The Meridian School- Is this the School for You Too?

After much contemplation and unanticipated angst choosing a grade school, my husband and I finally chose The Meridian School for our daughter (in 2009). The angst was not caused by Meridian School- we felt immediately comfortable with administration and the parents who warmly welcomed us. The angst was our own; a result of many fine private schools to choose from. (See this past post for a few others great Seattle private school choices.) Saddened by the transitions and chaos (at least during 2009 and 2010) within the Seattle public school system, private school seemed the obvious choice. Sixteen kids per class and academic/ social-emotional focus being equally addressed at Meridian continue to be obvious, if presumptive, advantages.

Meridian students learning math using sets

No-- gambling isn't a part of Meridian's curriculum!

Meridian continues to receive our vote of confidence.
Who might not be best served by Meridian? In my non-expert ( read NON-EXPERT) opinion, Meridian has many socially adjusted kids who range academically from perhaps average up to very high achievers. If tests indicate your child falls at the tippy-top of the 99th percentile, and/or if social impairments are dramatic, schools such as Seattle Country Day, Evergreen, and in the downtown or North ends, Lowell Public School may be a better fit. In downtown and South end, Public School Thurgood Marshall has an excellent academic reputation.
Here are a few moments illustrating life at Meridian School in Seattle including our wonderful park campus and community service focus. Here for more photos, including Community Service Day.

As fun as Meridian School is, Kids must wear shoes!

As fun as Meridian School is, Kids must wear shoes! Parents are nearby.

Janet Klinger_PE teacher Regis leads the pack in Meridian School's adjacent park

Janet Klinger_ Meridian School puts emphasis on building community

Meridian School puts emphasis on building community

Janet Klinger_ Pure joy at Meridian School's adjacent Park

Pure joy at Meridian School's adjacent Park

Meridian School Playground

Janet Klinger_Meridian School Playground

Janet Klinger_Even Meridian School Playground hints at school-wide Spanish emphasis

Meridian School Playground hints at Spanish emphasis

Janet Klinger_Meridian School Playground

Janet Klinger_It's nice to know Meridian Kids are in good hands at the Good Shepherd Center

It's nice to know Meridian Kids are in good hands at the Good Shepherd Center

Janet Klinger_Kindergarten success! A moment at Meridian School

Janet Klinger_Meridian School kindergarteners team up for a math game

Janet Klinger_Meridian School's self-proclaimed "reading maniacs".

Janet Klinger_Ms Saheed acknowledges each child individually

Janet Klinger_One Meridian School "reading maniac" seeks his "just right" book

Janet Klinger_ Meridian School kindergarteners begin by learning math patterns

Janet Klinger_ Meridian School attentive first graders

Janet Klinger_ Meridian School-- full of unique individuals!

Janet Klinger_Seattle Tilth makes Meridian School grounds even more interesting

Sharing a building with Seattle Tilth has lovely advantages

We knew Meridian was for us after visiting the classrooms. There we found attentive students expressing themselves and turning towards each other to give and receive support.

If you have an impression of Meridian School, or any other Seattle school, please add your voice. For other voices search the blog for “Meridian”.

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  • Elena - We are also applying to UCDS, Bertschi, and meridian fr our kid who will be a kindergartener next fall. the one thing I am not sure about with Meridian is the lack of a dedicated science teacher. I’m curious how much science you feel your kids are getting and whether you feel it’s lacking at all?

    We live in Shoreline, i’m also curious if you know people coming from that far away and if it would take away from community building?ReplyCancel

  • Janet Klinger - Hello Elena,
    I’m sending you a personal email. For those reading, Meridian has a comprehensive curriculum description available for viewing.ReplyCancel

  • Adrian Cunard - Great pictures Janet! You really captured the flavor of our wonderful school .ReplyCancel

  • Sarah S - The rich curriculum, sweet community, and wonderful teachers make it a sought after school. I wish every child had a Meridian to go to.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photosReplyCancel

  • Megan Anderson - Love the pictures! My son loves the campus, great for a “big space” kid who likes to explore the outdoors and a real community experience.ReplyCancel

  • Maria S. - Love the school… been going for two years. It’s a lovely place with terrific teachers, a fantastic student body. The values taught to the kids are the best part of all. I’d highly recommend everyone & anyone with children check it out. You’ll fall in love like we did.ReplyCancel

  • Rob Bayuk - Hi Janet-
    Thanks for the nice post. As a Meridian parent (with a 2nd grader) we have been incredibly happy with our overall Meridian experience. The community in and out of the school has been key to this.

    RobReplyCancel

  • Wadiya - Its a great school! We love how students are encouraged to embrace their uniqueness. Meridian provides a supportive environment where children can go beyond their comfort levels to learn new skills, make new friends, and envision new selves. It is everything we were looking for in a school.ReplyCancel

  • Tracey S - We have had two kids at Meridian for five years now, and every year just gets better. The school is very warm, and community is an important and central part of the school, alongside academics. I have watched my kids thrive in this school, and they, and we, could not be happier. The staff is incredibly responsive to the parents as well as the students, we are highly impressed with the quality of the specialist programs (such as music, art, computers, Spanish, etc). I feel my kids are well prepared to tackle middle school, then the world, with confidence and real academic skill. Meridian encompasses what school SHOULD be for every student, in my opinion.

    Elena – the science curriculum has been going through some wonderful updates and enhancements in the last couple of years, thanks to fund-raising efforts by the parents. There is also an after school science club for older kids that my daughter is a part of, and it has been great. I used to be the science parent helper in 1st grade, and my 4th grader has been using some of the new science materials this year, so I could answer any questions you may have personally. As an engineer myself, I highly value both science and math programs (and there is a dedicated math specialist). Janet knows how to contact me (please forward my email or phone number, Janet).ReplyCancel

  • Elena - oops! Janet if you e-mailed me it must have gone into junk and got deleted, could you resend?

    Tracey, great to hear your impression of the school too, thanks!! Meridian honestly feels like the best fit to us, we just have this nagging worry that seems unfounded based on what I’ve heard from other parents and what you are saying. Now, of course, he has to be accepted!!ReplyCancel

  • Janet Klinger - Hi Elena,
    To the hearsay, I’d ask the parents two things. 1. When was their child at Meridian?There have been extensive changes to the curriculum in the past few years since Ron Waldman became Head of School. 2. Did their child have any issues that suggested the need for counselor’s specialist attention? While the staff is especially responsive there are obviously some situations that are better served elsewhere.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Klinger - No problem Elena. I’ll locate and resend.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Klinger - Hi Elena,

    While in first grade there is no dedicated science program, it is a part of the regularly scheduled class time. An example is a study the 1st graders just finished and presented to the entire school (and families) this morning during the weekly all-school “Friday Morning Meeting”. They have been studying growth and decay as a means of learning scientific tools such as measuring the growth of a amaryllis , creating graphs and tally sheets regarding the relationship between the look, feel, taste of 6 varieties of squash and how many kids favored each and with which toppings. Additionally learning that different perspectives are a part of discovery and analysis. They had to hypothesize about which squash was which once they were cooked and mashed up based on quantity, color, texture and taste. Kids wrote reports and/or poems describing the experience.

    They have also observed the decay of a pumpkin squash in their window and at home (in a different environment) notating daily the progression of decay.

    Seattle tilth, our neighboring tenant at the Good Shepherd Center, has also worked with kids. The first graders further studied life cycles of plants from seed through compost and back again.

    Families volunteer if they have expertise helpful to students. We have a scientist father who’s lab examines how flies operate—what allows them to hang upside down for instance. He shared fly studies with the kids. Another dad is a Dr and shared… I think you get the picture.

    Each year the entire school studies one continent. Last year it was Asia, this year Australia. Individual classes adopt a region for closer examination. History, current affairs, math, art, language and science teach the students about other cultures, the geography, commerce, neighboring country relationships. Our kindergarten class made a bamboo forest of Thailand creating rice patties and hosting a museum for families where they taught us about Thailand’s staples and how they are harvested, which animals live in the regions and survive which weather/altitude conditions, eating which foods.

    For later grades there is a science (and chess, math) club.

    As for distance distracting from community building, I do think it is more of a commitment to drive to and fro, and to commit to play-dates and birthday parties. Meanwhile LOTS of people do the commute to Meridian and other schools. At Meridian there are a number of families who come from far and wide. A zip code list can be obtained from the school. I have found most of my closest community to be those who volunteer at the times I do, drop off when I do, or are the families of Ellie’s closest friends. That would be true however far from school I lived. My business rather than my location limits when I’m willing to volunteer or socialize with and without Ellie.

    The school has a complete, detailed curriculum guide which I couldn’t find just now, You might contact the school to see if you can obtain a copy.

    This is a big decision. Perhaps stressful, but also very exciting. I wish you excitement throughout the process and of course, luck being accepted into your first-choice school.ReplyCancel

  • Denver Photographer - Man i’m stoked that I won’t have to be selecting a school for my kids for a long long time. It’s a little bit scary to think about what the state of our schools is going to be by the time my kids are old enough to go to school.ReplyCancel

  • Arnold M. Wilson - Lovely kids! So are the photos!ReplyCancel

  • Elena - We recently chose Meridian for our child, for many of the same reasons Janet did.

    The admissions staff cared about us and actually remembered us each time we came, the families were the most “normal” for a lack of a better descriptor, interesting, and welcoming, and the kids seemed to enjoy school the most!

    The clincher for me was talking to some area private middle school teachers who (without any prompting from me) universally identified the Meridian kids as the most well rounded, least likely to have knowledge gaps, least competitive, and in general the nicest kids, That spoke volumes to me about the quality of the education and the values of Meridian. We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to join this community.ReplyCancel