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My 5th-grade son is very interested in history, philosophy, and chemistry. I don't
think that he is getting adequately stimulated in public school so we are considering
private school. He could probably use a higher level class environment at this point.
He's very low key and gets along well with others. He is very strong in math.
Suggestions? We live in El Cerrito. Thank you very much.
Check out Black Pine Circle in Berkeley.
Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley sounds like it might be a good fit for
your son. BPC is very strong in many areas, including history. They offer
an 8th grade Philosophy class and 7th graders learn to ''map the world''.
You also said your son is interested in Chemistry and strong in Math. BPC
has an award-winning math team and a great hands-on science program. They
even have a 3-D printer that students get to tinker with (think ''Maker
Faire'' type activities).
- parent of 2 BPC graduates
Yes, there is very little social science or lab science up to 5th grade in
the state curriculum. In 6th grade, however, the curriculum extensively
studies ancient civilizations, and more so when they get to 7th grade; 8th
grade is US History.
I recommend attending an info night a Portola or making an appointment to
speak to the 7th grade math, history and science teachers. You should come
out surprisingly impressed.
7th grade advanced science at Portola is very good, with lots of time in
the lab and hands-on work (chemistry, however, is not a big part of the 7th
grade curriculum so he won't get much of that at any school, public or
private). 7th grade history is a ton of work, studying ancient
civiliazations, current events, and teen social issues; your son may be
surprised that he can experience history and philosophy overload. At
Portola, 7th grade advanced math is very structured with a lot of homework,
and it gives an excellent foundation for Algebra I and II, Geometry, and
the math required for high school Chemistry. There is also a placement test
for students wishing to skip into 8th grade math.
My daughter's new middle school offers Spanish, French, Mandarin and Latin. I
believe that the Spanish and French classes will include students who have taken
the language through elementary school, but Latin & Mandarin are new to middle
school. When she first looked at the school, she was very excited about Latin, which I
think is a terrific (if difficult) language to learn, and I think it would help in
terms of being able to understand much of the basis of our language. I probably
would have taken it if it had been offered. My husband keeps pushing Spanish,
which I also think is a great language to learn, with more opportunities to use
The catch is that if she signs up for Latin, she's stuck for the next 3 years. I
think she may be able to switch if she takes Spanish or French (though I may be
wrong about that too)
Here's the question(s). Which language would you take, if you had the option? Or
which would you advise your child to take? And why? Should she be taking Spanish
now, before she's too far behind other kids, and so she'll be able to use it in
the future? Which of the high schools offer Latin or Mandarin? I assume they all
offer Spanish or French? We're probably looking at private high school: Bishop
O'Dowd, St. Mary's, Head Royce, Bentley, College Prep. DO you know what those
Thanks for the feedback!
I would let your daughter choose. I think it's great that she's excited about Latin!
Language lover who took Spanish, French AND German in HS
hello- to answer part of your question St Mary's is relatively small and offers only French
& Spanish. Their Spanish 1 is good for total beginners. 3 years of Latin would be a
fantastic background for easily picking up new vocabulary in Spanish (or many other
languages) later. I don't know what the other private schools have, but bigger public
schools can often offer more choices: Berkeley High has Mandarin and maybe Latin. El
Cerrito High has Japanese- and maybe Latin. She could potentially continue Latin through
summer program ATDP or a private school in Albany (I forget the name) which lets you take
single courses outside of being enrolled elsewhere.
We are in the process of choosing a middle school for our son. I'd love to hear how
other people make this decision. I've been talking with his teachers, visiting
different schools, considering the tuition and possibly moving, reading books... I
still don't know. My son just wants to go where his friends are going, but they're
headed to a variety of places. How do you know what will be a good fit for your child
until he's there already?
Middle School Angst
Middle school is a big scary decision, and a lot of things may figure into it.
We're in the first year of our middle school experience, and I'm still wondering
if I've made the right decision. However, here's what I've learned thus far --
and none of this occurred to me before we got here:
1) I think one of the main purposes of middle school is to teach kids ''the
rules'' of high school, in an atmosphere very like high school, but where grades
don't matter in the long term (i.e. college selection). My son is very much a
routine based kid -- and having several different teachers, with different
routines (some have worksheets, some have homework notebooks, some have daily
homework, some have occasional projects. etc.) has been a surprisingly difficult
adjustment. We've had some poor grades just because assignments (completed and in
his backpack) didn't get turned in; we've had a few last-minute slapped-together
projects because he forgot to write down the due date. I also understand that
this is very typical of sixth grade boys. So, we're working on the skills he
needs to do well in multiple classes with multiple teachers. I am extremely glad
he is not learning these lessons in high school!
2) My son went from a small, rather sheltered elementary school, to a large,
pretty diverse middle school, and it's been a bit of a shock to him. He's still
learning to cope with the behavior differences, the swearing and yelling in the
hall between classes, the sheer number of kids here and the inevitable noise and
jostling. Not overt bullying, more just sensory overload. It's surprisingly hard
on him, and I'm really glad we're not making this adjustment for the first time at
Berkeley High or Oakland Tech or some such.
So my advice would be this -- try to let your kid out into the big wide world to
the extent that you can. Don't choose a small, sheltered private middle school
unless your child has a real need (e.g. extreme sensitivity, serious ADHD or other
learning difference, etc.). Pick someplace reasonably large and diverse, and make
sure that the kids change classes and teachers throughout the course of the day.
They'll have to learn these lessons sometime; let middle school be practice for
high school, while the grades don't count. If they learn these skills now, they
will have more options later.
learning along with my kid
We looked at lots of middle schools (actually over both 4th and 5th grade, as we
looked at public and private schools and thought about moving to another
district). We had our daughter visit the schools we were most interested in when
she was in 5th grade. Talk to lots of parents, read BPN reviews. See where your
kid feels most comfortable and finally trust your gut, and know that if it doesn't
work out you can change schools-even as early as the middle of 6th grade.
Choosing a middle school for our son was a similar experience - lots of research
and also lots of angst about what the right decision is. There are number of very
viable options out there to consider all of which have their own 'personality' or
approach. For our son, we tried hard to consider his needs in middle school, but
also the tool kit we'd like for him to have when entering high school. Our son is
a balanced personality that can flow pretty easily between academics and the
social scene he is in. We felt strongly that an environment that really focused
on the convergence of academics, social involvement, cultural awareness and self
awareness was key for him. Redwood Day School was our gut instinct when thinking
about a fit for our son. We took multiple visits to other schools as well before
committing and in the end, the balanced approach for our son we found at Redwood
Day has proven to be such a great experience for him and for us.
I know that this process is a little gut wrenching at times, but you are doing the
right thing by doing the research and asking the questions. But at the end of the
day you know your child and have the best sense of how they may evolve, so trying
to consider both the short term transition and the longer view of how middle
school will prepare them to move forward is key. trust your instincts.
I am looking for a private middle/high school in the Oakland/Berkeley/Contra Costa area
that would be suitable for my quirky 7th grade son. He is intelligent and hardworking,
though not an exceptional student (mostly Bs). He needs small classes and a good deal
of personal attention. His strengths are in language arts and less so in math and
science. Mostly, however, he has been unhappy and felt excluded from the social scene
at his public school, which emphasizes sports and affluence. A school environment that
accommodates different learning styles, and embraces, or at least tolerates differences,
plus is affordable, would be ideal. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
I would encourage you to look at Contra Costa Jewish Day School
in Lafayette. The
school sounds like exactly what you are looking for. Don't know if you're Jewish,
but the school has also had quite a few non-Jewish families. The middle school is
very strong academically, very small classes, and lots of individual attention.
Plenty of ''normal'' kids and ''quirky'' kids and they all seem to accept each
other. The school promotes a culture of kindness and inclusion. Also, they have
flexible tuition/financial aid which can make the school very affordable. We have
been extremely happy with our experience there.
Middle School Mom
Hi Concerned Mom! Saw your post and would like to recommend our son's school,
Berkeley School on University. We've been there since preschool and are pleased
with how middle school is going thus far (my son is in 7th). What I really like
about TBS' middle school program is that the classes are small and the attention
from teachers is very individualized...my son has had more difficulty with
language arts, and my husband and I have gotten very on-point feedback about this
from his humanities teacher and practical suggestions for my son that he has
actually taken and has improved (mostly participating in class, taking more time
to clarify his thoughts about a particular book, etc). The school prioritizes a
safe social environment...lots of discussion about bullying and why it's not
helpful...and effective, gentle tracking of the kids' social interactions, as well
as great parent support (I've attended at least one evening workshop on parenting
kids in the digital age that was really helpful). TBS also places strong emphasis
on different learning styles. Hope this helps.
Hello 'Concerned Mom',
I am the admissions director at Orinda Academy and I encourage you to check out
our website, www.orindaacademy.org. We are a small college-prep, middle school
and high school in Orinda. We have a unique middle school program that sounds
like it would be a good fit for your 7th grade son. We have small class sizes, an
average 7:1 student to teacher ratio. About 50% of our population has a mild to
moderate learning difference, so our staff is experienced in helping students that
need additional support and accommodations in the classroom. Our teachers utilize
engaging teaching methods that benefit all learners. We also have a very
inclusive environment where the students are accepting of 'quirky' kids and
different learning styles. Please call or email me if you would like to learn
more about our school or come in for a visit. You son can also come in and do a
half day shadow visit in our middle school.
Sorry your son's having a hard time - middle school sucks for a lot of kids.
We were in your position at the end of Elementary school and looked at many
private schools, as well as several of our local public schools.
I'll try to keep this objective so you don't dismiss my opinion, but believe me,
it comes from research and experience:
Private Schools are businesses. For all of their endless yapping about academic
excellence, nurturing environments, Socratic learning and commitment to diversity
- they are businesses.
Private schools use their interview and orientation process to weed out any kid
who looks even remotely like they will need more than average attention. Depending
on what you mean by 'quirky' it's likely they may not be interested in your son.
They are looking for nice docile kids with solid academics that they can lift up a
grade or two, so that the kid's happy parents will run around telling everyone
what a great school they attend - that's free advertising.
The level of sports-madness in different private schools varies a lot, but you
will absolutely not be avoiding the affluence issue by going private.
If your son is already in 7th grade I would seriously consider toughing it out, at
least through middle school. Kids who are not totally average stick out MORE in
private schools. The social scene seems turbulent in all middle schools -
long-standing friendships dissolving and new ones forming, along with the exciting
We ended up going to our local public middle school. Judging by our kids peer
group I don't think the academic or social outcome would have been much different
if we had gone private. Interestingly, two different friends have moaned about how
unresponsive their private schools have been when they have raised concerns about
academic issues. We would also have been about $70k poorer if we had gone private.
Only you can decide what is best for your child, but when you look at private
schools be very clear what you're getting into - it's a business transaction.
Is the school genuinely offering a better experience than your public options?
Maybe, maybe not.
Best of luck.
Public School Parent
Have I got a school for you! Both of my kids have been happy, accepted and
well-educated at Archway School,
in Berkeley. It has everything you're looking
for: small classes, warm and accepting environment, personal attention, and, yes,
as private schools go, reasonably affordable. I think it is that rare find -- a
middle school program with solid academics but where the kids feel supported,
accepted by their peers and with teachers who know them as human beings and
individuals. Academically, the small size allows the teachers to offer challenges
appropriate to each kid -- a kid with a particular interest in an area can get the
chance to do some amazing things either as part of, or outside of, the usual
curriculum. For a small school, it also serves a diverse population of kids. For
many families it's been a place where they felt welcomed after having a hard time
finding a good fit for their kids elsewhere.
It does not, alas, offer high school. (My older daughter, currently in her
junior year in high school, wistfully said when she was figuring out where to go
that she wished there were an Archway high school.) But it might be a good place
for your son to spend the eighth grade year while you figure out what of the many
many possibilities for high school would work best.
Website: www.archwayschool.org, phone 510-849-4747
Hello BPN Community. I am looking for a good middle school for my intelligent,
curious, affable 5th grade boy. On paper the East Bay School for Boys is a perfect
fit, but I'm not sure the reality there has caught up to their ultimate mission. (I
think it will one day be a great school, but for me there are still a few too many
rough edges.) My son has attended a perfectly fine public elementary school in
Berkeley, and has had several exceptional teachers and a couple that weren't so good.
His public middle school is King, and while I'm sure he would be fine there (my
daughter graduated from King 3 years ago, so I have some experience with it) I would
love to find a fresh, scintillating, progressive (hands-on? project based?)
curriculum for these critical middle school years. I would love for him to be in an
environment that nurtured his social and emotional intelligence, and gave him a break
from what can be a deadening traditional public school curriculum. It doesn't have
to be an all boys school. Any ideas? I would also love to hear from people whose sons
have been successful at the East Bay School for Boys or at King.
Look at the Redwood Day School.
I have two boys at RDS and specifically chose the
school after doing a lot of reading about how far schools have tilted towards grils over
the past 30 years (which frankly, they needed to do...though now that I am the mother of
two boys, I can see how they have over tilted).
Mom of 2 smart boys
You just described Park Day School exactly. My son is there now, we entered in 6th grade
and I can safely say that the school provides precisely the environment you described.
It has been a great experience for us and my son is thriving!
In your post you asked for parents who's sons were successful at the
East Bay School for
Boys and I am one of those parents so I felt inclined to share. When my son was ready to
enter 6th grade I thought that he would be fine at another local school however the
experience was far less than ideal for him and I felt like he needed an environment that
was more hands on and project based, with an updated approach to technology and
education, where he was thoughtfully engaged and encouraged to shine and to excel. I'm
sure he would have been ok at another school but I wanted him to be more than ok. I
wanted him to thrive and to feel confident and courageous while nurtured and guided to
be an upstanding citizen. EBSB's mission is to empower the engaged, thoughtful, and
courageous men of tomorrow and I wholeheartedly feel that they do just that. I've
witnessed my son excel in Math and Language Arts and become incredibly engaged in his
interactive online textbook for his World Cultures class. For the first time, he's
excited about research and preparing his class presentations. In addition, he's made all
kinds of new friends and is super excited to go to school each day. Not only that, EBSB
moved into a new beautiful and centrally located facility. If you have any questions at
all about their program I encourage you to contact the administration and get a list of
parent references. Most of the parents that I know who have son's there will testify
that it's the absolute best place around for them and are really very happy. Also, you
may want to attend their next open house on December 6th. I hope this helps.
Proud EBSB Parent
My eldest son went to
The Berkeley School and my youngest son is currently enrolled
there in the middle school. I highly recommend this school. It's truly warm and caring
with a diverse community of students from all backgrounds. My sons really thrived, both
intellectually and emotionally, in the vibrant and supportive classes. The teachers are
devoted to helping all their students learn to their full potential. Check it out --
they offer tours throughout the year so that you can visit and see if The Berkeley
School is a good fit for your child. I know how difficult it can be to find the right
school and I wish you the best in finding one for your son!
My kid is in public school and will enter 6th grade next August. I am
looking for a middle school for her. She is struggling in school this
year. She has mild / controlled ADD. Her school is an excellent public
school but very academic and the class size is now over 30 students. My
child started really struggling with the academics this year. Her grades
dropped in 5th grade versus 4th grade (she used to get B+ and A- average
and now in 5th grade she is getting C average and even some Ds). The
school gives lots of homework every weekday which takes her twice as long
to do as it should. She does not do any after school activities anymore
and her self esteem is declining fast. I am so worried about middle
school and high school. I am looking for a school with small class size
and average academics but I do not seem to find one. Is there such a
school (public or private)? I know that there are many academic private
schools with small class size for highly achieving kids and small class
size schools for kids with disabilities. Neither of these fit my child.
I am looking for a mainstream school with challenging academics but not
too hard. I am willing to pay for private school and commute to
Berkeley, Lamorinda, Walnut Creek or even Danville/San Ramon. Can
someone recommend such a school or it just does not exist.
There are many private middle schools in the area with small class sizes.
There is a wide range of schools in terms of who they look for as students
and what their approach is. I'd start at the EBISA (East Bay Independent
School Association) website: ebisaca.org. It provides links to all its
member schools, which is most if not all east bay secular schools. Then
I'd start by looking at each school's website, and visit the ones you are
interested in. Some might have openings now if you want to make a
You should consider looking into the middle school program at Montessori
Family School in El Cerrito. It's a small class size and the kids are
encouraged to learn and develop in the directions that are right for them.
In the high-speed bay area, MFS provides a welcome respite for kids to be
kids during this critical time.
We are going through the 'middle school crazies' and I wondered about
our potential choices. We are looking at two different schools with
two different philosophies. One is Beacon Day school - relaxed,
small, block scheduling, less homework and mastery of a subject
before moving on. The other Head Royce - more academic, exciting
curriculum, fast paced, rigorous, more homework. If you have had any
experience of either school, how did it work out? Did the different
approaches end up being a good or not so good thing. How important
was the homework thing for instance? Our son is creative, quiet,
sensitive, loves reading etc. I'd love to hear from parents who have
been through all this and can let me in on your golden nuggets of
wisdom!! We are also interested in North Oakland Charter school.
Parent of a soon to be middle schooler
I have a student in the upper school at NOCCS and it in no way
can compare with Beacon or Head Royce! NOCCS kids and families
are great, but the upper school program is still new and they
have yet to find their rhythm. Depending on which school your
child is coming from, this could be a huge disappointment or
business as usual.
Are there classmates going to Beacon or Head Royce? That's a
huge bonus. The social needs of kids at this age are an
While you are touring the various schools pay close attention to
where the kids look the happiest and most engaged.
Did you look into the East Bay Waldorf School? They have a
wonderful middle school. The teachers are dedicated and the
holistic curriculum is dynamic, interesting and alive. My
daughter will be a sixth grader next year and loves her teacher
and the school. She is challenged but the curriculum which
really addresses her creative side. She draws, paints and acts
out the subject matter on a daily basis. The campus is beyond
beautiful, the natural setting and huge play fields are really
wonderful. The students hike around the neighboring Wildcat
Canyon Reserve and study both German and Spanish, music,
movement, science, math, composition, history, practical and
fine arts. In middle school they will learn metal forging,
copper working, physics, chemistry, Shakespeare, woodworking,
history from ancient Rome to current times, and so much more.
You should really look into the East Bay Waldorf School.
EBWS Mom and loving it!
Under its new administration St. Jerome's in El Cerrito is
modifying its junior high philosophy and creating a bit of a
school within a school. Next year the 6th, 7th and 8th graders
will rotate among three classrooms (currently the 7th and 8th
rotate among two classrooms). As the parent of a current 8th
and 6th grader -- we are excited for the future. St. Jerome's
is small and welcoming and the kids are very caring towards each
other. The environment feels much safer than the public options
and the cost (registration and tuition around $7k for one child,
$11.5K for two and $16.5K for three or more) is much better than
the independent school options. The school will be holding a
junior high information night soon -- check their website for
We love the school (we have been there for 7 years and have a
1st and 3rd grader also) and know that they have room for junior
I am trying to get a head start on the whole middle school issue (my
daughter is currently in fourth grade at an Oakland charter elementary
school which I love) and I am already feeling totally frustrated by the
options I am seeing. So I thought I would put it out to the
Where does your middle schooler go to school?
At this point I am interested in any public or private (but not
religiously affiliated) school in oakland/emeryville/berkeley.
Thanks for any info you can pass on.
All three of my kids went to MLK Middle School
in Berkeley and loved
it. They got good academic preparation for Berkeley High, made lots
of friends, and participated in after school activities. There is a
lot going on at King for lots of different types of kids. Check it
happy in BUSD
Go to the EBISA fairs next fall. They are announced in the BPN
newsletter. Also check out the schools in the BPN website. There are
lots of private middle schools in Oakland and nearby, both K-8, and
6-8 (Julia Morgan School for Girls, and the East Bay School for Boys),
and K-12. Some people also go to the Oakland School for the Arts
(public, but you have to audition).
Hi, my daughter will be attending 6th grade at
Internacional. It is a Spanish/English bilingual international school
that offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The children
also learn Mandarin as a third language. Students wanting to enroll
however must have grade level proficiency in Spanish. This is the
first year they will have middle school. My daughter has been at the
school since Kindergarten and our daughter is happy and loves school.
The kids in her class get along really well and the school addresses
concerns quickly and thoroughly. If your child speaks Spanish you
should definitely come and check it out. We are having an information
session about Middle School this Saturday at 10:30am. at 4550 San
Pablo Ave. in Emeryville.
Our son goes to
Willard Middle School in Berkeley. He is in the 6th
grade and absolutely loves it. The teachers are dedicated and talented.
The music/drama program is amazing. The sports program is fantastic and
growing. They have gardening/cooking, plenty of field trips, after
school enrichment classes and access to computers. A very nice library
and librarian. They have P.E. every day and a sweet, well-supervised
campus. The principal is very connected with the kids and seems to have
a great rapport with his teaching staff. He didn't know very many kids
as he came from out of district but quickly connected with other 6th
graders during the first week of school.
My middle-schooler, a boy who was having social difficulties in BUSD, has
been very happy at
Black Pine Circle School. BPC is strong in academics,
but we have especially appreciated the staff focus on promoting kind
interactions between kids. About half the 6th graders are usually new to
BPC, with the other half attending since elementary school.
Very pleased with BPC
We are beginning to look at middle schools for our son. We are
wanting private middle school that will support his advanced math
He is currently taking Algebra as a fifth grader and he he is taking
human anatomy astronomy and chemistry as a fifth grader.
He is a mature student who works well with other students as well as
adults. His elementary school has him switching classes several
times a day so that will not be a difficult transition.
Are middle schools all the same?
Since we were in a very good district, we tried public kindergarten for
our daughter after 3 years of preschool at our Temple. K was fine so we
continued there to first grade. This school's API rating is in the
900s. We volunteered to ''help out'' at math time once a week and what
we saw caused us to look for a private school for our child - and she
started in third grade at Bentley School, K-8, which is located at the
bottom of Hiller Highlands (Oakland/Berkeley border). No school is
perfect but we got the main thing we were looking for - a school to
challenge our daughter academically. She continued there through middle
school (6, 7, 8). The classes are small which can be good, and can be
Then we made the mistake of deciding to send her to the local public,
very highly rated high school, for 9th grade. After a month it became
clear that in fact Bentley K-8 school does prepare students 1-2 years
ahead of the public schools academically. She was bored and not
challenged at all. We quickly fixed that mistake and sent her to
Bentley High school after about a month at the public high school.
In summary, Bentley K-8 school teaches 1-2 years ahead of the public
schools, so if your child is not challenged and likes academics, I would
highly recommend Bentley, and the high school seems great so far!
(Bentley high school is in Lafayette).
You should look at The Athenian School out in Danville. They place kids
in math based on ability, not by grade level. They are a 6-12 school,
and definitely have 6th graders in Advanced Algebra, Geometry and
higher. I don't know how they will address his ability in science, but
you could discuss that with the school. There is a bus that has stops
in Berkeley and Oakland, so you don't have to drive out there every day.
It's an amazing school in many ways, their math placement policy is only
one great aspect.
Our academically advanced and intellectually motivated kid has been very
happy at Black Pine Circle Middle School. It you have a kid who likes
working hard, is motivated, and would enjoy being surrounded by a lot of
very bright and motivated kids, it is a great fit. The only complaint I
hear about the school is that the kids are expected to do a lot of work.
That being said, the work is interesting, the teachers are really
tremendous, and the work pays off in what the kids gain intellectually.
The Athenian School in Danville assigns kids to math classes based on their
ability rather than their grade level. It is has grades 6-12, so there
should be lots of flexibility for him.
I'd like to recommend The Berkeley School (formerly Berkeley Montessori
School) for your son.
Both of our boys were quite engaged math and science students, as well
as accomplished classical musicians (something about that math/music
connection seems very real to me), and we found the school a wonderful
nest of nurturing, with structure, a good social environment, and plenty
of room for individual growth as well as group learning and group
My boys went to TBS from preschool through grade 8. The academics
prepared them extremely well for any high school they wanted to attend,
and the environment, which I treasured dearly, and believe is equally
important, allowed them to remain safely inside of childhood for just a
tiny bit longer -- avoiding the over-sexual-ized, over-consumer-ized and
media-blitzed reality of life -- for just a couple more years.
One son graduated from The College Preparatory School and the other from
Lick-Wilmderding High School (very much their choices). One just
graduated from UCLA with his degree Chemical Engineering (just because
it ''sounded interesting'') and was recruited by Google where he now
works (nothing at all to do with ChemE, he's followed his passion for
technology). Our other son is a bio-medical engineering major at UC
Davis, where he has discovered philosophy and viticulture. Therefore,
I'd say they were both well-prepared for whatever step came next in
their lives. (Really, with very little help from us - two parents who
are liberal arts graduates who can barely solve an algebraic equation).
Both of them could have gone to private/very expensive Ivy League
colleges, and both, with our encouragement, chose University of
California campuses, for which our bank accounts shall be eternally
I look back on all the school choices for the boys and I have the most
nostalgia for TBS and what a wonderful place it was for our kids and our
family. It was a sweet time with so much learning, growing, and
What more could you want?
One Lucky Mama
We're looking for a new school for my son who is currently in 5th grade.
become evident he needs a more creative, progressive, open school and
group. This is the type of kid who would rather write a song or ride a
play soccer. Academically, he is an A and B student, with no major
differences. I have read all the recommendations in the archives and we
at places like Waldorf, Archway, Black Pine Circle and Park Day. I
realize the class he
would go in with has a lot to do with it and his shadow visits would
give us a lot of
info. Does anyone have any other places to recommend or
offer on the schools we're investigating?
on Benvenue in Berkeley, may be the school you are
looking for. The school is small, one class of 16 students max
per grade, academically high-achieving - in fact, hands down the
best academics in the East Bay - and full of interesting children
with all sorts of off-beat interests. In our experience the
smaller student population is one of the school's greatest assets
- it means that individual personalities are embraced by teachers
and students. We ourselves were looking for a school where our
'different' child could stay different - thanks goodness for The
love our school
I believe that NOCCS
is a creative & welcoming school for 6 grade.
Have you considered visiting the Pacific Boychoir Academy in
Oakland? A middle school for boys in grades 4-8, the academic
curriculum is designed specifically for boys, applying approaches
such as Levin's ''One Mind at a Time'' and Gurian's ''Minds of Boys.''
The boys not only graduate and move onto schools such as College
Preparatory School, Bishop O'Dowd, Athenian and Bentley, but they
become some of the word's best singers for their age.
For more information you can visit
Beacon Day School in Oakland is exactly that. The middle
school is small and expertly run. The head of school and
teachers all know exactly where each child is; the social
environment is considered quite important and everyone is
welcomed with open arms. The kids seem happy and open and
engaged. They might be full for next year already but you
could get on their waiting list.
Parent of happy elementary student
My daughter(10) loves the arts(drawing) and sports(track), is
very good at both and is getting much encouragement by teachers
and coaches to pursue further in these areas. She also benefits
personnaly from both. The sport helps her self-esteem,is a great
outlet for her energy and brings her much fun. The art is a
great way for her to relax or work through her emotions.
She currently goes to a public school (4th grade) where the
focus is on math, english and testing. There is no support for
her desire to do art or sport. She is not a top performer in
terms of grades, but she does not have a learning disability and
the potential to be on top of her class has been recognized by
all of her teachers.
I am considering finding a private school where there is more of
a balance between academic achievement and support for arts and
sports. I also think that she would be doing better academically
if she was given a more rounded education instead of constant
pressure to test well. Can anyone recommend a private school
where she could start in the 5th grade and does not have to be a
A+ student? Since my daughter is African American I would also
prefer a more diverse school. Thank You so much for taking the
time to reply.
Catholic schools have great athletic programs year 'round,
inlcuding track and field and cross country. Also, they seldom
focus on testing. I'm not sure how much art is done - I think
that varies from school to school. If you live in Berkeley,
Albany or El Cerrito, you might want to check out the
the Madeleine at St Mary Magdelene's. It is diverse with
respect to ethnicity and religion.
Might I suggest Beacon? It sounds like a great fit for your
daughter. They provide a fabulous developmental foundation for
all academics; they take their time and can afford to do so
because it is year-round. They have 240 instructional days vs.
180 in public or other independent schools, and for the same
tuition as other independent schools. They take great pains to
make sure each step is mastered before the child goes on to the
next step. By 7th grade kids on average test 2 grades above
averages. They have a big arts program too. You would not get
the sports there; she would have to pursue track in another
venue. But she could go to 4th-8th grade there and then go on
to high school.
Happy Beacon mom
My duaghter has been suspended from her middle school and
the school district will not place her in another school in
the district. She has been placed in an alternative school
called Diablo Day School. We have heard that this school is
for students with sever problems and my daughter does not
fit that category. Since it is late in the year, we are
having a hard time find an Independent school that will
accept her. Any advice on schools that will be willing to
take her, or other options?
Running Out of Options
To the parent of the middle school girl who was suspended
and can't attend another school in her district --
You don't mention where you live, but you might try North
Bay Orinda School (it's across the street from the old JFK
Dear Running Out of Options...
There are always more options! Some, however, may require
thinking outside of the box and beyond the obvious. Any
suggestions that I would have would depend on having more
details about your daughter's situation.
What happened to create this situation? Was she just
suspended (as your posting states) or actually expelled
from the district? What district do you live in? How far
are you willing to commute? How much can you afford? Are
you open to boarding school or homeschool options? What are
your daughter's needs and interests?
Quickly, there are two middle schools in the East Bay that
are often a bit more flexible in taking in new students. I
can not say that they have space right now, but they would
be worth checking out...Community School of the East Bay
and East Bay School for Music and the Arts. Both are small
independent middle schools.
Should you require further information about alternative
programs, please be in touch.
Children's Learning Center in Alameda is a private
school that handles kids with a variety of issues. They
have two sites: elementary and a combined
middle/high school. Talk to Gus Psara, the director, at
769-7100, about whether it's a good match for your
daughter and whether they have any openings now.
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