As open enrollment approaches for Seattle Public Schools for next fall, parents are filling up their calendars with open houses and school tours. While your child will be officially assigned to one of our neighborhood schools, you still have the choice to apply to other schools within the district; so we thought it might be helpful to provide information we’ve gathered during school tours and turn it into a multi-part series, beginning with our first installment: Salmon Bay K-8, which is our neighborhood’s “option” school.
Salmon Bay School is an alternative elementary and middle school located on NW 65th St. in the heart of Ballard. We feature Salmon Bay here because it is an option school for those who seek an alternative to the immersion programs at John Stanford International School or the upcoming immersion program at McDonald Elementary School. But folks–a word of caution: Salmon Bay has only 38 spots available for 2011-12 incoming Kindergartners, and the way those spots are filled is: 1) siblings have priority; then it’s 2) families who live within the geographic zone (NW 73rd St. 9th Ave NW, NW Market St. and 22nd Avenue; and finally 3) a lottery draw. If you do get in, the SPS Transportation Plan for 2011-12 will accommodate students from Wallingford with yellow bus service.
Seattle Public Schools has a full explanation of alternative schools in the district which you can find here, but if you wanted to boil it down to a few sentences: Salmon Bay focuses on child-centered, hands-on and experiential learning. The school aligns itself with progressive teaching and motivates students to take responsibility for their learning. While much of the curriculum follows the district (including “Everyday Math“), the way in which teachers interact with students is different. Rather than sitting passively and listening to a teacher lecture to the class, students are divvied up into dynamic, modular groups which, during our tour, was demonstrated with a group of children sitting in a semi-circle on a carpet with the teacher, while a group on the other side of the room stood around a table to work on something with a Teacher’s Assistant.
Despite the building’s dark hallways, Salmon Bay’s classrooms are bright and cheery, with lots of windows letting in the morning sunlight, and large skylights also help to keep the two Kindergarten classrooms bright. Kids at Salmon Bay are always moving around, whether it’s inside the classroom or out on a field trip. Walking in to a classroom of third graders, I noticed each student was sitting down doing their work on a stability ball and, as a mom to a fidgety third grader, I thought it was a brilliant idea. While the room was a typical, noisy third grade classroom, there were a few kids who wore noise-canceling headphones while doing their work.
Principal Jodee Reed spoke to more than 50 parents who came to the school’s tour, and she feels that children entering Kindergarten is a milestone, really, for the whole family–even if it’s the fourth child entering Kindergarten. Next year, Salmon Bay will offer only full day Kindergarten, and parents will pay $237 per month during the 2011-2012 school year; but to allay parents’ fears of their child’s transition from preschool into a full-day Kindergarten program, she explained that it’s a gradual, slow process, allowing the kids to ease in to the long day.
Salmon Bay School places students into several different types of classroom settings, including looping and multi-age. Looping is when children are placed together with the same teacher for two years (i.e. kids in a second grade “looping class” will all have the same teacher in third grade). Multi-age means combining, for instance, Kindergarten and first graders in one class. The plan for next year is to have one Kindergarten classroom and one Kindergarten/First Grade multi-age classroom.
Salmon Bay also has a before and after school child care program called Coho Kids Time, which is affiliated with the Ballard Boys and Girls Club.
If you are interested in applying to Salmon Bay, you’ll need to wait until March 15, when open enrollment begins. You can start the enrollment process by clicking here on the Seattle Public Schools website.