School Reviews

I have been teaching for 10 years, and recently moved to Virginia because my husband is here on military orders. After research showed me the low test scores at the public school in my area, I began asking around in my neighborhood about alternatives. Immanuel came up in a few conversations, with some good comments and some negative. I wanted to see for myself, and I have to say I was conflicted after my tour. On one hand, I could really sense the love and positive environment my rising Kindergartener would feel every day. I knew my child would be safe and felt the security measures at the school were very sound. I knew my child would learn a lot and be exposed to a wider range of subject that ever would be possible in public school. However, I couldn't get past the fact the teachers aren't credentialed. I asked the headmaster how much experience a teacher is required to have, and was told they train a lot of the teachers themselves. As a teacher who has taught in private and public school, I feel this was something I would always worry about. To be an effective elementary school teacher I feel strongly you need to have a sound knowledge of early childhood development, psychology, learning theories. I don't see how this can be self-taught. The current kinder teacher just started this year, and had never taught previously. I was baffled by this. Not all teachers are wonderful, and certainly a well-trained/educated teacher can be awful, but to not have ANY formal educational/early-childood training AND be a teacher, just seems preposterous. I did think everyone was very lovely, and the classrooms are warm and inviting, but chose ultimately to pay a little extra for a slightly more expensive private school nearby.

I write this review both as a parent of two children at the school and as an experienced educator myself. Having been a classroom teacher for nearly thirty years I have seen my fair share of educational "trends" . One of the key reasons I selected and continue to applaud ILS is that it consistently evaluates its practice and always chooses what we educators refer to as "best practice". This criteria is a good rule of thumb in part because it is a measurement always driven by student learning first. Too many judge schools by resources rather than outcomes. ILS consistently graduates students who perform exceptionally at the high school level both intellectually and socially who also have a desire to serve their community. How do I know? I have taught them. Their grounding in classical knowledge, rhetoric and logic has made them not only exceptional students but scholars . They are instilled with strong Christian values that understand the importance of relationaships, service and commitment. I am thrilled when my roster includes ILS students. While some may see its size as a detriment, as a classroom teacher, I see a formula for success. Smaller classes equals better learning period. The community based framework allows for plenty of opportunity for older students to mentor and guide younger ones and these kids know how to advocate for themselves which is a sign of maturity I wish all my student s exhibited. Lastly as a parent I have personally seen the impact the caring and nurturing environment has had on my own children. Personal communication, an open door policy show me both the teachers and staff know my children personally and want the best for them. They feel safe and as a result feel more able to stretch and grow. The leadership of this school is exceptional and tirlssly works to provide what will lead to student success, whether it be chrome books, field trips, guest speakers or recently an impressive building expansion program. This school is simply one of the best Jk-8 options in the area and believe me I am familiar with all of them!

Starting back to school this week has reminded us how grateful we are to be a part of this school and the ILS community. As parents and students gathered for the first day of school, I talked to several parents who noted how different this was from their own first days of school- and how happy they were that it was. They were so thankful to be at a place that actively encourages parents to be involved and be a part of the life of the school and places genuine value on the role of parents in the education of their kids. I watched as children delighted in seeing their friends and teachers and were genuinely enthusiastic to be back at school. This is a unique community- and that is a great thing! If you are looking for a large, impersonal school that diminishes your role as parent and treats your child simply as a test score- this isn't the place for you. If you are simply looking for technology to take the place of teaching, the newest fads in education and the biggest sports program, you will probably want to check out one of the many other options in this area. But- if you want a school where teachers will love your kids, will work alongside you, will value your kid as more than just his grades or test score, cares both about excellent academics AND nurturing and helping your child grow in his Christian faith, will encourage your kid to love learning not simply train for a job, and where you will be a part of a community of families who share these values- then I absolutely and without reservation encourage you to visit ILS and learn more. You will be glad you did.

ILS is unique..For younger children, the school provides a base for learning and is very rigorous - not "play-based" learning, but desks, memory work and homework. This works well for some students, so I'll give it a neutral for this age. When the children get older, the classes get smaller and the pool of children with whom to play greatly decreases - some 8th grade classes have had three students total. For children in early adolescence to teenagers, the lack of a sizable peer group is very concerning. Teachers come and go, and it seems as though the good ones have been leaving more and more frequently. The science and math in the middle school is not up to par - no science lab/no computer lab, and the school is not accredited. There as a parent discussion last year on why electronics are bad - seems pretty crazy for 2017 where each and every one of our kids will need to be technologically-savvy. There is no gym, and the "teams" for athletics are a joke (2-3 games per season). If you are looking for a small, starter school for early-elementary kids, this could be a good fit. But please, provide your kids with greater opportunities to succeed in late elementary and middle school. Children here through 8th grade will be at a great disadvantage in 9th grade when they don't know how to research using a computer and can't type.

ILS is an uniquely amazing school with exceptional curriculum, teachers, administrators and families. We transferred our children to ILS as second and fourth graders. They instantly blossomed! They love going to school every single day and enjoy learning with a curriculum that challenges their minds, encourages their spirits, and develops their character. We love sending them.

Excellent. It's such a treasure and we are so grateful for it.

Small and mighty! A great community-minded approach to learning, and a school that is truly serious about living the faith as well as academics. Don't apply here if you don't want to work hard and build deep relationships!

This school is truly a special place and a unique, and we are so fortunate have such an outstanding school in this area. Our family has been blessed to be a part of this school and this community for 10 years now, and it has been wonderful to watch the school grow and development. The classical Christian curriculum has strengthened year after year, as the administration, faculty and families have worked to learn and grow together. Contrary to other reviews, new faculty have, in our opinion, been wonderful additions to the teaching team and to the community. We have watched and experienced first-hand the love for students, the passion for learning, and the energy that each new faculty member has brought to the classroom and to the ILS community. We love having our children in a school that feels like home, and where we know every teacher and administrator loves our kids as much as we do. We also love being a part of a community where the teachers themselves love to learn, and demonstrate daily to their students (and the families!) that they are always learning themselves. The administration is passionate about the school, about the students, and about the families they serve. It is apparent in their tireless work and commitment to their mission, which has continued to pay off as we have seen the school grow exponentially in the past few years. They value partnerships with parents and actively encourage families to become involved in the life of the school. Our children have not just gotten excellent educations at ILS in subjects including math, literature, science, history, Latin and Logic, but they have developed strong Christian characters, a love for their neighbor, a zeal for learning, that we truly believe will stick with them far beyond their days at Immanuel. To have a school that not only values these same things that our family does, but embraces them and makes them a part of the life of the school, is a tremendous blessing. We know our children will graduate from Immanuel with the strongest academic foundation, but more importantly, with a love for the True, the Good and the Beautiful, and a solid foundation of values that will serve them all through their lives.

Sadly, ILS has steadily deteriorated the past few years, as the school has struggled with poor leadership and a declining body of qualified teachers. We were attracted to the school for all of the reasons many families find themselves there - promises of high caliber, rigorous Classical Christian instruction, small class sizes, opportunities for parents to partner with the administration, meaningful extracurriculars, and a Christian community. Over the years, those promises have been broken. Contrary to what is advertised, the student:teacher ratio in some of the lower school classes continues to be about 25:1. At those ratios, students aren't getting the kind of individualized attention to their needs one expects from a private Classical school. Conversely, the upper school classes have classes that are often in the single digits, a sign that many start at ILS but find it an unsustainable model for their family over time. We have seen excellent teachers come and quickly leave, a troubling trend. Losing high caliber teachers impacts the academic rigor families expect when enrolling. Worse, some of the most recent hires have no education training or experience. The school's inability to retain qualified teachers is concerning. The Parent/Teacher League has become nothing more than an information passing mechanism. Efforts by parents to be truly involved are often met with resistance, such that many don't even bother to try any more. And while the PTL used to fundraise to directly support the school, all funds raised are put into the church and school general budget, over which parents have virtually no insight or decision-making power. The inability to engage meaningfully with the school administration is particularly distressing. The general feeling from the headmaster the school board chairman is that they are more interested in shutting down questions than collaborating on solutions. The headmaster tightly controls the flow of information such that others on staff won t answer seemingly simple questions and instead defer to her. The school board chairman has been known to send scathing emails to parents who raise issues/concerns and won't respond to requests to actually meet and discuss. Parents are quickly painted as "problem families" for asking questions. Parents should consider these aspects when considering enrollment.

We have loved being a part of the ILS community for 8 years now, and are so thrilled with the excellent quality of the education our children are receiving in a place that continues to be Christ-centered. This combination is a real rarity these days, especially in this area! We have loved being a part of the continued growth of the school, and have benefited as the school have grown in its understanding and application of a classical approach. While this may not be the school for every family, it is a wonderfully special place, made excellent by a great community of engaged and supportive parents, and teachers and faculty who not only work incredibly hard but show tremendous love for their students and the families they serve. The school does expect parents to partner with them in the job of education - which is unique in education these days - but is so wonderful that the school isn't trying to take the place of parents. We absolutely would encourage families looking for a wonderful education in a Christ-centered environment to take a look and visit ILS. See for yourself the joy and delight as students are learning to love learning and delight in the joy of discovery. Meet the teachers and see not only their expertise but their passion for classical, Christian education, as well as their deep love for their students. This is a great place and a unique and gracious community we feel blessed to be a part of!