Location: 2550 25th Avenue @ Vicente street, Parkside map
School hours: 7:50-1:50 (yard opens at 7:30)
Principal: Michelle Chang
Web site: http://sfportal.sfusd.edu/sites/feinsteines/default.aspx
School tours: Wednesdays, 10am (by appointment)
Kindergarten size: 80
Total student body: currently 377 but will fill to capacity (500) by 2011-12
You should consider this school if you're looking for a place with:a state of the art facility; a Green school; a school with music and art enrichments;
Campus/PlaygroundThe first thing to notice at DFES (as they call it) is that this is a new, new facility (newest building in SFUSD). The school and program opened in fall 2006. The school architecture features large windowpanes and a lot of natural light throughout. The lines of the 2-story building are clean and not fussy. There is a spacious gym/cafeteria that is used for presentations, with lofty ceilings and a glass window lookout from the second floor. The information distributed stated the playground area is 50,000 sq ft. There is a dedicated play structure for the K classes, and another for the older kids. We didn't venture out too far into the yard but it seemed well, nice. And new.
After School programsStonestown YMCA offers the paid onsite after school program. The YMCA also coordinates onsite enrichments including theater, chess, Mad Science, chorus, music (instrument) training, sports/gymnastics, fashion design, table tennis, art and drawing, and French.
Before School programsActually there is no before school option, the yard duty starts at 7:30. But they do have an extremely organized drop-off system on Vicente with parent volunteers who walk the children from car to yard. It seems very efficient.
PTAA growing and active PTA is building a strong community for DFES. Activities include fundraising to the tune of $70,000 last year (the 2nd year of the schools existence). They are hoping to raise $85,000. The PTA organized the tour docents, and was extremely organized with sign in, registration of touring parents, and the only school (so far) to send a thank-you-for-touring email to me. Other community building events include family dinner nights and family movie night (both on campus). They received a First 5 grant for two years to support community building and parent leadership development. This definitely feels like a big and warm family.
Language program(s):None during school; a French enrichment option is available (but no details)
Tour Impressions Walking into DFES, you feel how pleasant it is to be in a clean, airy, modern building. It is a great feeling and one that permeates the feeling in the school culture. The tour started in a large conference room, which is another feature - having meeting space outside of classrooms for teachers and staff. Principal Michelle Chang shared her background, with past credentials including teaching and administrative positions at Guadalupe and Jefferson Elementaries. She spent a brief stint at Clarendon in 2004 (?) before being assigned to work on the opening of DFES. Principal Chang was personally involved in almost all decisions regarding the school from the furniture to hiring the teaching and administrative staff. She feels great pride in the school, and obviously has given a great deal of herself to building a wonderful school.
Principal Chang highlighted the active parent involvement in the school, and that it is a Caring School Community. She explained that this is a program similar to Tribes which is used by many other SFUSD schools, but with extensions to the home. She's also launching a positive reinforcement program - "Caught Being Kind" which will issue "tickets" to kids who are seen doing good deeds. DFES has an inclusion program and includes a Student Success Team paraprofessional to help with the high need students.
The school uses the district provided science and math curricula - FOSS and Everyday Math. She said that the FOSS kits at DFES are all kept in a dedicated science lab rather than in the classroom, but she said that the teachers also teach science in the classrooms. The school has a Green School program including composting, recycling, gardening, and also usese green cleaners on site. The school was recognized by SF Environment for being a green school.
While walking through the hallways to see the classrooms, we heard a 4th and 5th grade music class - some choral training by the teacher. This is taught in addition to students who take instrumental music. In the lower grades there is enrichment in the form of Orff music classes taught by an artist in residence.
Visits to K, 1, 2 and 3 classrooms all yielded glimpses at students and teachers hard at work. The 1st grade math lesson was using the Everyday math workbook, while the 3rd graders were working on a pen pal letter writing activity. One striking aspect was that we noticed male teachers in every grade, perhaps unusual (and refreshing) for SFUSD?
A garden committee and parent volunteers plant and maintain the garden, and there is a PT garden consultant who has been added this year to assist in development a gardening curriculum. A dedicated art room is used to teach art through the use of an artist in residence, Visual art in K/3 grades, Theater in 1st and 4th, and Dance in 2nd and 5th. The one odd thing was that the "art room" was basically devoid of any displays of student art. Perhaps it's a work in progress... A PE teacher is on site full time and works with all classes 2 days/week. I have heard really positive things about the PE teacher.
The library, another highlight, was unfortunately locked and we could only see through the window. The librarian is on site 2.5 days per week. The library has been supported by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum, with large donations to purchase and restock the books. There are also computers in the library that are available for student use.
With a great facility, dedicated principal and a well established parent community, DFES is a strong school and will surely grow only better over the years.