with few checks on whether it actually works. To their credit, they work with kids other private schools wouldn't. If your kid is strongly self-motivated and looking for an intimate setting, it might be a good fit. You average teenager will just cruise through.
Very pleased with this school. My daughter has almost completed her 6th grade level and is thriving in the direction we were hoping for. The school encourages children's creativity and values academics that's not monotonous. My daughter looks forward to going to school and is rarely bored. Very strong outdoor program. In addition to high regard for traditional academics, the school also offers weekly classes in Yoga and is well-rounded in exploring other unique learning experiences. Staff is welcoming and insightful to middle school age complexities. Makes good use of its community base at Green Lake.