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daddydrama
09-24-2013, 08:49 AM
The fall schools tours are about to get started so I wanted to get a thread started for the 2013-2014 process. We're going through the sibling process this year for kindergarten but would love to hear how the process goes for other parents out there. I'm happy to answer any questions if that's at all helpful. Good luck everybody!!!

pacheightsmom
09-25-2013, 02:54 PM
Thank you for starting this thread! We are excited about (and a bit overwhelmed with) this process. Would love to hear how it is going for others thus far.

ggbmom
10-01-2013, 05:19 PM
Thank you for starting this thread! We are excited about (and a bit overwhelmed with) this process. Would love to hear how it is going for others thus far.

We're getting started this week with tours. I'm overwhelmed yet excited at the same time to learn more about the schools.

boydaddy
10-03-2013, 09:12 AM
We've just started our child at SF Day, and it's going really well. I gained a lot of very useful insight from this website over the past couple of years, and am happy to repay the favor. So if anyone has any questions about SFDS, or the process in general, I'm happy to weigh in. I will say that we found was there to be many great schools in SF that our child would thrive in, so I wish everyone the best of luck in surviving and getting a good result from this experience!

mommysf
10-03-2013, 09:41 AM
We have our interview soon with Homa at SF Day, boydaddy do you have any advice on how to prepare for the interview? This is our first one and we don't know what to expect. TIA for your help!

boydaddy
10-03-2013, 11:04 AM
It's funny as SFDS was our first interview too. Homa does do all the interviews herself, which we really appreciated given the number of applicants. We felt like she really took the time to read our application in advance (which we also appreciated), and ask follow up questions about our child. The interview really focused on our child (versus us as parents). This was quite different from some other interviews (at the other extreme is SFFS as it was a great conversation but nearly completely focused on us as parents and our education backgrounds and no questions about our child). Homa really focused instead on gaining more insight into our child. So be prepared for you to talk about your child and who they are and maybe your hopes for their future school environment.

It's also worth mentioning that Homa is also a current parent with two sons at the school and a former educator (Kittredge school). She became a parent at SFDS and experienced the school for a couple of years that way before applying to be the AD. She is passionate about the school and can talk quite a bit about why it's been great from her perspective, but definitely make sure you get to mention 1-2 things you want her to really know about your child so she can make a good decision about fit. She is very thoughtful and interested in building a great class ultimately.

Finally, while I felt like Homa was present and focused during our interview, she also was trying to stay on schedule so it may feel a bit rushed. Other interviews we had ran way over (some over an hour), and we didn't know what to make of the fact that our SFDS interview was only 30 minutes. It did feel like Homa was trying to keep it fairly efficient. Don't worry about that, as despite that we could tell that Homa was very interested in knowing our child (she started the interview I believe with a general question like "tell me about your child" and then started asking about and referring to specific things we'd written). You won't need to go into your backgrounds too much, just who your child is. We also asked how many spots she expected for girls/boys and she was very clear and direct (as sibling applications have already been submitted).

Finally, just relax and be yourself. It is just a conversation and Homa is very nice. You'll do great! Don't feel like you have to sell your child, and be as honest as possible.

From our experience, the school is really trying to determine how to create a balanced class of kids who will fit their model of teaching (you can google "responsive classroom" and "habits of the mind" to get a sense for skills/qualities they are trying to develop and see if it fits what you're looking for in a school for your child).

Best of luck! I'd also caution that the SFDS open houses tend to be quite oversubscribed and frenetic (we went to the one where we brought our child during the day) and we felt like it was crowded and anxiety-producing. There were so many people there that we were sure there was no chance we'd get in and didn't get any opportunity to talk to Homa or the head of school during that session as it felt too crazy. Hang in there, as open houses seem to have no bearing on whether you get in. Try to use that experience to talk one on one to a few parents who are in the classroom and outdoor playground and not feel any need to sell yourself again - the open houses really just provide you with an opportunity to talk to parents/teachers and get more information.

I hope that's helpful and good luck again!

mommysf
10-03-2013, 08:24 PM
Wow thank you for such an insightful and detailed post boydaddy. We applied to publics last year for our fall child but ultimately decided on an additional year of preschool and are applying to privates now. We feel overwhelmed by the process so thank you for sharing your interview experience at SFDS, sounds like Homa is a very nice person and I hope we can relax like you suggested and just treat it as a conversation with her. I appreciate your tip about the open house event too. Our child can be a bit quiet in a new setting and takes a while to warm to new teachers. From what we know of SFDS, it is a very nurturing environment, boydaddy have you seen how the teachers work with quieter kids to bring them out of their shell so to speak?

boydaddy
10-04-2013, 02:56 PM
Happy to weigh in mommysf: Yes, I have found SFDS to be a very nurturing environment. The first three weeks of the year, they hold half-days to ease kids into routines (and they give free aftercare to make up for the shorter hours) and they spend a lot of time giving kids social tips ("tip of the day" with puppets) on how to introduce yourself, enter circles where kids are already playing, and make friends. This has really been helpful for both kids who are shyer but also those that are outgoing but suddenly find themselves in a new environment where they feel less confident. I feel like all the kids acclimated very well in my son's class, including some very quiet kids who had difficulty speaking on the first day. It's been amazing to see them come out of their shells and also, that there's such experience and thought from all the teachers to do so. And final point - there are a lot of teachers and resources at this school! 2 full-time K teachers, 1 transition teacher to help kids with making transitions, 1+ learning resource teachers to give kids extra support where they need it, and all the "special" teachers who also come 1-2 times per week (science, art, math, PE, music). Really a great place. I think they do the social and academic skill-building really well. But like I said before, there are many great schools in SF. I hope that was helpful!

pacheightsmom
10-07-2013, 01:31 PM
Happy to weigh in mommysf: Yes, I have found SFDS to be a very nurturing environment. The first three weeks of the year, they hold half-days to ease kids into routines (and they give free aftercare to make up for the shorter hours) and they spend a lot of time giving kids social tips ("tip of the day" with puppets) on how to introduce yourself, enter circles where kids are already playing, and make friends. This has really been helpful for both kids who are shyer but also those that are outgoing but suddenly find themselves in a new environment where they feel less confident. I feel like all the kids acclimated very well in my son's class, including some very quiet kids who had difficulty speaking on the first day. It's been amazing to see them come out of their shells and also, that there's such experience and thought from all the teachers to do so. And final point - there are a lot of teachers and resources at this school! 2 full-time K teachers, 1 transition teacher to help kids with making transitions, 1+ learning resource teachers to give kids extra support where they need it, and all the "special" teachers who also come 1-2 times per week (science, art, math, PE, music). Really a great place. I think they do the social and academic skill-building really well. But like I said before, there are many great schools in SF. I hope that was helpful!

Boydaddy -thank you for your insight! We too have our interview for SFDS coming up and this is so helpful! We were very impressed with SFDS. I am curious about the many teachers -1st of all what is a "transition" teacher? And when you say 2 full time K teachers is that per class? I know that SFDS has a lot of learning resource teachers.

We were also very impressed with our tour of Alta Vista School -in addition to the great program it seems to have more teachers per kid than any other school and I am wondering if I have this right and if anyone else who has toured Alta Vista (or has kids there) can weigh in on the faculty:student ratio and if it really is as amazing as it appears. At Alta Vista there are 2 full time teachers per class (co-teachers rather than an aide and a full teacher) and there are only 16 in each class. They also have several specials teachers (art, music, Spanish, P.E., dance and drama) and at least one learning resource teacher for lower school (maybe more??). I found this very impressive. I don't think they have separate science teachers but the curriculum is very integrated so science is taught along with the other subjects. There seems to be quite a bit of emphasis on social skills, etc as well.

One of our main reasons for leaning towards private over public is the student:teacher ratio which is why I was impressed with the high number of learning resource teachers at SFDS and the small classes at Alta Vista.

Are there other schools with this sort of ratio? Would love to hear any thoughts on this.

mamainsf
10-14-2013, 09:32 AM
We currently have a child at SFDS and can speak to the teacher:ratio there. This board was invaluable for me to gain insight while we were going through the process, and I would be more than happy to answer any questions about the admissions process and specific schools as well.

There are 2 Kindergarten classes at SFDS with 20-22 students each. Within each class, there are 2 teachers. There is also a teacher aide and a dedicated Kindergarten learning resource teacher. That means that there are 6 dedicated teachers for about 42 students. The kids also have teachers for subjects such as language arts, science, art, outdoor ed, library, math lab, OT, etc. There is also a lower-school counselor. In the after-school program they have special classes that are limited to Kindergartners or K + 1st graders. The transition teacher is referring to the teacher aide who goes to the after-school program with the kids, so that they have a sense of connection as they transition from the regular day into AEP.

Hope that is helpful! Teacher:student ratio was one of the reasons we chose private over public as well, though my advice at this stage is to tour as many schools as you can, both private and public, and get as much information as possible through tours but also through other admissions events and just reaching out to current parents (jot down notes it will soon all blur together!) It is a big time commitment, but it is worthwhile in the end if you can make an informed decision on the best fit for your child and family!

pacheightsmom
10-19-2013, 07:07 PM
Thank you mamainsf. So it seems that SFDS and Alta Vista School have similar student:teacher ratios -just configured differently. The smaller classes at Alta Vista School really stood out to me -the interactions that I observed within the classrooms at that school really blew me away. SFDS really impressed me as well.

sfbaymom
10-21-2013, 04:09 PM
Did anybody go to the Hamlin open house this past weekend? Wow, Wanda is something! I'm drinking the single sex education koolaid after the event. I was so impressed by how articulate and confident the student tour guides were. The whole thing showed off how much energy and warmth there were inside the building.