Bret Harte Middle School (Oakland, CA)
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Bret Harte Middle School (Oakland, CA)
Edna Brewer, Claremont, or Bret Harte Mid School?
I am looking at Oakland middle schools for my son who has an IEP for dyslexia
and adhd. Any advice to which school might be a better fit? I need after care
as well. I really liked Edna Brewer but I wasn't sure if I could get into the
aftercare - it seems pretty limited in how many kids they can accept. Anyone
have any experience with that?
Claremont has seen lots of encouraging improvements and that school would work
for dropping off my other kid at Kaiser and then heading to work.
Bret Harte has a great new principal and is our neighborhood school but my son
really wants to go where some of his friends will go. Any guidance is greatly
middle school worries
I am a new parent to Bret Harte, and so far, I have been really impressed with
what I have observed myself and heard from my daughter. The school is
well-organized, well-led, academically challenging, and culturally rich. My child
has been fully engaged in her classes and is learning critical skills around
study habits, organization, and responsibility. The Bret Harte community seems
committed to creating and maintaining a very positive and inclusive culture that
empasizes their core values or respect, resilience, and hard work. My daughter is
regularly bringing home interesting topics from class discussions. I have also
been really impressed with the principal, who is in his 3rd year at Bret Harte.
He is extremely accessible, intelligent, and committed, and speaks honestly about
the school's strengths and challenges. He handles problems efficiently, and has
great energy and savvy in working with middle schoolers. This is definitely an
Oakland middle school that is under the radar with a lot to offer. I would
recommend that Oakland parents take a closer look!
I am a Bret Harte parent and really love the school. The principal and teaching
staff are awesome and there is an after-school program that goes until 6:00. My
kid doesn't go to the after-school program, but I have heard that kids like it.
I have also heard the special ed department is strong there. So, I think you can
be confident in Bret Harte as a choice. That said, I think you are right about
wanting to keep friends together as they make the transition. I felt that way
too, and luckily the group of friends almost all decided to choose Bret Harte as
the first options choice-- we did that strategically, knowing it is never full.
Leading up to 5th grade, we had seen groups of friends going all different ways
for middle school because by lottery some would get into Montera, others Edna
Brewer, etc. So talk to your son's friends' parents-- and definitely check out
the great things happening at Bret Harte; it really has a lot to offer.
Good luck in the transition! It is bitter sweet to watch your kid grow up, but
so amazing to see the people they are becoming.
A happy Bret Harte mom
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
My daughter is in sixth grade at Bret Harte. It's May now and she loves school. When she
started the school year she had a few problems, most of which were predictable middle
school type problems, like schedule changes and being really tired by the end of the
day. But she did also encounter a real case of being verbally bullied by an older girl
in the after school program. She told us about it and we contacted the after school
program coordinator by e-mail and she in turn contacted the school's principal. He was
immediately responsive to us, but the best part was how they handled the situation. They
have a program called Restorative Justice, which is led by a counselor who brings kids
together to help build relationships instead of just punishing the perpetrator.
Our daughter had a series of meetings with the counselor and the girl and the problem
was pretty quickly solved in a way that humanized everybody. We were very impressed with
the whole process from the principal's attentiveness to the quick response and the
lasting peace that has been achieved . We were afraid that they would just punish the
girl and then our daughter would feel unsafe. Instead the problem was resolved, there
have been no other incidents, she feels safe, and she's having a great year. The school
is building a culture of inclusion and using innovative programs to solve real problems
in a constructive way.
A Bret Harte dad
My children have both had very positive experiences at Bret Harte Middle School. In
particular, I would highlight the music program. The Bret Harte music program is unique
in Oakland. Beginning students may choose between band and orchestra and which
instrument they want to play. For my son, there were enough instruments in good
condition for him to keep an instrument at school and rent one for $20 to keep at home
for practicing. The level of skill that students achieve over the course of three years
is impressive. My son started taking trumpet as a 6th grader this year and was invited
to join the jazz band next year in 7th grade. When I ask my kids what they like most
about music at Bret Harte, they tell me that they enjoy playing music well with their
friends. They also tell me that Bret Harte's music teacher, Mr. Worm, is funny. They say
that ''he's always there'' (for his students). He's also a great music teacher and very
organized and competent (not your typical stereotype of a band teacher). He basically
functions as the building and grounds department, and is devoted to the school. The
music concerts are entertaining. When my daughter attended Bret Harte, in 6th grade she
played flute in advanced band. In 7th grade, she played flute in orchestra and began
playing the tenor saxophone in jazz band. In 8th grade she played flute in advanced band
and tenor saxophone in jazz band. My daughter told me, ''jazz band is the only real team
sport in middle school.'' Playing well made her want to continue. She credits her
experience at Bret Harte with her decision to attend Skyline High School, where she
plays tenor sax in the jazz band and flute in the marching band as a 10th grader. Half
of the members of the Skyline jazz band attended Bret Harte. Being committed to music,
being busy, helps her to be a better student. Making friends in music class with other
students from older and younger grades creates a cohort that continues to make
connections from middle school to high school (and college).
I am glad to hear that you are considering Bret Harte. We decided to send our 5th
grade daughter to Bret Harte in the Fall, and here is why:
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
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
Amy, an incoming BH parent
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
parent of 5th grader in the neighborhood
My daughter goes to Bret Harte. She is in 6th grade. The new principal really is
great-- he is generous with his time and a good communicator. All the teachers my
daughter has are organized and have good classroom management. The school is really
big compared to elementary school, but the 6th graders are mostly kept together on
what they call the ''6th grade hill.'' There are mixed classes for electives. The
elective classes are really high quality-- the music program is well known and the
teacher is also very generous with his time. The practice rooms are open before and
after school for students to use. Other electives are: Art, Spanish A/B, 1 & 2
(which count for HS credit), journalism and leadership. The student body is a
beautiful mix of what Oakland has to offer--many students walk to school from the
surrounding neighborhoods (the feeder schools are Sequoia, Fruitvale, Redwood
Heights and Laurel) and others are driven from other parts of Oakland. The classes
are pretty big, but the adults at the school really make an effort to know all the
kids as individuals, and so far the academic expectations have been appropriate.
All in all, we are pretty happy with Bret Harte-- even though it is hard to leave
the nurturing nest of elementary.My daughter says what she likes most is ''hanging
out with friends at lunch and that even though the lunch period is kind of short,
there are a lot of nice places to sit.'' It's true, the inner courtyards are really
pretty and clean.
a new Bret Harte parent
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!
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
The school my son attends is actually a feeder school (Redwood
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
this page was last updated: Jan 26, 2014
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