Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lazy Tiger Mom tours Commodore Sloat



It is Commodore Sloat evening here on the SF K Files! It sounds like Word of the Mutha and I were on the same tour this morning, but with very different impressions of the school. It goes to show how personal a decision all of this K-soul searching is. Unlike Word of the Mutha's Sloat impressions, I've been wondering how to stop myself from falling in love with every school I tour. Right now Commodore Sloat is quite high on my list. 

This will be a short review from me since the previous post captured most everything amazingly well. 

The Facts
Location: 50 Darien Way
School hours: 8:40-2:40PM 
Principal: Rosie Esparza
School tours: Tuesdays 9-10:30am (more info
Grades: K-5
Kindergarten size: 66 - 3 classes of max 22 each
Total student body: ~400

Initial Impressions
Walking into the school was a lovely experience as I ran into 3 separate parents that I knew from various long-ago baby playgroups and other activities. It really set the tone for a community that I felt I could fit into, as well as parents who have done the commute from Glen Park. 

This is my fourth tour and I was very impressed with the large grounds and facilities. It felt like there was such a degree of vibrancy and care throughout the school grounds with colorful murals everywhere, from a tile mural co-created by students, parents and teachers that contains the Sloat motto to even painted bathrooms. 

Differentiators
These are what stood out for my decision-making: 
  • A strong sense of community. This is probably very biased given my entryway experience to the school. But still, it felt like the community really cares about every little detail of school beautification, both on the outside (grounds, gardens, murals) and on the inside (student values, general assembly, inclusiveness). 
  • Diversity: from a highly unscientific look around, the kids seemed to be 40% Asian, 35% white, 20% Latino, 5% African American. While it's not as diverse as the city, it matches our background. 
  • Creative teaching in the 4th and 5th grades where 1 teacher focuses on English Language Arts (ELA) and social studies while the other teacher focuses on math and science.  The teachers then swap classes mid-day. The tour guide explained that this gave the teachers the ability to focus more deeply on their subjects, and also gives the students a preview of what middle school will be like. This may be one of the reasons why Sloat has such high test scores. 
  • The most beautiful library that I've seen in my school tours. Lots of light, stained glass, cosy reading nooks, a computer lab… yes I'm a bookworm and so is my daughter. Sadly I can't post any pictures of this as there were kids sprawled everywhere. 
  • Feeder into what I hear is the excellent Aptos middle school and not having to go through this crazy process again in 6 years. 
  • Involved parent community that does lots of fund-raising. 
  • Tons of amenities - a native garden, arts, regular PE classes, edible garden. 




The only thing that made me slightly pause was that this is the principal Rosie Esparza's first year at the school. She seemed dedicated and hard-working. She has a background in teaching including educational reform which is fantastic. Her current mantra, which seems to be wise, is to watch and learn this school year before making her own evaluations for what to do differently. She seemed quite inclusive.


Finally, a super useful handout, a spreadsheet of available activities: 


3 comments:

  1. LTM, thanks for the great review. This blog is wonderful at showing how different people look at schools and really shows that school choice is subjective. I think the different opinions are great and also allow people to make individual and informed choices rather than simply following the crowd.

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  2. I've heard this is a great school.

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  3. I toured this school in December. While I loved the outdoor facilities and the library was definitely the best of 7 public schools I toured, my strongest impression was that the classrooms were unbelievably disorganized and messy. I kept thinking, "build a storage facility on those extensive grounds; this is a MESS." Another public-school seeking parent I met later had the same impression and said so with NO provocation on my part. Although this school may be great, the message that stuck was that it has a level of disorganization that I can't get over, so we listed it low on our list.

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