Questions to Ask
How do I know if this school is a match for my child and my family?
You need to know your child, know yourself, and know the school. Some key facts about Sunset Mesa can help you decide your answer to this question. Two of the traditional values practiced at Sunset Mesa are respect for authority and willingness to cooperate with friends. These combine to create an orderly learning environment that is also collegial and enjoyable.
Academics at Sunset Mesa are rigorous. Although expectations are age-appropriate, pacing of work is quick, organization is necessary, and a willingness to work is required.
Families must be willing to invest their time in order to maximize the opportunities at Sunset Mesa. Students must devote appropriate amounts of time for study. Parents help their children by assisting with organization and planning of work, by helping with projects, by volunteering for special events, by attending programs and activities, and by participating in meetings and conferences.
What is the maximum class size for each grade level?
|Preschool||16 with one teacher and one assistant|
|Kindergarten||16 with one teacher and a shared assistant|
|Grades 3, 4, and 5||20|
What is the school’s expectation for students’ behavior and how is discipline implemented?
Sunset Mesa makes every effort to maintain a standard of respect, kindness, morality, and honesty. The basic method of accomplishing this is by creating a positive learning environment in which students are respectful of authority and responsible for their actions. The Sunset Mesa discipline philosophy encourages self-respect, self-discipline, cooperation, good behavior, and development of problem-solving skills.
All staff members who work directly with children are required to complete the assigned reading and attend trainings on Positive Discipline (Nelsen, 2007).
How do I know my child will be physically and emotionally safe?
The preschool campus has a single building with a walled playground and entry points which are only unlocked at dismissal and arrival times. The K-5 campus is fenced with limited entry points.
Sunset Mesa is a small community where “unknown” persons are the exception. These people are recognized and helped when they enter.
Students are dismissed directly from a teacher to a parent or someone authorized by a parent.
Children are always supervised.
Adults model and teach that people should respect and care for one another. Administrators and faculty devote significant time and energy to developing a sense of community and friendship among students; as a result, students can feel physically and emotionally safe among their peers.
What sets your school’s use of curriculum apart from that of other schools?
High quality curriculum is chosen to provide foundational skills as well as opportunities for teachers to challenge students. The school makes a significant investment in curriculum training for teachers.
Teachers and administrators work diligently to have a continuity of curricular implementation from preschool through fifth grade.
K-5 faculty has weekly grade level meetings with administrators. A regular topic is ensuring continuity of pacing and presentation in each classroom.
Teachers provide classroom environments and experiences that recognize and utilize each child’s unique learning style through the methods of differentiated instruction. All staff has been trained using Carol Tomlinson’s Practice of Differentiated Instruction.
How is the curriculum enriched?
Teachers provide multiple cross-curricular opportunities for learning and emphasize higher-level thinking skills. Curriculum expectations, presentation, and pacing, target the average to high-end learner.
Weekly instruction by six full-time enrichment specialists on the K-5 campus enhances each student’s education and provides a variety of avenues for children to reach their full potential. These enrichments include Spanish, music, art, library, technology, and physical education. These classes are attended by all students, kindergarten through 5th grade, on a daily basis.
How can families be involved and informed?
Parents can join the Sunset Mesa Parent Association, an organization designed by parents to support the school in providing their children with a quality education along with helping to foster a community network for the school’s families. Parents can volunteer in classrooms for special projects, field trips, community events, and to make special presentations in their fields of expertise.
Opportunities for information include classroom newsletters, teacher correspondence, curriculum meetings, frequent student progress reports, semi-annual parent-teacher conferences and additional parent/teacher/administrator conferences.
Does the school administer standardized tests? What are the students’ scores?
Sunset Mesa uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for grades 1-5. This test series provides scores and analyses in comparison to students and schools nationwide. The students’ scores at every grade level are among the highest in the nation. Scores by grade level in reading and math are published, and families receive comprehensive information on their child’s results each summer.
Test results have two broad uses at this school. First, comparing Sunset Mesa students’ scores from year to year against a national standard is one measure for evaluating the effectiveness of curriculum and instructional practices. Second, standardized tests are one tool (among many) for assessing the performance of individual students; this assessment can indicate needs for particular focus, emphasis or assistance for that child.
How can I be confident that my child will be ready for middle school?
For several decades, Sunset Mesa has had an exceptionally high acceptance rate into the Albuquerque independent middle schools; these private schools test and interview extensively to insure that admitted students are “ready.” Specific discussions with middle school administrators and teachers indicate that Sunset Mesa students are well-prepared and successful in the various middle schools.
Study and organizational skills are practiced and emphasized at all grade levels.
Foundational academic knowledge and skills are emphasized at all grade levels.
Sunset Mesa students develop a healthy attitude toward education that customarily makes them eager to apply their abilities in the middle school environment.