Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Traditions Fall Festival

Come check out the Fall Festival at New Traditions Saturday, October 23, 1-4 pm..
We will have pumpkin decorating, mask making, a photo booth, live music and
more! For more info please see our events site at



  1. If you are a current or former New Traditions parent, please, post your thoughts about the school. It is our neighborhood school under the new system and we are not excited about it, to say the least (in fact, we are not even planning to request it). I would love to hear why my negative impressions are wrong. Or right.

  2. What exactly are your impressions and what are they based on?? Have you toured the school? I am a current parent and we're very happy there. It is not our neighborhood school and I wouldn't trade it for our popular school three blocks from my house. NT has a great parent community, amazing arts program- my kids have art, music and drama every week. Yes, even in Kindergarten. Please take a tour and see for yourself before making these kind of judgements. If it's not for you then by all means, put down another school.

  3. We have quite a few friends who just entered K (by choice) at NT. They are all very happy so far.

  4. I'm a current parent, and New Traditions was our first choice. We really liked the location and size (it's a small school), plus the art component. The principal isn't an obvious "charismatic super star," but she is really great. She's been there for 5 or 6 years, and has built up a good team of teachers. She really knows how to work the bureaucracy. There's also before-care and after-care that isn't hard to get into. There are also 2 special day classes there for special ed, but I'm no expert on that.

    I hear that people have negative impressions, but I don't understand where they come from. Scores are good (800+ last year), but the school was on the state "small school" list, so it didn't get some comparison data.

    I think that the school was on the "pending closure" list some years ago, and being on this list scared away many parents, which ended up being a vicious cycle. The district got away from making that list because listing a school would really hurt a school.

    I did read in the Examiner that some schools don't have enough books for their students, and New Traditions was mentioned as a school lacking books, so that's a negative.

    However, if it's your neighborhood school, I'd encourage you to tour, or to come to this Fall Festival to see for yourself.

  5. New Traditions was our first choice in last year's lottery. It was not our neighborhood school and we couldn't be happier with our decision to send our child there. She is very happy, thriving and learning.

    As the previous poster said there is a great parent community. Who are very passionate about our little school.

    The before and after care program with the YMCA is fantastic. There is a variety of other after school programs available-ceramics, drama, chess, yoga, spanish, kids outdoor club, and piano.

    When I drop off my child in the morning I see happy children. The staff is friendly and caring about their students and they know all the kids by name.

    To be honest I don't know what else more I could ask for in an elementary school.

    Tour it and see what it is all about or come to the Fall Festival and meet other parents before writing it off.

  6. 10:13 AM here. I dug up the California base scores list for 2009.

    Comparing Grattan and New Traditions scores:

    Num Students: 196
    2009 Base API: 822
    State rank: 7
    Similar schools rank: 2

    New Traditions
    Num Students: 89
    2009 Base API: 807 *
    State rank: 6 *
    Similar schools rank: n/a

    Of course, scores aren't everything, but they are something. New Traditions gets the stars (*) and no similar schools rank because there were fewer than 100 students tested in 2009. There were more in 2010.

    I'd be interested to know what the "bad reputation" is.

  7. To the OP please tell why you have a negative impression?

  8. We were assigned New Traditions and decided to go parochial after I spent over 2 hours there on the admitted parents' tour. The work on the walls was beautiful. It's a nice facility and one of the smaller schools in the district if that appeals. The test scores are perfectly acceptable. The school is a very short walk from our house and the start time and commute route location were fine.

    However, for me the negative impressions outweighed the positive. The 5th graders looked bored and irritable. One teacher told the touring parents there was not enough time to teach the kids because the teachers were too busy evaluating them for NCLB. Other teachers looked pinched-mouthed and stressed. (I'm sure it did not help that the budget was very uncertain at the time and pink slips had gone out.) We were told the kids got only 20 minutes of dedicated studio art time per week, which I thought was inadequate for my kid who loves art, and inadequate for a school touting itself as being arts-focused. I felt the principal was evasive in answering the more challenging parent questions and on a previous visit I had observed her interacting with a child having a behavior issue in a way I did not feel was positive. Overall I could not imagine our child or our family being happy at NT.

    Obviously opinions on this school vary. But it's your family and your kid. My take is that if you're starting out with a bad feeling, especially compared to other schools you've visited, it's best not to pursue it. If you don't want NT, someone else will.

    Those "not right" feelings happen all over the place so this is not meant to pick on NT or pick on public schools. Your gut tells you what it does for a reason. Setting financial considerations aside, I did not think Stuart Hall Elementary felt quite right for our son, even though his older sister had a fabulous experience at Convent and Stuart Hall has awesome teachers and every luxury you can imagine. Many people are willingly paying $25K per year to send their sons to Stuart Hall. I also got the same kind of "not right" feeling about Rooftop even though it's been a trophy for decades. Chacun a son gout.

  9. Have no idea what your last comment was there but in terms of the "art" at NT, I believe that music, drama and art all make up part of an arts curriculum. I still have not heard from anyone that the other publics have weekly drama, music AND art. If you're looking for 100% art class then you would have to look at charter or some kind of specialized school.

  10. Our small school, Creative Arts Charter (CACS), also has art, music and dance every week for the lower grades (K-3). The upper grades (4-8) get to choose a CORE arts focus and a minor. Our school is a public K-8 charter school open to anyone in the city with it's own lottery, separate from SFUSD. Our tours are starting up this week.

  11. Thank you, 11:58 AM. It's never easy to hear (or read) criticism, but you're fair, which I appreciate. I guess "feel" is why we tour schools, but it's harder to communicate feel than test scores. I appreciate your descriptions of fairly concrete things about the school that gave you a bad feeling. I hope that other prospective parents come for a tour to see if your feel matches with theirs, especially if you live nearby.


  12. kindergartner into New Traditions and we (my husband, daughter, and I) love it! I'm a former elementary school teacher and I toured many, many schools last year. It is not our neighborhood school but we loved the arts focus, the teachers, the principal, and small school size.

    My daughter loves her class and her teacher. Our teacher is getting her MA in literacy and stays until 6:30pm every night to prepare for her class.

    The school is diverse and all the children seem to like each other and play together. I like that! My daughter has made a lot of older friends from the before/after school program. She finally has the older sisters that she has always wanted. Also, I love how it is a small school and that my daughter knows almost all the kids already!

    The school community is very warm and welcoming. I feel very comfortable discussing any issues with the staff and families. When my daughter got a bladder infection because she was scared to use the bathrooms, the principal, teacher, and after-school staff were very, very responsive. The principal held a problem-solving class meeting with my daughter's class to address and solve issues about the bathroom. The teacher assigned my daughter a "bathroom buddy" so that she always has someone to go with. The principal put in a work order to lighten the bathroom door in the hallway so it would be easier to push open. The after-school staff assigned my daughter an older buddy to help her in the bathroom. My daughter now feels completely comfortable going to the bathroom.

    I am still learning about the school but plan to put in as much energy as I can to help! There are many active parents who work very hard to raise money for the PTA and volunteer in the classroom. Their examples are inspiring!

  13. The first part of my post up above should say: "We spent all summer trying to get our kindergartner into New Traditions and we (my husband, my daughter, and I) love it!

  14. Our child has been going to New Traditions for four years now. The school has been a great fit for us. It is a small school by design. Because of it's small size it feels like a village and there is strong sense of community. Teachers and staff know all of the students and visa versa.
    We find it to be a very friendly and nurturing enviroment for our family. The school is diverse in ethnicity, socio-economic levels and culture.
    Test scores are currently 802. The PTA is strong and is welcoming to any parent that would like to get involved. We were 0/7 in the school lottery and had never heard of New Traditions when it was assigned to us. Eventhough it's not our neighborhood school, we wouldn't dream of leaving it for a school closer to our home (in the avenues) and many of those schools are popular and highly coveted.

  15. catherineluceymartinOctober 6, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    I too am a very happy kindergarten parent at New Traditions (also with an elementary school teaching background). My daughter can't wait to get school in the morning. She is happy and exhausted every day after school. She is excited about learning. She is making new friends. It thrills me to see the pride she has in her school. Please come to the Fall Festival and meet the people that make New Traditions such a great school - the principal, the staff, the teachers, the students and the families. Then come back for a tour in November. Check our site soon for updated tour information: http://www.newtraditionssf.com/tours.html

  16. This is our second year at New Traditions and I could not be happier. GO DRAGONS! It is small, close-knit community of parents and educators working together to enrich each and every student. All of the teachers, not just my son's teacher, know his name and greet him. He had a sudden, very painful ear infection last year and I was called at work to come and get him. I found him, wrapped up in a blanket, on the principal's lap, while she rocked him, supporting him through his pain. That is caring. My son's kindergarten teacher made sure to give him more challenging homework when he grew bored; tailoring his educational experience to fit his individual strengths and weaknesses. The teachers are top notch, and are dedicated to the arts, not just at "studio time" but in the classroom as well. I would like to mention that the school is also very strong in science, social studies and math. Our _integrated_ art and music serve to strengthen the learning experience in all subjects. I have no idea where the "only 20 minutes of studio time" comes from, as the kids have a full period with the Meg and Carla our art and music teachers. My son likes to take his time on projects and he has never once complained about feeling rushed or not finishing. His kindergarten year was _magical_, and his first grade year is just as good, if not better than Kindergarten. We live in the neighborhood and love walking to school everyday. The later start time (930) makes our mornings very peaceful and relaxed. He thrives there, actually, we thrive as a family at New Traditions. I appreciate the diverse cultural and economic backgrounds of the students. I love that my son gets to hang out after school and play with his neighborhood friends at the fantastic after school program. Check out our greening program, our after school enrichment offerings, our principal's open door policy, our friendly and active PTA. New Traditions is a total educational package, and it just keeps getting better!

  17. Thank you so much to everyone who has posted. I am the original poster (11:05 pm last night). My impressions were based on conversations with former parents but it sounds like we really need to tour the school and decide for ourselves as it sounds like it has a lot of wonderful things to offer. So we will!

  18. We've been a NT for a couple years and have been quite happy with it, but going on a tour is important. I still wonder about the school that I could not get myself to like (after two tours) which is a block away from my house, and it is one that is generally raved about, including by parents there that I know. I might be wrong, but you still have to go by your gut.

    That said the major distinction for me about New Traditions is the size. It is the smallest (non-special program) elementary school in the district. Which is great for the sense of community. I know every kid in my children's grades by name and personality. It has a very involved parent body, doing great things in terms of festivals, greening, etc. And I love the art teacher. My kids have thrived so far -- enjoy going to school and love reading.

  19. My advice is to talk to parents of 4th and 5th graders, when the class sizes get bigger and they start doing more advanced work. At this age, I also think its important how a school deals with discipline and social issues (e.g. bullying). This goes for any school, not just New Traditions. I don't mean to criticize but I would say that there is only a small minority of people who are unhappy with their school (any school) at kindergarten, the cracks take a while to appear.

  20. It's so complicated, because I do believe in "going with your gut" (the one time I made a school choice for myself via rational reasoning vs. gut feeling I was miserable), but I know that tours offer only fleeting impressions. You're not likely to get to talk to the unhappy parents, either, just the really gung-ho ones who volunteers. And then in public, once you're there you're stuck!

  21. Unless you can't afford parochial at $7K to $8K per year, you're not stuck in a public school. A few parochial schools are packed to the rafters, but many have space in their classes and are quite solid academically. Not all are Catholic--see the "Elephants in the Room-Parochial Plaid" thread for more info. Of course you have to be willing to take the Christian indoctrination, the intensity of which varies from school to school. I happened to see a Catholic San Francisco newspaper yesterday saying tjat another 4 SF Catholic K-8s are in danger of closing due to under-enrollment.

    Especially if you have more than one kid and you really dislike your public school, it might be a good strategic decision to move them to parochial for a while (assuming your kid does not have behavior or learning differences that would cause a problem), then transfer back in to the school you want as an out-of-district student to get the sibling preference from the rest of your kids. It's disruptive for the kid who gets shuffled, but for multi-kid families, could be well worth it in over the long term in reducing financial stress and worry that your kid is in a school environment you dislike.

    If you truly can't afford anything except public, then it's true, there are a lot of stories about how hard it is to transfer from one public to another, so you probably want to gut it out and wait for something you're comfortable with. Even with the new enrollment system, there will be no shows and movement early in the school year.

  22. 1:03 PM, thanks, but Catholic parochial isn't an option for gay parents. The "Christian indoctrination" is against our very existence. I can take it, but my child should not have to.

  23. Actually if you read carefully, I said not all parochial schools are Catholic, which is true even though people tend to equate "parochial" with "Catholic." Also if you read other threads, you'll see that a number of Catholic parochial schools in SF welcome gay families. St John's in Glen Park and Notre Dame des Victoires in the Financial District are frequently mentioned as gay-friendly Catholic schools. Some people loathe religion in any form, or they loathe particular denominations and that's their prerogative. Obviously a school associated with a religious body they oppose would not work for them. Catholic school may not be an option for SOME gay families, but it IS an option for a number of gay families and they have posted on this blog to say so.

    Anyway, my real point was that if you have more than one kid and can afford tuition at a parochial school for the oldest child for any length of time, it's generally easier to transfer into a desirable SFUSD school as an out-of-district student (and get sibling preference for the younger siblings) than it is to take a spot at an unacceptable SFUSD school and try to transfer to another SFUSD school you like better later.