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SBMS Experience
updated: Feb 26, 2013, 3:54 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

I am considering sending my child to Santa Barbara Middle School and would like input from the community. What are the positives and negatives in relation to education, social aspects, or any other useful experience or knowledge you may have.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 378947 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 04:05 PM

What are you looking for in a school?


 COMMENT 378973 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 04:55 PM

It is an environment that offers challenges, both mental and physical.


 COMMENT 378990 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 05:26 PM

All three of our kids went there. A super school! It helped them overcome multiple genetic defects from their father.


 COMMENT 379018P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 06:21 PM

973: The challenge that a friend's daughter found there was all the super rich kids and the attitudes of the super rich families. The SBMS teachers are great; the other students not so much.


 COMMENT 379035 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 06:55 PM

Our son went there. Great experience! Aside from excellent academics, the outdoor bicycling program challenges the kids to stretch their limits while teaching teamwork, self-reliance, and for lack of a better term, character. The faculty are great and do an excellent job with these kids at this most important formative period of their lives. For us, it was well worth the investment!


 COMMENT 379037P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 07:10 PM

Good school and so is Anacapa, I would recommend Anacapa over SBMS. Good curriculum, small school, lots of 1-1 attention, high level of learning and overall great experience for my daughter when she attended.


 COMMENT 379048 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 07:50 PM

My Bff's daughter's friend's nephew's grandson went there and said all the mega rich students were totally lame. Ha!


 COMMENT 379051 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 07:57 PM

Both our children had exceptional experiences at middle school. Even though they are both in college, each of them reflects back on their years at SBMS with gratitude. They attended public elementary and high school, but for junior high, we made the investment.


 COMMENT 379060 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 08:23 PM

Dunn School.


 CEES agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 08:28 PM

Our daughter goes there now and says she's never had a bad day where she didn't want to be at school. What more could you want for your junior high child, that they love school! It creates an environment that builds confidence and I can see my daughter changing (in a good way!) The teachers are great, classes are small, electives are varied and intriguing, and the trips are life-changing. We don't mind the "rich kids" as they help fund the scholarships for us non-rich folks. We're very happy with our choice to send our child to SBMS.


 COMMENT 379120 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 07:01 AM

I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to attend SBMS. Can't imagine a better place to be while dealing with the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Supportive teachers, great learning environment, physical, mental and emotional challenges -- I highly recommend it.


 COMMENT 379122 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 07:08 AM

Cees is capturing exactly how my sons felt. They actually looked forward to going to Middle School every day. That being said, I do think that it's too white, given the demographics of Santa Barbara. Anacapa is more diverse, and is definitely a good school in its own right.


 FRESHPAVEMENT agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 07:15 AM

SBMS is a terrific school, and it's not for everyone. Both our children went there (they're out of college now) and remain connected to their teachers & classmates from that time. They were in public elementary & high schools here in SB. Is it expensive? Yes, however it is less than Crane or Laguna Blanca. I paid for two kids to go there & it was absolutely worth every penny.


 COMMENT 379134 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 07:24 AM

This is not a school that is just ok. It's either great or not a good place for your kid. No inbetween. It all depends on the families there at the time. There are wonderful things about it like building up self-confidence. But don't expect any kind of traditional organization. If your driven crazy by lack of organization this is not the school to be associated with. As far as the comments about rich kids, that's BS. SBMS is the one private that cares the least about that. Kids are treated equally and they know that. But like all other schools, if your kid is not a "standout" or on the remedial end, he or she will fall through the cracks there. And, the sports are pathetic so know that going in.


 COMMENT 379150 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 08:07 AM

If your kid aspires to be an artist, musician, yogi, or just wants to avoid the real world as long as possible, this is a great school. I don't know one graduate that supports themselves. Actually one joined the Marines, so he's fine.


 COMMENT 379172 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 08:34 AM

Our son attended SBMS. He said he learned to accept himself there and not try to be someone else. He says that it was essential for his personality development; he was very independent. He and his fellow "road warriors" as 30 year olds are still close; the bike trips cemented bonds. They have a lot of inside jokes. Middle Schoolers had their own dance section at our son's wedding. As an advanced math student, they sent him to UCSB College of Creative Studies for math. The high price of admission has changed the demographics. Who your son's closest friends are, determine the quality of the experience. The teachers were very caring.


 COMMENT 379185 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 08:51 AM

When my sons went to SBMS we regularly beat Crane and Laguna White in soccer. All three kids are still close to their friends from that school. As for supporting themselves, my oldest is a Ph.D professor in social psychology, my oldest son is a year away from his Ph.D in electrical engineering, and my youngest will complete his second Master's degree in April. Not bad for genetically-challenged youth.


 COMMENT 379187 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 08:52 AM

One of our kids recently graduated after four years at the school and loved it. You get what you pay for, and now (at public school) I really miss the dedicated, intelligent and engaged teachers at SBMS. The only down side is that despite all the homework (there is lots and lots of homework) and lipservice to being academic, I was shocked to find that transition to high school was so hard. SBMS kids are good advocates and well-prepared to navigate the public school system, but academically, I felt the preparation could be better.


 COMMENT 379197 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 09:08 AM

Great school....I know some of the teachers ..top notch...some of my music students go there...They to teach the kids out of the box creative thinking there...and you can tell the kids love it...Rick Maiani


 COMMENT 379206 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 09:18 AM

My son and daughter attended SB Middle School -- they both have college degrees, excellent careers, and are confident, caring adults. I would say their experience at SBMS was a crucial part of their education and played a major role in their development.


 COMMENT 379229 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 09:35 AM

Our daughter has had a great experience at SBMS and looks forward to going to school - that's a huge positive for any junior high school. The faculty are very caring and the experiential education is fantastic - the kids learn on so many levels and I think are well prepared when they move on. As for sports, it depends on the student makeup, since it's a small school - girls volleyball has been competitive interscholastically over the past few years. There are many unique opportunities to learn - Teen Press, bike mechanics, lots of art, music and drama, and opportunities for leadership development.


 COMMENT 379264 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 10:34 AM

Great school....I know some of the teachers ..top notch...some of my music students go there...They teach the kids out of the box creative thinking there...and you can tell the kids love it...Rick Maiani


 COMMENT 379274P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 10:43 AM

Our son flourished at SBMS, enjoyed the teachers, friends he made, especially the grueling bike trips where everyone encourages everyone. Went on to public high school, excelled academically where his formation at SBMS served him well: kept the close friendships from SBMS, graduated college with high honors and, contrary to what 150 implies about SBMS grads not working, has been self supporting via work since college as are his friends. It is unfortunate that some have had bad experiences with "rich kids" and that SBMS is not more diverse. Also unfortunate that public schools for Jr. High age do not offer more team and character-building activities where everyone is involved together, not just a few. also unfortunate in public school (which was not tolerated at SBMS) was lots of bullying, often vicious, as my son discovered when he stuck up for those bullied in high school.That did not mean he totally put down the public school. Go observe a few times SBMS to see what it's like, pros & cons.


 COMMENT 379369 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 12:36 PM

I graduated from SBMS in the 90s, and my time there ranks among some of my greatest experiences. Those junior high school years are some of the most formative, and my time at SBMS was fundamental to the person I am today. The teachers, staff, and school culture are supportive, motivating, healthy, challenging, inspiring, memorable, and empowering. My brother also graduated from SBMS, my father participated in several bike trips. It's a family experience, and an invaluable one. I live on the east coast now, graduated from a prestigious four year university, and am a successful small business owner. I remain in contact with SBMS - teachers, staff, and alums, and count myself extraordinarily fortunate to have gone there. Clearly, I recommend the school. I'd go again, if I could. :)


 COMMENT 379377 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 12:48 PM

I'm an alumni of SBMS, and my child is only 4 years old... but we already know - our money is being saved for SBMS. It is by far and away the most important years of your kids transition to adulthood and I would trust no one else more than I would the teachers and the supportive nature of SBMS. There is a culture of respect and responsibility there that would help any child blossom and thrive. If you've gone to the school, seen the work they do... I can't imagine having any doubts.


 COMMENT 379416 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 01:24 PM

Remember when you were picking out a pre-school for your kid? I do, and the best piece of advice I got was to trust my instincts. I did, and it worked out well. When your child gets to be in 6th and 7th grade, my experience is that you can trust their instincts; they know which school feels right to them. That's how our two daughters ended up at Middle School. They made the decision, and we, as a family, have made the economic trade-offs necessary to support them. No regrets. It's never been easy to be in junior high, but for some kids, like our daughters, SBMS makes the mostly difficult miracle of adolescent transformation into a celebrated, magical transition.


 COMMENT 379425 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 01:31 PM

I am an alum of SBMS and it was absolutely the most profound educational experience I have ever had. My transition to high school was fine and I graduated from a four year university. The community is unparalleled and it prepared me to get the best out of my education in the subsequent years. It was fantastic.


 COMMENT 379427 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 01:35 PM

My son, now 26, graduated from SBMS. He benefited greatly from his Middle School experience, excelled during high school and went on to earn a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. He is currently designing bridges and recently purchased his first home. I believe SBMS prepared him well, and it was worth every hard-earned dollar.


 COMMENT 379438 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 01:57 PM

My years at SBMS were by far the most formative of my life. During years that most kids feel awkward, my classmates and I became closer through our unique experiences and common respect for knowledge and diversity. I’ve witnessed new high school and college acquaintances learn the same lessons about life that I had the fortune to learn while at SBMS. As a self-declared overachiever, I was at the top of my SBMS class. I also graduated from the top of my class at a prestigious private high school and attended an Ivy League university. Clearly SBMS prepares you for the future. I would say that there is a certain type of kid that might not love it here. If you're a family that believes in treating others with kindness, your kids will thrive. There are kids who think it's not cool to be accepting, so they probably won't enjoy SBMS. Or they'll attend the school grudgingly, and years later wish they had appreciated what they had at the time.


 COMMENT 379457 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 02:17 PM

Our daughter went to SBMS and we feel it was an investment in our child. SBMS is a family experience, too, and a wonderful community. The school is not just academic; it opens the world to the kids. At SBMS, our daughter was able to step out of the bounds of adolescent “it’s all about me,” and become globally conscious. Not a terribly athletic child when she got there, she has since biked all over the world. Transition to a local high school was fine and she was in the top of her class. She went on to an Ivy League college and is now entering medical school. Oh, and 150, she has also been gainfully employed since 9th grade. The price tag may be high, but it is an investment. In your child. And I understand they have a very good financial aid program now.


 COMMENT 379506 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 03:32 PM

I graduated SBMS in 1992. It was an educational experience that surpassed all others. It was one one of the best academic experiences that I had in my educational career. It was one of the few times in my school experience that I was challenged 100% and it was welcomed to rise up and challenge back, even as a girl. The trips tought me a self independence that continues to reward me as an adult. My fellow alumni are a network closer than any Greek house, as I travel the country and the world, I always have a fellow middle schooler to call upon. My SBMS alumni have been the network of support through the tough challenges that only adulthood brings. My skillset of traveling and treading lightly continue to reward me as I journey forward. If I was to have a child I can only imagine giving them the gift and investment of SBMS.


 COMMENT 379528 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 04:09 PM

I'm an SBMS alum class of 2003. I can honestly say the school changed my life, and really did help me become who I am today. The teachers gave me a love of learning, and my best friends today are my best friends from middle school. The SMBS experience gave me the courage and self confidence to work my way to where I am today, a world wide traveler, outdoor enthusiast, college graduate, and about to start medical school in a few months. I wouldn't trade having gone to middle school for anything.
Yeah, it's got character, nobody is perfect, but this school goes out of it's way to celebrate differences. Hope this helps your decision!


 COMMENT 379554 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 04:35 PM

SBMS Alum class of 2002, i went there all four years. it does build charactor, got me to be a bit more outgoing....some of the kids were nice but i did get picked on. it was fun i learned new skills although did discover knee issues when riding bikes. by the 4th year i was ready to move on and start my next chapter. its a good school.


 COMMENT 379657 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 06:58 PM

I attended the Middle School in the early 90s and it was a great experience. I think is an incorrect to say that the classes are taught in a "non-traditional" or "out-of-the-box" format: this is a real school with all of the regular subjects, taught every bit as well as those one would get at a regular junior high school. The main difference is that at the middle school you are—and you come to realize this—a part of a community, and that this means that you have responsibilities to that community, and to the world at large.

Also, biking, backpacking, the channel islands, real science projects, real theater, gardening, photography, job weeks, the great teachers and staff, etc. etc.—the "extras" woven into the education make for an incredible tapestry of personal growth. Students will keep many of the friends—and skills—that they make here for their whole lives.


 COMMENT 379678 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-27 07:46 PM

SBMS alum and grateful part of this community. I hope you come visit and see for yourself if this a fit for your child and family. As you can see from the comments above that we are indeed different. We are the only Jr. High that just specializes in these very formative years. Please come and see for yourself.


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