Flexible and extraordinary staff, values-based education where families have vastly different connections and commitments to Judaism and preparing our kids for the next steps in their lives and their education
We have 2 SJCS alumni children and one current student. We firmly believe that choosing this school for our children has positively altered the course of their educations. Our 3 very different children had strong positive relationships with their teachers in each grade. As parents, we find almost every teacher to be approachable and to be incredible advocates for our children.
For our family, the proof came when our children entered middle school. Both of them were extraordinarily prepared, academically and emotionally. Our family believes that facts and figures are only part of the beauty and importance of elementary education. Teaching kids to know who they are in the world (especially in our new political climate) and seeing themselves - even at a young age - as agents of change is a skill that is modeled and nurtured at SJCS.
We are a former SJCS family; our child was there from K through 5th.
The Pros of this school include:
(1) Very small class sizes (and so a good teacher : student ratio);
(2) Some very involved, capable, and enthusiastic teachers (many of whom are no longer there, I am afraid to report);
(3) Generally good, "homey" feel, with fairly responsive teachers and staff;
(4) Social Justice education.
The Cons of this school include:
(1) A volatile teacher and staff overturn—several years our child started with one teaching staff, and had this disrupted multiple times during the year;
(2) A complete lack of recognition for students who need either remedial help or extension;
(3) A very weak science and mathematics curriculum—while our child had a couple very strong math and science teachers, a few in the higher grades clearly disliked or were intimidated teaching such. Our child went from SJCS into the SPS HCC program, and although we had been told that our child had been given "advanced" mathematics (by explicit request and obvious need), when our child entered the HCC program, they had to self-teach two years of math in about a month and a half. Our child was able to do this, but I cannot state strongly enough that SJCS is not a school that is able to appropriately handle children who need considerable advancement in academics, nor do they respond to this need when expressed.
In sum: SJCS is a very good, small, community school with a very good Social Justice curriculum. In terms of academics, I saw them fall of precipitously in our time there. Our child managed to ride the tip of the wave, but classes below theirs were hit hard by the weaknesses. This is a great school for a typically developing child. It is not a great school for a child who either needs remediation or extension.
We're now in our 5th year at SJCS with two kids enrolled and we love the school and the community of parents. This is simply a great elementary school and not a week goes by when we don't see the individual attention and differentiated experience given to each of our children. The values of the school come through so strongly when you see the respect with which the kids treat each other and the way parents lend each other a helping hand. If you're a Jewish-identified family in north Seattle, I'd highly encourage you to visit!