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We are considering moving from Berkeley to Orinda. Everyone says Orinda schools are great, but I was a bit underwhelmed by my first impression. Afterschool offerings seem pretty limited compared to Berkeley. Glorietta, the school I attempted to visit, seemed fairly sterile on the outside and in the main office. (I was going out of season, so I guess I shouldn't hold it against them that they wouldn't let me walk around the halls.) According to the info on their website, their music program is less extensive than the undistinguished elementary school I attended (albeit 35 years ago in a different state.) When I clicked on the school's webpage for ''Science'', no one had bothered to enter anything. Most of the teachers hadn't entered anything for their bios. So I can't help but wonder if the Orinda system is resting on its laurels. Or if they have great scores just because their incoming demographic is overwhelmingly well-off. Are they really teaching kids to think, or just teaching to the test? Opinions, anybody? Wondering in Berkeley
We have friends who really like the schools here and it is a good fit for them. However, many of these kids are stressed out. It's very competitive and it seems to be directed by the parent community. Kids in elementary school have tutors! We also have some friends who are unhappy and have moved their children to private schools.
The only reason there is any PE, Art, Music and other extras (including teaching assistants) is because of parent contributions and fundraising. There is a lot of parent involvement as well. There is no 'whole child' education here.
My advice: don't move here for the schools. There are many amazing independent schools in Berkeley/Oakland. Happy in private school
We are trying to decide where to move so that our young daughters can go to an excellent public school. We found a house we like in the Martinez school district, but as we work in Oakland we only want to move there if we can transfer to Orinda schools. At first, I thought I would be fine with Martinez schools, but then I saw that the middle school is two blocks from the oil refinery! Of course I know that if I want to go to Orinda schools then I should just find a house within the district, but we really like the idea of living in this rural area. And it seems like it could work if we just drop the girls off to school on the way to Oakland. So, I would really like to get a sense about how many transfer students actually make it into Orinda schools. Do any of you have any experience with this? really want to live off the grid
If you want to benefit from Lamorinda schools, you may need to just move here. There are areas around here that don't feel like you are living in town. There is a semi-rural feeling to parts of Lamorinda, especially if you get further out. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for our children and their education.
My kids have attended a couple schools in Lafayette and we have yet to meet someone who doesn't have at least one parent living within the school boundaries (although I have heard that there are some students in our school district who live elsewhere but have parents who work in Lafayette). That makes sense to me because if you are living and/or working here, then you are contributing to the community and can therefore reap the benefits of the excellent school systems. I think it's unlikely that you'd get a spot any other way. Good luck with your search for a good school. Loving Lafayette
Can anyone comment on the quality of Orinda elementary schools? I know that they're good schools but I'm looking for more specifics such as differentiated instruction (my son is 4 and already knows his letters, numbers, can write his name and already shows an interest in reading and writing his own texts.)? Enforcement of the scripted curriculum? Any flexibility for the teachers to bring their own ideas and lessons to the classroom? How big are the class sizes (other schools are over 20)? Demographics? SES? If your information is only specific to a certain school, if you would please specify that as well. Lastly, if I don't live in the school district, are there ''check ups'' to make sure I live there? Will I be kicked out or reported? Thank you in advance for your replies. Debating elementary schools
Does anyone have feedback/personal insights on the Orinda elementary schools?
Based on API's, all 4 schools look great (950-980 API's) but I'm sure there are
differences among the schools that #'s don't reveal. I'd like to understand the
pros/cons, differences in culture, etc. We're househunting in Orinda and I don't yet
have any friends/contacts I can ask. Pls note I've checked the archives.
The 4 schools are:
1. Sleepy Hollow
2. Del Rey
4. Wagner Ranch
Even if you have experience with one of these schools, I'd love to get your feedback.
Thanks in advance,
The young woman who babysits for me lives down the street and attended Sleepy Hollow several years ago (she's now 16). She said she got a great education and was very excited about learning and loved her classes, but she felt a little left out socially because her family did not have as much money as most of her classmates and even in elementary school it was an issue. She said that when she went to an Orinda Middle School she made all new friends and her social life improved. Sleepy Hollow is mostly populated by a neighborhood called ''the downs'' which, I've gleaned, is one of the most expensive/ostentatious neighborhoods in Orinda. We live in the ''country club'' area which has some older more modest homes sprinkled in it. It feeds both into Sleepy Hollow and Wagner Ranch, depending where you are in the neighborhood (We live closer to St. Stephens church).
One thing I can say about the kids I've met in the neighborhood and in Orinda in general, is that they are all very well spoken, seem to have great self esteem, and are very friendly. Coming from Alameda and before that, North Berkeley, I can't say I had the same experience with kids there. These are kids in the age range of 3-17. So very broad. But I can honestly say that when I take a walk in my neighborhood, children will, unprompted, wave and say hello. When they talk to me they look me in the eye and they have interesting, funny, and clever things to say. I hope this is a reflection on the local schools, because I'd love for my children to be as friendly, confident, and smart as the kids around here seem to be. monika
Hello, I have the opportunity to transfer my children from a middle/lower-middle-class neighborhood school to Orinda, a much wealthier community and school system. I know that the academics will be much stronger and am glad for it, as my kids are at the top of their classes here, and have essentially ''topped-out.''
My concern and doubt about the transfer surround the differing socio-economic levels (we are not wealthy) and making new friends while continuing to live outside of the community. (The social upside of a private school is that all the children come from all over the bay area, so no one is an ''outsider'' unlike transferring into another district. )
A previous past poster said: ''The school with the craziest Get-Your-Kid-Into- Harvard-at-10 parents is Sleepy Hollow. The most relaxed and creative schools are Glorietta and Del Rey'' 1-Does this still ring true? Anyone know anything about Wagner Ranch? 2-Are ''outsiders'' welcome in Orinda? 3-Which of the elementary schools in Orinda is least overly-wealthy? 4-How can I best help my children acclimate to a new school? 5-How can I best help my children make new friends and integrate? 6-Anything else I should consider with this lifestyle of getting schooled outside of my own community? thanks in advance!
Our kids made new friends quickly, without any help from us, so I wouldn't worry too much about that, either. I don't think being an ''outsider'' is much of an issue. None of my kids' friends live within easy walking distance, and once you're in the car, it doesn't really matter if your friend lives one mile or five miles away.
The one thing to be aware of is that the Orinda schools do not receive their fair share of money from the state, so there is a lot of pressure on parents to contribute. We have learned to just contribute what we can afford, rather than what they ''suggest,'' so that they'll stop calling us. Edna
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