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Cornell Elementary School

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Albany Public Schools > Cornell Elementary School

March 2008

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

Feb 2008

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

Dec 2003

Cornell Elementary is a fabulous school. I have a kindergartner and a second grader there. Cornell has a somewhat lesser reputation than Marin (always seen as the strongest school) and Ocean View (a newer school), but from everything I've seen, Cornell deserves to be right up there. Its newish principal, Robert Kelly- Thomas, is a terrific leader. He's incredibly accessible- -often on the yard during arrivals, recesses, and dismissal. I hear that the teachers enjoy working with him, too, which is important.

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

June 2003

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

Cornell School is great. My kids both went through Cornell (now one's at Albany Middle School and one at Albany High).

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 (, funding support for schools), and sign up for the albanyschools e-tree ( for District-wide issues. Check the list at

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

Cornell School does have on-site child care for the younger grades - sort of. The Albany YMCA uses the site in front of the school on Solano for before and after care for grades K-3. I don't know anything about it, really, because my son started there in 4th grade. He used the Albany Y aftercare, and the 4th and 5th graders walk up to Marin school after school, with a counselor. As for the school, it's been fine for us. There's a good mix of kids - many are from the University Village, so if you want diversity, you got it, and most parents are College educated or at least care a great deal about their kids' education. My son is a challenging kid, and had a great teacher for 4th and 5th grade, Mr. Brandley. I highly recommend him for any child. He's firm but kind and seems to really enjoy the kids. If you want a small school though, this is not it. It seemed that there were at least 3 classes of 30 kids for each of the older grades. My other child was at Ocean View Elementary the year before, and the class size was smaller (only 26). It seemed a bit less daunting. Also, the big building at Cornell looks scary to some kids. anon
I have two sons at Cornell, and we are very happy with the school. My two children have extremely different learning styles. Both of them had Victoria Kaye for Kindergarten, and she dealt wonderfully with the individual styles in the group. I have yet to see a teacher at the school who does not meet my expectations. The parents are actively involved at the school. The only criticism I have, which would probably be the case at any school, is that sometimes parents aren't given much advance notice before special activities. For working parents, that can make scheduling tough. The Albany YMCA offers childcare right next to Cornell, and they are very flexible depending on whether your child is an early bird or late bird, etc. Good luck! Eden
Oct 2002

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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