BHS Small Schools: Green Academy
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BHS Small Schools: Green Academy
As you consider the various learning community options at Berkeley
High, I would highly recommend the Green Academy (formerly SSJE). I
have a BHS Sophomore who's in his second year in the Green Academy
and we're both very happy with the program and his teachers. The
Green Academy is the third-largest learning community at BHS with 285
students and growing, but is small enough that your student will have
a real sense of community.
The Green Academy utilizes a Science and Math based curriculum that
prepares students for college and the growing green careers field.
The course offerings meet all of the UC/CSU requirements, and include
AP offerings in Environmental Science, Physics, Calculus, Statistics,
American Literature and Composition in the 11th and 12th grades. The
Green Academy also offers electives in all four years, which enables
students to choose from the myriad of Arts, Humanities and World
Languages courses offered at BHS.
I have found my son's teachers at the Green Academy to be dedicated
professionals with a real passion for their subject areas and a
commitment to creating a more environmentally sustainable and
socially just world. I am also very impressed with their
availability and willingness to work with me when my student has
struggled at times. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like
more information, or to go to the Green Academy website @
Our daughter, currently an eigth grader at MLK, is trying to decide on
her second choice of school at Berkeley High School. Her first choice is
definitely Academic Choice. Her second choice was BHIS (International School), but
she has now begun thinking seriously about the School of Social Justice and
Ecology. Are there any parents and/or teens out there who participated
in this school last year and can share their experiences with us? My main
concern is that I have heard rumors that some of the small schools, including
SSJE, might not be as challenging as either Academic Choice or the
International School, and, while I have no problem with any direction she might
choose to go in, I definitely know that she won't be happy in a program that
doesn't challenge her academically. At the same time, I am aware that rumors
can be entirely misleading. Can anyone give us some insight into what life at
SSJE might be like for a motivated and intellectual incomng ninth-grader?
My daughter is presently a sophomore in the program and I
know that she is learning many new things and is pretty
challenged by the work. Most importantly though is that she
loves what she is learning and is very motivated to do well.
She is making very good grades and has great relationship
to all the teachers. There is something to be said for
having the same group of children and teachers and parents
working together for a successful high school experience.
Since they are accredited for UC track I am believing that
is enough. I am thrilled with the commitment and dedication
of the teachers and think any child would be lucky to attend
I served for 2+ years on the Design Team that created the School for
Social Justice & Ecology. The curriculum and learning environment was designed
to be rigorous, experiential and project-based. At the time, it was the
only school that required 4 years of science. This small school was also
designed to provide every student the opportunity to do well enough to apply to
college, if they so choose. It partners with various community groups.
We brought together a science advisory board before the first class
entered the school. The belief that nurturing a whole community support system for students, families, and
teachers is one of the cornerstones of this
small school. I personally led some team-building exercises for the first
cohort and observed their portfolio presentations. Students who before did not
''engage'' in learning, or were ''problem students'' or had learning challenges,
began doing better in school. If your child is at all interested in science,
math, language arts, connecting with peers and teachers, and having his or
her learning be connected to the world outside institutional learning, I
encourage you to speak with one or more of the SSJE teachers and some of the
Best wishes, whatever path your child chooses!
You should be aware that the math program in SSJE is IMP only; you do
not have a choice. The science choices in SSJE are also limited. Also,
the International Baccalaureate program is, like Academic Choice, part of
the main school.
My son attended SSJE last year. He really liked the
curriculum and the teachers, but found he was really
distracted by discipline issues. He decided not to
continue there this year.
Former SSJE mom
My daughter, an 8th grader at King, is also considering
SSJE and we attended the information night at BHS last
week. At the SSJE session they said that a student
could ''ghost'' a student in the program for a day (i.e.,
follow the student through a typical day) to see what it
was really like. While this doesn't address issues of
homework or long-term projects, it does give them a chance
to get a glimpse of a day in the life of an SSJE student.
Just a quick correction about the Math program at SSJE. It
is no longer IMP. The ''traditional'' Math curriculum is now
being taught at SSJE.
Great teachers, a committment to community-building, and a
strong social-justice component make this a special addition
to BHS. Spending four hours a day with the same group of
students can difficult, especially in the first semester,
but this also forges important bonds between students, and
between students and teachers. There is an active parent
group that meets monthly.
You can contact me for more info.
this page was last updated: Dec 29, 2010
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