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East Bay School for Girls

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > East Bay School for Girls


Website for East Bay School for Girls: www.ebsg.org
Oct 2005

I'd appreciate comments from anyone with a child at the school now or in the last couple of years. We are considering it for K starting next year. Thanks! prospective parent


My daughter is in kindergarten at EBSG and I couldn't be happier with the school. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you might have. xinesinnott
We have been at EBSG for three years now (our daughter is in the 5th grade) and we have been very pleased with the school and the education she has received. EBSG is a very supportive and warm environment to raise intelligent, caring girls.

Small class size is a plus! EBSG currently has multiple grades in one classroom. The girls learn from eachother and the grade level doesn't become a limitation to the girl's learning. Education at EBSG is tailored to where each girl is individually.

The teachers are very competent as well as warm and caring. The girls seem to connect with eachother and create lifelong friendships. Many of the girls who have graduated come back for EBSG activities and events.

The girls who have graduated have all gone to well respected schools including Sacred Heart in San Francisco, Head Royce, Julia Morgan School for Girls, and Bentley. I would not hesitate to recommend EBSG for your daughter. brenda


My daughter attended EBSG for four years and graduated last year. Her experience was wonderful. The small class size, the strong and balanced curriculum, and the wonderful teaching skills of Angelique Downes, who was her teacher all four years, were just some aspects of her great educational experience. She has a strong level of confidence in all subjects, including science and math, a level of confidence she might not have achieved in a mixed-sex elementary school. EBSG also models and fosters excellent communication skills among students, all of whom are provid! ed with the opportunity to resolve their conflicts responsibly and respectfully.

Now my daughter is at a much bigger middle school and she is doing very well, not just with the larger class size, but also with the boys, who are a new feature of her schoolday experience. I think the excellent foundation she received at EBSG prepared her for the new and different experience she is having now, in addition to giving her a solid academic foundation which will help her thrive as a learner now and in the future. Sara


March 2005

We are considering EBSG and would like to hear from current or past parents of this new elementary school now housed in St. John's Church. In addition to academics, we wonder if the school is growing and it's stability in terms of staff and parent involvement? Thank you for your responses. River


Our daughter Grace attended EBSG from second through fifth grade, and we all think it's a great school. She had the same teacher throughout--Angelique Downes--who is an inspired and inspiring instructor. For Grace, the curriculum was ideal, the perfect combination of academic rigor and creative freedom. She graduated last year, and EBSG prepared her well for the challenges of middle school coursework in all subjects.

EBSG is a very ''young'' school. Our first year with them was their second in operation, with one classroom, one teacher, one administrator, and seven students.

As the school expanded, its community of families experienced growing pains. Some parents were displeased with the decision to move the campus from Oakland to Berkeley, and some with how unexpected teacher ''turnover'' in one classroom was handled, following that move.

We were comfortable, throughout, with the way EBSG's head and its board responded to those challenges, and feel strongly that it was the best possible school for Grace and for us. Of course no school is the right match for every family, but for ours, EBSG was fantastic, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. Cornelia


Willing to go into detail offline, but not interested in writing a negative monologue; we would say this about the East Bay School for Girls - While we whole-heartedly believe in the need for our country's educational system to take into consideration the research that has been done on girls and their experience in today's classrooms, and as such regard the mission and goals for the EBSG to be excellent - we were ultimately very unhappy with the school's culture and the quality of education it was providing our daughter.

The one completely positive thing we can say about the school though, concerns the teacher they have for the upper grade class ( I think they combined G's 3-5 this year). She is a tremendous young educator who inspires and challenges her students at a level everyone's kids should have the chance to experience. Truth be told, If we had made it to her class, we might have put blinders and muffs on - and stuck it out. But, considering how happy we are with our new school - we're really glad we made the change An Ex-EBSG Family


Our daughter went to EBSG last year, as a kindergartener. Your questions touch each of the issues we had with the school.

Is the school growing? Last year EBSG had three classes: K-1; 2-3; 4-5 with a total of 27 girls enrolled. This year the school has two classes: K-2 and 3-5 with a total of (I believe) fourteen girls. Of the ten girls in the K-1 class last year only 3 stayed this year. Five of the seven girls that left the K-1 class are in private schools this year- so they did not leave because of financial need...

What is its stability in terms of staff? The current 3-5 teacher has been there for 4 or five years. Our daughter's K-1 teacher from last year is now at home raising her babies. The teacher before her (from two years ago) was fired over the summer. The current K-2 teacher is brand new. A couple of months into the school year, last year, the 2nd/3rd grade teacher ''evaporated'' over the weekend. (We now know that she was fired, not quit as we were told at the time.) The class parents were left with a message on Sunday night notifying them that as of Monday morning their daughters are going to have a new teacher. A couple of months later the new teacher was also fired overnight.

And as to parent involvement... Many parents repeatedly requested and offered to volunteer in the classroom. A couple of moms, after much pressure, were allowed. In response to parent's suggestion that maybe the Director will be more willing for the parents to be involved if there was some sort of a parent training program, the Director likened the parents' desire to assist in the classroom to her going to a Cirque du Soleil show and volunteering to do a side show on her bike during intermission...

When I attempted to organize a PTA, with the overwhelming support of the parents, the Director of the school instructed our daughter's teacher to go against an Occupational Therapist's guidelines of how to assist our daughter in the classroom. At that point we knew we had to leave- as did seven other families from our class.

We chose EBSG because the Director sold us the idea that they were the best environment for our daughter who was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID.) We also liked the all-girl philosophy, the small size of the school and the proximity to our house. What we found out was that the school's director was willing to hurt a child in order to dispense of her parents, and that the all-girl philosophy at EBSG is to raise ''lady-like'' girls, not strong and opinionated women. Please contact me if you have other questions. Good luck! Naama


I have to say that I was somewhat surprised to read the negative commentaries about EBSG in the last posting. I cannot comment on what occurred last year because my daughter just started Kindergarten this year and as such I can only speak to what I know. And, for what it is worth, I approach education quite seriously and have quite an extensive background in Education, as I am a doctoral candidate at UCB in the Graduate School of Education in the area of Cognition and Development and Education in Math Science and Technology. I also spent two years in a teacher-training program at UCB before transferring to the doctoral program.

I would like to comment on five things addressed in the last postings: 1) parent involvement in the classroom, 2) the quality of education, 3) my daughters experiences with the school, 4) the K-2 teacher this year, and 5) raising strong girls.

1. Parent involvement in the classroom.

While it sounds like a good idea, parental involvement in classrooms can lead to all kinds of chaos and problems, especially if parents are not properly trained. Children tend to act up more around their parents when they are young and can often become more demanding. It can also be quite distracting to students. The benefits of extra help have to be weighed against the negatives. In large classrooms the extra help most likely will outweigh any problems, however, in a small classroom, the extra help may actually turn out to be more work for the teacher. So while it sounds harsh, I actually laughed upon reading the cirque de soleil metaphor---- parents volunteering to help in the classroom is like people volunteering to do a side show a cirque de soleil--- Whether it was actually said or not, I laughed because as an educator, I have to say it is pretty accurate (really good teachers make it look much easier than it actually is).

2. Quality of education

I have spent quite a lot of time talking to my daughter's teacher and asking about what she does in the classroom as well as observing first hand. I have to say that what these children are doing is very impressive. In the last 6 months, my daughter has gone from struggling to read "Bobs Books"--- (simple, "Sam sat on the rug"), to full on reading me Green Eggs and Ham and Frog and Toad books---She reads to me at bedtime now! Also, currently the class is reading the Trumpet Swan and I was blown away by the fact that they are diagramming the interactions between the main character and the other characters in the book in terms of whom he can communicate with. They discuss the plot and the setting, as well as the main themes of the book---This is K-2, we are talking about. As they read the girls are prompted to ask questions and to consider possible outcomes.

The girls also have kept daily journals since the first day of school, where the purpose of writing becomes a form of expression--- to share about their lives. The journals in some cases start of as scribbles and evolve into full-blown one-page descriptions of what they feel and do. I will basically have a written record of my child's development as a writer to keep forever.

Mathematically, my Kindergartener can sum up double digits, and is learning early fractions. More importantly is her LOVE of Math. She told a friend of mine that she likes school because they "get to do math!" She is also learning history, geography, Spanish, and Music, all as part of the curriculum. My five year old likes to compose songs using the notes (A, B, G, etc.) and she then Imitates musical notaion and then play her song on her recorder).

3. My daughter's experience with the school

My daughter absolutely loves EBSG. She loves her teacher, as well as all of the other adults at the school. She has many "big sisters", what she refers to the older girls who look after her and spend time with her, and has formed many wonderful relationships with every girl in her class as well as those in the older class. She has thrived at EBSG.

4. The K-2 teacher this year

Last year's teacher, had a difficult pregnancy and gave birth to her twins when she was only 6 months along. It was a very difficult time for everyone, but the entire EBSG community stepped up to support both her and the kids. The current teacher came in [last year] to take over and she is Magnificent! She encourages the girls to resolve their own conflicts and voice their own opinions. I also like her teaching style. I absolutely love her and hope she will return next year. My daughter thinks she is awesome and says she one of the best teachers she has ever had, and this is saying a lot because she had wonderful teachers at Clark-Kerr preschool.

5. Raising strong girls

I am a strong believer that raising strong girls starts at home. I am also a firm believer that there is a difference between raising strong, confident girls, and raising ill behaved ones. You can be both lady like and strong and confident these are not mutually exclusive. I have never seen anyone at EBSG discourage confidence or strong will, however, these things must also be done with tact and in a proper forum. Tantrums may be a form of strong will, but not a very socially acceptable one, so we must be careful when we define what it is to be lady like. The school nurtures confidence through performances and the arts. The girls learn how to be effective public speakers and presenters. They also develop strong cognitive skills and learn to question and take part in their learning. I don't want to give people the wrong impression; the school does not enforce strict manners, simply common courtesy. It does not allow children to exclude others and always allows a forum for the girls to discuss problems in order to come up with workable solutions.

All in all, I have to say that our experience with EBSG has been a great one. It is the MOST DIVERSE private school I have ever seen. I think that the small classroom size is a huge benefit to the girls as it allows for a great deal of one-to-one attention from the teacher, something quite crucial to developing better learners. Also the cross age classrooms offer chances for the older children to help the younger ones to understand and the younger ones more opportunity for help and feedback--- these are interactions that educational researchers have found to also coincide with deeper learning. I have found that while my daughters cognitive development has dramatically flourished, so has her social development--- both which the school carefully monitors.

I would like to finish by saying that as new parents we have been welcomed in to the EBSG community with open arms and the other parents are very sweet and fun to interact with. I would definitely recommend this school to other parents and only hope that a few negative comments from past, disgruntled parents will not greatly color your perception of the school. I do not know exactly what happened last year, but can only tell you that it obviously is no longer present this year. Marcela


My daughter will be graduating from EBSG this year, and my only complaint about the school is that it doesn't continue beyond elementary school!

Savannah has been attending EBSG since the beginning of second grade, when we moved to the area, and she couldn't have had a better experience, in terms of academic, extracurricular, or social aspects go. She has truly benefited from the small class size, from the attention she has received, both as a learner and as a person, and from the community that has formed around the girls and their families.

Savannah had a shaky experience at a public elementary school in first grade. She was clearly smart and well socialized, but her learning didn't progress the way one would have expected from such a bright girl. She was overwhelmed by the number of kids on the playground, by the chaos in the classroom, and by the rote teaching methods employed by the teacher. At EBSG she developed confidence quickly and her learning really took off. She is doing math almost two years above grade level with great confidence (her math assessment scores range from 93 to 100 percent), is reading very well, writes beautifully (both creative and academic style writing) and is developing well in terms of giving an oral presentation. Savannah is doing really well in other areas, such as music, science, social studies, Spanish, and art. She enjoys the whole curriculum, including P.E., and has had fun in the enriching after-school program.

Miss Downes, who has been her teacher, is just fantastic. She is kind, patient, attentive, and very good at teaching the girls, according to the needs and learning style of each student. She is an amazing teacher in terms of classroom manager and has a very gentle way of getting the girls to solve their disagreements in a respectful way (they have learned so much from her about getting along with each other and other children, because she models good behavior and social skills rather than simply telling them what to do).

Best wishes with your daughter's transition! Sara


Our oldest daughter started attending EBSG in November, 2003. She was in fourth grade at a local school but needed a more focused academic environment. She was immediately challenged at EBSG. With the encouragement of her wonderful teacher, Angelique Downes, she was progressing and enjoying this new environment more than we had ever hoped.

This year has been wonderful year for our whole family, as we enrolled both of our daughters at EBSG. Our youngest daughter started kindergarten and has advanced throughout the year in reading and math, well beyond her grade level. The confidence which she now has is also part of the magic that these girls acquire in their small school, small class environment. Megan Harter stepped in this year as the teacher for the younger girls after Amy Wright's baby girls arrived prematurely. Megan is wonderful with the girls, and a great addition to East Bay School.

We have heard that some parents who decided to leave EBSG have been critical of the school in Berkeley Parents Network. Since we arrived in mid-year, then this is difficult for us to completely understand. The Principal, Ms. Joyce Ahern is committed to very high standards for the curriculum and the quality of instruction which the girls receive. The special attention which each student receives in this small, all girl environment is difficult to describe unless you visit the school and see what a special place this is. We feel fortunate that our daughters are attending such a school.

The first graduating class from EBSG was last spring. These exceptional graduates now represent a splendid result of focused efforts from Joyce, Amy and Angelique, at some great middle schools in the East Bay. Our oldest daughter will graduate from EBSG in June and will be attending Head-Royce next fall.

We highly recommend EBSG and encourage interested parents to speak with Joyce and to visit the school. Laurie and Rob


My daughter started kindergarten last year with East Bay School for Girls, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made for her! She is thoroughly engaged academically and socially, and will not consider any other school. ''Girls are the best Mommy'' is her quote. She feels empowered with the all girls environment. I value the small class sizes, the diverse and ''family-oriented'' culture, the positive, creative, and nurturing classrooms, and her enjoyment and enthusiasm with learning. When she began kindergarten she could not read, and wrote strings of letters for her journal entries. At the end of the year, she was reading above grade level, and writing complete paragraphs. Her excitement continues with 1st grade. She is a passionate reader, loves performing arts, enjoys math and writing; and is a confident and independent ''little'' person who looks forward to school every day!

The EBSG teachers and administration are focused, committed, and compassionate with each and every child demonstrating their desire to ensure that each girl realizes her potential and the satisfaction of achievement. Cynthia


Nov 2003

I am very intrigued by the nurturing yet academic environment, large proportion of children of color, individual attention, and commitment to girls' self-esteem at East Bay School for Girls. My daughter will be entering kindergarten in the fall. I'd like to talk to current or former EBSG parents/guardians to learn more about the school. Please either post your views or, if you would prefer to express them more privately, e-mail me at the address below. Thank you!


The ''secret'' amazing little school for girls... Are you looking for true diversity, genuine one-on-one attention and care for your daughter, and a wonderfully multi-age caring community of girls? Come check out East Bay School for Girls (EBSG)!

Our daughter is in Kindergarten this year. Of the ten girls in her K-1 class eight are African-American/multi racial, two come from a two-mom family, and the economic diversity is truly diverse. Six of the ten girls are ''spirited.''

Our daughter is very spirited and has Sensory Integration challenges. Realizing her Sensory Integration challenges happened as we were applying to different schools. The Sensory Integration therapist recommended a small and quiet learning environment for our daughter. Joyce Ahern, the EBSG Director, was the only director who knew what I was talking about. She told me that EBSG is the right environment for our daughter, that they have other girls with the same challenges and that she wants us in the school!!! Also, our daughter came from a very bad preschool environment, a preschool she dropped out of mid-year last year. After being home-schooled for eight months, she really didn't want to go back to a school environment. Therefore, we also wanted to find a school that will help her develop good social skills and where she'll feel safe.

We met with the whole staff of EBSG. We ''laid it all out''- talked about the challenges and the strengths of our daughter and got the feeling that the whole staff knows spirited and knows sensory challenges. After the meeting we decided to go for EBSG.

From day one. the whole staff has been there for our daughter. They all support and love her, and she's thriving! Her special needs, as well as the needs of each girl in her class, are met daily with ease and love. Ms. Wright, the K-1 teacher is the most amazing educator I've met. The first month of school was spent on very intense community building, and now all ten girls consider every girl in their class their ''best'' friend. One meeting with Ms. Wright before the beginning of the year made our daughter want to at least check out the school, and after that, the transition was smooth, and, to our surprise, with no hitches. She just loved school from the very first day. After a couple of days at school, our daughter came home and said: ''everybody is so kind and nice to each other at East Bay School for Girls!''

There are a total of 28 girls at the school. They all play together, care about each other, and are invested in maintaining harmony. Our daughter is learning with joy, declares that she loves math, and is enthusiastic about learning. We love EBSG!

Naama


February 2003

When I first contacted EBSG last summer, I wasn't particularly interested in an all-girls school. However, because we were so late in deciding that our 4 = yr old should begin K that Fall, we were willing to look at any school still accepting applications and willing to consider our underage daughter. From my first discussions with the principal, Joyce Ahern, I was impressed. Joyce talked to me about the disproportionate amount of time and energy that teachers devote to managing boys' kinetic and boisterous energy in co-ed classrooms. She described how girls come to feel that the classroom is not their domain, and how their initial enthusiasm for learning is dampened by a classroom not set up for the holistic, thoughtful and emotional approach they bring to all facets of their lives.

My daughter emerged from her K readiness assessment telling us she LOVED her teachers. (Because it was already summer, we couldn't visit a classroom in session.) From that day forward, she was convinced it was the right place for her, and was uninterested in other schools we visited. Luckily, we were also won over by the school's staff, small combination classes and methodology that would allow an individualized learning pace.

My daughter joined a welcoming, loving community of girls, and wakes up every morning excited to go to school. One night during Thanksgiving break she cried because she missed her Literacy Centers, Book Browsing Box, Math worksheets and friends. We are exceptionally pleased with all areas of her development (math, art, music, reading, writing, science, physical, social, etc.) and are happy that her daily environment is diverse in culture, economics, race, family structure, etc. The school nurtures and challenges each girl whether above or below "grade level" in any particular subject.

Even if you are unsure about the idea of an all-girls environment, I would suggest checking out this fantastic school. More info at www.ebsg.org or 849.9444

EBSG Parent


1999

Many of you may be interested in the new (private) school for girls, which is due to open next fall. I went to the information night yesterday, and heard presentations from the founders, who count among them the former head of the lower school at the Hamlin School for Girls in San Francisco, and Tehiyah's former librarian, as well as teachers with many years of experience. The East Bay School for Girls will eventually be K-5, though next year will probably only offer K-2. If you are interested in finding out more, call 547-8227.

Natasha


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