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BHS Small Schools: Green Academy

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Berkeley Public Schools > Berkeley High School > BHS Small Schools: Green Academy


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Parent Review of Green Academy Dec 2010

Dec 2010

As you consider the various learning community options at Berkeley High, I would highly recommend the Green Academy (formerly SSJE). I have a BHS Sophomore who's in his second year in the Green Academy and we're both very happy with the program and his teachers. The Green Academy is the third-largest learning community at BHS with 285 students and growing, but is small enough that your student will have a real sense of community.

The Green Academy utilizes a Science and Math based curriculum that prepares students for college and the growing green careers field. The course offerings meet all of the UC/CSU requirements, and include AP offerings in Environmental Science, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, American Literature and Composition in the 11th and 12th grades. The Green Academy also offers electives in all four years, which enables students to choose from the myriad of Arts, Humanities and World Languages courses offered at BHS.

I have found my son's teachers at the Green Academy to be dedicated professionals with a real passion for their subject areas and a commitment to creating a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world. I am also very impressed with their availability and willingness to work with me when my student has struggled at times. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more information, or to go to the Green Academy website @ http://sites.google.com/site/greenacademybhs/ Matthew


Social Justice vs AC for motivated 8th grader?

March 2007

Our daughter, currently an eigth grader at MLK, is trying to decide on her second choice of school at Berkeley High School. Her first choice is definitely Academic Choice. Her second choice was BHIS (International School), but she has now begun thinking seriously about the School of Social Justice and Ecology. Are there any parents and/or teens out there who participated in this school last year and can share their experiences with us? My main concern is that I have heard rumors that some of the small schools, including SSJE, might not be as challenging as either Academic Choice or the International School, and, while I have no problem with any direction she might choose to go in, I definitely know that she won't be happy in a program that doesn't challenge her academically. At the same time, I am aware that rumors can be entirely misleading. Can anyone give us some insight into what life at SSJE might be like for a motivated and intellectual incomng ninth-grader? Many thanks! anon.


My daughter is presently a sophomore in the program and I know that she is learning many new things and is pretty challenged by the work. Most importantly though is that she loves what she is learning and is very motivated to do well. She is making very good grades and has great relationship to all the teachers. There is something to be said for having the same group of children and teachers and parents working together for a successful high school experience. Since they are accredited for UC track I am believing that is enough. I am thrilled with the commitment and dedication of the teachers and think any child would be lucky to attend this program. anon,
I served for 2+ years on the Design Team that created the School for Social Justice & Ecology. The curriculum and learning environment was designed to be rigorous, experiential and project-based. At the time, it was the only school that required 4 years of science. This small school was also designed to provide every student the opportunity to do well enough to apply to college, if they so choose. It partners with various community groups. We brought together a science advisory board before the first class entered the school. The belief that nurturing a whole community support system for students, families, and teachers is one of the cornerstones of this small school. I personally led some team-building exercises for the first cohort and observed their portfolio presentations. Students who before did not ''engage'' in learning, or were ''problem students'' or had learning challenges, began doing better in school. If your child is at all interested in science, math, language arts, connecting with peers and teachers, and having his or her learning be connected to the world outside institutional learning, I encourage you to speak with one or more of the SSJE teachers and some of the students. Best wishes, whatever path your child chooses! Barbara
You should be aware that the math program in SSJE is IMP only; you do not have a choice. The science choices in SSJE are also limited. Also, the International Baccalaureate program is, like Academic Choice, part of the main school. Judith Bodenhausen
My son attended SSJE last year. He really liked the curriculum and the teachers, but found he was really distracted by discipline issues. He decided not to continue there this year. Former SSJE mom
My daughter, an 8th grader at King, is also considering SSJE and we attended the information night at BHS last week. At the SSJE session they said that a student could ''ghost'' a student in the program for a day (i.e., follow the student through a typical day) to see what it was really like. While this doesn't address issues of homework or long-term projects, it does give them a chance to get a glimpse of a day in the life of an SSJE student. David
Just a quick correction about the Math program at SSJE. It is no longer IMP. The ''traditional'' Math curriculum is now being taught at SSJE.

Great teachers, a committment to community-building, and a strong social-justice component make this a special addition to BHS. Spending four hours a day with the same group of students can difficult, especially in the first semester, but this also forges important bonds between students, and between students and teachers. There is an active parent group that meets monthly. You can contact me for more info. goldhams


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