Montclair Elementary School (Oakland, CA)
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Montclair Elementary School (Oakland, CA)
5th grader transferring from private school
We just got the news today that my daughter got into
Montclair Elementary as a last-minute transfer fifth-grader
for this fall. (She's coming from a private, year-round
school which has a policy of no homework until middle
school.) She's having lots of anxiety about this big
transition, and unfortunately, we know very little about the
school. My daughter is very bright and motivated, but she's
heard horror stories about the excessive homework loads at
some schools, and she fears she won't have any free time on
weekdays anymore. Can anyone give us an idea of the daily
homework load? How big are the classes? Will it be hard to
make friends when most of her classmates already know each
other? How is the fifth-grade teacher? Any information,
opinions, and observations about the school would be greatly
appreciated. We're feeling lucky but nervous.
My son who is now in middle school attended MES 2nd-5th grade. Depending on how
outgoing your child is I don't think it will be too difficult for her to make
friends - it is a fairly warm and active community, so it will also help if you get
involved. The teachers can change from year to year, but there are typically two
5th grade teachers, both of whom are good: one is more strict, one more relaxed.
The homework is not overly burdensome but she should expect to be doing an hour or
so of work every night. Depending on the number of 5th graders the class size
ranges, my son was in a class with 34 students and you can expect anywhere from a
low of 28/29 to a high of 36.
former MES parent
First, Welcome to Montclair. It's a great school and I have no doubt that you and
your child will be very happy. I have two daughters, one just finished 5th grade
and the other will be in third. The fifth grade homework load is not too bad. One
teacher gives a bit more than the other, but overall, it's good work, not busy
work. The content is engaging and applicable to what they are learning in class.
There was another child last year who transfered in as a 5th grader from private
school and I'd be happy to connect you with that parent if you'd like. Just send
me an email. One thing that helped her child was connecting with a couple of other
kids before the first day so that she didn't walk in on day one not knowing a soul.
I'm happy to find someone to connect your daughter with so that she has that as
well if you write to me offline.
Happy Montclair Parent
Montclair vs. Thornhill
Hi there. We may move to Montclair, so our child can be in
one of the good elementary schools there. But we've heard
mixed things about the schools ... If you have children in
either of those elementary schools, what do you think of
them? How is the homework? the arts? the PE? I am having a
tough time getting adequate info from the schools.
Also, what do parents do for middle and high school? I know
several families that went private after elementary school,
due to poor middle/high options in Montclair area. We both
have graduate degrees and were lucky enough to attend some
exceptional schools, so education is a HUGE priority for us.
We're really interested in your thoughts, your stories. Thanks!
Montclair school is fabulous! We have an amazing principal
who really cares about the whole child- social, emotional,
physical and academic, and the teachers are truly
wonderful. Please check out our school website:
http://www.montclairelementaryschool.org/ (in the
process of being updated), but do know that every student
gets art, library, music, drama, computers, and
instrumental music, depending on their grade level. Every
child also gets PE. Academically, the school is top-notch,
and the teachers use a mix of strategies and curriculum to
teach the kids. If you care about test scores, our school's
API was higher than two Piedmont elementary schools, as
well as some Lafayette and Orinda elementary schools this
year. There will be tours coming up later in the winter
that are led by parents and include a talk with the
principal, I suggest you go on a tour to see for yourself.
Also- it's important to note that there is a TON of parent
involvement, and it is somewhat expected that every parent
help out in some way- although there are a ton of options
for everyone, including those folks that work full-time. I
don't know much about Thornhill, but the families that I do
know who have children attending Thornhill think very
highly of the school.
happy Montclair parent
Can't respond about Montclair or Thornhill elementary (we
were at Redwood Heights, which we couldn't have been happier
with), but I can throw in my .02 about Montera Middle School
as I've got two kids currently attending.
Go visit Montera before you totally rule out public middle
school in Oakland. You'll be pleasantly surprised. We've
been nothing but happy there. Both my kids are engaged and
excited about learning - and doing well. Teachers are
communicative, open and responsive. API test scores are up.
The PTO is organized and very active. And our family is
active and involved in the school.
It's not a good fit for everyone, obviously. But if you live
in Montclair, go take a look. It's only getting better each
Can anyone shed light on the class sizes at Montclair
Elementary School, from Kindergarten up through the older
classes? How many children are in each classroom/grade, and
what is the student/teacher ratio?
Thanks, Inquiring Mom
There are 20-23 kids in the Kindergarten classes. 1st-3rd has
about 20 per class, and then there are about 30 in 4th and 5th.
It's a fabulous school, and the teachers know how to teach and
manage a class, so the size issue is less of an issue than it
could be. There are also lots of parent volunteers on any given
day to help with anything from photocopying to shelving books
in the library to prepping the hands-on science curriculum
materials, so the teachers can focus on teaching. They must be
doing something right, since our test scores beat Piedmont and
Lafayette schools this past year, both of which have smaller
class sizes and full-time aides in their respective
Happy Montclair Parent
There are no recent reviews of Montclair Elementary and so I am
wondering if a current or recent parent can provide some
information regarding their child's experience at Montclair
Elementary? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Thanks!
Montclair Elementary is amazing! We've got two children at the
school, and can't say enough good things about it. Our
principal is phenomenal, and really cares about each and every
child at the school. The teachers are incredibly dedicated, and
my kids don't want to leave at the end of the day.
If you care about test scores, we're #1 in Oakland (tied with
Hillcrest), and our scores are higher than most of the Piedmont
elementary schools, as well as a few of the Lafayette
elementary schools, such as Happy Valley.
We have a very active parent community (if you come, be
prepared to volunteer, meet fabulous families who care about
their child's education, and have a great time doing it!),
which supports the library program and librarian, music
teacher, art teacher, computer program, and a motor curriculum
program for the kindergarteners, the salad bar staff, and more.
We have also have a language program that you can pay for your
child to take before or after school-- I think they're offering
Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, and French this year. As for the
downsides, it's a constant budget struggle with the larger
district (it would be nice if the district could cover costs
for things like yard supervision at recess), like everywhere.
We're also funded to have a new building, so some kids will be
in portables for a while, while the building gets done. The
portables are really nice inside, so it's not such a bad thing.
And...the academics are really challenging, even when the class
sizes get bigger in 4th and 5th grades.
If you'd like to see the school community in action, come to
our annual fundraiser-- the Metrathon on 10/17. It's free to
come-- there's great music (Asheeba is performing in the
afternoon), yummy food for sale from early in the am until the
end of the day, a silent auction with things to bid on such as
a week at many popular summer camps, a tour of Pixar Studios,
and more. The children have an all-day walk-a-thon, and it's a
great way to get a feel for the commuinty.
--Happy Montclair School Parent
I'm interested in finding out more about Aftercare at both the
Thornhill and Montclair Elementary Schools. Any information you
can give is very appreciated.
My son attends Montclair elementary and participates in the aftercare program run by
Adventure Time - he loves the program, it is run by wonderful people and is a great
opportunity for him to have extra time after school to play with friends. The also do a
homework program and have a number of organized sports that the kids can
participate in (depending on season).
I would strongly recommend it to anyone in need of aftercare or just looking for easy,
The reviews on the Web site are now nearly two years old. I'm
interested in comments, opinions, insights from parents of
current Montclair Elementary students. My son will enter
kindergarten next fall and Montclair is our neighborhood
school. I was unable to attend the most recent tour; a friend
of mine did and had an alarming experience with the principal
(other parents on the tour felt the same). I wonder how that
fits with the rest of the school/teachers, what you think of
Open Court, how one goes about getting into full-day
kindergarten. Is it ever possible to meet the teachers? (didn't
happen on the tour)
concerned Montclair mom
I think you're right to be concerned. We had a horrible experience at
Elementary this year. We
pulling our daughter, we felt that disconcerted. I will say, though,
that our situation
was due to a bad set of circumstances (our daughter's class had 27 kids
other K classes having 20, the new teacher quit after one week and the
dealing with these circumstances inappropriately and with hostility and
know, in meeting other Mont. Elem. parents that the school (besides the
great--a wonderful community with dedicated teachers. We just could not
the principal--bottom line.
I wish you luck and think you are so smart to check this out.
One more thing, if you do try Montclair, I would encourage you to try
to get Mr. Jue
as your child's K teacher. He is phenomenal and we wish our daughter
had been in
--a very disappointed parent
We transferred from a developmental private school to Montclair
in 3rd grade. We were placed with the teacher we first observed
years ago (and based our decision NOT to attend Montclair at the
time), and now I know/think a 30 minute-1 hr. observation is NOT
enough. The old adage holds true for us, 'don't judge a book by
its cover'. This teacher ended up being an exceptional fit for
our daughter, especially given the transition from private to
public. Also, each year many of the teachers are reassigned grade
levels within the school, bringing a fresh perspective each year.
We are finishing up 5th grade now. There will always be good and
not so good teachers at any school but children for the most part
are resilient and resourceful. As far as the principal, I don't
know what your negative experience was but my daughter has had
only positive things to say about his presence. Despite lack of
state funds and cuts to many programs, science is strong within
the classroom, the music program is still exceptional, the PTA
strong and the Language League (extra fee) much stronger than our
old private school. Good luck.
With so few people replying to the recent post about Montclair
Elementary, I just had to throw in my $.02. My son just
started kindergarten there this year and we couldn't be
happier. I, like many others, worried that an Oakland public
school couldn't possibly be as good as one of the local private
schools. I'm finding that -- with the right teacher -- the
school is fantastic. Our son's teacher is great at engaging
the students, keeping order in a room with very wide-ranging
attention spans and skill levels, and making my child love the
learning process. I can echo the previous comments on the
principal (he is a bit condescending and, at times,
inappropriate), but we have had little interaction with him.
And to his credit, he seems to be very suppo rtive of the
teachers' needs. All in all, the teacher you choose/get and
the interactions with and dedication on the part of other
parents are what makes this school so great. I would highly
Happy at Montclair
As a resident of Oakland who is planning on sending my two
children (4 & 2) to our local elem school, I'm concerned about
what I read happening at Montclair. Why would one kindergarten
class have 27 kids and the other two classes have only 20
children? That seems so unfair to the families and kids in the
large class and it makes me angry just thinking about it. How
common is that experience? I understand that there are funding
issues tied to keeping classes at 20 or less, but the solution
shouldn't be to have one massive class while the other two
classes are more manageable. I'd love to hear from other
parents about their experiences with th is situation.
Concerned parent of pre-K child
Regarding concerns over the class size--why one K class had 27 students
while the other 2 were kept at 20...the principal at Montclair
Elementary told us he
did this due to the Class Size Reduction incentive program. Schools are
money for grades K-3 if they keep the class size at 20 or under. Go
over that and
they lose that bonus money. If the school is over-enrolled (due to
letting in too
many inter-district transfers and not anticipating neighborhood
planning in my opinion), the Mont. principal said he always chooses one
K c lass to
be the ''designated overflow'' class. Frustrating when you know that
the other classes
are where they should be at. I don't think the CSR program was meant to
manipulated like this.
I asked around about the other ''hills'' schools to find out if this
and this year it did at Thornhill (but the teacher who got more
students was a
veteran teacher to the school vs. the brand new teacher at Montclair
being given the
large class) and it did at Crocker, too, but my friend whose children
said that the principal there did redistribute the classes to make them
didn't happen at Hillcrest, Joaquin Miller or Chabot.
--a disappointed parent
My son is in 1st grade at Montclair, and so far I have nothing
but praise for the school and its staff. If you have concerns,
my suggestion is to talk to the teachers; my son had Mr. Jue
and he was wonderful and very supportive of my son's science
interest. If I'm not mistaken, as an entering kindergarten
parent, you can schedule a time for a class visit to see the
teachers in action. We have been fortunate so far in that we
have not had any serious issues, like having him in class with
27 kids, but the bottom line is that life is not perfect, and
one should try not to broadbrush a school in a negative light
because of one specific problem with a specific teacher. I
attended Orinda schools as a child, and I had good and bad
teachers there as well; it's just the way the world is. Parents
are also very involved and supportive with fundraising and
volunteering, which allows Montclair to afford PE, art,
science, and music programs. My son is happy, challenged, and
has made great friends. Hope this helps, and feel free to
email with any other questions/concerns.
We just moved to Montclair and are considering sending our
daughter to Montclair Elementary for the kindergarten class of
2005. I'm really intereseted in hearing feedback about the school
(parent involvement, academics, diversity, teachers, foreign
language, computer use--anything you might be able to share).
I'm also interested in the perception of the Montclair schools
(Montclair, Thornhill, Joaquin Miller, Hillcrest). Are they all equally
I would really prefer my child going to public school, as my
husband and I did, but it's such a hard decision. Any input would
be greatly appreciated.
We've had children at Montclair Elementary for the last nine years.
It's a great school, very diverse and parents are extremely
involved. The major fundraiser, the Metrathon, brings in close to
$80,000 to fund enrichment programs. Here's the PTA web site:
Teachers are experienced and have been there many years and
the principal seems to be doing fine, although there have been
some mixed reviews.
All hill schools get great test scores. We think they are all equally
good. Montclair has great access to the park and the kindergarten
teachers take the kids there when they can. Also many events and
picnics are held there. Montclair has Adventure Time before and
after care on site which is great for parents who need the extra
help. Everyone's different, but Montclair has been great for us.
Happy Montclair parent
Montclair has been a great overall experience for our
daughter, now halfway through the 4th grade. There are some
exceptional teachers, though they all have their ups and
downs, and we've had some stress problems with what we feel
is overly high expectations and excessive homework load.
However, individual teachers have always been willing to
work with us on these problems, and from talking with other
parents I understand these ups and downs exist just about
everywhere. With Montclair you get to be part of an
extremely strong PTA and parent community that supports
arts, science, physical education, computer education, a
librarian, and an outstanding vocal and instrumental music
program--that's a LOT for public school! Plus you can pay
for an afterschool language class, which isn't particular
well done but it's a nice introduction to a foreign
language. The school functions as a real community, with
several annual events that everyone looks forward to. They
also have Adventure Time aftercare on site, which was
reasonably priced and very well run during the time we used
it. The school population is also more ethnically and socio-
economically diverse than you might expect for its hills
I have a daughter in first grade at Montclair. She also attended
kindergarten there. During the last 2 years, grades K-3 have all had 20
students per classroom. In all kindergarten classes, there have usually
been 2 adults present. In one room, two of the teachers share it and so
they co-teach. Both are men and are a great role model for our children
to start off with. In the other room, the teacher is a veteran and has
support from other former teacers in the community who volunteer a few
days a week to assist in the class. All parents are welcome to assist in
the classroom as well.
Montclair's strongest attribute I think is in the PTA. This organization
raises enough additional funding to support a librarian, a computer lab
and teacher, and a P.E. teacher. In addition, they have started a school
garden which is being used by many of the teachers in the classroom
curriculum. I don't think you can go wrong by sending your child to
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