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Cowles Montessori Elementary in DSM?

Hey ladies, we are planning a move to the Des Moines area and I have been researching preschools/elementary schools in the area. I am impressed with Cowles and wanted to know if there's any Cowles parents here, and what you think of the school? I have also been looking at Jefferson Elementary and Hanawalt Elementary. Thoughts/comments?

Another thought: where do grads of Cowles typically go for high school? I would not want my kids to be with the same friends for several years only to have to start all over at a huge public school in WDM, or in a private school.

Any ideas, thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated. It's never too early to think of this stuff, IMO. :)

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Re: Cowles Montessori Elementary in DSM?

  • I have heard good things about Cowles.  All I really know is that a friend looked into it and there is a VERY long wait list for it.  Several years maybe?  I'm not much help other than to say it may or may not even be an option so I'd check to see if it is first!  Hopefully someone else is more help. :)
  • I've heard great things about cowles too, and similar things about the wait list (although the mom I spoke to said it wasnt' that hard for her to get in?)  I'd look into it now though if you're interested. Most cowles kids end up at roosevelt or central campus i believe for HS.

    Hanawalt is one of the best elementary schools in the state.

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  • If money wasn't an issue, my first choice in the area would be bergman academy (formally just "the academy"). Many of the people we look up to most in terms of academic decisions send their kids there.  I think it is a fantastic balance of montessori and traditional education.
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  • Excellent info, ladies. Thanks so much! I suspected the wait list would be darn long. :P I will look into Hanawalt and Jefferson as well--I cannot believe the excellent test scores! Very impressive.

    Thanks again!

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  • image All-His:
    If money wasn't an issue, my first choice in the area would be bergman academy (formally just "the academy"). Many of the people we look up to most in terms of academic decisions send their kids there.  I think it is a fantastic balance of montessori and traditional education.

    I will look into this, too. Maybe if H and I win the lotto, we can send Lily here! :P

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  • I have my two-year old daughter on the wait list for Cowles. We put her on the list when she was one. I have a good feeling she is going to get in. It can't hurt to fill out the application (simple one pager) and get on the list. I've heard that calling the school doesn't hurt either.

    I've also heard WONDERFUL things about Hubbell, Downtown School, and Walnut Street School, so you might want to consider looking into them.

    Good luck with your search and welcome to Des Moines!

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  • I know several Cowles students go to Dowling Catholic School in WDM ... I believe most attend Roosevelt in DM.  If you look at a neighborhood school (Hanawalt), be sure you live within the district.  We tried to open enroll into a few schools (including Hanawalt) and were not able to get in with a 2-year wait list.  
    heroes
  • I work in the Dsm district, so I know a good deal about the schools.  For Jefferson, you don't have to be within that district. It's a tradional school so you can live anywhere in district. They don't provide any transportation and their wait list is crazy also. They have limited support staff such as reading or math, which could be an issue if your child struggles in either of these areas.

    For all other dsm schools (except Cowles and  Phillips (similar to Jefferson but on east side of town), you usually do need to be in that schools boundaries. Open enrollment goes to families of other open enrolled students first, they can only take so many and they are often denied.  for example,  We live right around 4dsm  area schools and our neighbor tried to open enroll into 3 schools around here and only one had an opening. 

    One thing to know is that test scores aren't every thing. The downtown school has awesome scores because they have pretty much unlimited resources with state money. This sounds great but home room teachers teach EVERYTHING, including art music and pe. When do children get interested in the arts? Usually  it stems from a great teacher and if their art teacher has endorsements in science or math, they might not get everything they can from that experience. Also, I do think looking at how diverse a building is, programs they have for students, class/school environment, are they a PBS school, are they a title building State funds based on free/reduced lunch and Itbs), just to name a few things to look at.

    Just my two cents, obviously I work in the district so I am a little biased :)  although there are a few schools that I woulndnt pick, all schools in Dsm have great hearts and kids best interest in mind :)

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  • I forgot! Regarding what high school, kids at Cowles could go anyway because there are no district boundaries. Some might go to Lincoln, Roosevelt, maybe Hoover,etc. same with Jefferson...a strident could spend six years with the same kids but once they reach 6th grade, they have to go to their neighborhood school, which could be anywhere in town.

     

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  • image tbrp2005:

    One thing to know is that test scores aren't every thing. The downtown school has awesome scores because they have pretty much unlimited resources with state money. This sounds great but home room teachers teach EVERYTHING, including art music and pe. When do children get interested in the arts? Usually  it stems from a great teacher and if their art teacher has endorsements in science or math, they might not get everything they can from that experience. Also, I do think looking at how diverse a building is, programs they have for students, class/school environment, are they a PBS school, are they a title building State funds based on free/reduced lunch and Itbs), just to name a few things to look at.

    I'm a music teacher and I completely agree with this.  I think classroom teachers are wonderful and certainly capable of teaching arts subjects, but as someone who has a master's degree in music education, I feel like the specialized training I have received makes more qualified and hopefully gives my students a better experience in the music room.  That is my biggest issue with Montessori education and one of the reasons we will not be sending our girls to that type of school.

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  • image MrsT624:
    image tbrp2005:

    One thing to know is that test scores aren't every thing. The downtown school has awesome scores because they have pretty much unlimited resources with state money. This sounds great but home room teachers teach EVERYTHING, including art music and pe. When do children get interested in the arts? Usually  it stems from a great teacher and if their art teacher has endorsements in science or math, they might not get everything they can from that experience. Also, I do think looking at how diverse a building is, programs they have for students, class/school environment, are they a PBS school, are they a title building State funds based on free/reduced lunch and Itbs), just to name a few things to look at.

    I'm a music teacher and I completely agree with this.  I think classroom teachers are wonderful and certainly capable of teaching arts subjects, but as someone who has a master's degree in music education, I feel like the specialized training I have received makes more qualified and hopefully gives my students a better experience in the music room.  That is my biggest issue with Montessori education and one of the reasons we will not be sending our girls to that type of school.

    Oh my!  I am a kindergarten teacher and I will say that I would make a terrible music, art or P.E. teacher.  Ha!  There is a reason that there are specialized teachers for those :) 

  • Great opinions, ladies. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about the different DSM schools!
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  • In order to get into Cowles, you must apply early. We applied at age 5 and the K-1 class was already full with no hope of any openings. The admission person is pretty rude but I am sure she deals with crazy parents.

    As long as your child is on the wait list well ahead of starting pre-school, you will get in.

  • i don't have experience; however, you'll want to have your child on Cowles waitlist ASAP as they have a very long waitlist.  Hanawalt, I hear, is a great school.  Not sure about where Cowles kids go after they finish at Cowles.  Good luck.

    PS- most of the nesties have moved over to a FB page so this isn't active much now...

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