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Joaquin Miller Elementary School (Oakland, CA)
We got assigned to Joaquin Miller Elementary in the OUSD options process for kindergarten in the fall. I can't find any recent feedback for the school. Can anyone help me out and post some reviews of your recent experience there? What are the school's strengths and weaknesses? Are people happy with the school? Thank you! Soon to be kinder mama
I am somewhat biased, because my son recently completed 4th grade in the same room where I had 4th and 6th grade a very long time ago. The main changes I see are that the teacher seems a lot better than mine and the desks look smaller now.
But seriously folks, last weekend's Joaq a Thon really showed the school's spirit. The Dad's club served snacks, enthusiastic parents and teachers cheered kids along the route, lots of parents hung around schmoozing, and the kids just kept walking. My son was in the middle of the pack, with 30 km, and the fittest kid laid down 44 km! That's a full marathon. This school is going the distance. Cynthia
Hi, Our twins were just assigned to different elementary schools for K by OUSD. Our son was assigned to Joaquin Miller and our daughter to our neighborhood school, which we don't want. We are trying to decide whether to appeal for our daughter to Joaquin Miller, or for both of them to another school higher on our list. Our main concern is that the families at Joaquin Miller will primarily be of a higher socioeconomic class than us. So, I am wondering if anyone who does NOT live in the Joaquin Miller neighborhood can tell me what their experience has been like at the school. I know it is supposed to be a great school and I am not concerned about the overall program or teaching there (I have visited the school several times and know a few people with kids there). But, I really just want to know what your experience has been if you don't live in the immediate neighborhood, and particularly if you are not as well off as those who live in that area. Thank you!
Re: Montclair Elementary Schools
First off there are three elementary schools in Montclair - Thornhill, Montclair, and Joaquin Miller. We have a fourth grader at Joaquin Miller and a sixth grader at Montera who graduated from Joaquin Miller last year. We have been very happy. With one exception all the teachers have been great. There is PE, dance, and art, all paid for by the PTA. Both our kids have been in Adventure Time (AT). The time they have spent there has varied with our situation. I like it as its free play time in the school yard which I had as a kid after school but I think is less common these days. There is also a homework club if kids and parents want homework done there and often art projects and other activities. There are also afterschool classes including podcasting, band, chess, lego engineering, theater, art, guitar, piano, computer lab. There are more but that's just off the top of my head Happy JM parent
We are buying our first home and I think our attendance area would be Joaquin Miller. Does anyone know about the second grade teachers? What about kindergarten teachers?
I am concerned because my first grade son is advanced in both math and science and my four-year old daughter is already reading the Little House in the Big Woods series.
Is anyone having similar experiences? Currently my son attends private school and my daughter is in preschool, but we cannot afford both a house and private school. Soon to be Homeowner
In addition, they will split classes and have 4th/5th grade or 2nd/3rd grade combined classrooms(not exactly sure which classes are split) to help enrich the student environment (the official line is that the membership in these classrooms is random, but if you look at the composition of the classes, it may appear otherwise :). --TT
Re: Thornhill v Montclair Elementary?
I can't speak to either Thornhill or Montclair, though I hear they are both great schools. I would suggest that if you are interested in that area you not forget about Joaquin Miller. It is another great school with wonderful teachers and community. We have been very happy there. For the most part we have had no problem with our kids getting along with their classmates (though they are kids). There were some issues last year when a new principal arrived about discipline policy, but I think those have been largely resolved. There are great after school enrichment classes, from podcasting, to band, to martial arts. This year the PTA has funded a music program for all grades. You should certainly check it out. Happy JM Parent
Re: East Bay Schools for child of same sex parents
As one Mom of a two Mom family with a soon-to-be second grade girl, we have found that we were often the ''first 2 Mom family'' or the ''first Identified 2 Mom Family'' at our daughter's infant care, Small Trans Depot; preschool, Aquatic Park School and elementary school, Joaquin Miller in Oakland.
At the infant care and preschool, many other 2 Mom families joined, and by the time we left there were at least 8 at each facility. We NEVER felt slighted or out of place at either school. Some of the 2 Mom families felt more comfortable that they had another family like theirs attend first. We spent a LOT of time at the first two places answering questions about how our daughter came to be. Most people were rather appalled that although I gave birth, her other Mom had to go through a legal adoption - which our home, finances, relationship and so on were scrutinized. Most said that if traditional families had to go through the same rigor, there would be fewer children on the planet.
Then we went joined Joaquin Miller (GREAT school!) and thought that we would have the same questions, concerns, comments. We asked the principal how many other two Mom families there were. She said she thought there was one - but wasn't sure. From the first play days at the Roberts Park until today, we have been nothing but welcome. At the back to school picnic, the Dads Club barbequed burgers and dogs, my daughter asked about the Dad's Club and how there were no Moms, I told her ''well, that's one volunteer club I can't join.'' At that, one of the Dads said, “yes you can, we welcome anyone who wants to make our school the best it can be” - within a couple of months I was in the Dads Club.
There are at least 5 other two Mom families at Joaquin Miller. The Principal, Teachers, PTA, Committees, Children and other overall environment has been nothing but inclusive and generous. If you are lucky enough to get to become a Joaquin Miller family, know that you will have many families who welcome you and a few that are like you.
Good luck to you! My advice is to answer the questions, join the groups and show your daughter that you are more like the school community than you are different. Another 2 Mom Family of a Terrific Daughter
My daughters have both made wonderful friends, from great families. At JM they have learned to be comfortable with diversity in a deep-down, this-is-the-way-the-world-is fashion that I had to learn after years of adulthood. They have learned to get along with kids of many cultures, races and nationalities, and to accept those who have different learning styles, disabilities and other challenges.
The principal and teachers at JM are every bit as concerned about social and emotional development as academic. They take a proactive and positive approach to conflict resolution, and when problems do occur (of course they do, these are children!) they take quick action. No school is perfect, of course, but if you are looking for a dynamic educational environment, a wonderful community and a place where your child can learn to become a good citizen of the world, JM is a great choice. Alice
My older daughter is ''certified'' gifted student, and the school has been able to meet her specific needs well (more challenging assignments in and outside of class), special roles in educational process, along with other gifted students. She continues to excell, learns a lot, never stagnates and develops healthy intellectual curiosity.
My younger daugher, a very able student, had some communication issues prior to starting school. When I asked the principal and teachers for advice, I was given a lot of support and significant accomodations prior to her starting school, which made her start of K a breeze. She is now a confident 1st-grader. Educational process is rich, empowering, targeted at developing individual strenghts and very personal.
Please feel free to email or call me if you would like to discuss further any issues re: JM. Maria
I believe the children who attend Adventure Time for after school care have the best of both worlds as Claudette, the head of JM Adventure time does not allow children to bully or simply be mean to other children. That said, Claudette has explained to many children that others choosing to spend time with other children and not playing with you is not bullying, but making a choice of how to spend time.
Parents and children are welcome to come to visit the school, to watch interactions between teachers and students, administrators and parents, students with each other. I have many years to go at Joaquin Miller, but I like what I see and hear. My daughter is reading, has friends, feels she is part of the school. Parents who are involved are warmly welcomed and richly rewarded in the extra-curricular activities availableto all studens. The principal is fair and visits each classroom weekly. Each child is truly known, understood and respected for who they are. And the teachers, custodians, administrators, volunteers, parents and children care about and take ownership of their school. Deb
Go visit and talk to the teachers and principal. Go on the web and find out if there is going to be another open house. Email the PTA president with your questions.
As for the question about diversity, the principal, Ms Lu would have all of the statistics, but from memory of last year's K class of 21 kids, 4 African American, 3 Asian, at least 2 latinos.
My son went to AT everyday until 1:30,so he was just with other K kids and he loved it and so did we. The head teacher is from Brazil, the assistant head is from Indonesia and there was one other Asian teacher. My son loved to play outside and also do all the wonderful crafts that were organized. This year he is in first grade and goes one afternoon where he is with the older kids. He still loves it and asks to go more often.
Go and check it out to see for yourself and ask the staff about your questions and concerns. -happy JM parent
Well, let me emphatically state that at my daughters' public school, Joaquin Miller Elementary, it is not that way at all. Since we've been there we've seen a new math curriculum be adopted as well as Open Court being used in all grades, and I think it has spurred the teachers on to new levels of creativity in make the rest of the curriculum rich and interesting. We have living history projects in every grade above K, with a new program just starting this year in first grade. The teachers and PTA are actively looking for ways to get more arts into the every-day curriculum. Parents are invited to come in and share their culture, their work, their interests with the children, and the teachers use it to support the rest of the curriculum by reading stories, designing math exercises, etc. around those subjects.
I continue to be impressed by the teachers' and their desire and ability to stretch and expand the children's imaginations and interests. As I talk to my friends with children at private schools (which often have their own agendas in terms of standards, test scores, etc.), I find the only thing they have that I envy are buses for field trips! Alice
We are very happy with Joaquin Miller School! We currently have a third grader there, and our second daughter will be entering kindergarten in the fall.
Oakland teachers are paid relatively well (compared to other Bay Area school districts), and because Joaquin Miller is considered to be a very good public school, it attracts some excellent teachers. We have been particularly impressed that the principal and teachers take a lot of care assigning students to classes and teachers, so that the students get the most out of each grade level.
There is a strong sense of community at the school and a lot of parent participation in the form of fundraising and also volunteering in the class room. The school's principal is extremely active, and is a strong leader and compassionate person. The PTA organizes fundraising for student enrichment, teacher assistants, equipment for the school, special assemblies, etc. The fall auction, a walkathon, and various other fun activities during the school year raise a substantial amount of money for the school. There is a computer lab, and good library, and a new play structure. The PTA also offers extra classes (for a fee) that children can take before or after school; examples are spanish, music, additional science and art classes, as well as chess ecology club, etc.
JM has an onsite before and aftercare program, that is reasonably priced and is open on most school holidays and during Christmas break.
I am sometimes astounded at how similar JM is to some of the small private elementary schools in around Oakland. I have talked with parents whose children attended JM as long as 20 years ago, and it is clear that the quality of education at the school has been very consistent over the years.
Anyone in JM's catchment area can arrange to tour the school and sit in on the kindergarten classes to get a sense of the school, the students and the teachers.
JM follows the academically-gifted standards for all students instead of a handful. My daughter was given homework assignments at her academic level instead of ABCs. She was reading at a 3rd level at the start of the K, yet she was one of MANY in her 19-kids class to be able to do this.
We are very involved parents and talked to her teacher about her progress nearly daily, and were very satisfied with the level of communication.
The community at JM is amazing - everyone is involved & appreciated. My daughter earned her first pay this year & donated part of it to her school, just out of love for it. Parents and community support this school so much. The PTA hires librarians, Motor Dev't teachers, computer teachers, yard supervisors, teacher assistants for every classroom and provides scholarships to students to give everyone an equal chance to attend wonderful extracurriculars that we offer.
One of the most important things about a public school is the diversity you child encounters - cultural, racial, life- style. Our child's education is thus truly well-rounded. Only the very top private schools would be somewhat satisfying for our child because of her very advanced academic level, but oh my God, don't they care about their status - thus limiting their students' horizons, life choices & ultimately opportunities.
JM is the best school & the best community you will find! Please let me know if you have more questions or if you would like me to give you more detailed answers.
Our school web site is http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~jmiller/
JM has some additional programs that are part of the curriculum but are paid-for by PTA: music, dance, motor dev't, computer class, instr.music, Spanish.
Because of our daughter's many talents, we keep her busy after school. She did Science, Chorus, Sewing, Spanish before or after school as school-provided extras. (There is a whole catalog of these - come by the school office to get your own copy). It worked very well last year, & this year she added Violin and Chess and is asking to add Photography class to her schedule.
The before & after-school care is great, is located on school site & offers variety of projects to kids every day - for every taste.
Our school follows the standards for academically gifted children for all students instead of a handful. My daughter was routinely given homework assignments at her academic level instead of ABCs. She was reading at a 3rd-grade level at the start of the Kindergarten, but she was one of MANY in her 19- children class to be able to do all she could do.
We are very involved parents and talked to her teacher about her progress nearly daily, and were very satisfied with the level of communication.
The school also had some additional programs that are part of their curriculum but are paid-for by PTA: music, dance, motor development, computer class, instrumental music, Spanish. This she loved, although she adored her school otherwise to the point of bursting into tears every time we would drive by the school during a school break.
Because of her many talents, we also had to keep her busy in the after-school time. She did Science, Chorus, Sewing, Spanish before or after school as school-provided extracurriculars. (There is a whole catalogue of those - come by the school office to get your own copy). It worked very well last year, and what she likes about her school the best this year is that now she has a full-day school (her favorite #1) and Violin and Chess classes that she was not yet allowed to take in kindergarten. She's also asking to be in Photography class next semester.
The community at Joaquin Miller is amazing - everyone is involved and appreciated. My daughter earned her first pay this year and donated part of it to her school, just out of love for it. Parents and community support this school so much. The PTA hires librarians, Motor Development teachers, computer teachers, yard supervisors, teacher assistants for every classroom and provides scholarships to students to give everyone an equal chance to attend wonderful extracurricular classes that we offer.
The before and after-school care is great, is located on school site and they have a variety of projects they work on with kids every day - projects for every taste.
One of the most important things about a public school is the diversity you child encounters - cultural, racial, life-style. Our child's education is thus truly well-rounded. Only the very top private schools would be somewhat satisfying for our daugher because of her very advanced academic level, but oh my God, don't they care about their status - thus limiting their students' horizons, life choices and ultimately opportunities.
Joaquin Miller is the best school and the best community you will find! Please let me know if you have more questions or if you would like me to give you more detailed answers.
Our school web site is http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~jmiller/ Maria
Oakland teachers are paid relatively well, and because Joaquin Miller is considered to be a very good public school, it attracts some excellent teachers. We have been particularly impressed that the principal and teachers take a lot of care assigning students to classes and teachers, so that the students get the most out of each grade level.
There is a strong sense of community at the school and a lot of parent participation. The principal is extremely active and involved, as is the PTA. There is an auction in the fall, a walkathon and various other activities during the school year that raise a substantial amount of money to fund additional student activities, teacher assistants, etc. There is a computer lab and good library, and a new play structure. The PTA also offers extra classes (for a fee) that children can take before or after school; examples are spanish, additional science and art classes, as well as cooking, sewing, ecology club, etc.
There is also an onsite before and aftercare program, that is reasonably priced and is open on some holidays and during Christmas break.
Although, I, too, had heard that Joaquin Miller was a good school before our oldest child entered kindergarten, I had some doubts about sending her there, given the problems that one reads about the Oakland school district. However, I have been extremely impressed with the school, and am sometimes astounded at how similar JM is to some of the small private schools in and around Oakland, except, of course, the private schools cost around $10K per year! The large private schools, of course, have wonderful facilities like gymnasiums, swimming pool, strong arts programs, that public elementary schools don't offer.
My suggestion would be to tour the school and sit in on the kindergarten classes to get a sense for the school, the students and the teachers. I recall that you can sign up to do this in February or March, prior to enrollment.
Good luck with your decision. Charlotte
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