Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bernal visits Adda Clevenger

I left mid-tour. Not the place for my daughter and our family. Overall it seems very girl heavy and our tour guide said it was a 60/40 (girl/boy) split. It seemed much larger split to me.

The head master/director did not introduce himself and I had no clue who he was until mid-tour.

School starts between 8:00 - 8:15 AM (early for us) and the whole school comes together every morning for some singing. I do like the idea of the 15 minute arrival window. The kids came in and sat in the row (by grade). At the end of the assembly, all of the kids stood, in uniform, turned and sang the pledge of allegiance.

We saw a second grade civility class in progress. The civility class was described to us a class which helps build character development/life skills/manners. In second grade the students have a big feast where they are required to use the manners they learned in class. I don't know...Yes, manners are important - just had a 'weird' feel to me.

We went into the fourth grade class and the teacher and children seemed engaged. Unfortunately, I was not engaged and was already zoning out.

With the exception of the morning sing-a-long, I saw zero performing arts. Perhaps they were saving the best for last ?

The teachers split their roles across subjects. the fourth grade teacher we met teaches English, math and civility. The kids go from room to room and didn't seem to really have a home base.

Their appeared to be a very heavy use of a reinforcement/reward system. For example, students as individuals could earn points for listening and follow through. I saw whole tables earn points for being showing they were ready to listen by folding their hands. This whole idea rubbed me the wrong way as I feel it would create a real sense of competition amongst peers. I am also skeptical of earning rewards for things should be expected (i.e., listening). In one class in particular there were treasure boxes. I heard one girl bragging she got two points while her friend only got one. Child one had four prizes in her box and child one had one prize. Seeing that told me something about child two and I feel confident it told the other kids about child two.

Lack of technology program

I had high hopes. I was envisioning Fame!! Oh well....


  1. Thanks for your honesty - the rewards emphasis does sound potentially troubling and I concur that may be overdone. Otherwise, I can't put my finger on what exactly made you leave mid-tour - these things are so personal. Not sure what's so bad about teaching manners ... unless it is more like obedience school and overly regimented. Bummer you left before seeing dance, music or acting class - my neighbor's child goes there and they are so very happy with the school so your review was a surprise. Best of luck to you on other tours and thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow ... sounds like it really was a bad experience for you personally. Just want to say that I heard this was their first year offering formal tours so maybe they aren't that experienced at running a dog and pony show like the other independents (hence the head never introduced himself).

  3. yes, my dislike seemed very personal. the reward system rubbed me the wrong way. the fact that the teachers have no specialty.
    I am fine with no dog and pony show - in fact, I find it sort of annoying - but no hello?

    I had such high hopes as a family friend goes there and LOVES LOVES it.

    oh well...

  4. Hi, I understand that sometimes people have a strong adverse response to a school. But Imho a blogger should try to stay through a tour. Over the eight years my kids have been in school, I have been to a few schools where I felt uncomfortable pretty quickly, but always felt it was important to stick thru the process. I think that goes double when one is writing for a blog. Also, you should know that many, many schools use rewards systems. It's not that uncommon, nor should it lead to such a negative response. The failure to say hi, though, is troubling I agree. But enough to leave? Don't think so.

  5. ahhhhhhh, yes...I was waiting to be chastised. so, thank you :)

    you see, at two hours into the tour and seeing dislike after dislike, I knew it was time to go.

    I get paid hourly so each school tour is negative income. I have resolved myself to that this fall but I have to prioritize my time here.

    to clarify, I am not against rewards and reinforcement. I am against teachers feeding into a competition between students with rewards.

  6. I think it is entirely reasonable to leave a school for which you are going to be asked to pay tuition, when the tour rubs you the wrong way. We had the same experience at Synergy -- no, thanks.

    Also, the rewards systems I saw at some schools turned me off too. Little clothespins with names moving up and down a thermometer, kids' names on red, yellow, and green circles, ugh. You can do things like catching kids in the act of doing something great and sliding them a star or a sticker without fanfare, so as not to pit them against one another.

  7. Folks, there are lots more troublesome rewards system. How about the "collective punishment" system -- no one gets to do X great thing if one kid acts out. That, I'm afraid, is a much more common way of getting kids to behave. I have versions of it in elementaries and middle schools in the eight years my kids have been in school. The rewards systems you all are talking about are MUCH, MUCH less problematic -- giving kids individual incentives to behave well, rather than engaging in collective punishment because one kid misbehaves.

  8. My husband and I toured Adda Clevenger and were surprised at how much we liked it. We went thinking it would be a "back-up" option for K and are now, after a follow up 1:1 parent/Head meeting, considering it our first choice. It is clear that children are treated as individuals and held to a high level of responsibility as they mature. There is a refreshing honesty in the Head and seemingly no pretense and/or snobbery. The teachers we observed were empathetic in the early grades and demanding (in a very positive way) in the upper grades. I understand that the long school schedule and performing arts emphasis is not for every child, but I am surprised that this school is not more popular and well-known. It seems like a hidden gem to us!