Thursday, November 5, 2009

King school preview - Nov. 4

I was the only parent on the tour of the King school. That’s a first for me. In other schools I’ve toured, there have usually been at least 20 parents. This was the first school preview for the West Zone, so that might have something to do with it. Perhaps the location was also a factor. The King is on the border between Roxbury and Dorchester. I knew nothing about the school and I had a child-free morning, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to check it out.

The King has one K1 classroom and two K2 classes. They also have special education and autism classrooms for grades K0-K1.

The plusses:
  • The school was very clean, new looking, and spacious. They just underwent a renovation over the summer and merged with the Dickerman elementary school. So now they’re K-8 (another plus, I guess). The walls are a little bare and feel a little sanitary, but the principal seemed eager to get some artwork up.
  • They have a huge gorgeous assembly hall.
  • The teachers and staff were all very courteous and helpful.
  • They have an in-house kitchen, and they have a professional chef make lunch every Thursday.
  • They received a grant from VH1’s Save the Music program, so they will be getting keyboards for older students and recorders for younger students.
  • The special subjects for K1 include library, art, music, computers, and Playworks (an adult guides non-competitive activities at recess).
  • They have an advanced work class in grade 6, but not grades 4 and 5. The principal said she is advocating for more advanced work.
  • They have a full-time nurse.
  • They also have a staff librarian and a library. They were still unpacking books from the move from the Dickerman when I went in. 
  • Kindergarteners have their own lunch shift separate from the bigger kids.
  • They have an on-site after-school program run by the YMCA for K2 and up. For the older students, the first hour is devoted to homework. Then they play games. K1ers need to have other after-school care.
  • They have a primary transition class for students who’ve finished kindergarten but may not be quite ready for first grade.
Now for the minuses: In Roslindale, we’re closer to the western side of the assignment zone. The King is over on the eastern side of the zone -- 5 miles from my house. That’s further than I would prefer to go for school.

I did a very unscientific look at crime in the area. My barometer for crime is how it compares to my neighborhood. (Just fyi, we live close to Washington Street, not in some gated community, so we’re not immune.) Looking at crime reports for the past 6 months, there’s a lot more crime in the school’s neighborhood than mine. I want my child to feel safe in school and getting to and from school, so that’s a significant minus.

I also saw some minor discipline issues at the school. Nothing major, just maybe more little things than I’ve seen at other schools. Part of this (like the occasional yelling in the halls) could be a product of having middle school students in the same building. The teachers and staff handled it all very well. But I wonder how much all of that detracts from academics.

1 comment:

GGW said...

Hi GM,

I like your blog. When you go on a tour, are you able to see a number of classes in action? That'd be a nice thing to add, your impressions of classes. in NYC usually has some stuff to that effect, like:

"On the day of our visit, an English teacher was sorely disappointed with several kids in his homeroom who had not completed their homework, and he let them know it, lecturing them in no uncertain terms."

Parents could interpret that in different ways -- "I'm glad they have high expectations" or "Wow, few kids actually do homework" -- but at least it's a nugget with which to form an impression....