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My son will be attending Berkeley High School next year and would like to
apply for one of the Small Learning Communities. Does anyone have advice
or recommendations about the Common Ground SLC? I have received a few
negative comments about the program regarding a bad field trip last
year. Have problems been corrected?
My son is currently a freshman at BHS and part of the Common Ground SLC. He
is very happy with all of his teachers, the degree of interest his teachers
show in him and his performance and the courses that are offered as part of
Common Ground. (They parallel the regular 9th Grade curriculum but are taught
by Common Ground teachers and have been taught in double period blocks so
that yearlong courses are condensed into 1/2 of a semester. The advantage
for my son was that he had fewer classes as he transitioned into BHS.)
As to the "bad" field trip, it did not effect my son negatively other than
leaving him disappointed when the trip was cut short. Also, much discussion
and analysis took place after the trip among Common Ground teachers and
parents as to how to avoid a similar situation in the future and I feel
confident that the same problems will not recur.
In short, my son feels and I agree that Common Ground has been a great
experience for him especially during his first year at BHS.
My daughter is a junior. She tried regular BHS for the first year, CAS
for the second and is now in CG. This has been her best experiece of
BHS. She is a smart student who really wants to learn. She loves the
teachers in CG. The trip that got such a bad reputation was a problem,
yes. But changes have been made. The teachers care a lot and bend over
backwards to make things work. That is from my perspective as a parent.
By the way, there is nothing wrong with CAS; it is just that my
daugher feels a greater kinship with the environmental issues and with
the students who have those concerns.
In response to the inquiry about BHS Common Ground
I have a Junior that is very active in the CG program. Since she joined this
small community I have seen her do a complete turn around from Freshman and
sophomore year at BHS. In all of her previous school years she had always loved
school and done well both socially and academically. The first two years of
Berkeley High had nearly done her in. She witnessed her best friend attacked and
beaten. She put up with a teacher not remembering her name after taking classes
for two consecutive semesters. She struggled with a science teacher that
basically refused to give her any help when she was struggling. By the end of her
sophomore year she was ready to quit.
The Common Ground has nutured and inspired her. She is excited and there is
no stopping her now. The difference is nothing short of miraculous. Every Common
Ground teacher that I have met is totally available. At back to school night the
boards had personal email addresses and phone numbers. I have not seen such a
dedicated bunch of teachers before. There is also wonderful parent involvement.
If you can possibly get your child into the program do it.
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