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Old 06-08-2009, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm thinking about preschool, kindergarten, and elemntary school for my daughters. My oldest just turned 3, so I'm looking for a 4 year old program for 2010-11. We live in Northeast Baltimore. I'd like to stay in the area. Hampden, Hamilton, Towson, White Marsh would all be ok. St. Francis of Assisi would be very convenient for me, as it's in my neighborhood, but I went there and I don't think I want my kids going there. I'm looking for something affordable. I like Friends School but we can't afford it. The public school we are zoned for is not an option for us, we want either charter or private, preferably non-religious, but we would consider a religious school if it offered a great curriculum. I've done google searches for schools in the area but can't seem to find a whole lot. Are there any schools you recommend?

Jess, married to awesome hubby Tim, mom to DD1 (6-06), DD2 (2/08)
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Old 06-08-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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Did you find City Neighbors Charter School in NE Baltimore during your search? I'm a founding member. We have grades K thru 8th. Around 200 students in all. 22 per classroom. Fully integrated. Several gay families. Many of our parents are some of the biggest movers and shakers in NE Baltimore - the family that owns Zekes Coffee, a woman who used to do Herring Run Park's outreach programs, the owner of the former Bediboo store, the owner of Spinster's Yarn, some of the folks who are active in the Herring Run Arts Collective. Reggio Emilio (arts integration) inspired curriculum. Founded by parents who continue to run the school via the board of directors. Free to students. Must be a Baltimore City resident to attend. K is the best shot at getting in.

-Barbara Stratton


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Originally Posted by luckygreen713 View Post
I'm thinking about preschool, kindergarten, and elemntary school for my daughters. My oldest just turned 3, so I'm looking for a 4 year old program for 2010-11. We live in Northeast Baltimore. I'd like to stay in the area. Hampden, Hamilton, Towson, White Marsh would all be ok. St. Francis of Assisi would be very convenient for me, as it's in my neighborhood, but I went there and I don't think I want my kids going there. I'm looking for something affordable. I like Friends School but we can't afford it. The public school we are zoned for is not an option for us, we want either charter or private, preferably non-religious, but we would consider a religious school if it offered a great curriculum. I've done google searches for schools in the area but can't seem to find a whole lot. Are there any schools you recommend?
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:54 PM
 
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We LOVE the preschool curriculum at Towson Presbyterian Church in Towson. There is no hell-fire/damnation and it's all very play play play.

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Old 06-08-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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BTW, ages in MD are by 9/1. So unless your child will be 4 by Sept 1, you are looking for a 3 year old program.

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Old 06-10-2009, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yup, I'm looking for a 4 year old program for 2010-11. She'll be 4 in june 2010. Thanks for the info, I was wondering what the date was!

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Old 06-10-2009, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Did you find City Neighbors Charter School in NE Baltimore during your search? I'm a founding member. We have grades K thru 8th. Around 200 students in all. 22 per classroom. Fully integrated. Several gay families. Many of our parents are some of the biggest movers and shakers in NE Baltimore - the family that owns Zekes Coffee, a woman who used to do Herring Run Park's outreach programs, the owner of the former Bediboo store, the owner of Spinster's Yarn, some of the folks who are active in the Herring Run Arts Collective. Reggio Emilio (arts integration) inspired curriculum. Founded by parents who continue to run the school via the board of directors. Free to students. Must be a Baltimore City resident to attend. K is the best shot at getting in.

-Barbara Stratton
Thank you so much!! All those places you mentioned are right up the street from me, so some will be familiar faces. I'm definitely going to look into it. I had found some info on the Green School and thought it looked very interesting. I wasn't aware that there were other charter schools in the area. We are city residents. It sounds like just the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thanks again!

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Old 06-10-2009, 06:37 PM
 
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Did you find City Neighbors Charter School in NE Baltimore during your search? I'm a founding member. We have grades K thru 8th. Around 200 students in all. 22 per classroom. Fully integrated. Several gay families. Many of our parents are some of the biggest movers and shakers in NE Baltimore - the family that owns Zekes Coffee, a woman who used to do Herring Run Park's outreach programs, the owner of the former Bediboo store, the owner of Spinster's Yarn, some of the folks who are active in the Herring Run Arts Collective. Reggio Emilio (arts integration) inspired curriculum. Founded by parents who continue to run the school via the board of directors. Free to students. Must be a Baltimore City resident to attend. K is the best shot at getting in.

-Barbara Stratton
Barbara,

I'm soooo jealous. Why can't we have charter schools like this in the county? Or can we?
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:30 PM
 
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You could check out Arts and Ideas Elementary.
www.aielementary.com

Baltimore is also a very homeschool friendly place

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Old 06-11-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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You also might want to look into the Montessori charter school. It's a lottery, and nearly impossible to get into but worth a shot. They take children starting at age 3. I've hear wonderful things about it.
http://baltimoremontessoriinc.com
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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Barbara,

I'm soooo jealous. Why can't we have charter schools like this in the county? Or can we?
My understanding is that Maryland has a state-wide charter school law that allows for such schools. Our school exists because of an extremely devoted set of parents who were willing to do the work to make it happen. Some other charter schools may be created by parents but then they hire a service to run the school so as to not have to do all the work that we did. My partner has been heading our schools IT needs as a volunteer for several years now.

Our school is also by lottery by the way after sibling spots are filled. Oh, and we are duplicating ourselves in the fall by starding City Neighbors Charter School 2 which will start with K through 3 I think and be located at an empty elementary school in Hamilton. That school hopes to add a grade every year as well until reaching 8th and be an additional feeder school for an eventual City Neighbors High School. The majority of the original CNCS founders are not working on the duplication - we are too tired. If you are interested in getting involved in that school then I'd see if you can get involved right away so as to have input on things right from the start. Maybe they have founding positions available that will guarantee your kid a spot although you should double check to make sure that that will apply since your child is not K age yet.

Although we are very proud of our school and what it offers the children - especially those who would have gone to standard Baltimore City schools, some of us founders feel that if we were to do it over we would open a co-op instead since that would get rid of the interference you get from being part of a school system. You could also then kick out kids who are serious trouble makers or whose parents don't fullfill their volunteer hours. We were very sad the day we learned that we couldn't terminate families who refuse to do their hours as those hours are what our school is based on. Luckily, we have enough motivated parents to make great things happen.

-Barbara
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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We are near Hampden/Roland Park. The Greenmount School is nice, but expensive. We have looked at St. Thomas Aquinas as an option and also Shrine of the Sacred Heart and St. Pius. Honestly, the Baltimore Montessori Charter is a sore subject with me. Over 300 people applied this year for the lottery that only had 3 spots to offer. What good is a lottery if the odds are worse than the Mega Millions? The truth is, if you weren't a founding member, you aren't getting in this decade. So, I hear that City Neighbors is good....Midtown Academy is getting better. There is also Baltimore International Charter which seems intersting.

For preschool, Elmhurst Nursery on Roland Ave is one that the neighborhood recommends, and St. David's is good too, but you have to get on the list early. First English Lutheran is good as well.

Good luck with the search. We are right there with you. I think we are leaning towards either Grace and St. Peter which is in midtown or The Greenmount School in Hampden. Honestly, I am so confused at this point that I really wish our zoned school was a viable option.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:16 PM
 
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There is also Baltimore International Charter which seems intersting.
My neighbor pulled her kids out of there and put them in a regular public school because the BIC was disorganized and chaotic to the point of being unsafe. One of the teachers theredid the same.

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Old 06-22-2009, 09:57 PM
 
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My son just finished kindergarten at the GreenMount school this year. I have almost nothing positive to say about the school (though the kindergarten teacher herself is excellent). There are many serious problems with that place.

Of course, the school has people who love it and they may even write in here to defend it, but my advice to anyone considering GreenMount is to ignore most of what they say about their philosophy (which sounds nice but has miles to go in implementation) and their "community" and instead use your own eyes and common sense to take a hard and critical look at the school and its programs.

Your kid won't care about their fancy philosophical pretensions or the school's left wing politics--that stuff is just meant to appeal to us parents. What your kids will notice are the absolutely filthy conditions including giant roaches in the lunch area, mouse crap on the books and furniture and bathrooms so smelly that walking in them literally makes some kids throw up. Your kid will also notice the chronic lack of basic school supplies, the fact that some of the teachers "step out" mysteriously during classes or quit altogether without warning during the school year, and the rampant bullying that the school refuses to confront or control. I haven't even started on the curriculum...

Anyone who wants to know more can PM me. It's a year of my life and my son's life that I wish I could get back to do over somewhere, almost anywhere else!
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you are interested in getting involved in that school then I'd see if you can get involved right away so as to have input on things right from the start. Maybe they have founding positions available that will guarantee your kid a spot although you should double check to make sure that that will apply since your child is not K age yet.



-Barbara

I'd love to be involved! I wouldn't mind helping out before my children go there, but it would suck if I put in 2 years of helping out only to find out that my own children aren't accepted. I will look into it for sure. I read a lot about CNCS and CN Hamilton. It looks like they offer EXACTLY what I'm looking for, so I'm very very willing to be involved!

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Old 06-23-2009, 06:49 PM
 
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nina,

What will you be doing for school next year?

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Old 06-26-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Yes, we're definitely not returning to GreenMount. He will be going to a different private school next year.

We did apply to some of the charter schools mentioned here and I definitely second the advice to get involved as a founder if you want to increase your chances of admission. It seems that there are very few open slots in most of the charter schools each year once siblings and children of founders are accounted for.
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:50 AM
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Barbara - I really like the Reggio approach and wish it were more widely used. Unfortunately, we don't live in the city, but may consider moving. How successful has City Neighbors been at implementing Reggio?

- Lily
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:52 AM
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nina93013 - Did you hear back from/decide on a school for next year?
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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Is Fork too far? There is a really nice Montessori there that goes from toddler to middle school. http://www.freestatemontessori.org/
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Old 07-19-2009, 07:16 PM
 
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Barbara - I really like the Reggio approach and wish it were more widely used. Unfortunately, we don't live in the city, but may consider moving. How successful has City Neighbors been at implementing Reggio?

- Lily
I'm not a 100% expert on the topic - what I do know is that the vision of being true Reggio seemed to become diluted because of a combination of not having staff trained in it when we opened as well as because some parents who apply and get in via the lottery don't give a darn about progressive education. So, we had parents that first year who were asking about dittos, homework for K students, and why aren't we saying the pledge of allegiance? (turns out that the latter is a state law. who knew?)

I can tell you we do have an atelerista (sp?) and we have arts festivals twice each year plus Karma Darma on-stage poetry night. The kids all have art class every week plus each trimester has a theme which they use for project based learning. On the other hand, our standardized math test scores weren't initially doing well and so the teachers elected to use Everyday Math curriculum which is obviously not an art based learning approach. I do like the curriculum however - much better than how I was taught math IMO.

And a few of our graduating 8th graders got accepted into the arts high school for this fall.

Along the way we've also sent our 8th graders to Europe and had visiting German students in return. How many Baltimore City students ever get THAT experience! The same teacher who coordinated that has also taken his students to NYC, camping, to the Hippodrome, the Senator, and all kinds of cool places. He gets them involved in activism which is partly why Baltimore City Schools has hired a chef to run the school lunch program who will incorporate local foods and that the first school the chef went to for input from the stundents was City Neighbors.

The down side of the school (of any charter school I would imagine) is those lottery folks who don't share your vision and so may be anti-gay (we have some of those) or otherwise not share in the values for which the school was founded. Best to plan on being involved in committees and such so as to make sure the school remains what you'd like it to be for your kids.

For more info on the Reggio influence I'd suggest speaking to our Atelerista Susan Brightman as well as to the school principal himself. You can tell them I referred you.

Barbara Stratton
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Old 07-19-2009, 09:43 PM
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Barbara - Sounds like the school has accomplished quite a lot considering the challenges! Hopefully, those that don't share the vision will one day realize how fortunate they were to be at the school. Thanks so much for taking the time to write! - Lily
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Old 07-19-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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I am interested in being a "founding" member of the new City Neighbors school...how do I go about that? I am also considering trying to get some people together to start a second montessori school. My daughter is almost a year old.

Aimee, mom to Mirah b. 08/09/08
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am interested in being a "founding" member of the new City Neighbors school...how do I go about that? I am also considering trying to get some people together to start a second montessori school. My daughter is almost a year old.
I inquired about that too. I wanted to be a founder but was told that there are no founders. So basically I'm going to be volunteering for 2 years with the school, before my oldest child is even old enough for kindergarten, and she won't be guaranteed a spot. I'll have to enter her in the lottery just like everyone else. So if she makes it in, I'll stay involved, of course. But if not, I'll have to switch and become involved with whichever school she ends up going to. I was told this is a law that they must strictly adhere to. I'm going to take my chances though, because I really, really like what I'm seeing and hearing so far.

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Old 07-21-2009, 10:30 PM
 
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I checked in with City Neighbors Hamilton and also was told that they have no need for founders and already have a waiting list. Is anyone here interested in founding another charter school in the city...either Reggio Emilia or some other progressive approach, perhaps in the Hampden, Waverly, Charles Village or Ednor Gardens area? One of the founders of City Neighbors Charter School offered to help me through the process. My daughter is only one, but I am thinking ahead to nursery school and kindergarden years from now. Another thing I am interested in is starting a pre-school coop.

Aimee, mom to Mirah b. 08/09/08
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Old 08-09-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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Nina -- Thank you for the heads up about Greenmount. I know the kindergarten teacher and adore her, but I kinda got a weird vibe from the rest of the school. I didn't understand why it was so expensive and yet it the school itself did not appear as upkept and organized? I know that sounds odd -- it just didn't meet my expectations for a 11k a year school!
My husband as a fan, but I think he is desperate to find a school that will fit our family that is close to our house.

I am so stressed about finding someplace for my son next year. You can message me personally.....did it bother you that most of the teachers weren't actually full-time teachers? I thought that was odd. They would drop-in to teach a subject? Or is that normal for a co-op?
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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There was a voice in my head telling me to avoid GMS as well and my husband overrode me (interesting).

This is just my opinion, but I believe the only reason that school is still open after all these years is the desperation of city parents who will overlook so many things because they are frantic to find a place for their kids. I spent more than 100 hours volunteering at GMS last year, all of it during the school day. I am convinced that if other parents saw what I saw a lot of them would not be sticking around.

Yes, the school is terribly disorganized. It is filthy dirty as I already mentioned in a pp. The kindergarten teacher is awesome, but there are limits to what even she can accomplish inside this school.

To answer the question, yes there are problems with having so many part-time teachers. The part-timers teach all the "special" subjects--art, music, cultural studies, phys ed. Most of these special subject teachers are also not "teachers" in the sense that they don't have a degree in education. This is permitted in a private school, but it means that they may just be passing through (the gym teacher quit mid-year without even saying good-bye to the kids).

Did they tell you that when the kindergarten teacher is absent it will be some parent filling in? Same goes for every teacher there--there are no subs. You will not be informed about who is teaching your child on those days and the school makes no effort to check their background or skills. Nice!

I was a board member at my son's co-op preschool before sending him to GreenMount so to answer your question, NO that is absolutely not how all co-ops work. In fact, GMS is not a co-op in any meaningful sense. They are a private school where parents have a requirement to complete a lot of volunteer hours that they call a "co-op" for some reason. In a real co-op, parents are members of the non-profit organization and there is transparency in decisionmaking and accountability to the membership--nowhere near the situation at GMS.

You mentioned that you have a son. The bullying problem at GMS is real and it mainly affects the boys.

I don't get any joy out of bashing GMS, but I make the effort to tell people what I know because that school took my happy little boy who always loved learning and loved school and turned him into a nervous wreck who felt humiliated and scared and who will never again approach school with anything other than wariness and suspicion.

I played a part in this by not moving him out of the school immediately and I will always blame myself for that though I did what I could at the time. I hope other families will not get into a situation like ours.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:30 AM
 
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Well, back to the drawing board. My husband now wants to live in our house and rent an apt across the street which is Roland Park Public school district. Cheaper than tuition. Of course, I would just like to find an inexpensive, comptent, good place for my 3 kids

Thanks the the info. If anyone has info on St. Davids or Shrine of the Sacred Heart -- I would love it!
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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My husband now wants to live in our house and rent an apt across the street which is Roland Park Public school district. Cheaper than tuition. Of course, I would just like to find an inexpensive, comptent, good place for my 3 kids
I have several coworkers whose children attend Roland Park Elementary and have heard wonderful things about it! If you go that route, you can then wait until 5th grade to fret about what happens next.
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Old 09-22-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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Our dd (3 y.o.) is a Bridges Montessori (Technically Towson - Providence Rd at 695) and we love it...They are very small (about 40 kids) ages 3 to 6 - affordable, great hours for working parents, nice outdoor space..and fab teachers that are very child/ family oriented...Montessori method in the morning but more like traditional arts/crafts preschool type stuff in the afternoon...PM me if you want more info..I recommend that you visit and apply early (like NOW for Sept 2010) as they only have about 10-15 openings a year..
Lisa in Baltimore
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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Old-timer City Neighbors parent here. If you can, find another charter school. The disorganization, and lack of faculty supervision is a disaster in the making. Their ancillary faculty are barely component and vetted.The principal, Chalupa, used to be at Greenmount until that spun down. Interesting that he does not mention his very lengthy tenure at GMS in his bio or in person. 

 

Ask City Neighbors what the admissions for high schools are. Their test scores. Their rate of disciplinary measures. Numbers can't lie. 

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