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Must perform perfectly or else! - Review by K . | St. Anthony School

St. Anthony School

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Must perform perfectly or else! 3/21/2006

My son went here for Kindergarten and part of 1st grade until we moved south. Our family had been going to St. Anthony parish for years and had really found a good home there. I love the parish and it's people - they are wonderfully supportive. However....the school is an entirely different matter. I LOVED Mrs. McLaughlin for his Kg teacher. A very dedicated, sweet professional young woman. She was so bright and encouraging to my son and me. Mr. Teale was a nice principal until he left this year (one has to wonder why, and I heard it was because of the "entitled" parents making him feel badly, which I totally believe!). We had a good time at this school for some of the part; however, there was TONS of pressure for the kids to perform. For kindergarten, my son was expected to perform above grade level, not just be a kid. I felt that there was no freedom for him just to be a kid. Very regimented schedule, short short lunches (10-15 minutes) so they hardly ever ate (young children need more time to eat!). Recess was always segmented into small increments on a blacktop playground. Not much in the way of physical education like 5 year olds need. We were very much encouraged to start him later, despite his evaluated readiness from two other teachers. I found out that this was because they are given so much HOMEWORK in kindergarten and 1st grade that they want the kids held back a year to make it look like they have a higher-achieving school (the kids are older, so they perform better at lower grade levels, it's an educator trick). They want to look good on paper when they are recruiting new students, so they tell parents to have their kids start kindergarten when they are 6 or 7 (and there was an 8 year old as well, in kindergarten!). I said no, much to the chagrin of the school. He was one of the youngest kids there (and he was 5, the right starting age for kindergarten). I felt that my son was unduly pressured because of this. When he got into 1st grade with Mrs. Racey, she was just downright mean to my son. He HATED her and HATED going to school. He was labeled as a "slow reader" and "slow learner" immediately, when he had previously done well in their own kindergarten class. She was mean and belittling to me and to my son, calling me at home to berate me, tell me how poorly he was performing, and asking what my problem was. She blamed me for him being younger than other kids, for slowing others down (including that 8-9 year old). She even called my ex-husband to complain about me (which he even defended me to her!). Mrs. Racey was HORRID. Sometimes, someone who pays attention to you is paying you the wrong kind of it. We left mid-year (thankfully, because I thought for sure that I'd have a kid who would hate learning because of the environment that he was in) to move down to Tacoma. I put him in the local public school. Much to my amazement, my son had a MUCH smaller class size (St. Anthony had 23 kids in his 1st grade, compared to 14 in this public school), and he had 2 teachers. He also got to go to a dedicated reading specialist, since he resisted reading because Mrs. Racey at St. Anthony pretty much made him hate it. He quickly caught up. I can't believe the difference a new school, public accountability, and happy educators make in a child's life. They have more freedom and less "entitled pushy" parents so that they can actually do their jobs and get enjoyment from them. What a concept. This public school doesn't have to focus on impressing fundraisers (begging for dollars) on a day to day basis. They have the money to really focus on the individual child, instead of packing classes and pressuring childen to jump through their bottom-line driven hoops to make more in tuition money like at St. Anthony. While St. Anthony was a good place for the "perfect" Catholic family who wants to social climb and brag about how much they are spending on their kids, those of us who truly want to have our children succeed at their pace with the love and support of good educators (and not based on "keeping up with the Jones'") will look elsewhere. My son has a great grasp on his spirituality too - he didn't need to go to Catholic school to learn how to be a good Christian (going to Catholic school sometimes has the opposite effect). Just because he went to a Catholic school didn't mean that everyone who worked there or attended there had that "WWJD" mentality. Jesus wouldn't have made my kid feel bad about himself like Mrs. Racey did to him. Oh, and the letter she wrote to us after we left has got to be framed one day - it's a perfect example of how cruel and cowardly an old, bitter school marm can be. She blatantly called my son stupid, and of course, she waited until we left the school to write this letter to me. Oh, the choice words I could use here... I wouldn't recommend this school, unless it's the last school that has an opening. more
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