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Old 05-30-2007, 09:19 PM
 
4 posts, read 18,473 times
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Hello! I've been a lurker on the forum for a few years and just emerged as our family is considering a move to the Dallas area. We're currently living in an upper middle class/affluent area in the midwest. I used the TEA website to narrow down areas of the north Dallas area (since some of the firms where my husband would likely work are in the Richardson area). We built our current home 6 years ago and have gone through the "grow the personality back into your landscape" so we really weren't looking for new development.

We really were looking at the Plano area that feeds into Jasper and Plano Senior since it seemed like the there was a more consistent income level (not the highest or the lowest in the district).

So here are my questions. First, coming from the midwest, we're not big pool fans. However, in the 350-400K range, it seems harder to find a house without one. So, do you Texans and your kids REALLY spend that much time in your pools?

Second, are there any Plano teachers out there who can give an insider opinion about the curriculum? I read a thread once where a parent was complaining about projects and wanted a "focus on math and science." Well, I'm all for math and science but honestly don't want my kids inundated with boring trivial worksheets. I've found that a lot of parents feel like their kids are learning more if they bring home 3 inches of paper a week when my opinion is exactly the opposite. I really am looking for schools that engage kids in inquiry, problem-solving, questionning, and hands-on experimentation. And now I know I'm dreaming but it would be great if this trickled into the "non-AP" classes. I'm amazed at how many are willing to excuse really lame education for all those "general education" slobs out there.

Finally, is Plano big enough for families with different personalities to find their own niche in the school and community? Are their laid-back, not too athletic but bright kids who like chess and soccer but aren't reading 4 grade levels ahead (so they may not be in those acclaimed AP classes)? Little girls who like gymnastics (but not cheerleading)? How would you describe the "vibe" of the city?

Thanks very much for your input!
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Garland Texas
1,538 posts, read 6,313,052 times
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My only gripe about Texas public schools would be that they teach the TAKS test rather then curriculum with more merit. There is also a big focus on Texas history, when I believe there needs to more world history, and by that I mean not just european history. The TAKS thing is so overblown, teachers dislike it, students do not enjoy it either. So much valuable time is wasted taking practices TAKS tests, and mock TAKS test, doing drills of test like material etc.

Gymnastics is a close second behind cheer/drill team here. There are several really good gymnastics places in the area. There's a new one in Garland near Firewheel Mall, and one in Richardson off Arapaho and Plano. There may still be one in Dallas off Forest lane, but thats kind of a ghetto area. I know there are some in the Plano/Allen area.

Plano is very family oriented, lots of kid friendly stuff to do and see in the area. There really is something for everyone though. Average is just that, most kids area average and there is no shame in it. Some people lie to make themselves or their kids look good. There's a lot of "keeping up with the Joneses" that goes on.
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:33 PM
 
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Plano is a great place to live and raise a family. I work with some very successful people that could afford to live anywhere they'd like in Dallas, and they live in Plano. Send their kids to Plano schools and are very happy with the results.
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:49 PM
 
Location: Topeka, KS
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Plano's the 70th largest city in the US. If that's not big enough to find your own niche, I'm not sure what would be. (Well other than the 69 larger cities....)

Our experience with Plano public schools was fairly intensive. We moved here just prior to Thanksgiving from a smaller district in Texas. We had some issues with several teacher's attitudes toward transfers. (They seemed to assume that a child was behind just because they weren't at the same place as PISD was. And it's true that our children were behind is some specific areas, but they were also ahead in others.) We ended up pulling our kids from PISD and are now homeschooling them. The oldest will be home at least another year, but may very well attend Jasper and Plano Senior for high school.

As far as pools go, we found a home in central Plano that was zoned for Schimelpfenig, Jasper and Plano Senior. We have a 9x9 hot tub instead of a pool. The kids use it at least 3 days a week and would use it more if the weather would stay nice.
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Old 05-31-2007, 05:57 AM
 
Location: Plano, TX
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My kids are zoned to go to Mathews-Schimelpfenig-Jasper-Plano Senior, we were looking for a pool when we bought but there are certainly homes in that price range without them. However, yes my sons and their friends certainly do use the pool a lot. We have found Plano to be VERY famly friendly.
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Old 05-31-2007, 07:00 AM
 
4 posts, read 18,473 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyDadof2 View Post
My kids are zoned to go to Mathews-Schimelpfenig-Jasper-Plano Senior, we were looking for a pool when we bought but there are certainly homes in that price range without them. However, yes my sons and their friends certainly do use the pool a lot. We have found Plano to be VERY famly friendly.
Most of the neighborhoods I've looked at feed into either Rice or Schimelpfenig (now what kind of a name is that???). Mathews looked like a great school as well, but I think most in our price range feed into Skaggs and Carlisle. Forest Creek, Hunter's Glenn, and Highland Ridge are some favorites so far. Anything strange about those neighborhoods (like built on an old graveyard, rock quarry, town dump, etc?). How about Skaggs and Carlisle Elementary? Are they pretty traditional worksheet oriented or do they do different types of activities? (I was wondering if the elementary curriculum was district-wide or if each school gets to run it's own show).

Thanks for your input!
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Old 05-31-2007, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Topeka, KS
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Carlisle is going through a renovation. It was originally built following a community style of education. Meaning that each grade has a wing, with six classrooms, three on each side. The two in the middle do NOT have four full wall, they have a half wall that is open to the wing's central hallway. Also the school has never had a dining hall. They do have a cafeteria, but students take their meals back to their desks to eat. The renovations, which should be finished for the 2007 - 2008 year, will add a dining hall. I don't recall if they are enclosing the classrooms.

Schimelpfenig was a person's last name, and means shinny penny in German.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:26 AM
 
Location: The Big D
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Most area schools are named after someone in the community that played a part in either the development of the city, former educator, etc. The name is actually VERY easy to pronounce despite the appearance.

Fred and Louise (L.E.R.) Schimelpfenig settled in the Plano area in 1878. They became a prominent family, and Louise had Plano's first lending library in their home. Because of this, Plano's Schimelpfenig Library was named for her. You can read more about the family in the book Plano, Texas: The Early Years. Many U.S. libraries began this way.

---------------

As for the PISD, if your looking for average w/o any pressure for students to be highly motivated and preform well above avg w/ AP classes then you may be disappointed. You will find plenty of kids that are into chess and such but you will find that it is very common for them to all strive to be at the very top of their class. Jasper only offers two AP classes (Human Geography and World History). As for the homework level that is going to be up to each school and each teacher (which is the case in most districts). In order to find more of the type of work you are describing it is going to be found more in academic academies for the gifted & talented vs your traditional neighborhood school. I have a child in both and the type of work you are wanting is exactly what my g/t child does while the other has more of the trivial homework from her mainstream school. You may not want "projects" but the type of work for the hands-on, experimentation, inquiry, problem-solving type of work is done more when kids DO have projects. The kids in your average neighborhood school are not going to have the time to do this kind of work and the teachers will not either. Afterall the teacher has a class full of 22+ kids and they are all on a different level academically for each subject. They can not and do not have the time to customize work for each child. Especially w/ TAKS, lol. School is out now for the summer in Plano but I would highly recommend touring the schools while it is in if at all possible. This may not be possible in your case depending on when you plan on moving.

As for the pools, we have one and LOVE IT!!! During the summer, well I should stay starting in March my kids are begging to swim. Being that the pool is heated if it is a pretty day I can heat it up for them to swim that night.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:48 AM
 
4 posts, read 18,473 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momof2dfw View Post
You may not want "projects" but the type of work for the hands-on, experimentation, inquiry, problem-solving type of work is done more when kids DO have projects. The kids in your average neighborhood school are not going to have the time to do this kind of work and the teachers will not either. Afterall the teacher has a class full of 22+ kids and they are all on a different level academically for each subject. They can not and do not have the time to customize work for each child. Especially w/ TAKS, lol. School is out now for the summer in Plano but I would highly recommend touring the schools while it is in if at all possible. This may not be possible in your case depending on when you plan on moving.
Actually I really like projects. My kids went to Montessori preschool but they just don't have reasonably priced private school in our area for elementary. It's usually about $15-20K annually. As for different activities for different abilities, I guess I have a slightly different opinion of what is possible (I'm in the education field) but I definitely agree that it is typical to do group instruction aimed at the middle. I have seen inquiry projects work (using leveled reading) as low as kindergarten in mainstream schools. But it is definitely something that has to be supported at least at the building level because it requires very purposeful modifications to the curriculum in the content areas.

I had hoped to tour the schools but will have to see how that works. In our experience here, it wouldn't really matter. One teacher at one grade level might be quite progressive and forward thinking and try new things while the next grade level you're back to worksheets. That's what is so frustrating about finding a school...it's much easier when the district adopts best practices and then supports the teachers to implement them. For instance, we use "Everyday Math" (out of University of Chicago) across the district across the grade levels 1-12, so this great curriculum is available to all students no matter who they get for a teacher. Oh well...it's interesting about Carlisle though. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether the faculty and administration are all on board with the philosophy. It's so hard to tell these things about the schools from their websites!

Last edited by oyer; 05-31-2007 at 12:01 PM.. Reason: Fixed quote.
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Plano, TX
487 posts, read 1,221,303 times
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My youngest just "graduated" from Mathews, and being an CPA and not in education I don't really know what you mean by "worksheet based" or projects. I will say the he had plenty of worksheets and projects.
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