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Kindergarten Options in Albany
We are about to register our son for kindergarten in Albany and would love more feedback on the 3 schools. We are leaning towards Marin since most of the kids on our block already go there. However, we are within equal walking distance of Cornell and have been told Oceanview is the ''strongest'' (no specifics given). Would love to hear your experience w/ strengths/weaknesses. Our son is a very interested learner and is excited to be starting kindergarten. We are hoping for an intellectually stimulating environment that keeps him enthusiastic about going to school. Hoping that's not too much to expect from public school these days. Thanks for the info! anna
I have two children at Marin; both of them started in kindergarten and the elder is now in 5th grade. We have had some wonderful teachers who really support the kids' enthusiasm for learning and find ways to keep the driest subjects interesting -- and we've encountered some who were not quite as perfect a fit but still very good. We've made many friends among the other parents, and it matters to us that our kids can easily walk or bike to their classmates' homes. We're happy we chose the physically closest school. Marin Mom
One of the great things about living in Albany is that your kids walk/bike to school w/other kids - kinda like the 1950s, which it nice. They can play w/their neighbors who are in the same class, and it's hard to express how much this helps shape a strong community.
My advice? Talk to parents at all three, and then just chose the closest one. Fan of Community Schools
I'm looking for info - good and bad - on WCCUSD and Albany Kindergarten teachers. We are moving out of state in the next year or two, so grades beyond K don't matter, but we are going to enroll my son in K here, just in case. We currently live near Fairmont, so I'm particularly interested in the class(es) there. Anon
We are trying to decide between Cornell and Marin for our Kindergartner who will have just turn 5 around the time school begins next fall. We live walking distance to Cornell which I really love and we really liked the school. The problem is that I would need aftercare for him and the Y seems to be a very busy space that would likely overwhelm him. It seems that the on site after school program at Marin might be a better choice for our son.
So my questions are these: Do people in Albany generally seem to go to their neighborhood school (specifically at Marin....are most of the families within walking distance?) Is it worth it to choose a school based on after school options?
Any advice from Marin or Cornell families would be greatly appreciated. anon
So regardless of which school you choose, if you're doing a Y after school program, both schools are served at the same site for K-1.
I'm an advocate for living closer to the school your child attends. kindergarten mom
As for after care - because the Kindergarten is a short day, both a.m. and p.m. Kindergarteners have several hours where they are the only children on site which makes it less overwhelming. Our son enjoys being there, but we know other children who haven't liked it so much. The big difference seems to be that our son has friends (from many grade levels) who also attend. Keep in mind there is also the JCC as an after school choice. Good luck.
My son is entering kindergarten in Albany next year, and we are debating between Cornell and Marin elementary. I hear good things about both. Cornell is closer to us so has the ''neighborhood school'' benefit, but I like the pod structure of Marin, and have heard more rave reviews from parents about Marin than Cornell. Other concerns: my son is very bright (already reading at 5), and I've heard at Cornell there are a lot of ESL children so the classes do not move quite as fast and/or a lot of the attention is paid to the ESL students? Is this true? One thing at Marin is the busy streets nearby and the school is very open (not gated in) so it seems that a child could easily run off the campus near the busy street. Any input is greatly appreciated! Chris
Hello, I am now searching for schools for my son. He will be going to Kindergarten this year. I am feeling overwhelmed with the information I am reading through the website and on top of that trying to understand the school system here in the US - since I lived abroad. My questions is, does anybody know or have their kids/experience in any K- schools in Albany? I wanted to send my son where Math and Science are being taught aggressively in the school. Please help! Ms.A
Marin's afterschool program, Tupelo, has good people working there, but there were too many kids for the space and staff for us. After going through for a year, and my child getting increasingly miserable, we decided to get an after school nanny and that has worked wonderfully. With two kids, it's work the $$$. With one kid, I would look for a share arrangement. -marin parent
My daughter is almost 3,5 years old ( her birthday is Ocoter 31. 2001). I am wondering when I should start looking in which kindergarden she should go. I know I have 3 choices of schools. We live on Cornell Avenue and I assume that she would go to the Cornell School. I would like her to be in the morning programm since I work in the morning and I think it's better to learn in the mornings anyway. Can the parents pick between morning and afternoon programms or is this up to the school ?
I would like some information about Albany public schools. My daughter is due to start kindergarten in 2003, and the plan is to send her to either Cornell or Marin (we are equidistant between the two -- for that reason, we would choose either of those over Ocean View). I would love to hear from parents of Albany kids -- the good, the bad and the ugly about the schools. I am also interested in your thoughts regarding aftercare, and the morning v. the afternoon program (our strong preference is the morning program). Also, have you been satisfied with what your children have been learning? I'm still amazed kindergarten is only a few hours a day. Thank you. Julie
The last posting about K classes in Albany schools brought up a mystery I've not been able to solve. i.e., why did the poster not ask at all about Cornell school? I've been told, by a person who has had a lot of experience at both, that Marin and Cornell are comparable, both in teachers and principal. The only thing that's different is that Cornell may have more children of renters from the lower part of Solano, while Marin may have more children from the mostly owner-occupied & wealthier eastern part of Albany. Also Marin may look better to some because it's a newer building. It's a mystery to this person why this sort of pro-Marin School bias still hangs on, to the point where people still show up incredibly early on registration day even though it's not really first-come first-served. I guess it's all different this year (with the opening of Ocean View, formerly Vista/McGregor, now at the old middle school) so perhaps no one has a good answer. But I would really like to know, if the schools are basically equivalent, why all the fuss about Marin? Especially on the part of parents who live closer to a different school? Is there something I don't know? Should I worry less? Can I feel 100% comfortable with Cornell, bc greatly adding to its weight is the fact that it's our nearby neighborhood school, or should I try to look into the other schools nearby neighborhood school, or should I try to look into the other schools even though it's basically too late, as registration begins next Tuesday?
Related question - my husband observed the morning K class at Cornell recently. He felt it was a bit clinical perhaps or a little overly serious for K. In fact, the students were all studiously writing in their journals (!) first thing in the morning. Is this normal for K? The class did have lots of nifty-looking projects around, but the feeling of the class was more like 1st grade, or 2nd depending on the school.
To the person who is wondering why people shy away from Cornell, here is my lengthy reply! I have a daughter in kindergarten at Vista, and when it came time to choose a kindergarten last year -- and this year, when it came time to choose first grade since Vista is closing -- I chose as number one the new Ocean View and, as number two...Marin! And I tried to figure out what resistance I have to Cornell since many of the parents there seemed satisfied, and it appears that, no matter were you go, every year is different depending on the teacher and his/her relationship to your child.
I think that some of it has to do with Cornell often ranking in the middle. All the others schools have the extreme pluses. Marin is the newer. Vista is smaller, etc. but Cornell falls in the middle so it never wins when you are seeking something specific for your child. I had heard that Marin has incredible parent participation, which can make a big difference. And, sure enough, when I went to a Saturday meeting about the reading program, of about 40 parents, about 30 were from Marin! Some of that has to do with parents from the other schools living in U.C. Village, being students, being busy, not having large incomes, and not feeling connected to Albany, in general. However, it's been a real bonus to have so many kids from around the world in my daughter's kindergarten class, and kids who have very interesting parents! And all the teachers at Vista get great reviews from the parents. The one downside I heard is that one of the three kindergartens has a disproportionate amount of kids who don't yet speak English that well. This probably is due to late registration by people who are moving to the Village from far away.
Ocean View is the new Vista-MacGregor site, that has been the middle school. We chose that because there will be a lot of open space and classroom space, it is walking distance, and I've heard good things about several of the first grade teachers. We like the sense of community, for our daughter to have friends nearby. And, one mother at Marin mentioned that it is terribly overcrowded there. Where ever you go, a major factor can be how involved you are as a parent.
In reference to the person who asked why I didn't inquire about Cornell School when requesting information about Albany grade schools, it is because I don't feel comfortable about the structural integrity of the school to withstand a large earthquake. This is just my own thing. I am not a native Californian so that thought is in the back of my mind alot. I spoke with someone at length from the school district last year about the earthquake retrofitting on that building and recently spoke with another person from the district about the windows. Needless to say I was not comforted by his response concerning the large windows. That is all. It has nothing to do with the economic level of anyone. I did, however observe all classes there, as well as the other three grades schools.
With all due respect, perhaps the reason parents choose Marin over Cornell is because they want there to be a difference, not because there is. Just like we buy the more expensive item because we want the identity that comes with it. It doesn't matter if Marin is more overcrowded and less diverse. It means a great deal to some parents to feel their kids are in a special place. This is what makes the world turn . . .
I want to second Brian's comments. I talked with a lot of parents as my daughter was leaving preschool for kindergarten. Many parents were thrilled with the idea that they got to chose which public school their child would go to. No particular school (I'm in El Cerrito) was favored over the others; people just seemed to like to send their kid across town. Many of those children have since been moved one or more times. There is a lot to be said for sending your child to the neighborhood school and keeping him/her there. Just a couple of advantages: less traffic around the schools, and your child can build long-term friendships with children who live nearby. Your support of your child and the school will go a long way to make your neighborhood school a "good school."
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