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Malcolm X Elementary (Berkeley, CA)
Are art and performance as thoroughly integrated into the Malcolm X curriculum as it seems? I was impressed by their kindergarten night and tried to enroll my kindergartener but did not get in. I'm debating whether to try for next year. My child is happy at his school but the art seems fairly mediocre, the dramatic art nonexistent and music doesn't start until they're older. Please let me know your experience at Malcolm X; also, if anyone has info on the chances of getting in as a first-grader, please let me know. Thank you! wanting more art
Art education is something I personally value very highly and if we weren't at MX I would feel compelled to pay for these as ''enrichment'' classes after school (something we can't really afford). I feel so lucky that my daughter is getting these as part of her public education. MX parent and fan!
Does anyone have recent thoughts and/or reviews of Malcolm X elementary school? From what we've heard it sounds like most families love it. The archives don't have any recent reviews, within the past 2 or 3 years. Is there a new principal and how is it working out. Also, what are parent's and children's experience with the afterschool programs. Thanks, incoming kinder family
Our daughter is thriving academically and we love that she is being exposed to such a wealth of experiences. She loves gardening and cooking classes, is doing drama for the first time, and is rehearsing with her class for the all school chorale, led by her music teacher. These are all part of her regular school days. In addition to these there are PTA-organized classes after school that run the gamut from Circus Arts to Math Games and Architecture for Kindergarteners. I've been amazed that our public school offers such a rich and varied curriculum, and I am a firm believer in the role of arts in education, a primary reason I selected MX.
The principal, Mr. Hunt, is in his first year and I've been quite impressed with him. He comes across as dedicated, intelligent, well-spoken, energetic and positive. The other thing I've appreciated about the school is a great sense of community. We have attended several events that have brought out whole families and there is so much positive energy, a real sense of working together to make the best school possible for the kids. Welcome to Malcolm X!
Yes, there is a new principal, Alex Hunt. The previous principal had been there maybe twenty years and recently retired. She was renown district-wide for having shaped and developed the school over that time, as a strong leader who invested a lot of say and support in her amazing teachers. She really made that school into something special. The new principal has the additional benefit of being warm, communicative and effective. It has worked out very well.
Other highlights: gardening/cooking/lunch room intertwined curriculum! What the kids are harvesting, is what they are cooking, is even sometimes what the cafeteria is serving! Performances, loads of the kind of performances where everyone is singing or dancing along. I will probably cry the day my kids leave this family. I hope you love it too. Happy As A Clam At MX
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any more recent information than what currently appears on BPN about allowing families in the southwest to get into Malcolm X. I read two disturbing reviews on BPN from about a year ago that indicated that most of the incoming K class was from the central zone last year. Does anyone know if this is expected to continue? I am interested in information about next school year (2012/2013). Thank you!
I am troubled by what I hear from fellow parents who also listed Malcolm X as their 1st choice for incoming kindergartners. It seems that with expanding access this year to Central Zone for this deservedly popular school, BUSD has somehow assigned many, many more Central Zone families to MX than Southeast zone families. We did not, nor did any other SE families I know who listed MX first choice, get our children assigned there. I understand about BUSD's challenges, but I sense there is more than bad luck but that the system was somehow set up quite unfairly this year. Would love responses from others. troubled on MX wait list
Similarly, opening up BAM to the Northwest Zone resulted in an incoming class of almost entirely Northwest Zone families, rather than Central Zone families, where the school is located. Maybe this hasn't been as much of a concern because the school is more centrally located?
Regardless, it was clear that Melisandra is in a tough position being tasked with implementing the School Board's decision. I think it's worth it for parents to ask the School Board to take a look at how their decision played out and see if there's something that can be done to both deal with the overcrowding in the North, but also make sure that Southeast Zone families aren't shut out of one of it's outstanding schools. Malcolm X wannabe
Re: Choosing between public schools in southeast zone
Most of us who read BPN and bother to respond probably love and are very loyal to our own schools, so you'll probably hear great things about all the schools. That is the good news, because it means it's hard to go wrong, even if you don't end up getting your first choice. My son is in third grade at Malcolm X. I basically moved to South Berkeley so he could go to this school, and I have not been disappointed. The community of families at Malcolm X is very diverse and lovely. My son has had one great teacher after another. All of the teachers strive to be thoughtful about how to teach in rounded, innovative ways while still meeting state guidelines and sadly, due to No Child Left Behind, focusing on test preparation to some degree. There are great ''arts'' classes - fine art, drama (sometimes), dance, music, gardening, cooking. There's a strong PTA and wonderful PTA afterschool classes. Will you be able to go to the open houses at the individual schools? Four long years ago, I found these to be very helpful! Nanu
We have been members of the MX community for 10 years. We love it and are sad to be leaving the school after our second child graduates next year. There is so much that is positive to say about MX (it was given a California Distinguished School award last year), but the best thing about the school is its hardworking staff, led by the incredibly strong principal, Cheryl Chinn. Cheryl has put together an amazing group of teachers and support staff over the years. They work together and support each other and have dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of all of the students. There are many other positives too numerous to list (the garden, the arts, the outreach/support programs, a very active PTA) MX is a wonderful and diverse learning community. I'm more than happy to talk to anyone considering this outstanding school. kyras
I am the parent of an incoming kindergartener - accepted at Oxford and on the
at Malcolm X. To parents at both schools: Do you like it? Does your child
like it? I
have heard about bullying in the Malcolm X schoolyard - any word on that? IS
lot of homework for kindergarteners at Malcolm X? IS Oxford as nice and cozy as
heard? Thank you for your opinions, positive or otherwise.
just trying to make the right decision
The other strength of the school is a committed and largely fantastic teaching staff, which is at least in part attributable to a principal that is a staunch supporter of her staff. Each of my kids has had several amazing teachers, and even the less-than-amazing ones were decent, and warm.
Finally, I think Malcolm X does an excellent job of embracing its diversity as a strength, in a way that is inclusive. (My kids are white, with straight, divorced, middle class parents.) During our time, the school has been explicit in its teaching about acceptance, including dealing with some teasing that was happening when one student's father came out. The school's arts programing and its curriculum include art, culture, history, and so forth from many cultures, and this tends to be in a very celebratory way, without glossing over the bad things that have happened. And the school staff-- teachers, principle, etc.--seem committed to the success of all the kids. My kids are getting to learn things that I never did as a child, and to have the rich experience of many cultures, ethnicities, people, an life experiences among their classmates.
The school isn't perfect, and while it suited my kids' temperaments very well, there is a little less supervision on the playground than there should be. But I quite frequently find myself feeling incredibly lucky that my kids have gotten to have such a fabulous start. Malcolm X is great. Jeni
Our daughter is a Kindergartener at Malcolm X in Berkeley. We couldn't be happier. We fully understand why the school was chosen as a California Distinguished School in 2005. The teachers are wonderful, super enthusiastic and have very high morale, the curriculum is enriched strongly with special arts activities including a very strong music and drama program, the principal, Cheryl Chinn is deeply committed to the school and attends ALL events, the parents are AMAZING and totally involved in the PTA and other activities, there are wonderful after- school activities offered ranging from Math Games to Spanish to Circus! The garden and our gardener, Rivka Mason are FANTASTIC. Malcolm X is a Federal Arts Magnet school and so is THE PLACE to send your child for a strong arts education in Berkeley. This year the PTA has initiated developing an Arts and Grounds Master Plan for the campus so that we have a blueprint for carrying out AMAZING arts activities for the exterior of the school in the coming years. We have also developed a new Malcolm X Neighborhood Arts Collaborative bringing together nearly twenty local art and other organizations to work together synergistically enriching school and neighborhood arts activities. Most important of all--every day when I pick up my daughter and ask her how her day went she responds back, ''I loved it.'' We love Malcolm X Elementary School too! Slh
Re: Moving to Berkeley, need arts program for 2nd grader
My son is in second grade at Malcolm X now. He's been there since kindergarten, and I pretty much moved to South Berkeley (from San Francisco) so that he could go to this school. I have been thrilled with the school. Lots of ''extra curricular'' stuff: art class, drama class, music, dance, gardening, and cooking. Thoughtful teaching. The student body is very, very diverse and there are lots of biracial children. Nanu
Re: Alternative/arts based public school?
You don't say where you live, but since you mention Berkeley Arts and Magnet, I'll assume that you live in Berkeley, and tell you that I am so far thrilled with my son's experience at Malcolm X ''Arts and Academic Magnet School''. He is now in second grade, and I have loved - and he has loved - his experiences thus far. Granted, they did do more academics and sit down stuff in kindergarten than I might have liked. But they also have visual art class, drama class, gardening, cooking, music, dance - most of these classes weekly. The teachers do their best to make the academic learning thoughtful and meaningful, given the constraints they must work within. I am actually thrilled with the way my son is learning math and reading and spelling this year, in second grade. I have actually also heard very positive things about Berkeley Arts Magnet School, and about many of the other Berkeley Public Schools. Good luck with your decision! Nanu
Re: Elementary school in S. berkeley/N.Oakland
My son is about to graduate from Malcolm X in South Berkeley, and I am so glad that we made the choice to send him there. The school has amazing teachers, a great support staf! f, and a prncipal that is a remarkable administrator. The school maintains a deep commitment to the performing arts (including the anual opera that is written and directed by the students), and the performances are teh highlight of the year. The community pulls together for events like Family Heritage night, and the Spring Fair. My son has developed friendships with a wide variety of people, and the programs in the school have fostered these interactions.
What are the minuses? Well, in this diverse environment, some of the children can bring their problems to school. I think that discipline problems are handled adequately once they happen, but the occassional incident does occur. It is a large school (though that is not a negative in our case).
I never felt that my son lost out academically. In fact, the deciding factor for us in our selection was the cooperation that the teachers have with each other. The grades stick ! to a shared curriculum, and the teachers at all levels are familiar with the lesson plans so that they can effectively build on the knowledge each year.
The parents at Malcolm X are also amazing. I felt welcomed from the beginning, and I have wonderful memories of working together at events. Bennett
We are the very happy parents of a Malcolm X first grader. This school, and the Berkelely public elementary schools, offer a rich academic and social environment for children. Regarding the STAR scores. They in no way indicate how good the school is. Because the test is so closely correlated with income, a lower score shows that a school has children of mixed income. When a family chooses the Berkeley public schools, it is choosing a system that reflects the diversity of the community. For us, an upper middle class family, this has been a positive thing. Charlotte
I'm interested in Malcolm X for kindergarten for my son, and would like some input from parents about the after school programs -- diversity of kids in each, program content, parents' opinions of their kids' experience, etc. Thanks! Julie
What could be better - Not all students able to leave hardships at the door. Large student body can make school feel overwhelming at times. No focus on GATE programs. It is difficult, if not impossible to request specific teachers or move student to a different classroom. B
I would like to hear from parents whose child or children are or have attended Malcolm X in the recent past. I am now living in Berkeley and am trying to decide whether or not to move my daughter from Chabot Elementary in Rockridge to Malcolm X next year. She'll be in the first grade. She loves art and dance and since Malcolm X is an arts and academic magnet school, I was thinking it would be really good for her. She has not had a good year in Kindergarten and does not like her present teacher. I realize she will have years that she does not like her teacher, but would like to make her next year a good experience if I can. A Berkeley Mom
What didn't work for us:
1. Playground dynamics: bullying not well-addressed.
Kids get called on stuff but the bottom-line consequences
for bullies don't seem clear or swift. There needs to
be more playground supervision in the AM (before school).
2. extreme range in kids' abilities to pay attention and learn: It's a gem of a public school but it still has the issues that all public schools have. Class size makes it very hard for teachers to help all students. The few kids that need a lot of behavior management suck up most of the attention and the rest of the kids don't learn as much. We'd gone into Malcolm X hoping that our kid could stay challenged in school (they have learning centers instead of by rote, kill&drill kind of learning). But unfortunately, this hasn't worked for her. Our kid's bright, and this year has been extremely boring for her. Honestly the teachers have tried their best but with the other demands on their time, they can't give her what she's needed this year. If she were a more average student, then I think the level of learning would be just fine for her. But she's not, so it's with some sadness that we are leaving this school.
What *did* work for us:
1. great specialty teachers: art, music, dance, gardening.
2. a very strong, wonderful PTA - this is key!
3. Cheryl Chinn is a strong administrator
4. good teachers (they're just limited in what they can do in this setting)
5. Hurray for the on-site YMCA Kids Club aftercare program. My kid has loved this program - great counselors, exciting multicultural activities - Kwanza, Santa Lucia, International Women's Day, paper airplane contest in honor of Amelia Earhart to name just a few. Heck. I wish *I *was in this club.
6. great PTA-sponsored afterschool classes: carpentry, chess, Spanish, circus ...
In sum, think about who your child is and what s/he likes. What's the level of learning/need for challenges? How does your kid do in larger schools? Does your kid jump into situations or is s/he shyer? Can s/he swim with the rest or does s/he need more individual attention?
Malcolm X is a great school for some, but not for others. With all our hearts, we wish we could stay at at this school. Unfortunately the level of learning for her is not enough so we have to say ''hasta la vista.'' However, this won't be the same issue for every child.
Since this was a longwinded post, I'm serving up coffee and scones! Anonymous
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