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Posts Tagged ‘magnet schools’

Review of Enloe High School Wake County Magnet School

24 Oct

Are you thinking about Enloe high school for your child? There are so many glowing reports, right? Well, I am going to give an honest good and bad review of the school.

Good:
1. This is really good – teacher quality overall seems very good, better than the average my kids have experienced at other schools.
2. There is a lot of arts for kids to take classes in: Theater, Dance, Visual Arts, Band, etc.
3. They have a great Computer Science 4 year program (IF your child can get a spot…)
4. They offer a lot of AP classes with quality AP instructors.
5. The school has great diversity with a mixture of multiple races: Asian (including Chinese and Indian), Hispanic, White, Black
6. The school offers many different foreign languages, not just 2 or 3.

Bad:
1. Your child will live and breathe school work – for some that may be a plus, for me, I believe in balance and my child spends too much time on academics
2. The school is competitive, not directly but more indirectly because teacher expectations are so high and the student body is a high achieving student body, it puts pressure on kids
3. There is not a lot of choice in classes – students HAVE to pick all these alternatives (some they may not even really want but are forced to pick a certain number of alternatives) and if put in one of those alternatives, they CANNOT ask for a change to other classes.
4. There is very little flexibility in scheduling and in the school in general because it is so overcrowded.
5. Courses like C&C which high achieving students will be encouraged to take will grade very harshly and on things such as the ability to cut other students off in seminar circles and if your student doesn’t have the right personality for that, well, too bad, they do poorly. They also will give an outrageous amount of work to students, freshman C&C is more like a 200 level college course than a high school freshman course – students can gain a lot from it but they will WORK for it.
6. Your student may choose to attend the school for a specific program like computer science and then not get a spot in the class.
7. If your child isn’t a “star” in areas of theater, etc. they may never get a chance to explore and grow by being on stage in a production (or so I have been told).
8. I have emailed my child’s counselor twice and never get a response, I have emailed the principal about an issue and he never got back to me, so parent communication is not a high priority.
9. There have been guns brought to school, “death lists” created, and staff has not done a good job of making parents feel secure about how these issues are handled.

My kid has friends so she wants to stay, for now, we will but we have had better experiences at other schools. In fact, we liked Southeast Raleigh Magnet HS a lot, it had problems too but we found ways around those issues by using dual enrollment instead of AP classes (their AP teachers were terrible) – I hope this review helps people know both the good and the bad about the school.

 
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High school choices for gifted students in Wake High Schools

27 Feb

Your child is academically gifted and you want to maximize their potential. Great, good job being proactive in your child’s life, strengths, and awareness of their needs.  I would be remiss to not point out that academics is not everything and a good balanced person is ideal.  Someone who is smart but do not make  others feel dumb, someone who can connect socially with many different types of people,  and someone who appreciates that other people can have fantastic gifts that are not intellectual.

So, what hgh schools offer the most for children?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of a few:

 

  1.  STEM EARLY college…I generally like this project gram, it has a very set theme, kids earn college credits while in high school, however, all electives are in science, math, computer science,and engineering somthta better be your passion.  Now a con, it is very difficult to get a spot.

2,  Raleigh Charter High School, a great school for the basics. There is very little offered in electives and the ones they have are weak.  So, if you choose this, is you can expect a no bellls,r,whistle learning environment for math, science, English,and social studies.  The kids are very studius and don’t interact the same way you see  a traditinal highschool. They get lots of HW but go to school 1.5 hr less per day.

 

3.  Southeast Raleigh Magnet Charter HS…. they have lots of academies like Engineering, Bimedical, and IT.  These are good programs but there has been a lot of turn over in faculty in these academies and the school as a whole.  I aslomfind that some teachers are great and some are lazy.  I have not been pleased with the AP classes at the school, I wish I knew the exact number but I would guess only 10% pass the math and science exams.  The teachers are terrible at teaching AP classes.  My child ghastly enjoyed being the big fish their but we have had to supplement to keep him on track academcally for the competitive college class of engineering  at NCSU that he wants to go to.

 

4.Cardinal Gibbons HighmSchool….l cant say too much because I have only had a small experience with students from there.  What I found is that they are academically weak. For example, there Math always a year behind ours.  When kids taken Algebra 2 there, they learn what we taught in Algebra 1.  There precalc be is like our math 3.  They never win national merit scholarships or get n best high school list so it is academically weak.

5.  Enloe will be the last school I talk about.  It has a good reputation.  it offers lots of great electives, a strong core and I hear good things about their AP scores. There is decent level of diversity, but the it does start at 7:25!

 

*sorry for typos, ipad keypad is acting up.

 

Review of Moore Square Magnet Middle School, WCPSS Magnet School in Raleigh

26 Jul

Is your child in 5th grade and it is time to start thinking about middle school?  What choices do you have in Wake County for middle school?  Middle school is a challenging age for kids, they go through a lot of changes during this time.  They are also building some core knowledge that will prepare them for high school when “grades count” towards getting into college.

There are some options in Charter schools – many are hard to get into if you were not already there as an elementary school student since they are often K-8 schools.  Also, many are filled with kids who have different types of struggles with IEP’s so that changes the dynamic of the school a little.It can be good for some and not good for others due to that situation, depends on your specific child and how the school handles children with a variety of behavioral, learning, and other disorders.

Most families go the simple route of their assigned base school.  The child has already made friends from the elementary school and they don’t want to disrupt this.  There is merit to this choice but kids are resilient these days and after complaining for a bit, most will make new friends if their parents don’t give them an option.  This was our approach.  My kids were not happy with the choices but we made sure we explained all the benefits they would get at their schools that their friends at the base school would not have and they did agree that those things sounded much better.

So… what are those benefits?

In 6th grade at a base middle school, you get 60 minutes a day of core classes and the 2 electives of 45 minutes each.  Your choices for electives are very limited, you get put in a computer application course and you can do band or a wheel of learning (where you explore career choices).  As a 7th grader you can finally choose to take a foreign language and other electives include band, more CTE computer application classes, PE, and home economics.  Your choices are usually limited to about 2 or 3 per semester.

At Moore Square, you get a list of about 128 elective courses – you don’t take ART or MUSIC or PE, you have many choices within each that you can select – you can do drawing, piano, and volleyball or you can do pottery, guitar, and basketball.  You can also do regular band or drums.  You can take all different levels of classes relating to theater, you can study classes that relate to math like Personal finance, stocks, or Fantasy Football Math, or you can study Science specialties like the Grey Matter of the brain where you dissect real brains and look at them, or you take genetics, or forensics.  You can take law class or debate class or study civil war, geography, or mythology.

The school offers a handful of languages you can take as well and get high school credit for them.  You can also get high school credit for Math 1 and 2 and possibly Earth Science.  The student’s day is broken up with core and electives mixed up so they don’t have to do all core at one time.  They only have 45-48 minutes of each class, including core – so half of the day is core and half is electives and lunch.    It makes school more fun, interesting, and less stressful.

Most of the teachers I have seen there have been great!  She had fairly good teachers last year and only 1 that I have concerns about this year.  The transportation may be an issue for some but there is an express bus so it is worth it for me.  I also think the quality of education she will get at Southeast Raleigh HS  or Enloe is way better than Apex high and if she stays in Magnet she can transfer to magnet.

 
 

Choosing schools in Wake County, North Carolina – charter, public, magnet including detailed review Southeast Raleigh High and Moore Square Middle

28 Jul

Which School Do You Choose and Why?  Exploris, Sterling Montessori, Carnage, Apex Middle, Lufkin, Moore Square, Holly Springs High, Apex High, Raleigh Charter High, Southeast Raleigh High, Turner Creek, Olive Chapel, Baucom, Davis Drive, Fuquay Elementary…. 

 

Come explore some Wake County Schools with us…

 

As an educator and a parent to kids who are academically gifted and who have learning struggles and need a 504 plan, I had to choose schools in Wake County for my children to attend.  I have 4 children, 2 have already graduated high school and my last two are in now in middle and high school.  Here is a review, it will be ongoing about some school options in Wake County and a detailed review as we go through the year of the two schools we ultimately chose for our children – Southeast Raleigh High School and Moore Square Museum Magnet Middle.

First, let me address Wake County public elementary schools.  My children have attended:  Turner Creek, Olive Chapel, and Baucom Elementary.

Wake County Elementary Schools:

In general, unless your kid needs an IEP, you will find that most elementary schools in Wake County will be decent and meet the needs of students.  When it comes to giving students IEP’s, however, you will find some schools much more willing to cooperate than others.  For example, Turner Creek is much more likely to give students in need of IEP’s the support they need while Olive Chapel and Fuquay Schools are not.  Many students I tutored who were getting further and further behind academically were not being given IEP’s at their elementary schools and were being given minimal “extra” help.  My own kids also attended Sterling Montessori Charter school and I found they got a very good education there and excellent help if they needed special education services.  From the 3 public schools my kids attended, I would rank Turner Creek the best, then Baucom, then Olive Chapel.

Wake County Middle Schools:

Once your child is ready to start middle school, you may want to consider being more picky about schools in Wake County.  They also solidify their friendship groups in middle school and might not want to their middle school friends (it can be hard enough to get them to leave their elementary school friends) to attend a better high school and this is when I feel making the right choice (think College) really matters.  My kids have attended Apex Middle School, Exploris, Sterling Montessori, and now I have one who just started Moore Square.

Davis Drive Middle is the one middle that I have found really stands out as a GOOD public middle school.  Families specifically buy houses so they get put in that district.  The kids I tutored that attend that school are very bright and I don’t get much in the way of teacher complaints, so Davis Drive gets a Thumbs Up.

Lufkin Road Middle does not have the best reputation.  I have had heard lots of complaints of not-so-great teachers at the school.  Apex Middle seems to be a little better than Lufkin.  My son did not like the school at all but he left a Charter school to attend so didn’t go in with a bunch of friends he had known since elementary school.  These public middle schools seem to have a lot of boy-girl focus so be prepared for that.  None of them are terrible but none of them are particularly great (outside Davis Drive) either.  One  problem is that they don’t do much for AG kids.  The base schools have very few electives and are just average schools – if we were to grade them, they would get a C.

The middle school at Sterling Montessori is NOT as good as the elementary school.  It is not that organized but I would still say it is probably better than a school like Apex Middle or Lufkin.

 

Exploris middle school is a good school overall.  I was very impressed with it in the 6th grade when Kevin was the director.  The new director has changed some things and seems to be putting much of her time into growing the school that it seems that the things that made it so good in 6th grade decreased, which is a shame.  Before, my son would go out to downtown Raleigh field trips and museum experiences ALL the time.  In seventh grade, he went significantly less.  In eighth grade, they piled on the work and I felt their academic choices were more obscure random things than core topics that would serve him well and prepare him for high school.  We chose to leave part way through 8th grade, in part since the program seemed to be lacking all the good things that it had, some bullying was going on that was not being addressed, and because his class was filled with so many kids with “issues” and he had some of his own that he didn’t feel connected with anyone after 2.5 years at the school.

I will review Moore Square below since this will be a review I will add to since my daughter just started there.

Wake County High Schools:

This is where I think parents really need to pay attention to where they send their kids.  Many of Wake County high schools are doing a poor job of educating kids.  Since I tutor mostly high school kids, I have worked with kids from many of the different schools and have just been appalled at what I have witnessed.  Here are a few examples:

  • Teachers allowing kids to cheat because their students are failing and the teachers need to kids to pass to make the teachers look good
  • Teachers who don’t bother to grade papers, just give a random grade and/or 100 – and throw the papers in the trash rather than return to student with feedback (since they weren’t graded)
  • Teachers who don’t get around to teaching most of the period, tell stories, go outside, etc. but still test students on material they haven’t taught
  • Teachers who assign homework but don’t clearly communicate to the students what it is so the students have no idea what to do
  • Teachers who give assignments that they know kids will and have cheated on and then count it as 2 test grades (F kid scores 100) so they can pass the kid
  • Schools that give diplomas to kids who have not met all the requirements to graduate or they “boost” them / falsify information to allow them to graduate rather than helping student learn and really earn diploma
  • Teachers who grade unfairly because they just don’t care
  • Teachers who don’t respond to parent emails and request for help with their child
  • Schools that ignore 504 plans and IEP’s
  • Schools that require students to meet requirements for graduation and then don’t offer those requirements so student can’t get diploma (special education)
  • Schools with no follow through on discipline so kids don’t have any consequences and just continue to do whatever they please
  • Schools who let their students knowingly smoke in a spot right near the school in plain sight of cars driving by
  • Teachers who give out passing grades to failing students just to move them forward and then the student is just further behind in the next class, especially in math
  • Students who are left alone for almost all period when subs don’t get there until the last 20 minutes of a 90 minute period and no teaching happens with any subs

If you want your kid to get good grades that are deserved, learn what they need to, and be prepared for college, you need to really consider what high school you send your child to.  The above examples, FYI, come from Apex High School (most of them), Holly Springs High, Athens Drive High, and Panther Creek High (although overall Panther Creek has a fairly good reputation compared to these other schools.)    Most of the teachers in these schools are burned out and are passionate people that care about your child’s learning.  I am sure this is happening in other schools across Wake County as well.

My kids have attended (for high schools) Apex High School, Raleigh Charter High School, and  Southeast Raleigh High School.

Apex High School – I will not send my kids to Apex High anymore.  My oldest only went there for 2 classes as he went to Raleigh Charter most of the time.  He had a decent teacher for AP Environmental Science (scored a 4 on AP exam and got college credit) and a not so great English 4 teacher.  I am so glad he did not have to take math there.  Most of the math teachers there are terrible.  My other son was in the OCS (Occupational Course of Study) so he was not in regular education classes much.  The school had a requirement that he do 360 work hours that they told us they would provide for him to graduate but then didn’t provide them.  We had to go to mediation and get them to provide a place for him to volunteer over the summer to get the rest of his hours in so he can get his diploma.  We told them it was like requiring English and then never offering it, not acceptable.

Raleigh Charter High School – is a great school if your kid is book smart, is willing to study a lot, and very academically minded.  It is not for the “average” kid.  Most of the kids there aren’t into dating boy/girl relationships, they focus on studies.  It was interesting to see the huge difference between a public MIDDLE school which had all this boy/girl dating focus vs. RCHS which was not that way and the kids were in high school.  My son liked it there but we also know he was the right “fit” for that school, some of my other kids would not be.

So, we decided to apply to two magnet schools for my youngest two kids for middle and high school.  With lots of experiences with schools from the older two and all the kids I tutor, it will be interesting to see how they compare.  I will start my review and add to as I go through the year.

Moore Square Museum Magnet Middle School – Parent Review – School Year 2014-2015

First impression – VERY GOOD!!  We first met Mr. Bass, the principal, at the magnet fair and I instantly liked him.  When we met other principals / students / teachers at other magnet schools, we just didn’t get impressed.  In fact Carnage didn’t even talk to us, I had to say, “hey, can you tell me about the school,” then I got a few simple statements from a student and she stopped talking… if they are going to send kids to represent the school, they need to send good ones!

Second impression – VERY GOOD!! – in fact, so far, every time we have been invited to learn about something with the school it has been amazing.  Their orientation was the most organized, intensive, educational orientation I have ever been to.  So much so, that I will probably write a letter to Mr. Bass letting him know that so he makes sure he keeps up the good work.  We went to Lufkin’s orientation one year when we though our son was going before he got into Exploris and it was so weak compared to what we got at Moore Square!  I hope all this organization and thoroughness that we see is a sign of how the school is run when kids are there!

The only negative to report was that we had to rate all my daughter’s elective choices and only one out of 58 was selected for her first two quarters!!!  I was not happy.  However, we will go with the flow, they did change her schedule when I put in a request saying that she did not want Dance or Pollution Solution and they changed her to Film and an Art class and she seems happy with that.  My daughter is now in quarter 3 of 6th grade.  The school provides VERY TIMELY reports on her grades, we get an interim every 3 weeks and things are put in powerschool daily.  Her teachers, overall, seem very good.  She has a decent amount of homework, but that is expected in middle school.  Her math teacher seems a little scattered and not that organized and although she is getting A’s, I hope she is learning everything she needs to since she will be taking High School level math in 7th grade.  There has been a great number of choices for electives that have been interesting and she has always gotten things that are decent and reasonably high on her choice list after the first semester and she did like her first semester electives.  One of those electives was a computer class that was required of all middle school students, anyway.  I think maybe there was a fight once but I have heard of more fights and issues from her friends at Apex Middle than she has had at Moore Square.  She is in classes with all other AG kids, except electives which is a mix of all grade levels but she usually has some friends in her class with her.

Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School – Parent Review – School Year 2014-2015

We weren’t really sure if this was going to be the right fit but we went and observed and I was very comfortable, felt safe, and really liked all the teachers.

Orientation – was terrible for parents – they did not tell us anything important and just asked for money – art boosters, athletic boosters, pta – they need some lessons from Moore Square!!  My son had a good time at his orientation though.

We did need to meet ahead of time with my son’s counselor to make a 504 plan and all of my son’s new teachers were at the meeting.  It was a great meeting and we were very impressed.  They were very accommodating to his needs (even more than Exploris – although that was again from the new director, Summer, the previous director had been very accommodating.)  It was the best 504 meeting we have ever had.  His PE and Engineering teachers were very lively and fun and full of support and information regarding everything.

First day of school went very well for him.  He made friends easily, the student leaders from his orientation remembered him by name and said hi.  Everything was very positive.

Freshmen have to take World History / English as a combined class that lasts a full year and the rest of their classes they take as regular block classes.  They also usually try to put freshman in Healthful Living and get that out of the way Freshman year.  Kids who are magnet kids are often in the academies:  Engineering, Biotech, or Information Technology (Computers).  Those in the academies must also be in New Tech (project based learning) or if you are not in an academy, you can still sign up for new tech classes if you want.  They do put all the academy kids in the same classes but not necessarily all the engineering kids in the same class – mostly because these are the new tech classes they have set aside and you must do new tech if you are in the academies.  I think the new tech classes are great anyway, it takes the focus on just putting all the focus on content knowledge for your grade.  Kids do both tests and projects and get points for handing in work, working well with their group, creativity, grades on tests/quizzes/projects, etc. but only half of their grade comes from actual content knowledge (scores from the test grade or content knowledge from project grade) – so kids have a lot of ways to score points in a variety of ways and this helps give a more realistic picture of their ability as a whole and is graded more like a work environment than just, “can you memorize facts.”

Overall, the teachers I have met at the school have been excellent.  Some are better than others and some are off the charts, amazing!  In general the quality of teachers that I have met up to this point, far exceed the quality of teachers I saw at Apex High School.  They seem to want to be here, willing to work with parents / communicate with parents, and help children learn and excel.

The amount of technology this school has is also incredible.  In the new tech classes, each room has a computer for each student.  In the some of the specialty classrooms, like Digital Arts, the room is filled with Macs with huge screens and the latest Adobe Suite for learning, they are not behind in their software like other schools (at most they are one version behind).  The type of electives the school offers if your child is interested in engineering, biotech, computers, digital arts, etc. is amazing.

They have great clubs and teachers that support those clubs.  They have a wonderful Robotics Team and the Theater director is the most enthusiastic, fun, encouraging person you will ever meet!  My son has blossomed at this school.  The big question, everyone is worried about, is it SAFE?  The answer is YES.  There may be some “bad” kids, I don’t know, we haven’t met any!  I am sure there are “bad” kids at every school but the fact that they don’t stand out in anyway or anymore than any other school shows that this school is no different.  There are not fights, the kids seem respectful and nice.  My son is involved with so many activities that keep him at school until 9:00 pm at night and gone to football games – there has never been a problem.

 

Express Bus for Magnet Schools in Wake County

One of the downsides to magnets is the lack of neighborhood busing.  We were going to drive our kids to school the first day but the transportation and school personnel suggested that letting them ride as soon as possible is best since that is when they will help students learn which bus they need to take, etc.  We also know that they will be shutting down some of the highway soon for repaving, so riding the bus will optimal.  I was pleased that our bus doesn’t seem to leave too early.  I didn’t really want to have to put them on a bus at 5:45 and I know some people do.  I think if we did, we would drive to a later stop or drive.  Our bus doesn’t come until 6:20-6:25 and the stop is only 5 minutes from our house.  Right now, we are planning on leaving at 6:05, maybe later we will see if 6:10 will work once things get more predictable.  The kids are on the bus for only 30 minutes and there is only 1 other stop.  All the kids on the bus seem like nice kids.  There is a mix of middle and high school kids but they have the high school kids in the back and middle school up front.  Most high school kids are only 9th and 10th graders since after that, they can drive.  I guess putting my 6th grader on a bus with 9th and 10th graders doesn’t bother me since her brother is a 9th grader and on the same bus.  They take the bus to Southeast Raleigh HS, then my son gets off and goes into school.  He is there on the early side since the buses have to get there early enough to get the rest of the kids off to their schools.  They usually arrive by 6:45.  This will give him time to listen to music or visit with friends (which is probably going to be what happens).  My daughter catches another bus to Moore Square.  They had no trouble at all.  They didn’t get home until 3:38 today (first day) but they have to make sure they have all the kids in the first week or so, therefore it takes longer.  Later, they should leave SE Raleigh by 2:40 and be back by 3:10.  We feel good about the bus and our plan is to keep the kids on the bus.

 

Do you have a Review of a School you would like to do?  Send it to me and I will include other family reviews for any schools located in Wake County.

Try to include what you like about them and what you don’t like about them.

If you have any questions about the schools we have reviewed or mentioned, please ask,.