This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
University Child Development School5
Posted March 02, 2015
- a parent
I believe UCDS has a highly constructed education system, and students are having great fun in school whether it is in the classrooms or after school activities. All of our child’s teachers have been very enthusiastic and generous, they teach students with their whole heart. And above all, the UCDS spirit presents in every corner of the school, parents, students and teachers are loving and willing to help each other. We have already had a memorable four-year journey at UCDS and have made lots of life-lasting friends in many different aspects of life.
UCDS has fantastic marketing, but the actual content of their curriculum is pretty abysmal. Both my kids have a tutor despite the "individualized curriculum" at the school. I would guess that at least 70% of the kids attending UCDS are instructed by the administration to seek some type of outside tutoring/counseling for their children. Moreover, they are extremely harsh in their punishments; they locked a preschool child outside to "exterminate" his temper tantrums. Maybe it worked but it seemed really extreme to me. Ask current parents about discipline and ask about attrition; if your child reaches second grade and they don't like the family or the kid, they will manage you out. They definitely do not seem to live the values they espouse.
I feel so fortunate to have my kids at this amazing school. I chose the school because it was one that I wish that I had attended! They have been there over 2 1/2 years and are thriving. From our very first parent interview UCDS has given me great techniques on how to help my children succeed academically and insightful ideas to help their social and emotional progression. It is very clear to me that they are deeply invested in their development as engaged, skillful and reflective thinkers. I have heard some gossip (perhaps by a disgruntled parent) that the school does not prepare children for middle school and for me the exact opposite is true. Almost all UCDS kids get their first or second choice of schools and many middle school teachers find that they are incredibly thoughtful, dedicated and strong students. I also am a huge fan of the inclusive parent community. I have met many dynamic individuals. I am unequivocally confident that we chose the right school for our kids and for our family and thank my lucky stars that we were given the opportunity to attend.
As the parent of one current student and another that is applying to UCDS, I wish I could say that I disagree with the previous reviewer's comments about the leadership and culture at this school. On the positive side, my one child at UCDS likes being there and I think she is getting a pretty good education. All the chatter about kids needing tutors in order to catch up with peers before going to middle school makes me nervous, but so far we haven't needed one. I am conflicted about sending my younger child to UCDS, but probably will simply for reasons of convenience since my older child is already there. If not for anonymity I would not be commenting here, because administrators can be hard on parents that voice questions or criticism. There is much worry among parents that if we speak up with anything but praise for the school our younger kids won't be admitted or our kids already at the school won't be supported when they apply for middle school. I don't know if it is true, but I heard this warning from several parents when I was considering speaking up about an issue that bothered me and ultimately I just chose to stay quiet. Still, at least the teachers are good.
UCDS is a fine school as far as its physical space (which is nice) and teachers (who are young but committed and dynamic) are concerned. The biggest weakness is its leadership. Top administrators have held positions for so long that they are complacent and out of touch (a downside to the lack of turnover cited by others). Their leadership style is reflexive, rigid, and obstinate rather than thoughtful, adaptive, and enlightened. Having spoken candidly with many parents and some teachers, it seems that most show the current leadership unquestioning deference more out of fear than respect. Unfortunately this has damaged the trajectory of the school's reputation and the culture and morale of its community. Hopefully the school will find a way to turn this around.
As a parent of two UCDS alums who still has one child currently enrolled at this school, I feel well versed about their curriculum and leadership. All three of my children have had incredible learning experiences at this school. In short, they are all well educated students who LOVE learning new things and appreciate the differences in people. The teachers are energetic and creative, always generating unique projects that inspire the children while challenging them at every turn. There is NO turnover at this school anywhere-that is true with the leadership, the teachers and the families!! It is very hard to get into this program-especially after kindergarten-but worth trying. If there are any unhappy posts on this site, it s because the school is very clear about what they do and don t do. If a family tries to change the philosophy of the school, they will help them find a different environment that better suits what they want. Being a current parent in several schools, the school s clarity around directional commitment is refreshing.
I might be a bit biased, but since I have worked here I have had a great experience. All of the teachers and other support staff are friendly and great with children. Teachers truly seem to care about the overall well-being of kids here, and the amount of activities and projects that take place is phenomenal. I wish all kids had the resources this school has.
My children attended UCDS last year. In the interest of full transparency for prospective parents (because the school is unlikely to make this information available to you), UCDS was investigated in 2013-14 by federal and state agencies. Search "UCDS USDOJ DEL" on Google. As you go through the application and tour process every independent school in Seattle will tout its diverse and progressive community and its strongly held values of inclusiveness and "meeting kids where they are." Some schools do a great job of it, but my opinion is that at UCDS this rhetoric does not match their policies or practices. I believe that the current administrative leaders at UCDS hold the school back from being the truly outstanding learning community that it could be, and that they reflect poorly on the children and families of UCDS as representatives to the Seattle community and to the nation. Knowing this, if I were again in the position of deciding where my children would receive their elementary schooling, I would be very reluctant to choose UCDS over the many other superb options in the greater-Seattle area until they straighten out their leadership problems. Good luck!
Great for status and bragging rights at your next wine tasting. School is infatuated with itself. The preschool and kindergarten is great, but as the kids get older and differences in abilities become greater, they do not individualize learning despite what they say. By the way, if you are sending your kids there because the Gates sent their kids there, be aware that they pulled their youngest out after first grade.