Wednesday, December 4, 2013

School Tour: Stevenson

I immediately did not click with this school.  We waked out of this tour part way through, so take my below impression with a grain of salt: 
  • Displayed prominently on the wall at the entrance of the school is Stevenson’s API score:  an impressive 933.  This score was also printed on the front of their brochure and mentioned twice by the tour leader.  Too bad I don’t care about test scores.  
  • To my husband and I, the place definitely had the feel of an institution (which, to be fair, public schools are).  Cold, bright lights, indifferent people, sterile.
  • In one Kinder room, the teacher was using some kind of read-out-loud book, the kids seemed engaged in listening to the pre-recorded book, but it seemed like weird methodology to me - why wasn’t the teacher reading the book herself?  Why had she chosen that particular assistive technology (which reminded me strongly of the kind of blinky-talky branded annoying toys that we ban from our house)?
  • In the other Kinder class, the kids seemed pretty restless and not engaged in the activity, which was some kind of rote learning call-and-response large group lesson.
  • Every single child that we saw in each classroom was Asian, and we do want our school to reflect at least a little of the diversity of the city where they’ll grow up and the family they belong to.  
  • There seem to be a lot of extra resources that the tour leader and the handout indicate are available at Stevenson:  a full-time librarian, a full-time PE teacher, multiple enrichment and extracurricular activities like gardening, student council, arts, etc.  

Ultimately, walking the halls of the school left me literally and figuratively cold.  It would be great if some Stevenson parents could comment on their experiences with this school for other readers - the impression I got in my 15 minutes on campus is probably quite different than the reality of being a student there.

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