This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Salmon Bay School3
Posted February 11, 2015
- a parent
The school is on its third principal in under five years. It's not only at the district level that people get shuffled in and out. So say there's a bit of identity crisis going on. Is it alternative? What is alternative? Let's grab on to "project-based learning" like everyone else. The elementary schools loops students for two years with the same teacher. Terrific if you have a good teacher, terrible if you don't. Tell yourself that you're sending your son or daughter here because it's a K-8 school, you'll manage the topsy-turvyness of it all just fine.
My kids love this school. They have developed an amazing love of learning at Salmon Bay. They are challenged to think critically, to think outside the box, and to be able to present their ideas in a multitude of formats. That is the kind of education I want for my kids.
The description on the school website about this school is how the school wants to be seen, not how it is. This school has great pe, music and art (which is parent funded so it could dry up) but it stops there. There is a long history the predates our child's attendance where teachers avoid parents, don't proactively reach out to parents and raise academic concerns or check homework. Parents can go a whole year and have no knowledge of issues until the state test and teacher report cards aren't congruent with state assessment results. Many parents pay for outside tutoring and other mitigation. Against Parent's wishes, Elementary parent teacher conferences are young kids doing ineffective presentations and real concerns don't get discussed. A handful of behavior problem kids impact the ecology of the K-5 school and Admin has ignored bathroom safety problem. It gets worse as you go up each floor of a 3 story building and you should insist that your child go to the bathroom in twos or threes. 5+ key support staff left and a few teachers as well have left. There is a definite elite parent group that gets better access to staff and resources.
There are positive aspects of this school. They strive to create "whole" child learning. Lots of field trips, camp ect but there is a yearly fee to cover these. The parent group raises money that does/have paid for partial salary of staff..only works if parents continue to pay. If your child is advanced or has challenges services poor and teachers do not support integrated classrooms. If your child doesn't qualify for special service, run from this school. No tutors, no differentiation in classroom, Admin talk a good game but no follow thru. During short time here, we know of 7 kids and their families that have felt driven out because their child didn't fit into the average mold.The building is run down, the bathrooms are inexcusable, the building doesn't even meet minimum earthquake safety let alone recommended. There is a growing discontent between new admin and teachers. New principal is not available and does not respond to any emails, does not answer phone, guarded by admin staff unless you are the "in" group. Some parents have never seen principal despite picking their kids up everyday.
A new principal and vice principal are working hard to make positive changes. Elementary: Works best for self motivated learners who enjoy project based learning and varied routines as even K-1 leave the classroom up to 3 to 5 times a day for a variety of activities.(pro for 1 of ours) It can be difficult for students that need routine and memorization to learn well. Few/poor resources for struggling or advanced students.(con for 1 of ours) What we have found is that the primary grades are focused strongly on developing social skills and community. There is PE everyday, library and art once a week, music(instrumental and vocal), drama, dance, 4 to 5+ parent driven field trips to enhance academics and yearly camping trips even for the littlest ones. Science and social studies are strong. The project based science programs are impressive. Reading is average. Math and writing are weak though effort is being made to improve these areas (as is most grades still fall above or around average for state). Impressive given the amount of time focused on developing the whole student which can not be evaluated by tests and overall seems successful. Improving every year.
Wow. Reading thru these reviews is interesting, especially the ones regarding non-inclusion. They are seeing something else entirely. I find this school amazing. While the diversity is average for a north-end school (give current neighborhood districting) with Asians predominant and a lower rates of African Americans and middle-eastern kids. The teachers work their butts off providing extras such as the winter enrichment program, fall and spring camp, dances, and field trips. Lots of hands on activities in science and social studies - inclusion and the school as a joint learning community are emphasized. Very active, supportive, and helpful parent group - ask any teacher and they will say they could not do it with out this support. Good test scores.
Salmon Bay School has high academic expectation but enhances this with art, drama, music, and everyday PE. Students and teachers respect each other (everyone at the school calls each other by first names-- even the principal). Kids are taught to work out differences. Families are expected to be involved in the school. It is a good place and the faculty work hard and really care. It is also a K-8 and I like the smaller middle school experience.
I went to pub school in Seattle & was hoping this would be a step up. Unfortunately, I found my experiences are very similar save for the overly rude, disrespectful behavior displayed by kids, parents & teachers. In 3 yrs I've seen kids use teachers 1st names, parents are more interested in social hour than education & the school draws wealthier people than most. We've had a very difficult time with the kids (bullying that has NEVER been adressed other than to say my son is "too sensitive") & their parents (very uninclusive & more interested in status). It's been said there's a lot of parent involvement but it's the same parents who volunteer - many do nothing. There are very few black people & I've heard statements of "those people" & use of the "N" word. When mentioned, I was told to go to a south end school?!? Average parent age is 45yo & they have a tendency to treat younger parents badly. The best thing I can say - the P.E teacher is awesome but he pushes them really hard (mile runs for kinders). There is a yearly fee, but I guess it isn't considered tuition as funds are for field trips. If you're looking for inclusion, diversity & a modicum of respect, look elsewhere.
Salmon Bay School is a wonderful learning community, where students are encouraged to reflect on their studies and think about how they relate to their communities and world at large. The administration and the teachers encourage experiential and service learning, and incorporate these into students' required subjects. My organization, Bridges to Understanding, has conducted Digital Storytelling programs at Salmon Bay for several years, and I and my colleagues are consistently impressed at the quality education happening at Salmon Bay.