APP at Fairmont Park

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    What are APP parents thoughts now that Breidenbach has been announced as principal? We have a TM third grader and were disinclined to move her. It will still depend on the program structure and strength, but the principal announcement has us considering it more than we otherwise would have.(If possible, please include grade(s) and whether you’re a current TM family or would be new to the program.)



    I just responded to the principal announcement post. Your questions do not yet apply to my family, as our son is only a young toddler (born October 2012), and thus won’t be starting kindergarten until fall 2018. But we’ve been doing preliminary research, and had decided that with Seattle schools in their current state, we’d be seriously considering private school. However, each piece of news about FP is more encouraging than the last, so if the program goes well, we’d be very interested in sending our son there. Plus, the school is within short walking distance of our home (on 37th, north of Graham). Crossing my fingers for the school, its principal, its students, and for boundaries to change so we’re zoned for FP instead of Gatewood.



    Love, love, love Ms. Breidenbach! My daughter’s elementary years were under Ms. B at Lowell and TM. She does a fabulous job keeping both programs going without anyone feeling snubbed. She’s very approachable and wouldn’t hesitate enrolling in her school.



    Julie Breidenbach is an excellent principle. She is a no nonsense woman who gets things done. I love the fact that she does not believe in excessive homework for young kids. My 5th grader is at Thurgood Marshall, but I would move him back to West Seattle if he didn’t have to move on to middle school. I would give Fairmont park a shot–many new schools get great hires for teachers, and starting an APP program in West Seattle will be exciting. I think Fairmont park will draw a lot of families that are motivated to start a great new school.




    Here’s a Seattle Times article discussing the first Fairmount Park Elementary meeting:



    There’s discussion among current TM parents right now, and there seems to be some enthusiasm (albeit with some anxiety). I’d love to hear how Spectrum and APP eligible kids who aren’t currently enrolled at TM are feeling to get a sense of how robust the program(s) may be the first year.



    I too am interested in hearing from parents of eligible kids not currently at TM, in both public and private schools. Any thinking about, or definitely planning on joining the program at Fairmount Park? Also, are people aware that there will be additional testing for eligibility in West Seattle in the spring? Anyone planning to get their kids tested?



    I’m planning to have my child, who is not currently at TM, go to Fairmount Park next year for 4th grade.



    Daughter is in 4th grade at Marshall APP currently. We are hoping that she can stay there for 5th grade without being transfered to Fairmont. It wouldnt be such a bad thing, but more stressful for her.



    We’re pretty sure we’re sending our 4th grader next year. That being said, while it’s great to see the enthusiasm surrounding FP now, the buzz seems to have taken on a life of its own. We are lucky that we have a strong principal who will hire strong teachers–that’s the backbone of the situation. And there are lots of excited families involved, which is great. But if people have an expectation that this is really going to be revolutionary, they will very likely end up disappointed.

    I have entirely too much experience in SPS (12 years, 9 schools–including elementaries with very different demographics and resources, alternative schools, middle schools, blah blah), and seeing people expecting the next big thing to be over the moon amazing is a little hard to watch.

    Julie is a rock solid principal, but she’s pretty conventional and I will bet anything she will continue to do things in essentially the same way as she’s been doing them. For some differing perspective, old-old school APP parents from Lowell have said to me that she ruined the treasured gifted program they had and alienated the most inspired, interesting teachers.

    Great things come along, and the hard work of the PTA helps a ton. At the same time, new schools are delicate, leadership changes (what will this school look like in 5 years if Julie’s only here for a year or two?), there’s a lot of uncertainty and there’s a lot of potential for things not going as well as people want and expect.

    This year, seeing a community that was over the moon for STEM last year and is now over the moon for FP is a little disconcerting. SPS itself is unstable and does not nurture successes the way they need to–there is only so much any school community can do to insulate themselves from that. Thriving schools have been submarined by a single boundary change or principal swap.

    FP has a lot of potential and I’m excited, but overall, I wish people would reign in the unrealistic expectations, because they’ll ultimately do more harm than good. I really hope people are choosing this school based on what it likely will be–a good school with advanced learning programs in a great location for West Seattle families.



    I also am curious about families who are NOT APP or Spectrum, but will be assigned to this school or who were at Marshall. What has their experience been like? Our neighborhood was moved to FP according to the address lookup tool on SPS website, but our kindergarten assignment letter was to our old neighborhood school. We are an option school family, but I am wondering if any neighborhood kids actually got assigned to FP. I know other families who also had this happen. It is really confusing. Will those kindergartners be assigned to their old neighborhood school or will they get new assignment letters at some point for FP? Regardless, the district is not making it clear this might happen. Glad we went option with our older child so that hopefully, we won’t have to deal with this mess with our younger!



    @vs, those are wonderful words of wisdom. As a STEM parent I can attest to your statement, “SPS itself is unstable and does not nurture successes the way they need to–there is only so much any school community can do to insulate themselves from that. Thriving schools have been submarined by a single boundary change or principal swap.”

    STEM has been the most successful opening of an option school in SPS history but we still find ourselves struggling daily for recognition, support, and legitimacy within the district. It is only the strength of our amazing families and staff that keeps us on a forward trajectory, not district support.

    Come to think of it, I doubt that any school in the district would state that they feel properly supported. It is exhausting.

    I have no doubt that FP will be a great addition to WS. However, it is going to take many years to achieve real stability. Starting a school from scratch is insanely difficult. People need to be ready for the roadbumps and be prepared to help the school navigate the chaos.

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