I've been making a point to visit the schools that many of my North Side clients' children attend. I try to do this during the school day so that I can see the school in action.
In the past, I've been able to see why Herron High School and CFI School 84 have waiting lists and are so well-liked. I also enjoyed touring the new Riverside High School, Herron's sister school. I've also been given a tour of the International School's lower school campus, but it was after-hours.
Today I had the pleasure of being given a tour of Sidener Academy by Megan Federer, the school's Parent Involvement Educator. Sidener (formerly known as School 59) is the IPS high-ability elementary/middle school. A one story Mid-Century building located at the corner of Kessler and Keystone next to Glendale, Sidener regularly tests at or near the top of all schools in the state on ISTEP.
I was impressed by several things:
1. The children seemed alert, attentive, and well-mannered -- but not coercively so;
2. There was student art everywhere -- even on the ceilings!;
3. The administration seems attentive to the often-unique needs of high-ability students. As an example, counselors are periodically available to work with students to help bridge any socializing difficulties they may encounter;
4. The teachers I ran into all seemed genuinely interested in what they were doing. They seem to have been given greater autonomy in creating their classroom environment than I expected.
Sidener often has a waiting list for each grade. Students are not limited to those who reside in the IPS district, but there is a formula for determining preference in admissions. All students also must pass an ability test in both language arts and math -- not just one or the other.
Tomorrow's visit will be Mary Nicholson CFI School 70 in Meridian-Kessler. Shortridge, Allisonville, Nora, and North Central will be in my next round. At some point, I will tour most of the remaining public, parochial, and private schools on or near the North Side/Washington Township -- including those I myself attended!
[photo from nomeancity.com]