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My daughter was recently assigned to Bret Harte Middle School here in Oakland, our geographically closest school. We have lived in this neighborhood for a few years, and love our elementary school, where less than half the 5th grade class will go on to Bret Harte. We are pretty committed to public education, and we'd love to hear from some families considering Bret Harte or attending the school currently. We have heard good things about the Principal there and would love to hear any experiences you have had with the school. curious about Bret Harte
1.It is our neighborhood school - this means a lot to us, in that our daughter will have the opportunity to walk to school with classmates, she will continue to have school friends in the neighborhood, and we will stay connected to families we have known for years, not just next year, but in the following years as they join the school. It also important for us as parents and residents to put time and energy into our neighborhood school, which we will hopefully impact for the better. We all have our anxieties about middle school, but if we stick together and channel them into small contributions, we can help a lot more than just our own kids. This has absolutely been the case at our elementary school - which has been able to flourish over that past years of increased neighborhood enrollment and parent involvement.
2.You mention the new principal, Tom Hughes. I have already had the opportunity to meet with him multiple times, and I have been incredibly impressed. He is really bright and clearly loves the students and what he does. He is honest about Bret Harte's challenges, and has solid ideas on how to impact them. He is completely approachable and responsive, and reports I have heard from both teachers and parents is that the school climate has been much improved in the time that he has been there.
3.When we have visited the school the last two years, both for organized classroom tours, as well as for special events (music concerts, open house, etc.) we have been impressed, and our daughter has felt right at home. During classroom visits, I saw students very engaged, on task, and focused. The hallways were empty, the campus seemed very mellow, well-managed, and clean.
Like many middle school parents, I have had my fears about the upcoming years, but once we started visiting Bret Harte and getting to know the school, staff, and students, we became excited to become part of the community. I urge you to check it out! Amy, an incoming BH parent
Hi there, I am looking for current parent reviews of Bret Harte Middle School in Oakland. I know through word-of-mouth that there are many great things happening at Bret Harte, including a wonderful new principal. I'd love more current parents to share their perspectives. Thanks, Amy parent of 5th grader in the neighborhood
My son is having such a good experience at Bret Harte, I just wanted to add my two cents!
We moved Oakland when my son, Max, was entering the 7th grade. I was nervous about his education because I heard that Albany schools (which he attended since the 2nd grade) are superior to Oakland schools, etc. My main concern was that Max has several learning disabilities, and while he is quite intelligent, he was only an average student in Albany. I was afraid he'd "fall through the cracks." Since coming to Bret Harte, Max has just thrived! He is an honor roll student, and is in the more difficult "core" class (Eng/Lang Arts/History taught by the same teacher in a 3 period block). Although they claim they do not "track" students, if a 7th grader is enrolled in Algebra, they are automatically enrolled in the more challenging core class.
The difference for us is the support my son receives from his teachers and from Mr. Scott,the resource specialist. The faculty and staff at Bret Hart recognize that a child can be both learning disabled and gifted. They encouraged my son to take challenging classes--and if it didn't work out, he could always change his schedule. At AMS, he was discouraged from taking electives, such as Spanish. (but don't get me started on Albany schools, I could go on all day!) I highly recommend Mr Fitzsimmons for Core and Mr Khamis for Algebra, they are engaging,interesting, and treat their students with dignity and respect. Max really enjoys the conversations he has with them.
My son and I both feel fortunate that Bret Harte is our neighborhood school. It is the second highest rated Oakland middle school, after Montera. Bret Harte is also a target school for the MESA program here at UCB, which is a great program (and another reason my son is doing so well!) Another parent who wrote about the diversity, the GATE program, the improvements in the test scores, all of which are very important. The only draw backs: this year the kids didn't have lockers and the campus is often littered, both resulted in injuries for my son--a broken toe when a heavy backpack was accidently dropped on his foot and a sprained ankle when he slipped on a bottle while running near the basketball courts.
All in all, it has been a positive experience. My landlord recently sold the house we were renting, and I am doing all I can to keep Max at Bret Harte. And if we move too far from the school, I will try for an inner-district transfer, cry or beg to keep him there. It's that important to both of us. Good luck! Patricia (5/00)
Bret Harte is one of the other middle schools in Oakland. Given the complaint of the parent with the child in Montera, it might be of interest to parents of teens Subscribers.
It's located off of MacArthur in the Dimond district and is ethnically diverse. It's been making some good progress test score wise and apparently has some very good teachers and an excellent gifted/talented program.
The school my son attends is actually a feeder school (Redwood Heights).
Bret Hart Expo is this Saturday 5/13 from 10 - 2. Its a chance to see the kids work, meet some of the teachers, buy a hamburger and get a feel for the school. There will be a program that also lists performances in the cafetorium - ie. drama presentations, jazz band, etc. And the 8th grade class is doing a car wash to help off set year-end activities.
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