2733 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9412337.773705 -122.413676
Neighborhoods: Central East, SoMa (South of Market), SoMa
Plan to return with number two – Our original intent was to send our daughter to PKS to gain some exposure to Mandarin. Since my husband and I are not Chinese and do not speak Mandarin and our daughter already spoke two languages, we did not expect her to pick up Mandarin quickly. We were very surprised that in seven short months she learned enough Mandarin to pass proficiency with SFUSD and be designated a native speaker. AMAZING! In fact within the first month she began to point out all the Chinese characters on store fronts in our neighborhood which she had passed by dozens of times but never noticed. Her world got a whole lot bigger and it was a boost of self confidence for her.
The Reggio philosophy was a bonus for our daughter as it helped draw her out and give her the knowledge that SHE has the power to make decisions and that creativity comes in many forms. Our daughter has a great sense of adventure and the numerous field trips she took with her classmates nurtured that curiosity. We all benefited from the 'whole-child' approach to learning; it opened our eyes to a whole new world.
As ethnic minorities, we felt welcomed and part of the community and what a fabulous community...warm, down to earth, caring, informed and engaged. My husband and I made good friends with other parents and our relationships continue even though we are not currently at PKS.
PKS was a leap of faith for us and we are very happy that we took that leap. We trusted the leadership and the teachers and it worked out very well for our family. Our daughter is now trilingual and attending kindergarten in a very sought after k-8 program in SF. We plan to send our son when he is ready but meanwhile we will take advantage of their other programs.
Happy Kids, Happy Parents – Like most parents, I want my child to grow up to be a happy, well-adjusted, well-rounded, well-liked, successful, responsible person. So does the staff at Presidio Knolls School. The low student to teacher ration enables the caring teachers to really focus each and every child's emotional, mental, cognitive, social, physical, and self-esteem development. My three year old daughter is learning but thinks that she is just playing at school. The unstructured, child-lead approach cultivates my daughter's natural curiosity and energy.
The school is absolutely beautiful. Conveniently located downtown, the campus gets the most sunshine in San Francisco. There are 3 large outdoor play areas. The furniture and equipments are top grade. The Environmental Committee of the Parents Association regularly trim and maintain the trees and the plants.
But what make this school great? It is the people. The parents who volunteer tirelessly because they believe in making this school remarkable and exceptional. The kids who will become my daughter's life-long friends. The teachers who cares and understand my daughter's individuality. And the founder, Wendy, who had a vision to build the best school San Francisco can offer; and who has enough courage, passion, and persistence to see it through.
We chose PKS because of the Mandarin program, but we are going to continue because we want to be part of something momentous.
Wonderful experience – I'm sorry to hear about CB4PKS's bad experience. I can only say that it is at odds with my own experience.
My daughter joined PKS about six months ago. She is three years old, and she loves it there. She has previously been in one prior preschool and one prior daycare, and the adjustment period at PKS was much shorter than it was at either of the previous places. I don't know if it is because she is older now, or a reflection of the kind and loving teachers and the Emilio Reggio inspired approach to preschool, but whatever it is, it worked! She is happy to get to preschool and push me out the door, and she always wants "5 more minutes" when I come to pick her up at the end of the day.
My daughter has always been somewhat reserved, but at PKS she has blossomed, and is now far more confident and outgoing. PKS places a great deal of emphasis on the "whole child", and emotional and social development are real priorities for the teachers, who received a great deal of training and ongoing professional development to keep them honing their craft. My daughter likes all three of the teachers in her classroom, but has really bonded with one of them Elaine Lao Shi, who is wonderful.
Half of the teachers have masters degrees, and all of them are native speakers of Chinese, so the full day is conducted in Mandarin. As a result, my daughter has a love for singing Mandarin songs and she will monologue to herself in chinese as often as she does in English when she is playing with her toys. She has definitely become a more confident and fluent speaker of Mandarin since she has been there (the previous preschool and daycare were also Mandarin immersion environments, although we do not speak chinese ourselves).
Since joining the parent community we've made many new friends, and are part of the group of 30-40 parents who are leading the charge to turn PKS into a progressive Mandarin-immersion elementary school as well. It is a lot of effort, but we are so happy at PKS that we don't want the experience to end when our daughter graduates to Kindergarten.
KIDS NOT PRIORITY, BAD LEADERSHIP – We had a terrible experience when my son attended one year at PKS , because we had no other choice of a Mandarin immersion preschool. Not only that my son didn’t like the school, he didn’t learn much Mandarin. The admin and teacher relationships were bad that there was a constant turnover of teachers. Instead of paying top priority on the children’s curriculum and needs, much more were spent on pleasing affluent, influential, or active parents who believed they were helping the kids, when in reality being used to build an image of an “ideal preschool” in the community. Sadly with the help of the parent community, PKS has been able to project a strong illusion of a great school for children. Hence many parents who want the best for their children want to send their children there. And with limited slots, the administrators unprofessionally and unfairly hand select the group of people, mostly base on their finances or societal status.
Some parents might think the school would be open to all families of different backgrounds and different income levels, forget it! The biggest problem with the school is from its founder, Wendy Xa, who came from a corporate sector, and operates the school as a business more than a school. She lies, tricks, and manipulates matters to achieve what she wants. On top of that, she is rude and arrogant to the teachers and parents who would not able or willing to contribute their time and finances in building her vision. The leading teacher, Wenjian Gai, is another flaw of the school. Perhaps because she had no background in children developments and education, she had no passion in teaching. She also appears very fake and arrogant, and respects to only a selected number of children and parents. Last but not least, despite nearly $2,000/month tuition, there’s constant pressure for fundraising year round. What does the small school use for with all that money? Never enough, always hungry, and always pressure and ask for more from vulnerable parents who thought the money is “well spent”! And there’s a total of 3 weeks of NO SCHOOLS for the kids, more burdens on the busy parents!
Bottom line, aside from the money and societal image, the leadership is bad, and the children are not the top priority. Many of the parents were excited in getting in PKS, but some found themselves trapped in chaos and disappointments of the school, some were too busy with their work and didn’t know what went on, and most were being fooled in believing the core value of the school was at the best interest of their children. I know of parents who share my views, but don’t want to voice out, but I’ve decided to post this review to inform parents beware of the trap. I would not recommend anyone to attend PKS, not with this type of values and leadership of the founder and some administrators.
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