Sierra Elementary & High School Reviews
Small school with good individualized approach for each child
I'm not sure whether the only other review is for lower or upper school. We only have experience with lower school and I have to say that I have to disagree with the previous reviewer. So far the quality of instruction in lower school has been exceptional. The teachers have been delivering on the promise of individualized learning plans and small group instruction, allowing each child to move at their pace and master the material. The classrooms are small, 12 kids on average in each lower school classroom, but each has one teacher and one aide - that's a 6:1 ratio that no other school we visited had. The curriculum includes music, art, PE, Spanish, computers. Communication with the office staff and teachers has been easy and we feel that all of our many questions have been answered honestly and promptly. Yes, the parents drive on field trips but that was made clear to us before we enrolled and it's a relatively small requirement that we are happy to fulfill. I think that it's wonderful that the kids have 9 field trips per year - in all the school research we did there were only a handful of charter schools and one or two other private schools that offered that many field trips. Diversity in lower school is pretty good. Teacher turnover seems similar to other schools that we looked into. Lunch can be brought from home or ordered. If ordered, it is delivered fresh and there are 5 or 6 options every day - it just requires a bit of planning since it needs to be ordered 2 days in advance.
It is true that the facilities are far from new and shiny, but for us the wonderful experience in the classroom is much more important.
Here's what you get, or don't get, if you send your kids to Sierra. For approximately ten thousand dollars/year (more, for the esl students), you get:
No school library, no computer lab, no lockers, no gym, no auditorium, no cafeteria, no sports teams, no afterschool clubs, no instruments in music class, very few electives (all of which are held just once a week), no student newspaper, no athletic field (a city park is used for PE), one foreign language option (only Spanish), and field trip transportation either by parent volunteers or by city bus. The buildings are old and dilapidated, some classrooms are tiny, and many of the chairs and desks are worn down and should have been replaced years ago. Students either bring their lunches or buy them from a truck which pulls up every day.
The teachers must hate working there, since every summer Sierra seems to lose about half (or more) of its faculty. The "mainstream" student population consists mostly of kids who have special needs, which would be fine except that most if not all of Sierra's teachers have no prior experience or training in Special Ed.
Is this worth ten thousand or more?