We were living overseas and found Wingra through the progressive schools network. We had high hopes as our daughter started half-way through 5th grade as a trial to whether she would attend middle school there. We have been humbled by the dedication and inspiration of the staff and our daughter is thriving. Middle school can be such a trying time, but with the nurturing and open atmosphere at Wingra we can see and feel our daughter thriving; no fear of bullying or being made to feel awkward or stupid. Children are encouraged to self-advocate and taught how to navigate the world through dialogue, listening, and discovery.
There has been a re-think in the education community over the role of homework and the need for children to be able to unplug from the school day. Wingra's philosophy encourages students to explore and learn more about topics of interest, without the imposition of random busy work designed to check if students are paying attention without contributing to actual learning.
My daughter came to Wingra 3/4 of the way through kindergarten (sadly she did not thrive in the public schools in Madison and had a miserable experience there). The entire Wingra community (teachers and students) accepted her with open arms. Within a week my daughter's joy for school returned and for several years she thrived at Wingra. Due to my husband's job, we had to move out of state. Leaving Wingra behind was one of the hardest things about our move. My daughter is back in the public schools in third grade (due to all the school testing, we know her reading and language level are at the 4th grade level). In addition to learning, my daughter got to experience an open, trusting, loving community that accepted her and never judged her, where she always felt welcomed and "okay." Wingra is a wonderful school that fosters a love of learning. We miss it a lot and recommend it highly.
This school works well enough for many children, but high IQ boys with inattentive ADD will NOT do well here. I know a few, including my own son, who were miserable, despite the admininstration's promises. If you child is a truly divergent thinker who marches to his/her own drummer and is not terribly interested in pleasing the teacher and being a follower of group activities, they will not be happy here. We are homeschooling now. They were also not able to meet some of my son's medical needs, which made his time worse there. Quiet kids who get lost in the shuffle of regular school may do fine here. If your kid is gifted in math and science and language, I do not advise you send them here. The staff do not understand gifted kids with learning differences, even though they SWEAR up and down that they do.
This school is perfect for parents looking for an alternative to schools and programs for their gifted child. Children are given challenging work without testing, labelling, or comparing. Wingra is also fantastic for children who are sensitive and creative, or who tend to learn and think in unusual ways. I've seen children enter the school self-conscious, suspicious, angry and frightened and by spring, they're skipping down the hallway, performing in the monthly follies, and authoritatively explaining their projects to an audience of students, parents and teachers. I've never before met children so completely comfortable with themselves as are Wingra students. When my child was crying because he had to go home sick, five children from his class and two from other classes stopped by to ask him what was wrong and offer words of comfort and sympathy. My son (normally a dawdler) never has a problem getting ready for school in the morning since he started at Wingra and a threat of "You're going to be late for school," is enough to get him moving. Over school breaks, he's always asking, "When can I go back to school?"
Wingra School is a progressive school that truly teaches to the whole child. We have one child who has graduated from Wingra and one still there. The teachers are dedicated, creative, and very competent. They teach concepts in context and make instruction very practical. Students are well-prepared for high school and many high school teachers say Wingra students are creative, higher order thinkers. As an educator who's worked in the public schools for 23 years I can truly say that Wingra students get a wonderful education in a caring, respectful environment.
I have two children at Wingra and we all love it. At Wingra, my kids are challenged to reach their goals in a supportive and compassionate environment. They are active participants in their education. They have a voice in what they learn and how they learn. What I love about Wingra is that students are really learning about themselves as learners and developing a clear sense of what drives them. This is something, I feel, is often lost when students are working primarily for a test score or a grade. At Wingra, my children at gaining the academic and social skills they need to follow their dreams, be a caring community member. The teachers at Wingra are top-notch professionals. They are dedicated to the students, families and their profession. I am so thankful our family chose Wingra!