This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted October 25, 2014
- a parent
Westside school is an outstanding school. The teachers, the administration, the students and the parent community are exceptional. As a parent of two students there, I am very happy with all aspects of the school. Those complaining of tuition increases and dissatisfaction with the school should simply go elsewhere. It is an exciting time to be a part of a growing institution and the opportunities that are going to be available to our kids and the community.
I agree with some of the other posters, this will also be our last year at Westside. Tuition went up 20% so I asked why, I was told it was because they needed to have a better bottom line so they could get the loan for the new school building!!! So basically all the parents have to pay more money so it could stay in the bank, not because it was benefitting our children. The test scores for our school shows we are falling behind in many grades compared to other private schools and even some public schools. Do you know what they did to fix this? Our kids were just tested again this month and given the test to do for the previous grade (5th graders given 4th grade test etc) Makes me think they are trying to make the numbers look better rather than fixing the problem. Westside your priorities are wrong, you are supposed to be educating children not running a profitable business!
Westside School is an exceptional independent school and our son is excited every morning to attend. We have been at Westside for four years and we are continually impressed with the high academic standards, the variety of learning opportunities, amazing teachers and the administration's good leadership. The school has an involved and caring parent community. Since the school opened it has rented space, but next year Westside will finally have its own building. The school is re-purposing an existing building in West Seattle which we think makes great sense. We also noticed the comment regarding tuition and while it has increased somewhat, it is still a good value compared with other independent schools in Seattle and absolutely worth it. The focus remains on students, their individual learning styles and how to create strong and confident learners. We are so happy to be part of the Westside community and the great learning experience our son is having at the school!
This will be our last year at Westside. We have been here for several years...when we initially enrolled we were told that the administration strived to maintain affordable tuition. The tuition has increased every year since. Last year was 20%. There are credible accounts from parents who serve on boards that families are ranked according to financial ability to give - they are remodeling a church for their new facility and, despite assertions that the present families will not subsidize these construction costs, this fall we received a very direct communication informing us that a Capital Campaign would be launched and that every family is expected to contribute. A survey was distributed last year to solicit anticipated contributions from each family, and ranges of contribution varied widely between families...ours was different from other families in our grade who had lower survey levels. Administratively heavy with little attempt made to incorporate parent input into hires, resulting in the departure of several outstanding teachers this year. Teachers are great, class sizes good, but administration and board are consumed by expansion and will lose more good folks.
This school over-values administration and under-values teachers and instruction. It has seen beautiful, committed teachers leave again and again and has done nothing to keep them there. In fact, the administration has little communication with staff about their plan for the school's future and the instruction of children. I have never seen a school that functions so poorly and misuses funds as much as Westside School. The tuition is exorbitant and has gone up again this year. I am selecting one star only because I cannot select zero on this rating system.
Westside School is an outstanding, accredited PNAIS school in West Seattle. Our children are entering their sixth year at the school because of the vigorous education they receive on a daily basis. Class size is never more than 20 students with a full time teacher and a full time assistant (the previous reviewer was incorrect on 24 class size) Thanks to a strong curriculum, engaged teachers and an involved community, our children are being developed into independent thinkers that will be fantastic future leaders. I also appreciate each teachers ability to create opportunities for learning outside of the set curriculum.
Westside School is great if you are looking for a private school with no academic challenges.The school primarily focuses on social gatherings and raising money for the school's students on scholarship, not learning. I wish they would charge more if they need to and stop focusing on fundraising.While the school looks great during the tour, it is all topical.For example, Chinese and Spanish are both part of the curriculum for the (lower) elementary school.However, the language curriculum has no tests/quizzes, no vocabulary word spelling, or writing.The language programs are 100% cultural learning. My 2nd grade son never brought home homework or completed assignments from either class with the exception of crayon pictures.Two more issues I witnessed were the high number of helicopter parents staying in the classrooms all day with their child, as well as several children with unaddressed discipline problems. I requested that something be done to allow my son to concentrate during reading times, but nothing was ever done. I am thinking the school doesn't want to upset parents and risk losing money. I also don't understand why 24 kids are in one class with 1 teacher and an assistant.
I' m not sure what the last reviewer is referring to, but the middle school classrooms are spacious and the kids seem to have what they need. There is a professional artist in residence teaching middle school art -- they made WORKING pinhole cameras in the fall, and I was blown away by the performances of all the kids, including middle school, at the winter musical program. Despite the newness of the program (in it's second year!) there have been two drama productions -- Scrooge was incredible. The outdoor education program includes overnight trips and an afternoon ski program. As with any program in it's second year, there are bumps in the road, but the new head of school is sharp and a seasoned independent school administrator. I have no doubt that the program will continue to evolve and flourish under her leadership.In my experience, her "door" is always open and she welcomes parent input and feedback. Academically, my student is challenged and I have no doubt that she'll be well prepared for high school -- which is what middle school is all about.
A great community of kids and parents, but the relatively new middle school has plenty of room for improvement. Main classrooms could be better furnished and organized. There seems to be an overall need for additional staff & faculty with more enthusiasm and energy for new programs and clear direction. Unlike other private middle schools, there are no real elective programs and resources for art, theater, music, etc are not impressive. Big emphasis on technology but even the school website is not well utilized by faculty and not often updated. It is yet to be seen if the new Head of School will make improvements and other administrators seem comfortable with the status quo.
My son is on his third year at Westside School. We started in preschool and are now in K. We've had very good experiences with his teachers, who all seem to understand his strengths, weaknesses, and are dedicated to helping him improve and learn in the way that works well for him. I also have to give praise to the before and after care providers (we are two, full-time working parents). They deal with issues with grace and excellent communication. The after school programs are really fun - my son can't wait to start Lego Animation! I noticed the comment about bullying back in May of 2012. I've had the opposite experience. Whenever I've mentioned my son talking about teasing (much less bullying of a physical nature), the staff take it very seriously and follow-up. They really engage the kids to help them take an approach of understanding and communication, helping the children work together as a community to find better ways to solve problems. Anyway, we love this school!