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Orinda Academy (Orinda, CA)
Re: Private high school for disorganized smart kid
Do visit Orinda Academy in Orinda and talk with them. Spend a day visiting as well. Sounds far but it's very near the BART station in Orinda and many students take BART there. The faculty and staff are great, small classes and a very good and structured environment. parent of Orinda Grad
My son attends the Orinda Academy. He transferred to Orinda Academy from a public high school. Orinda Academy is a small school which takes great care in the education of its students. My son is dyslexic and dysgraphic and Orinda Academy has done everything to accommodate his needs and also to teach him how to use the technology available to address his issues with reading and writing. I have found that everyone at the school from the head of the school Ron Graydon to all of the teachers to be very accessible and to do their best to meet the needs of the individual students. The school has a college preparatory curriculum and strict accountability for work to be completed. I am confident that my son will be well prepared to attend college following graduation from Orinda Academy. I would suggest to any parent whose son or daughter may benefit from a smaller school to carefully look at Orinda Academy. The other convenient aspect of Orinda Academy is that it is close to the Orinda Bart station. My son took Bart to and from OA and it worked out very well for everyone. OA parent
We are considering Orinda Acadamy for high school (9-12) for our son. On the academic side it appears to be just what he needs. I've read the past reviews and they address that well. (he has mild LD, but is smart and engaging.) It's the social side that I would love to hear about. The current 9th and 11th grades have 17 kids each, the other 2 grades have 24 each, if I remember this correctly. What are the kids like there? My son is very open to kids, but is a bit immature and doesn't read social cues well. He always seems to make new friends but doesn't sustain them. Are there enough kids at the school that he will find somebody? Are there any cliques, possible even in a small school? What happens when kids have a falling out? What about dating? If you don't mind, I would love to talk directly with some OA parents. Thanks linda
Does anyone have current information about Orinda Academy. We are considering it for our son. The census seems to be down, but that could be due to the economy. Or it may be due to something else that I am unaware of. I want a school that will give him interesting peers and a solid education. I am attracted to the hands on approach by the teachers etc. Any comments are appreciated. Thanks Lamorinda Mom
He's now a very successful junior in college, managing his coursework at two campuses of a consortium of schools, TA-ing two courses, largely supporting himself with a campus job he loves and some freelance projects. He's identified, applied for, and completed prestigious internships in different cities each summer, while living on his own, and will do so again next summer.
Orinda Academy helped our son grow up, respecting him and us, his parents, while assisting him to use his strengths to manage his weaknesses and become a competent, confident, independent and realistic adult. He is still in touch with several of his teachers from the school, occasionally meets one for lunch when in town, and drops in to visit the school once a year. Sure, there were some bumps along the way, but it was overall a wonderful high school for someone like him. Grateful OA Parent
Re: Choosing a high school for our daughter
If you're looking for a small school environment, good teacher support and communication, confidence building for students and really important school feedback for both students and parents Orinda Academy is a good choice. You should visit and talk with students and faculty. It's a few blocks from BART in Orinda so is good for many students from Oakland/Berkeley who take Bart. We've especially appreciated, as parents, a progress update every 2-3 weeks that each student gets. It's really helped our daughter stay focused and those that are falling behind know quickly. The report is emailed to parents as well. It's been good for building our daughter's confidence in many ways. Thanks... Orinda Academy Parent
We are beginning to think about high schools for one of our children who has some learning differences, primarily in executive function, as well as some social/emotional challenges. We've been looking at various 9-12 schools, public and private, and at this point feel well-versed in various schools' approaches to learning and social/emotional differences. We know that we will need to find an environment that has a blend of academic AND social/emotional structure and support. And we've found that the most crucial place for that structure/support is in the classroom, with the most crucial practitioners being teachers rather than learning support staff. That said, can anyone weigh in about the faculty at Orinda Academy -- in terms of their ability to differentiate instruction, their training (past and present) in working with students with learning differences, and the support that they receive from administration and other staff in that work? It seems clear that the school's overall philosophy and approach is inclusive and supportive of students with differences, but we are curious how that actually translates into the classrooms. Thanks! Deliberating Parents
The one area of frustration for me is that we have shared information with the school about the accommodations our son needs, and the school doesn't seem to have a system for making sure that all of the teachers understand his needs and provide accommodations. For example, he has dysgraphia and needs to do all of his work on his laptop. Time and again, teachers have in-class worksheets that require handwritten answers, or assignments and tests that are not adapted to the laptop. When we remind teachers about the accommodations needed, they always do it. But it feels like we shouldn't have to go over the same ground constantly, especially at such a small school where one would expect communications would be easier.
That said, I feel like the school is making much more of an effort to be friendly to students with learning differences. I suggest that you start off with a plan to implement accommodations, and check in periodically.
My son also has executive function problems, and OA has been great at helping him. He's now a senior, gets all of his work done without intervention from his parents, is on the honor roll, and has been accepted to several colleges. When he started in 9th grade as an extremely disorganized and demoralized kid, I never thought that would be possible. Anon
We are a two mom family interested in Orinda Academy for our child. Does anyine have any experience with this school- positive or negative- regarding the environment of inclusivity around LGBT families? PLease let me know your thoughts even if they don't seem significant. Any observations or reflections about this issue would be valuable. Thank you.
I can't recall if I have met any LGBT parents at OA, but given the diversity of the students and the acceptance of the school and community, I would think that an LGBT family would feel just fine. Carrie
Re: Looking for a High School for unhappy Orinda teen
Dear Rebecca, I think Orinda Academy may be perfect for your teen. It has a warm and nurturing environment; all the classes are conducted in small group learning environments; the school has an active anti-bullying policy; and the school actively follows a pre-college curriculum, with many strategies in place to assist kids who have LDs. It is not a charter or public school, but truly, the vast number of families at OA are there not because they are wealthy, but because they have found the very best environment for their teenagers. I am a teaching professional with a PhD and I understand something about creative learning. I have been delighted with Orinda Academy, where our son has flourished and where he actually WANTS to be at school. You could contact the director, Ron Graydon (Ron@orindaacademy.org), or the Admissions Officer. I'm also including my email address in case you want more info from me. Good Luck! Philippa
Re: Student with mild aspergers looking for high school
Orinda Academy has many students with a variety of special needs, including Asperger's, and caters to them with small classes, lots of individual attention, careful academic monitoring, and efforts to build a supportive, accepting community. The school just doesn't like to position itself as a special needs school. This baffles some of its parents and pleases others. Visit for a day. Summer school starts soon, if it's not already in session. Summer school is a little different from the regular academic year, and gets a somewhat wider spectrum of students, but visiting now will still introduce you to many of the teachers and several of the regular students who are either making up missed work or getting ahead, and the general style of the place. If you like it, your daughter can visit for a day, too, and can shadow a current student. The administration can connect you with some of the Parent Group Board members, to answer specific questions from a parent's point of view. -Happy OA parent of successful LD kid
As for your daughter's mild asberger's, my advice would be to go to the school and ask for an interview with the head of the school, Ron Graydon. He is an extremely principled person who is not going to tell you that the school is right for her unless it is. I feel absolutely sure about this. He is very experienced and wise in terms of not only educational issues, but interpersonal dynamics amongst teens. P
Re: Help in Choosing a Private High School?
This isn't answering exactly the question you posed, about finding a counselor to help find an appropriate middle private school for your kids, but it does address the underlying question, from someone who's been there. Our son, who graduates high school this week, had an IEP in elementary school, and an asymmetric academic profile, with significant, quirky handicaps. Along the way and at a similar juncture to yours, we looked at several schools, including: The Community School (now the middle school at Park Day -- a great community with a developed curriculum of social responsibility, but not quite the right fit, unless we provided outside support), Orinda Academy (the best fit for us), The Archway School (small), Gateway High School (public school focused on LD kids, in SF, open to all in Bay Area, by lottery, do not need an IEP to apply), & Drew (high school in SF). We looked at many more.
Any school can be uneven, and Orinda Academy was sometimes, too, but it also offered some truly inspiring teachers and academic opportunities. for the most part, teachers there, were on our son's side, every day. They cared. Additionally, a few unique programs & processes in place there were crucial to his ultimate success: 1) most teachers encourage and give credit to students who revise work to correct errors, or produce another draft, of any assignment and often even tests; 2) teachers meet the students where they are, academically, and begin there; 3) students with incomplete homework must attend study hall the following day; 4) many classes have students from multiple grades; 5) the administration is flexible, within reason, about accommodating unusual academic requests; 6) there are written progress reports from every teacher, every two weeks; while some comments are perfunctory, many are not. Good luck. :-)
Re: Considering alternatives to public high school
Consider Orinda Academy for your teen. Small class size with a lot of individual attention, responsive teachers, nice kids, accepting community. My son is a sophomore there, and is thriving. Anon
I am a parent of a child at Orinda Academy, a small independent school in Orinda, California. This is a wonderful small school for bright, college bound students, who thrive in a nurturing, structured, high school environment. Class size is small, students and parents have access to teachers and the administration values a diverse student body. This school has been a great fit for my son and I speak with experience as a teacher (at another school) who has had one child attend public school and now has one child in private school. I am writing this letter because many perspective parents and students are unaware of how excellent and wonderful this school is. If anyone would like more information about Orinda Academy from a parent who is currently involved with the school, I would be glad to speak with you. S.
Re: High School for learning disabled teens
Take a look at Orinda Academy (private, in Orinda), The Gateway School (public, in SF but accepts kids from all over the Bay Area, through a lottery system), and Drew (private, SF). Also check out the Parents Education Network, or PEN, a tremendous resource, sponsoring lectures, workshops and a well maintained website: www.parentseducationnetwork.org .
Orinda Academy is not specifically for kids with learning disabilities; but they do have a learning specialist on staff and make an effort to accept and accommodate varied learning styles. Classes are small and kids can participate in multiple grade levels simultaneously to match their skill set (e.g. 12th grade English and Algebra I in the same year). Most classes use a mastery learning system, in which grades can be improved by making corrections. Mandatory study halls for those who do not complete homework encourage development of good study habits. -OA parent
I would like to add to the dialogue about Orinda Academy. Our son is there this year as a ninth grader. The reason we sent him there was that we were concerned about his potential to skate under the radar at public school. We knew that he needed an environment that was both structured and creative, as he is a very smart kid who will think of a million different reasons for playing computer games rather than aiming for the As of which hems capable. The school has completely met our expectations. Itms small, and most of the teachers are fully dedicated to unlocking the potential of every student there. Amazingly, my son said last weekend, 'I don't look forward to weekends so much any more because school is so much fun.' When I asked him what makes this so, he said that the teachers structure their classes so that learning is incredibly productive and fun. The teachers at Orinda Academy are also very cognizant of learning differences and of the need to keep kids with LDs at grade level q but they organize their classes so that such accommodations donmt compromise the college prep curriculum in any way. Kids are expected to perform to their full potential, and the teachers will be on them like a flash if they slack off. PK
Can anyone give me a current recommendation for Orinda Academy? I have visited the school and so far am impressed and believe their mission statement and that the teachers really care about the students learning and their various learning styles. I would also be interested in hearing from parents that have switched their kids from another independent school that also had an upper school to Orinda Academy. Thanks!
Does anyone have recent experience with Orinda Academy? We are looking
at it for
our 8th grade son. He has some learning issues and could benefit from
student-teacher ratio, but I don't know if the very small size of the
considered a disadvantage by the kids who go there. I visited, and
liked the teachers
I am considering Orinda Academy as a possible high school
for my shy, socially awkward son. Although I'm interested
in hearing anything parents can share about their students'
experiences at Orinda, I'm particularly interested in
hearing more about the students' social environment and
whether it would be tolerant and/or welcoming for
shyer, ''uncool'' students. Thanks
Shy kid's mom
i would like to hear from parents of orinda academy students to get their take on the school. one of my son's teachers has recommended orinda academy as a good fit for him so i would like to find out more about the culture and environment. my greatest concern is that it has an alternative high school feel. i want to make sure that the environment is also a good fit for him. i am also curious if they have a bus available to students in the east bay (berkeley/oakland area). thanks for your feedback.
Our son is thriving in his first year at Orinda- it is very
small and that has the obvious pluses and minuses but they are
open to looking at your particular child's learning needs. We
have a lot of contact with his teachers and can work things out
as they come up rather than learn about the problems at the end
when receiving a report card. I would be happy to share our
experiences with you.
Re: 12-year-old getting terrible grades - any suggestions?
If you are considering private schools, Orinda Academy might be a good fit for your son. Enrolling grades 7 - 12, it has a homework tracking and accountability system for all students, which somehow depersonalizes the issue and eliminates this issue as a source of friction at home and at school. Late homework earns an ''incomplete''. The ''incomplete'' student must spend their free periods the next day in a mandatory ''quiet'' study hall. Other students, whose homework is complete, elect to spend their ''frees'' in a number of other ways, like in an open-door, more sociable study hall, out on the basketball court, in the lounge, etc. Homework support available in both study halls, to the extent that the monitoring teacher knows the subject. This simple system encourages personal accountability and responsibility, and takes the parents out of the homework loop. Classes are small (12 - 15 students) and an effort is made to respect and accommodate different learning styles. Students may take classes at different grade levels in different subjects. Many enter the program with issues around homework completion, and the system works pretty smoothly to help them take control of the issue for themselves.
Orinda Academy parent
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