St. Paul's Episcopal - for artsy kid

We are currently trying to decide on a middle school for our artsy, quirky and obsessive 11 year old. We have fallen in love with St. Paul's for a variety of reasons, but are curious if it would be a good fit for a kid who isn't super-motivated academically. She does well enough in school - we've always had positive feedback - but is definitely more into art, music and drama. She has been attending an independent progressive school for all of elementary and hasn't experienced a more traditional academic setting. Would love to hear from parents of kids at St. Paul's with similar dispositions. 

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Hi,

My daughter loves SPES.  Her art teacher Mr. Polk is wonderful, as is the music teacher Ms. Miller.  I also see art integrated into many of the activities.  Highly recommend!

Hope this helps.

Your kid sounds a lot like mine and she is having an incredible experience at St. Paul's. She takes extra art after school and has a big friend group of quirky and delightful kids who have a D&D club. My daughter isn't the most academically motivated either--she'd rather be drawing--but St. Paul's has been not only very supportive of her interests and talents, but the top notch academic program succeeded in helping her expand her study skills and take a real interest in her classes. I know the school has a drama program, and lots to offer your 11-year-old. Definitely a good fit.

Hi there, I'm a parent of a St. Paul's 7th grader who has been at the school since Kindergarten. While I do think the academics are rigorous at St. Paul's, I find the teaching styles to be very adaptive to meet kids where they are at, and frequently offers various levels of the same study. While teachers encourage, and try to promote confidence to take on the "far reach" work, students do not have to do so at all times and for all subject.  My kid is a pretty good student, but when learning new areas of, say math, she may start off with the more comfortable reach and progress at her own pace to the "far reach".  She has done both, so there is no set program, though students are always encouraged to apply themselves and not just coast. This flexibility is probably aided by the small class sizes.  And while they don't put on formal plays or musicals like some larger schools, there is currently a drama elective/club, and the music program is exceptional (and one of the greatest things about SPES I think).  My kid also loves art and dabbles in music, and she has been very happy at St. Paul's.  I think you'll find as lot of artsy, quirky kids at St. Paul's, and every other kind of kid there is. :)  Hope this helps, and good luck! 

Hi there! We’ve been at St. Paul’s since second grade, and while every kid is different, we definitely benefited from being able to draw in our two daughters’ artistic natures into their work there. Projects often involve performance, creative presentation, etc - our eldest made a cake last night that illustrates the anatomy of a plant cell! We’ve also found the school very helpful when it comes to getting good support, tutors, etc, as needed. So there’s a lot of flexibility and help available. Happy to share more if you like! 

We have an artsy son who has attended St. Paul's since kindergarten. We find St. Paul's to be a supportive environment, that really works with kids on inclusion and acceptance. We find the teachers really interested in working with and helping students at all academic levels. The middle school does a great job of helping all students with executive functioning skills ,and advocating with teachers for what they need to succeed. In the 6th grade students are given the opportunity to correct all of their assessments to improve their scores. The school is focused on students becoming engaged learners. I find the academics rigorous and interesting. Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts tend to link their curriculum with similar focus areas. The school is not overly focused on teaching above grade level and the stress of grades. There are groups of kids that are focused on grades and the future but I think this is natural for the age group. 

We have a middle schooler at St. Paul's and so far our (also quirky!) kid has been happy there and seems to have found a circle of friends with similar interests. I think the visual art and music programs are quite strong (though music is band as an elective kids can choose, a choir in sixth grade that all kids participate in, and then drumming in seventh and eighth, so depends on what your child is looking for). I do wish they had a stronger drama program, but the kids whose passion is drama seem to do shows outside of school. You might reach out to the admissions director to see about attending the upcoming concert later this month to get a taste of what the music program looks like. Academically, there seems to be a wide range of learners, and I definitely wouldn't describe the setting as traditional--pedagogically it leans more progressive than not. Much of the work is project-based, and kids often work together in small groups and then share their learnings with the class. While there are content-area teachers, there's also a lot of team teaching and bridging themes across multiple subjects. I also love the way that they integrate the surrounding neighborhood into the curriculum--sixth grade science often involves projects using Lake Merritt, for instance--and have been impressed with how the teachers seem able to pivot to address current events that are on kids' minds. Overall, we've been happy with our middle school choice so far, though would love to see even more emphasis on the social-emotional scaffolding that middle schoolers still very much need. The shadow visit is also super helpful to get a glimpse of what school looks and feels like at SPES. Good luck with your search!

Thank you all so much for your replies! It is clear that SPES is an amazing school with an outstanding community! Feeling very reassured. And hopeful that my daughter will be accepted for middle school.