This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Thoreau Elementary School5
Posted May 23, 2014
- a parent
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!