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3870 Nakoma Road
Madison, WI 53711

School website
(608) 204-6942
(608) 204-0519
Nearby homes for sale
Map of Thoreau Elementary School address.

May 23, 2014
Our second and first grader love Thoreau. The teachers care about the kids, and there are a ton of events that build community among the kids, teachers, and parents that really make it feel like a community. A lot of parents walk their kids to school too, so they chat, share information and experiences, and form friendships that way. One review complained about drop offs, but I've never had a problem with this and there are two crossing guards stationed nearby as well as a newly installed light at the corner. The music and art teachers are also just great and there is a lovely park right next to the school in addition to the usual playgrounds. In the winter, the city floods a small part of the park to for a little ice rink. Girl Scouts meet just up the street in the neighboring church's basement, and after school care is available for working families. I would like to see a greater TAG presence in the school, as we have some gifted kids that would surely benefit, but I think that was just bureaucratic bumbling they'll work out. Overall, we love Henry David Thoreau! and, as the school song says, "We care about you and the feelings you show at Henry David Thoreau!"

- submitted by a parent

October 27, 2013
In a word; amazing. One of the most significant achievement gaps in the city of Madison and Thoreau Elementary is tackling this head on with their eyes wide open. Our experience has been terrific.

- submitted by a parent

April 23, 2013
Invisible principal and overall poor management. One example is the unsafe drop-off and pick-up procedures. The Madison School District does not provide bus service for families living within 1 1/2 miles of schools. Thoreau is located on a very busy street and has no drop-off zone. Parking is extremely limited at this and other schools. Without bus service, parents have to shuttle kids back and forth daily (sometimes to multiple schools) dragging younger children along and limiting work schedules. Not sure how other raters decide on higher ratings, given this and other management issues, but more importantly the school's poor academic performance.

- submitted by a parent

February 03, 2013
Experienced, skilled, and caring teachers and a vibrant community have made our daughter's years at Thoreau wonderful. She is eager to learn and her needs have been met both academically as well as emotionally and socially. The leadership of the school is adept even as the socioeconomic diversity of the student body requires constant creativity. Rather than shy away from the challenge, the principal and staff consistently find ways to address the needs of ESL students, special needs students, and students facing economic hardship. The kids do what kids do best: learn and play and make memories together. Thoreau's diversity is its strength. I also tutor in the school every week. Despite the economic challenges that most of my tutorees face, their eagerness to learn and persistence shines through in every session. I was surprised to read one review referring to serious behavior problems. Thoreau uses a "catch them while they're being good" system of positive reinforcement for behavior that has been amazingly effective. Information is available here: http://www.thoreauschool.org/pbs I recommend Thoreau without reservation. It's a great school that fosters joyful learning.

- submitted by a parent

January 07, 2013
This school, and perhaps the district in general, has a real problem with managing significant behavioral issues and ensuring the safety of ALL children. This, of course, interferes not only with the emotional well-being of the student, but it also hampers learning. There are many issues that seem to be related to the school's leadership or lack thereof.

- submitted by a parent

June 24, 2012
We absolutely LOVE Thoreau! It has such a caring and dedicated group of teachers, along with a great principal. Our 3 children are thriving and continue to be well above average in both math and reading. I love the focus on the environment, community and a healthy body(yoga in the classroom). They have exceeded our expectations!

- submitted by a parent

February 22, 2012
My child's needs have not been met this year and we are looking for another school and perhaps another district. Not impressed with MMSD.

- submitted by a parent

February 07, 2012
Thoreau is a wonderful community of learners. We are always trying to find the best ways to reach our students.

- submitted by a teacher

February 06, 2012
My family and many of our Dudgeon-Monroe Street neighbors have attended Thoreau for the past decade. It has been a very positive experience for both my daughter and my son. The current principal is amazing. Our teachers (like most in Madison) are the cream of the crop. They care about the entire community. The community at Thoreau is amazing. Because families are at our school from K-5, most families have multiple children pass through the school. Our parents are so supportive and involved in many aspects of the school day. Together this community of families, teachers and others has created a school that has welcomed and educated my children very well. I am sad to be leaving Thoreau when my son graduates this fall. I feel like it is at it's best point ever and will continue to soar. It has recently been adopted by GHC, has numerous volunteer tutors, classroom yoga instruction, dedicated teachers, a beautiful park setting, modern facilities, committed parents and a wonderful leader at the helm.

- submitted by a parent

October 28, 2009
This is our daughter's 3rd year at Thoreau. Every teacher she has had has exceeded our expectations. We know many others in our neighborhood who feel the same. The kids at Thoreau are somewhat socioeconomically divided - some very poor, some very rich. Thoreau does an excellent job of making everyone feel at home, closing the achievement gap, and really benefits from all groups. The rich kids benefit from things like small class size due to grants we get for the population of more disadvantaged children. And the poor kids benefit from having lots of parents coming into the school to volunteer, even though many of their parents are not able to come due to work constraints. Kids from all sides of the neighborhood do have parents coming along at drop-off and pick-up. And many, many kids walk to school each day. It is really a great urban neighborhood!

- submitted by a parent
no rating
April 16, 2008
I have mixed feelings about this school. I was not happy with my daughter's kindergarten experience (partially teacher-related and partially due to behavioral issues of other children in class); however, her first grade teacher has been excellent. She is learning, doing well in class, and has been offered stimulating opportunites to keep her challenged. The new principal has been a great addition to the school. I believe we are on our way to once again creating an excellent learning atmosphere for kids. In the meantime, there are children at the school that have a lot of issues that need to be dealt with. I'm not sure the school can make up for the exposures these kids have to deal with. On the plus side, Thoreau is an extremely diverse school with a lot of cultures represented. I love that and appreciate how the school tries to recognize and applaud the diversity.

- submitted by a parent
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Last modified: January 9, 2015

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Thoreau Elementary School
3870 Nakoma Road, Madison, WI  53711
(608) 204-6942
Last modified Thoreau Elementary School is a Public school that serves grades K-5. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 7 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Thoreau Elementary School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 11 reviews. Top