Sunday, March 22, 2009

Choosing a different elementary school?

I have heard suprisingly little discussion of parents attempting to secure a place at the elementary site that they were not initially assigned to. I'd love to hear from others about their sense of how many applications there will be to switch elementary schools and about their own decision process in deciding whether to file such an application.

40 comments:

Robert said...

We will be going to Lowell as a WZ transfer from Marshall.

Anonymous said...

We're actively looking at leaving Seattle entirely. Either moving to the Eastside or out of state.

We've been very supportive of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools, but this mess has pushed us over the edge.

Seattle Public Schools has one of the worst market shares in the country.

The single biggest thing Seattle Public Schools could do to improve funding and quality would be to increase market share, but this superintendent and this school board seem to be doing everything they can to drive people away.

Anonymous said...

Both our kids (not APP, though) are going out of district next year. We're happy to be done with the drama, and back to focusing on their education.

TechyMom said...

We were admitted to two private schools, both of which we like very much. I want to support public schools, but SPS is in so much flux right now, I'm not sure I can. We haven't decided yet what we're going to do.

Anonymous said...

We are still trying to decide between continuing at Lowell or moving back to our previous elementary (Spectrum). It's a tough call.

The teacher list was an important first step. But we still don't know who is (roughly) slated for which grades, nor what's up with PCP. Julie has been very active with TM budgeting for next year, and she has managed to get a lot of her house in order. I feel sorry that the principals have been put in such a bind, but we need a budget and all these issues worked out for Lowell ASAP! Before 3/31 !

Given that there has been nothing to definitively push us off the fence one way or the other, the uniform issue might become the final tiebreaker, even though it's certainly not as important as other issues. We are NOT in favor of uniforms or a strict (non-jeans) dress code.

Anonymous said...

Our child may attend Lowell (APP) as a first grader next year, but we haven't yet made up our minds. The SPS process has been atrocious, and I just don't have confidence that they're going to make it right. My feeling is that the staff and the parents will do everything in their power to make next year a good one, but we're not sure it's worth the disruption from our neighborhood school. I hate to write this. We were initially thrilled with the prospect of going to Lowell and the APP program, but that has waned through the closure process, the bell time discussion, and now the budget. We may still take the leap of faith, but I wish it wasn't such a big leap!

Anonymous said...

We considered Lowell gen ed for the sibling of our APP kid, but without concrete information on the ALO, and with the bad news about the budget, we won't take the risk. Even if SPS is not deliberately setting up Lowell for failure, it certainly isn't doing anything to make it attractive to prospective parents.

Anonymous said...

For those parents who aren't on the APP AC email list, here is a break-out of which teacher is teaching what grade next year. This came from Greg King via the APP AC.

APP
1st/2nd
Erika Dorje
Teresa Sherwood
Althea Chow/Tamra Hauge
3rd
Kristen Anderson/Allison Fenzl
Dustin Wood

4th/5th
Bob Schilperoort
Candace Jacobsen
Caroline Perkins
Theresa Roth
Margaret Saunders

I think the list is intentionally not fully concrete (ie a list of mixed 4th and 5th teachers) because they don't know how many kids in each grade yet.

For those considering 1st grade at Lowell next year, both first grade teachers (Dorje and Sherwood) are GREAT. I, too, would have a tough time deciding whether or not to come next year if we weren't already here, but know your kid would at least have a great teacher. I would imagine that one of the first grade teachers will be teaching a 1/2 split next year.

I have heard the PCP teachers will continue at Lowell next year pretty much as they are now. The one unknown is the library. That position is currently slated as half time. The Lowell librarian is great, and it would be a shame to lose her. I hope they find the money to make that a full-time position again.

sonicmom said...

For the person who mentioned uniforms: G King said (in letter form and directly when asked at the eve tour) that uniforms/dress code are off the table for now, unless the district insists that Lowell's policy directly mirror T.Marshall's. I cant imagine why that would be required, in any case from all I've heard, there will be neither uniforms nor dresscode at Lowell next yt. ALSO - Dustin Wood was our 3rd gr teacher this year and he was v creative, the kids love him and he is excellent re parent communication. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

All four of my SPS students are leaving the district. We have had enough.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10:59:

Just curious, but where are your kids going for school? Different district? Private?
Homeschool?

Anonymous said...

We are at Lowell this year from two private schools last year. Although the SPS process has been frustrating and stressful, the stress does not even come near to the level of stress we had trying to come up with $34K post tax dollars for the tuition.

Hippy Goodwife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

sonicmom, I heard the same thing about uniforms from Mr. King a while back, but it was really unclear to them at the time if we were going to be forced to have the same policy as TM. More recently I've heard/read that it appears we will not be forced to do so. It's also sounding like the TTM kids that are actually going to make the move to Lowell is lower than anticipated, which would probably affect how the decision plays out next year. It was a smart call to defer that decision.

As for the teachers, it's interesting, but not surprising that there are such disparate opinions. For example, long before she spoke in favor of splitting Lowell, I've heard from many parents that T Sherwood was considered a rather ineffective teacher, while Dorje is much better. And yours is the first compliment I've heard about Wood, maybe ever. It just shows that all kids and families have different needs and desires for teachers. And with only 1/2 the number of teachers in either building there's now very little flexibility in getting the best student/teacher matches.

I wish there was a way to gather community feedback on all of the teachers, but that could get ugly, and seems like it would be inappropriate in a fully-public venue like this.

hschinske said...

There may be little flexibility, but you'd have none in Spectrum. I haven't heard of any Spectrum programs that have more than one teacher per grade.

sonicmom said...

to Anon: Re Mr Wood - this is our 1st yr at Lowell and going into the class, we heard all about the disastrous 1st yr (of teaching - at Lowell or EVER!). Apparently he had a particularly disruptive class and he was a total newbie. They got him a mentor of sorts and maybe JB made sure he had a good class this yr. In any case, the flip side of a v experienced teacher is someone like Wood: v open to suggestions, strong parent communication, and the kids really relate to him. V energetic and creative approach. I'm truly not expecting miracles fr any of these teachers. Most schools have about 3 teachers per grade, so that'll now be the case at Lowell, generally. I think everyone should have a back-up plan because it will certainly be a complex population to manage next yr.
***Don't see what's wrong about discussing teachers in this forum! Its a place to share opinions, not necessarily facts, right? We dont know a lot of parents and would really appreciate any (pos or neg) feedback on 4th/5th gr teachers.

llittle said...

I do not know who sonicmom talked with, nor do I particularly care, but my daughter was in Ms. Sherwood's first first grade class, and Ms. Sherwood was everything you'd want a first grade teacher to be, and more. I've never heard anything other than praise for her energy, thoughtfulness, creativity, classroom management skills, intelligence, and compassion. I didn't favor the rush to split the program, but the fact that our opinions differed made absolutely no difference to me in my high regard for her.

Ben said...

I second llittle's thoughts on Sherwood. I think she's a wonderful teacher.

I remain disappointed by her enthusiastic support of splitting APP (a disappointment that has intensified since learning she's staying at Lowell).

Anonymous said...

to hschinske,

your statement is factual, but little consolation. it's like telling someone who just lost their son in a car accident "hey at least you still have your daughter, the Smith's down the street don't have ANY kids". not helpful.

to sonicmom,

thanks for that info on Mr. Wood, i'd also heard some stories. maybe this really is a good place to share information about teachers. i'll try to limit to the positive for now.

our view of the 4th grade teachers (Schilperoort, Perkins, Jacobsen), is that they are all pretty good. 2nd grade (Chow/Hauge) is solid, in 5th grade Roth is very good. heard Dorje is good. much of this is 2nd hand, but based on many, many conversations. and there are always some families with different opinions! there are also different aspects to consider, i.e. some are great with the kids, but have zero rapport with the parents; some are great teaching math, but not writing, etc.

llittle,

certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, and different kids have different needs. we didn't have her, so i have no direct experience, but i have not heard good things from others. and of course, teachers gain experience over time, so perhaps she has improved.

Anonymous said...

Sonicmom is one of several parents I have heard from this year with positive comments about Mr Wood this year. I also heard things were rough last year (his first year), but things are apparently greatly improved this year. I was just talking to a parent yesterday who is very happy with him.

I also want to come in with a rave for Mrs Sherwood. We thought she was great, and I would highly recommend her. I, too, was disappointed in her enthusiasm for the split and her patronizing lecture to the parents about why we all should like it. I think her hatred of room 101a might have played a role. Note, 101a and 101b will NOT be used for classrooms next year. They are pretty horrible classrooms.

Anonymous said...

My son has liked Mr. Wood this year. I think he's doing a nice job. The kids respond well to him, which is what matters to me. I'd hate to see anyone judged by his first year teaching.

Ruthie

Anonymous said...

"I, too, was disappointed in her enthusiasm for the split and her patronizing lecture to the parents about why we all should like it. I think her hatred of room 101a might have played a role. "

No kidding. That was one of the most selfish acts by a teacher I've ever seen. Whether she's a talented teacher or not, I have a hard time thinking about her without a sort of revulsion. I'll try to get over it, but it won't be easy. This split is ripping the elementary program apart. It's going to take everything we can muster to keep things going.

Hope she likes her new room.

And what's up with Erika? She stood behind, as if to show support, but I don't think she said anything.

sonicmom said...

TO llittle @ 5:25pm - I think you've confused my comments - I dont know anything about Sherwood, I was talking about Mr. Dustin Wood. THis is our 1st yr (3rd gr) and he's the only teacher I know much about and the only one I've commented about.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to be very careful about making a blanket statement about a teacher. I don't know how many times we have entered the year with negative preconceptions derived from comments made previously, only to have a great experience. Maybe its our child - just kidding - but I do believe that it depends more on the classroom dynamics due to the mix of kids than the teacher.
There certainly are exceptions, when year after year you hear negative feedback. Even in those instances, if you step back and consider your child's experience, its probably different than your own (hopefully better).

hschinske said...

"to hschinske,

your statement is factual, but little consolation."

I wasn't intending to be consoling, but practical. Most people are making the choice between APP and Spectrum. APP means, among other things, more choice of teachers and more mixing up of classes from year to year. If you give up on APP because of there being only two teachers, you'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Helene Schinske

Seattlehorn said...

If we are going to publicly discuss teachers, let's stick to first-hand experience, not recycled rumors. Theresa Sherwood was an assistant to Erica Dorje in our first year at Lowell, and we found her top-notch: curious, communicative, creative, warm and thoughtful. While I disagreed with her about the split, I knew she had a limited perspective, both as a relative newbie herself, and as a teacher responding to 1st-grade parents (i.e. those with the least institutional knowledge of Lowell and the district).

While it seems many of our fears about the split are turning out to be well-founded (attrition, lack of funding, no standardized curriculum), we are not losing our teachers, who in our four years at Lowell, have been great.

hschinske said...

Buh. I can't believe I misspelled my own name. Must have posted before coffee.

Helen (no E) Schinske

Laura said...

sonicmom, my mistake. I didn't misunderstand your post, but I did misattribute the comment about Ms. Sherwood to you when I should have attributed it to an anonymous poster.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase a consultant that I heard recently, I see the options as love it, leave it, or lead it. (Though it sounds like some on this thread would want to add "live with it").

I have a child in APP at Lowell this year, and my younger child is coming next year. I admit to being an armchair critic lately, and I'm now choosing to put my energy into making the "new" Lowell successful. I'm really invested in making the school work... we can't afford private and we came from an ALO that didn't meet our needs.
Maybe we need a thread on moving forward-- will you "lead it"?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous 8:47am, that I am choosing to make the best of this situation for at least the next year. The APP teachers will still be teaching my child, and I am hopeful that Greg King will do a good job -- he seems the best fit for this situation.

I agree that the funding differences between the two schools are a concern, but I'm going to wait and see if it can get worked out. Per Greg King's email last night, it seems that he is trying to get this worked out.

What is more distressing are the families who are already choosing to leave without giving this a chance, without helping to recreate (or improve) the school's offering and community.

Robert said...

any word on the new K teacher previously at Lowell?

Anonymous said...

yes--not by choice

hschinske said...

Checking to see if it's still possible to post comments here.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this blog is being read, but if it is, I'd love to hear how Lowell and TM feel to parents now that the school year has started.

ArchStanton said...

I think there's good reason to fire up this blog again. At the very least, Lowell and Marshall parents can compare notes and see if the schools are really equitable.

Hey! Andy! How about some new threads?

I think the school year has started pretty well. The social held the week before school started was very positive and seeing my daughter running around with her old friends was very satisfying after having a different school each of the last two years - it felt good to "return" instead of "start over". My daughter is happy with her teachers and I feel more plugged in than I did last year. I'm disappointed that they dropped the community bus stops. Today we're taking the bus for the first time this year - we'll see how that goes.

I know of a few "administrative" hiccups around bringing the different communities together (can't say more), but we'll know in a few days if they will be resolved without too much heartache.

Anyone else?

agibean1958 said...

I'd sure like to see this blog reinvigorated too. My daughter has been very happy with Thurgood Marshall. She's made a few new friends from the ALO/gen. ed group of kids, as well as kids in her own class who were in other classrooms last year. Even the kids who WERE in her class last year seem to connect better. She likes her teacher, and he seems pretty ok from a parent point of view as well.

One thing I'm really pleased about has nothing to do at all with kids, but the building. She has an allergy to dust and the old Lowell building was a huge problem for her, kicking up her asthma regularly. The TM building is so much newer that that has not been a problem at all.

I am THRILLED with the bus situation so far. Althoug DD is the first picked up and last dropped off because we are so far south, the driver is always a couple of minutes early in the morning and from 5-15 minutes early in the evening! And the route is already shorter than it was from our old Beacon Hill location to Lowell, so it's certainly a win for us.

Getting nervous about the upcoming camping trip for the 5th graders. The allergy potential concerns me as we'll be pretty far from any kind of real medical care if there's an asthma trigger out there. But the point of the trip is a good one, and DD loves the idea of the trip, so I'm going to try and work up the nerve to go for it.

ArchStanton said...

I sent an email to Andrew via the link in his profile. I suggest anyone else interested in breathing life into this blog do the same. I find the Seattle Schools blog useful as a sort of historical archive for the district and think it would be nice to have a more specific version for Elementary APP - as well as a way to stay in the loop with what is going on with our friends at the other school.

Anonymous said...

I think that Andrew's child no longer attends Seattle Public Schools (I thought I saw a comment a comment he made somewhere on that). Perhaps we need a new blog...

Anonymous said...

I contacted Andrew and due to personal and work time constraints, he is not able to actively handle the blog, but happy to bequeth it to someone who has the inclination. If you're interested, you should let him know.

agibean1958 said...

Well, as they said in Shrek, "That explains a lot." If someone starts a new blog for APP, I'll be there. My hope is that it ends up being more informational and a stay-in-the-loop destination as well. Maybe we could keep one thread for debating the merits of the split, or whatever the debate du jour is, and have other threads for informational purposes.