A couple of years ago I sent out an email to the Families of South Braeswood group asking for input about our local elementary school, Longfellow Elementary. I received many responses from neighbors. My daughter has now almost finished her kindergarten year there and many people have asked about our year so I thought I would share this with everyone.
Q: What has your experience been like so far? What did you think of the level of academics?
Our experience so far has been very positive and rewarding. We have been very pleased with the level of academics offered and impressed with the level of concepts that she has learned. Most importantly, her school experience has encouraged her love of learning in general.
Q: How well was she prepared for any standardized tests?
This year my daughter took the Stanford and the Naglieri tests. We were very pleased with her results.
Q: What is the feel of the school/the classroom?
I have had the opportunity to volunteer in my daughter’s classroom for an hour each week allowing me to see firsthand what goes on in the classroom and the school. The staff is very pleasant and welcoming. In the classroom, I experienced an enriching learning environment, a challenging curriculum, and positive peer interactions. Her classroom has a great mix of cultures and my husband and I remarked that it feels like the United Nations.
Q: What are the other parents like?
I have had the opportunity to serve on the PTA board and have enjoyed working with other involved and dedicated parents. The school is blessed to have a beautiful facility and many resources to offer the students. I have gotten to know both parents living inside and outside our community and have formed new friendships.
Q: What is the magnet program like?
The magnet program offers music, orchestra, band, dance and art. Students also participate in computer and library, and physical education. The teachers are exceptional and the children perform all over the city and win many awards. I look forward to my daughter getting to pick an area of interest to further develop as she reaches the older grades.
Q: What does the school offer besides academics?
In addition to the excellent magnet program, the school also offers a character development program called The Leader in Me (based off of Seven Habits of Highly Successful People). I have read some interesting articles lately about how many children are taught to perform but not to think outside the box, overcome obstacles, and develop a good character. I feel that this program helps make our daughter a well-rounded person and prepares her to succeed in the real world. There is also a an outdoor teacher who works with the students in small groups to do hands on work planting and gardening and to learn about plants, wildlife, and natural habitats.
Q: Has it made a difference living close to the school?
Most days we walk to school and we enjoy seeing other neighborhood parents on our daily walks. My daughter’s younger siblings also enjoy tagging along for walks to school and it is a fun family time. I have formed a tight network of other neighborhood parents that can help with the occasional pick up or drop off. We have been able to participate in impromptu neighborhood playdates with friends from school. The proximity of the school has also allowed me to be involved in a way that I wouldn’t be able to be if we attended a school further away. I am able to drop in for a quick lunch with my daughter on occasion and attending school activities at night is very convenient.
Q: How did you make the decision to choose Longfellow?
The most important thing I did I before my daughter started school was to visit Longfellow frequently. We made sure to do a school tour, sit and observe a classroom, attend some school events both with and without my daughter, talk to other parents, and do a lot of hands on research. We also visited many other area elementary schools to have a comparison. Many times statistics and numbers don’t tell the whole story.
When my husband and I moved here over 5 years ago we saw such potential for community in this area. New families with young children have been moving in since we got here. Picking the right school for your child and choosing between private and public options is a very personal choice. I know not everyone will choose their local school, but it would be great if more neighborhood families took advantage of the opportunity. The magnet process is great in that it allows families many different options, but it is also super competitive and stress inducing as many of you know. We have the opportunity to invest in our neighborhood school, build relationships in our community and make our great neighborhood even better.
A school is at the heart of a community and a strong school makes a strong community. I would encourage you to put as much effort into researching your local school as you do other magnet school options. We currently have a great group of neighborhood parents attending who would love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.
As apprehensive as we felt before starting school, we were pleasantly surprised at what a smooth transition and great experience it has been so far. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you want to discuss this further. I would also be happy to take you on a tour and show you around in person.
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