Sunday, November 8, 2009

Curley school preview - Nov. 6

While the King school felt new and clean, the Curley school felt lived-in and comfortable. There was student art all along the hallways and in the classrooms. It gave me a little warm, fuzzy feeling.

Perhaps I was also feeling warm and fuzzy because my son behaved himself quite well on this tour. Last year, we had to leave the Curley tour before it started because, well, he just wasn’t feeling it and he was 2. Enough said. I think that experience last year left me with kind of an “eh” feeling about the Curley. I feel very differently this year. (About taking kids on tours, I try not to, but if a school only offers Friday tours, I’m stuck.)

First of all, the Curley has a great outdoor play area. They recently had their play yard renovated by the Boston Schoolyard Initiative. There’s an outdoor classroom, a performance area, and active and passive play areas. This is my favorite part -- the K1 classrooms each have doors that go directly outside. There’s no playground equipment there, but it’s a great space to run around.

They have a K1 classroom plus one integrated K1 classroom . Every grade also has a structured English immersion class.

The K1 classes really impressed me because children were playing independently in a lot of different areas. Some were putting together a puzzle of a map of the U.S. (My son was exerting extreme willpower in not joining in. He’s a puzzle fiend.) Some were reading in a corner with the teacher. And others looked like they were doing some imaginative play.
The Curley is a K-8 school, but the Lower (K0-2) and Upper (3-8) Schools have separate entrances and are connected by a ramp, so there’s a bit of separation.

The special classes include theater arts, gym, science, and art throughout the year and music for half the year. In the lower grades, children get vocal music with some rhythm instruments. In fourth and fifth grade, they learn recorders, and in the sixth grade, they can start playing other instruments. The school recently received a grant for 30 instruments. Social studies is embedded within the curriculum.

The K1 curriculum says that every child at the Curley School is “required to read or be read to for 20-30 minutes each night at home.” Love it. There is homework for K1, but it usually involves reviewing poems or songs learned in class. A weekly math newsletter suggests activities to be done at home.

The school has a writing/computer lab, and the K1 classrooms had their own computers. No one was on them when we visited.

We watched an older grade, perhaps 2nd, do a reading lesson. As the students were sitting on a rug, the teacher read them a short story and then asked them to turn to their partners and describe what they just heard. Even though there were visitors in the room, all the students were very attentive and turned to their partners on cue to relate their version of the story.

Lunch is prepared in the Upper School kitchen and then wheeled down to the Lower School cafeteria.

I didn’t tour the Upper School (We left before the entire tour was completed. I didn’t want to push my luck.) The Upper School has several computer labs, as well as a newsroom for a journalism class. As a recovering journalist, the idea of a middle school journalism class warms my cynical heart. Advanced work classes begin in the fourth grade.

The school seems to have a very active group of parents, evidenced by the number of current parents who helped with the tours.

School starts at 8:30, and they have an after-school program run by the YMCA. Like most schools, they aren’t licensed to take K1 students in after-school.

There is a uniform requirement.

I believe I expressed reservations last year about the distance from western Roslindale to the Curley. I'm over it. It's not much farther than our preschool, so if we got assigned here, we'd deal.

My son and I both give the Curley enthusiastic thumbs up.

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