Monday, November 16, 2009

Sumner school preview – Nov. 13

The Sumner school (K1-5) is kind of tucked away behind the post office in Roslindale Square. I’d never seen it before, although we spend a lot of time in the square. This is one of our walk zone schools, so I definitely wanted to check it out.

The first thing I will say about the Sumner is that they have a lot of kindergarten classrooms. There is one K1 classes for regular ed students. At K2, there are two regular ed, one integrated classroom, one special needs class, and one sheltered English immersion. Feel free to correct me if I got that wrong. Overall, half of the student body is in regular ed, 28% are in special ed, and 20% are in bilingual ed.

K1 students were singing and doing their morning stretches when we visited.

The kindergartners are on the building’s lowest level so they can be closest to the bathrooms. There is only one set of bathrooms in the building for 500 students. So this requires a lot of coordination and structure. Did school designers in 1931 not consider the tiny bladders of tiny people?

There is no official library, but their after-school program partners with the Roslindale branch library; it’s just a few blocks away. ReadBoston also lends books to students.

Among their specialty subjects: science, gym, computers, art, drama, and music. All students don’t get all of the special classes every week. They rotate. Their gym isn’t full-size, but they had soccer nets and other gear. Older students take instrumental music. I think the band has to practice around the corner at the Roslindale Community Center because of space issues.

Science teachers come to each classroom rather than pull students out to a separate science classroom. Hallways were lined with tables of beans sprouting and aquariums with crayfish. The computer lab had a container of mealworms.

They seem to have a strong focus on integrating arts into the curriculum and the before- and after-school programs. Some of the artwork was quite amazing.

The Sumner runs its own before-school program. After-school is run by the Boys & Girls Club. I wasn’t clear whether K1 students were eligible. However, the nearby Roslindale Community Center does have an after-school program for K1.

Uniforms are mandatory. A nurse is there in the mornings.

In sum, the Sumner was ok. My son’s interests lean a little more toward science than arts, so the Sumner probably won’t be at the top of my list. But it will definitely be on the list somewhere.

[Edited to add: I learned at a West Zone Parents Group meeting that movement, in addition to art, is integrated into the curriculum. For my high-energy 3-year-old, who runs the occasional kiddie road race to burn off steam, this would be a very good thing.]

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