Testimonials for Parkwood

What's good at Parkwood


I’ve had hundreds of conversations with faculty, staff, students, and parents at schools over the first 6 weeks of school, and I had never heard the word magic until Parkwood Elementary Principal Michelle Bell used it to describe the classroom of Sandra Sandiford. Having been in public schools for 30 of my 36 years on this planet, I relished the opportunity to see something I’d never seen before, so Mr. Cason and I hurried down to Sandiford’s room so that we could check things out as the school conducted its lockdown drill. And while it’s not uncommon for he and I to share looks of disbelief about the cool things that we’re seeing in Durham’s public schools, both of our minds were completely blown by the experience in her classroom.

There, for 15 minutes, a group of 20 or more 10 and 11-year-olds sat in absolute silence in the corner of the room as security checked the building. They didn’t tease or poke each other. They didn’t giggle. They didn’t talk or shush one another. They just sat there, not in a we’re-scared-of-this-Viola-Swamp-type-of-teacher silence, but a we-trust-this-woman-with-our-whole-lives-and-she’s-asked-us-to-do-something silence. It was unlike anything either of us had ever seen.

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Story from parent Cathy Emrick

My kids go to “that” school. You know, the one to which “I would NEVER send my kids,” exclaim people who have never set foot inside. “No one goes to that school!” I’ve heard said. But as a friend of mine recently added, “That’s strange, because the classrooms are all full.”

Actually, my daughter isn’t there anymore – she was there for K-5th grade and then had to go elsewhere for middle school. My son is still there, though, and when I think about next year being his last there, I want to cry. We have invested our time, our love, and our children into our neighborhood public school, which I recently realized is considered an “urban school.” It is also a Title I school, which means that a LOT of kids there qualify for free or reduced lunch because of their parent(s)’ low income. Many of our kids have to deal with violence, drugs, hunger, etc., at home (a few are even homeless), but when they come to school, they get free breakfast, free or reduced cost lunch, time to play safely outside every day, exposure to art and music, the opportunity to be surrounded by books, and teachers (and volunteers – I’m proud to be in that category!) who are committed to them and their education, compassionate, and love them no matter what. My kids and lots of others get all of those things too, except for the free/reduced cost lunch, but we might be more inclined to take those things for granted.

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Parent Sarah Connolly's story

We have consistently been impressed with the education our children have received at Parkwood. The staff are 100% committed to students. They all know my boys by name and take the time to communicate with parents. Staff are always smiling, even at the end of the day. We love the team approach to teaching.

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Parent Cathy Emrick's story

Simply put, we love Parkwood! My daughter is in AIG, and all of her teachers have been flexible and open-minded, such as allowing her to do projects on whatever has caught her interest that week and then present them to the class. We have been so pleased at all that Parkwood has had to offer her. The environment is focused on rewarding positive behavior, and we’re excited about our younger child who will start kindergarten this year.

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Parent Amy Mackin's story

Our family has been extremely pleased with our experience at Parkwood. We have one child who receives EC services and another who receives AIG services, and we’ve been pleased with the teachers’ abilities to individualize their instruction based on the varying needs of the children. I have always felt that the teachers truly wanted to meet my children’s needs and were willing to try new techniques to help them succeed, particularly my child who has an IEP. I like Parkwood’s emphasis on rewarding good behavior, and I’m pleased when a teacher reports to me that my child has done something well, even if it’s a small thing.

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