Community, Culture, and Quality are Key, Neighborhood School Parents Say
The parents of students in Redwood City School District (RCSD) are an enthusiastic bunch. They’re thrilled with the way their little loved ones learn – specifically, they credit the teachers, the schools’ respective cultures and value communication from teachers, staff and administration.
Bolstering their views on attending neighborhood schools are specialized programs offered as well as the strong sense of community that comes with attending in a learning environment that’s close to home.
The community aspect is what drew Jennifer Erskine to Clifford School after a neighbor recommended it for Erskine’s then-kindergarten-aged son. Jacob attends the K-8 grade learning facility because Erskine “came to realize this is the great community my neighbor was trying to explain to me … based on support of each other with the same value (placed on) providing the best experiences for our children.”
Erskine added that her community is “very passionate about the students of Clifford becoming well rounded individuals who will be able to tackle life’s conflicts and struggles through perseverance allowing them to thrive and, hopefully, give back to their local community.”
Having been a parent of a Clifford student three years now, she’s also seen a high level of frequent communication from teachers.
“Having our teachers being responsive to phone calls, emails and even meeting off hours is key,” Erskine said. “Sending your child to school requires a level of trust that your child is not only safe – but cared for as well.”
Todd Gumbrecht, a Roy Cloud parent, bragged on the schools’ teachers for their communications skills as well – and much more.
“The teachers here have been available to us at all times,” Gumbrecht said. “The group of teachers they have attracted at Roy Cloud are outstanding. They go the extra mile. They work very hard. They’re not just your children’s teachers; they’re people you get to know on a personal basis.”
Gumbrecht and wife, Yvonne, attended private schools growing up.
“We wanted to put our kids in a public school … but one that would give us something similar to what we experienced in the private school setting, and that’s parent participation. That’s what we grew up with – moms and dads always around and participating and doing things at the school.”
He said at the PTO meetings he attends with his wife, there’s at least 50 parents there – a sign parent participation is embraced.
Others put a high value on the programs offered by their schools, like Beatriz Mancia, whose twins attend Garfield Community School. Specifically, she said, the after-school program has a wide variety of offerings.
Garfield boasts an after school STEM program with real-world learning for third through eighth graders as well as school community events such as Read on the Green, a Reading Banquet, award ceremonies and a Winter Festival.
“I love having my kids there,” Mancia said. “(Garfield has so many good programs to help keep kids away from (bad behavior).”
Added Mancia: “Garfield has everything students need.”
She credits also the teachers there for their communication with parents.
“The people at the school have been like a family to me. I love how teachers communicate there. Any problems, any issues, and they will get in contact with you … and everyone is so friendly. They know you by name.”
For Ellie Artale, whose child attends - as well as her older children who attended - Henry Ford Elementary School, the draw – again – is that sense of community, as well as parent-led programs she feels help students flourish.
“We live a block away, so my kids always walked to school every day,” Artale said. “And, I grew up walking to school every day, and I like that idea that our neighborhood attends school together.”
“Building on that sense of community, a lot of parents - at Henry Ford - are really involved and volunteer their time to make sure there are community-building activities at our school.”
She referenced specifically programs like Art in Action and Project Cornerstone: two parent-led programs the school offers.
“The teachers have always been really open and excited to have parents in the classroom,” Artale said. “I feel like they’re excited and happy to have that level of involvement from the parents.”
According to Richard Porter, a parent at Hoover School, teachers there are one of a kind and love what they do, while bringing a rich sense of community.
“Many of the teachers have been here either for 30 years … or they grew up in this neighborhood or went to school here when they were younger,” Porter said. “They really love this community, and they feel like it’s theirs.”
Parents, he said, add to that culture.
“A lot of parents are very willing to give of their time and help out in whatever way they can, beyond just fundraising,” Porter said. “They do things like coming into the classroom and being a reading instructor or chaperoning at events … and they bring their culture to the school. They’re very passionate about that.”
Taft Parent Liliana Zaragoza – who has one child there now and two children who went there in the past – feels the communication between teachers and staff is excellent.
“They’re always willing to help you,” Zaragoza said. “They’re always there to talk if you need support of any kind.”
She added that Taft’s after-school program is amazing as well.
“They help (children) with their homework … and they do all kinds of activities: cooking, coding, Zumba, other kinds of sports … lots of programs,” Zaragoza said, adding: “We absolutely love Taft.”
Lindsay Holland, a Roosevelt parent of three, said the Project Based Learning at their school “is exactly what I was looking for with my kids, because it’s a safe place to make mistakes … but also a place to feel challenged, with space to pursue their own interests.”
A former educator herself, Holland said the keys to being a good teacher are “being able to listen to your kids and meeting them where they are as far as the subjects.”
She added that Roosevelt teachers have never disappointed in that regard.
Holland encouraged parents looking for a prospective school for their children to “tour schools, meet with principals and talk with parents who have kids there. You can get a great sense of what’s going on by talking to other parents at the school.”