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Re: Cornell or Marin elementary?
Choosing Albany schools is strangely hard because they're all good, but you're making a decision that will affect what your child's life will be like until middle school.... I agonized too, chose Cornell, and have been very happy there. Absolutely wonderful teachers! I could write a small novel, but to keep things brief I'll just say that the English learners absolutely don't hold the class back. In my experience, they tend to come from highly-educated families (more so than ours, for example) and cultures that value learning. I checked with my third-grader and she confirmed it. If you're really concerned, check with the teachers - they're the ones who know best. Cornell is more diverse; this means that people are more different from each other. Less cosy, but more interesting. Incidentally, in my neighborhood we have kids going to all three schools, and I hear good things from all. Kitty
Re: How do the 3 elementary schools compare?
I can't really respond about comparative class sizes and teachers, etc., but I can tell you my experience and what I've heard around town. I believe all three of the Albany schools are excellent! Our children go to Cornell, we love it, but it was an easy choice for us since we live very close by. This has been a terrific choice for us -- easy playdates and many parents who can help with pick-up and drop-off when something comes up (as it invariably does sometimes). Walking to school is a lovely thing, a real treat. Some parents choose it because it has a very diverse student population, which is something we also appreciate. Some choose Marin because they have a little more money (their PTA pays for art teachers, for example). Some people love Ocean View. The only knock I ever heard was that because so many Ocean View parents are only here for a short time (a year or two) that it can be hard for kids to form lasting friendships, but the kids we know there love it. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them -- all have very involved parent support groups, etc. and the children all seem to be thriving and having a great time. Happy Albany Parent
My daughters love the teachers they've had so far, and the communications from the school and from the teachers are just great. I've been delighted by the material covered in each year, especially in the sciences--cumulus and cirrus cloud formations in first grade, a whole in-depth unit on bat species and behavior in second grade. As with all Albany schools, there are cutbacks every year in music, etc., but they are generally restored by parent contributions.
So, for the parent who would have to fight to get into Marin, I say your own school, especially if it is Cornell, is going to be just fine. For the parent who lives in the Marin district, I probably would go with Marin. One of the nice advantages in Albany is that kids do generally go to their neighborhood school. It's VERY useful to be able to consult with neighbors who have had the same teachers, etc. On our block, except for 2 families (who sent their kids to Marin), everyone else is at Cornell. I've heard that the parents are more involved at Marin, though it's hard to imagine more involvement than what I see at Cornell. Laura
I have just been offered a Kindergarten space at Cornell for this fall (through an out of district transfer). Unfortunately I missed any opportunities to visit the Albany elementary schools whilst they were in session and would appreciate any information on the school . Also any experiences of out of district transfers into Albany from Berkeley.
I am also confused by the after-school or before school child care options as there seems to be nothing offered on site at Cornell. What do parents do? Thanks for any info. Shelley
If you can, volunteer in the classroom; you'll get a good sense of what's going on.
Check the Albany YMCA for after-school programs adjacent to Cornell; and Berkeley JCC (runs a bus to Albany schools).
Do join the PTA, Albany SchoolCARE (www.albanyschoolcare.org, funding support for schools), and sign up for the albanyschools e-tree (firstname.lastname@example.org) for District-wide issues. Check the list at http://www.albany.k12.ca.us/district/community.htm
This is a challenging time for public schools, with shrinking budgets. Your help will make a huge difference in what your child is offered in school. Merry
Re: Kindergarten Options in Albany
I am a parent of 2 sons at Cornell. We have been extremely pleased with the school, and in fact moved to Albany because we had a lot of confidence in their school system. The Principal, Bob Kelly-Thomas is very knowledgeable, runs a tight ship, and is fun-loving with the children at the same time. My children are very different, but the school has accomodated both of them well. We have had Ms. Kaye for 2 years of Kindergarten and feel that she is caring and competent. You are right, their day is very short. Academically, my older one was not challenged by the Kindergarten curriculum, but he did need to learn the social skills that Kindergarten reinforces - raising your hand before speaking, sitting still, being quiet, and better hand-writing skills. They have an active PTA at Cornell, and parent- involvement is high. I have never seen so many parents turn out for Back To School Night. Eden
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