Friday, February 26, 2010

New Gifted Program for St. Louis Public Schools

I have 2 children attending Kennard Classical Junior Academy in the North Hampton neighborhood.  Our 3 year old just got a slot to start pre-K next year.  Woo Hoo!  Kennard is a gifted program where children are tested at age 3 for comprehension, functional logic, motor skills, etc.  They teach a grade up in curriculum; meaning the 1st graders learn the typical 2nd grade curriculum.  Kennard is the only gifted elementary school in Missouri.

 We love it here; our kids LOVE it here.  The families are great.  The kids are great.  The parents are caring.  The community is strong.  It is diverse in economic background.  There are kids from all over the city that go here.  It is as racially diverse as St. Louis can be, meaning there are only black and white people here, Asians and Hispanics/Latinos make up a tiny percentage of STL. 
 Our oldest is in second grade, and so far every teacher he's had and my daughter (Kindergarten) have had are top notch.

 One problem is that Kennard has gained such a great reputation within the city and county, that the waiting list exceeds capacity.  This is a good thing.  There were only 15 schools that received the Gold Star Award for excellence in Missouri education:

Similarly, a group of schools (including the eight schools submitted to the U.S. Department of Education) are identified by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. All of the identified schools are sent letters inviting them to apply to become Gold Star Schools. Those that wish to apply are asked to complete an application similar to the one used in the original Gold Star and Blue Ribbon Schools Programs. To be a Gold Star School, a school will not only have to meet the high performance standards established by the U.S. Department of Education (see the eligibility criteria), it will also have to provide evidence on its application that it meets criteria shown by research to promote school effectiveness and best practice.

The Gold Star Schools are honored at the Gold Star Schools Reception held in the Spring. Information about the schools is prepared by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and disseminated via its web site.

The high standards for recognition in the No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program and the Gold Star Schools Program should make the programs successful in recognizing excellent schools and in calling attention to schools that could serve as models for schools wanting to improve.

Children that graduate from Kennard go on to McKinley in the McKinley Heights Neighborhood.  And from there, they can go to Metro High School which Newsweek has ranked as Missouri's top public high school.

My least favorite suburbanite argument for leaving the city comes from those former city residents who leave for the lame/boring suburbs because "the schools are too bad".  Talk to these people, the overwhelming majority never investigated, nor tried the SLPS.  They just "heard" about it.  It's like new resident to the area who "hear" from their lame ass suburban realtor that the city should not be on their list of places to buy a home.  All these losers are part of the problem and not the solution.  Sorry if this sounds to harsh, but if you knew how many times I've heard this, and followed up with a few probing questions to these folks, it usually boils down to fear of the unknown, racism, and/or social or economical intolerance. I've said it before: if caring, devoted parents flood the halls with their children, the standards will rise. 

Well, Kennard/McKinley/Metro are certainly success stories in the city.  But, it's highly competitive for a limited amount of slots.  So I was happy to read this St. Louis Post Dispatch article that Mallinkrodt school at Hampton and Pernod will be extending a gifted and talented program.  And the former Kennard principal, Mary Denny, is the Mallinkrodt principle (she's great, too).

This is excellent news for those who want to stay in the city but couldn't get a slot at Kennard.  There is one less excuse to go running for the county's school system. 

St. Louis is on the rise.


  1. "My least favorite suburbanite argument for leaving the city comes from those former city residents who leave for the lame/boring suburbs because "the schools are too bad". Talk to these people, the overwhelming majority never investigated, nor tried the SLPS. They just "heard" about it."
    Ha, it's funny you should mention this. Last year in the fall, my wife and I went to dinner at Burrito Loco. Ok, we go there about once a month; this incident just happened to be in the fall. While we waited for dinner, having a conversation about, well, whatever, we happened to hear the daughter of the owner (who had recently given birth) talking with some young patrons. They were talking in general about the City, when the subject of the SLPS came. Now, this young couple had no children and were living in the City. Imagine our shock when we heard the female of the duo proclaim, when discussion of the schools came up, "We'll probably have to move when we have children". WTF?! As you say, they haven't even investigated the possibility of having a child attend a SLPS facility. Pure ignorance. Pure WILLFUL ignorance. I suppose I should say that my wife and I have no children, and plan for none. But we realise the importance of collective, public education in a modern democratic state.

  2. I went to Kennard! I attended McKinley afterward and then I'm in college with a full ride.
    Even though I wasn't a fan of SLPS for the most part, I learned a lot and I'm doing very well in college now.

  3. While Kennard and McKinnely may be excellent schools we all know tht every child will not and cannot attend these schools. You have to be tested and accepted. Unlike Beautmont and Gateway (which was supposed to be Metro's rival so to speak but lacks a testing module to filter students). There are plenty of schools in the city of Saint Louis where students are behind on studies as opposed to children who attend magnet schools. I moved from STL to the east coast and if we had to move my back my kids would more than likely attend private school. SLPS have lost accredidation, fired the best Superindent ever because he was about changing the school system and kept schools from moving forward due to personal agendas. I attended McKinnely when it was known as Enright CJA and I know I recieved the best education but the reality of it is that if you don't get into a magnet school you might as well apply for a transfer to the county.

  4. You have disparaging things to say about parents who don't want to use the standard public school system, and yet you have your kids in a special gifted charter school.

    You're not using the schools yourself. Why not put your own kids in the standard public schools in the city before badmouthing people who move.

    Kennard ≠ St Louis City Public Schools

    Seems pretty hypocritical.

  5. Hey "anonymous", get your facts straight before making personal attacks. First of all, KCJA is part of the SLPS system. Secondly, it is not a charter school, it is a magnet school. Anyone in the region can apply for this school. I am critical of parents who diss the SLPS as a whole with ZERO personal experience. I respect those who are critical of the SLPS after having experienced the good, bad and ugly. I have even more respect for those working for change in the SLPS.

  6. We moved to St. Louis in 2008 when I was pregnant with my first child. Out real estate agent advised against buying in the city but we wanted to be in CWE. We were warned that the city schools are so bad that it's not even worth looking at. We thought we would move to suburbs when that time came. Anyhow, I decided to go look at a neighborhood public Montessori school before moving to suburbs. I loved it! As a result, I went and looked at other magnet schools and fell in love with Mallinckrodt Academy for Gifted. My daughter is currently attending Mallinckrodt and I thriving there. I love the teachers, the kids and the parent community.

    We are financially stable and if we chose we could easily afford private school or a house in Clayton. We choose to send our daughter to Mallinckrodt because it is a great school.