This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
University Child Development School3
Posted December 01, 2014
- a parent
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.
Last night, as we drove home from school, my 10-year old son asked me if we could pull up the Gettysburg Address when we got home. "It's really cool," he explained, "We read all about it this morning. Total game changer for our country." He and his 12-year old sister (a UCDS alumna) spent dinner talking about the Civil War and the country's continued work on equity. My husband and I listened as they asked each other clarifying questions and challenged one another's assumptions. Their curiosity and passion for both learning and understanding was on full display. This morning, they both left for school, armed with questions to take to their American history and classroom teachers respectively. This is what a UCDS education has done for our family. It has inspired engagement, curiosity, ownership and active learning in both of our children. It has given them deep foundations and identity as learners, community members and friends. It has shown them that learning happens everywhere and expects their participation. In our ten years as a family at the school, we have had countless interactions like the one above. We are thrilled.
As a former teacher, I never thought I would be totally happy with a school, yet everyday I am blown away with the experience my children are having. The teachers are thoughtful, creative, and innovative in their presentation of the curriculum. Everything is done in such a fun way that my children do not even realize they are learning. Additionally, I truly feel that the teachers know my kids and that they are creating individualized instruction that is the perfect match for my kids--not too hard, not too easy--just the right amount so that they have to work but are successful. Most importantly though, my kids love school. They are on their way to becoming life long learners. We feel honored to be part of this community.
UCDS is a perfect fit for our son. All schools are not right for every child and in our case, we found the perfect environment for him. We chose UCDS because the teachers tune into each child and give them stretch goals each and every day. The teachers practice a collaborative methodology where they work together to develop curriculum and share ideas. Never once have we been disappointed at the parent teacher conferences, in fact have been pleasantly surprised to hear of our son's progress with concepts far beyond what we would have ever imagined (basic algebra and reading in PreK). Our son's teacher genuinely adores him and takes the opportunity to share a short story with us about something he accomplished weekly, if not daily. You will never hear the word 'bully' in the school - instead the kids learn to process conflicts in a way that builds their relationships with expert guidance from their teachers. We have found the parent community to be warm, welcoming and inclusive. We are grateful that our son is receiving an excellent education, is learning to be an independent leader with self confidence and is a caring friend to his classmates.
UCDS provided our children with an exceptional education and they are thriving both academically and socially. Our two children attended UCDS from the age of three until they graduated as 5th graders. UCDS created an environment where they were excited to go to school each day. Now in middle school and high school we(and they) can see how prepared they are with solid academic skills and confident independence. They excel in many areas but more importantly when something is challenging they know how to ask questions and persevere. UCDS helped our children develop these skills from an early age and continued to build upon them throughout their 8 years. We couldn't be more thankful for the solid foundation UCDS provided for both our children.