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My son started this year at EBSA (East Bay Science and Arts Middle School) in seventh grade after being in public school until now. He loves it! He's always been a good student and pretty satisfied with school, but he is happier in school now than he's ever been. He is very interested and engaged in his classes. He loves his teachers (mostly; and at least likes the ones he doesn't love). He gets very involved in the interesting projects for his classes and the lively debates and discussions that take place. There is a really nice group of kids there who seem to get along well within grades (6th-8th) and across the grades. I think one of the things he appreciates is the respect given to the students, and the freedom to be an individual and exhibit his individuality there. Although the school may have a resputation for having a disorganized administration, that is not reflected in the teachers, classes, or academics as far as I can tell. So far, we've had no complaints; it's all been positive. JF
Re: need to change middle schools
Last year we faced a similar situation to the one you describe concerning your daughter's academic disorganization at King. We made calls to several private schools, and did find an open ear and a few openings here and there. Several schools suggested calling back throughout the summer for late openings. We were able to get our daughter into EBSA (East Bay Science and Arts Middle School) at Milvia and Virginia Streets, in Berkeley. We found the atmosphere supportive, despite some administrative disorganization from time to time. It is not a particularly academic school. With concerted support from us and the school, our daughter was able to make progress in meeting deadlines and completing work. We're still on it. I've heard good things about the Julia Morgan School. It got a good write-up in the New York Times about a year ago. I believe it is an all girls school, but it might be just a high school! You might also try Black Pine Circle.
My daughter just finished her first year in seventh grade there. She had a rough start, not necessarily because of the school, then she got her balance and thrived in the atmosphere of expression,imagination and opinion. One of her high points was a film criticism class, which was structured by comparing two different versions of the same film. She bought home a beautiful portfolio of artwork at the end of the year, and we had seen many other examples of her artwork during the year. Many of those artworks came from her science,history, Spanish, and math classes. She advanced notably in imagination,knowledge and maturity through the year,mainly on her own efforts,and also with the help and guidance of many excellent teachers, who took a deep personal interest in her.
There is a dedicated group of teachers at EBSA, and the school has a solid reputation for an academic vision. The school has 100 students enrolled in 6th,7th and 8th grade. One major weakness is sports and P.E.
If you're the kind that can go along for the ride some time without steering, if you can allow your child the thrill of finding themselves in their own creativity in a very safe place,and if you can put up with some amount of chaos and baffling moments, EBSA might be your place. I am looking forward to my daughter being in 8th grade there.
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