Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St. Philip's Tour Notes

St. Philips was the first school my husband and I toured. It was a little hard to digest the tour since I couldn't really compare it to another school.As I mentioned in my original post we plan to visit our neighborhood school, Glen Park, and a couple of trophy, parochial and private schools over the next few months.

St. Philips Tour Notes Here:

The school seemed academic, traditional and had a strong parent community. There was structure. I felt a little underwhelmed after the tour. I think I expected a little more "spunk" or "creativity". I might be naive since I haven't visited other schools or in a 60 minute tour it's kind of hard to really know a school. In each classroom we observed all the kids were working individually or listening to the teacher.

I'm not sure if the environment would be right for our child. We are looking for a school that incorporates a hybrid of hand-on projects/real-life examples vs. all worksheets. Does this exist?

I would love to get feedback from parents that have a child at this school. Please comment.


  1. Jo,
    Thanks for the post. Is there any religious teaching at St. Philip's? Also how big were the classes?
    Thanks again.

  2. Yes, there is religious teaching. For the younger grades I think it was 20-30 minutes/day and for the upper grades it was 45 minutes.

    The only class that I actually observed that was interactive was the theology/religious class. The teacher seemed animated and was giving kids open ended questions and had them come up with own conclusions.

    The kindergarten class seemed large. I would say between 30-35 children. But, there was a lead teacher and two aides (non- parents).

  3. "We are looking for a school that incorporates hand-on projects/real-life examples vs. worksheets."

    Worksheets are the way in most of the publics and the parochials, because they use the same textbooks. Don't know about the independents.

    The exceptions I can think of are SF Community which uses project-based learning. I've heard second-hand that Clarendon uses some project based learning. Project-based learning ain't for every kid though. It's be a disaster with mine.

  4. ^^^

    SF Montessori (public school in Pacific Heights) would be another example.

    The parochials lean toward the more traditional approach and tend to have larger classes as well (often with aides, as mentioned).

  5. We are new to St. Philip this year and absolutly love it! The community is amazing and their K teacher is wonderful! Our child is already reading and has made so many great friends. We could not be happier with our chilce!!

  6. @3:12

    I'm glad to hear you love the school and your child is thriving.

    Do you feel the teaching style is traditional or is your child encouraged to be creative or think outside the box?

  7. Jo,
    You should definitely look at SF Community and the other privates you have mentioned if you really want hands on, project based learning. The San Francisco School is also project based.

  8. Creative Arts Charter School is also project based, it's similar to SF Community but as a charter, able be a bit more project based. Very few worksheets. (like SF Community it's also K-8).

  9. If you're looking for a school that "incorporates hand-on projects/real-life examples vs. worksheets," you should really look at Creative Arts Charter School. Even though our older son was doing fine in a District school, we came to CACS 3 years ago in part because of our frustration with the heavy dose of worksheets that dominated his educational experience. Our children are now in 3rd and 6th grades, and we couldn't have made a better choice. They both love school and are thriving. The school is small enough that are children are well known, and we have found the academics are stronger than they were at our District school. They get a good mix of project-based learning and fundamentals, and the level of individual attention that each child receives is inspiring. Next year, CACS will be expanding and will have 2 kindergarten classes and 2 6th grade classes. It's definitely worth taking a tour to see if it would be a good fit.

  10. Jo, I'm not questioning your review, but I'm a little surprised to hear about 30 to 35 kids in Kindergarten. I have friends there whose kids are in the upper grades and they say that class size is generally in the 22to 27 range. Did they get an unusual number of acceptances for K or has the school in fact expanded the size of its classes? Maybe someone at St. Phillips can comment about this?

  11. @9:12

    In the upper grades the class sizes were smaller, so you are probably correct. But, the kindergarten class definitely had between 30-35 kids.

  12. Jo, will you look at the Katherine Michiels School? It is less expensive than some privates at $1150 per month for elementary school. Alta Vista is around 20K per year. The school has a progressive curriculum and uses project based learning.

  13. We are new at St Philip as well and very happy so far. Our child is also reading, engaged and loves going to school. It is not project based in K and I would not term it as creative/exploratory - there is a strong focus on academics. Apparently all K kids in the past 3 years were reading and writing by the end of year. It is worksheet based with some art, Spanish, PE, Library, Art 2 days a week and religon which is light in K and we hear that there is 30-40 minutes of religon from grade 2 and up. The parent community is strong the school and community is well organized (they have been around for 70 years !!). There is assembly daily, a prayer, pledge of allegiance and kids who are late are tracked and parents get a letter each month about how many times kids were late ! There was a recent PTA meeting presentation on bullying where a psychologist spoke about and trained teachers on bullying and a federal agent spoke about cyber bullying, a reading specialist assessed all kids within 3-4 weeks of the start of the year and continues to be actively involved across grades (at least through grade 4). The K class is big : 35-36 kids and there is one teacher and one aide and one more supporting staff member. They usually have 30 kids and enroll 35-36 expecting 5-6 kids to drop out as public school spots open up right after teh start of school. This year, because of the new rules and changes in the process there was not much movement after school started espcially for SE families (Noe, Mission, Bernal, Exelsior). Overall it is a solid school with a focussed and coordinated teaching and parent community.