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Sequoia Elementary School (Oakland, CA)
Re: Transitional kindergarten at Sequoia in Oakland?
My son is in 1st at Sequoia and was in regular K last year with the teacher who is currently teaching TK (Tontra Love). Last I heard she would be teaching TK again next year but I can't say that with 100% certainty as I am not in a position to know. I can't speak to TK since I didn't experience it, but I can say that any child would be lucky to be in Ms. Love's class. I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about her as a teacher and a person. She is warm and loving yet sets good boundaries. She strives to meet each kid where they are at, provides differentiated instruction, and was unbelievably helpful with behavioral challenges my child had both when in her class and also this year -- never blaming or labeling and always seeing his strengths and wanting to help him succeed. Based on my experience, I really can't imagine a person more suited to teaching TK. She truly surpassed all my hopes and dreams for what his first teacher would be like. I'd also like to give a plug for Sequoia as a school. We have been very happy there and have found the teachers and administrators to be very welcoming to the diverse community served by the school. It is really a very sweet place. A Sequoia Mom
We are considering purchasing a home in Upper Diamond in the Sequoia Elementary District. I'm hoping to hear from a few parents on their overall experience with the school, both academic and social. Specifically, I'd like to hear how supportive you feel the teachers are of kids with different learning styles and temperaments. We have two daughters who will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall of 2014. They are both very sweet but are spirited and sometimes need help managing their emotions. They've done wonderfully at preschool but there were a few months where the teachers had to really work hard to help them through a difficult period (during a major growth spurt). Like all kids, they have their moments but when they have them, they can be quite intense. We want to feel comfortable that our kids will be supported so they will continue to develop positive self image and confidence in order to perform well academically and make friends! Any overall feedback is most welcome and comments specific to temperament appreciated.
My son will be entering Kindergarten at Sequoia in the fall. While we're very happy with our school assignment I'm a little torn about how to handle the after-school time. I'm home with baby #2 through the winter so theoretically I could pick him up but a) I'm not sure how baby #2 will be napping then (she'll be 7 mos in September) and b) I'm concerned with keeping my very energetic son busy not not overly structured and over-scheduled during the 2+ hours between school and dinner/evening/etc. I'm looking for the following advice:
1. If your kid goes to Sequoia what after care option do you use and how do you like it? I'd consider signing him up for Healthy Start but I'd prefer his afternoons be filled with outdoor/active and/or unstructured free play time, at least through this first year of ''real school''.
2. If you have been in a similar situation - home with a baby who might be napping at 1:20/3 pm, how did you handle this for an extended length of time? What do folks do with an active kiddo do for that chunk of time especially while juggling a for now at least fairly unpredictable infant?
Thanks so much for your advice and input!
sahm juggling an incoming kinder and an infant
We are moving to the East Bay from the city and we are considering buying a home in the Sequoia elementary area. While it is important, I'm not that interested in hearing about test scores/APIs. I'd like to know about your son or daughter's experience, the principal, opportunities for music and art, the parent community, and anything else that you think is important. Thanks in advance! Daniel
I am a current Sequoia parent, with a son in the 1st grade. Check out the reviews ongreatschools.net also, as I know several Sequoia parents have posted there in the past few months.
I love it at Sequoia. First, the community is a real community. The parents groups, both FOSS (Friends of Sequoia School) and the Dad's Club are amazing and very involved. The parents have work days at the school, and the fathers have transformed the grounds over the last couple years, putting in planter boxes/benches, etc. The children get to garden. Last year, my son in kindergarten got to eat a salad made entirely of vegetables the students had grown. He loved it.
Additionally, I find that when problems do arise, the teachers and principal are good communicators, and care that the children learn, are safe, and feel welcome and heard.
I don't live in the neighborhood, but 3 of my colleagues and my law school roommate live in a 3 block radius around the school. Some parents have time and give time to the school. Some parents don't have time but give money. It certainly feels like everyone contributes in whatever way they can.
They have parenting workshops about once a month, with child care!
There are also many aftercare options - on campus and off. There are 2 aftercare programs, through the East Bay JCC and Studio One Art, that even pick up at Sequoia.
The kids have science and art. In the upper grades they fund raise to go to science camp. They have a wonderful music instructor and once a month the kids all get together and sing at Sequoia Sings.
Diversity is also great here. Racial, familial and economic diversity abound, which is important to me.
Overall, I love it and I hope you end up there. Stephanie
Re: OUSD Elementary options for queer family
I am a mom at Sequoia Elementary in the Dimond District. I love our school, and we have a lot of diversity in terms of LGBT parents, racial diversity, and economic diversity. It is also a school where parents are involved and supportive.
In terms of safety, I think here in the Bay Area especially we are very aware of bullying and it is not tolerated. I encourage you to check out Sequoia. Fellow mom
We've just started Healthy Start at Sequoia, and after years of play-based preschool,I'm starting to wonder if a less-structured program might be better for my child. I'd love to find out about other options (& hope there is openings at this point)! Thanks! In need of free play
Re: Sequoia, Glenview or Laurel for kid w/LGBT parents
One of the reasons my family (mom, dad, two kids) likes Sequoia is because we get to meet all kinds of families, and so do our kids, and I know that many other Sequoia families value Sequoia's diversity, in all its forms. I don't know much about Glenview or Laurel so I can't tell you about that. I do know that we have several families with two moms or two dads. We have openly gay employees who are well-loved and respected at the school. It might be worth coming to visit to find out more; you can schedule observations through the office, take a tour, or come to any of the community events, which are a great way to get a feel for the school. Many who do are struck by its warmth. It's a sweet place. Families there love their kids and are down-to-earth so it's an easy place to be if those things are important to you. Happy at Sequoia
Our child is not school age yet, but we are hoping our local Oakland school, Sequoia Elementary, will work out for us. I know there is a new principal, and I just noticed their greatschools rating has dropped (from an 8 to a 5, which seems significant). I'm hoping some current parents could give some insight about this change in rating and what is going on there? Looking Ahead
Like many if not all of my colleagues, I am committed to using multiple measures of student performance to drive my instructional strategies. During our staff development before the beginning of this year, we all took a critical look at the data and had robust and necessary conversations on next steps.
This data, however, is not a stand-alone metric of school quality, or any kind of statement on the direction of the school. It was impacted, I believe, by many factors, including a group of students who had performed exceptionally high in previous years aging out of the test population and the loss, last year, of a targeted afterschool intervention for students approaching benchmark in the months before the test. Finally, there are always changes in the test itself, including issues around compatibility with district curricula and pacing guides.
Last year was a year of challenge and transition for Sequoia, as our previous administrator was promoted to a district wide position and an interim principal filled in the gap.
We are blessed, this year, with far greater stability, and a staff that remains committed to our school vision of truly providing all children with an education that impacts and enriches them in meaningful ways. I encourage all parents to give Sequoia a close look! --One Teacher's Two Cents
I'd be interested in hearing from Sequoia families about the new principle. How has this changing of the guard affected the school? What about the school's arts anchor status? Any info is greatly appreciated. Thinking about Sequoia
Re: Kids of LGBT families experience: Oakland schools
My child currently attends Sequoia and I have another who will begin next year. Sequoia is the most diverse school I can imagine (I'm a teacher myself), and I am glad that the appreciation of diversity at Sequoia includes LGBT families as well. One of the very first things I noticed at the school were gay-positive posters in several classrooms. I know of several kids with two moms or two dads at the school. Last year there was a diversity night where a movie about different kinds of families (adoptive, gay, grandparents raising grandkids) was shown, and a panel of parents spoke afterwards. There are a couple of openly gay members on staff. Recently there has been discussion about bullying around kids' ideas about how girls and boys ''should'' act and I've been grateful for that. Not everyone at Sequoia feels the same way or agrees all the time but there is a respectful and caring culture that many, many different kinds of families fit into at our little school. Sequoia Mom
COVA or Sequoia elementary school? I am lucky enough to have a choice between two free schools for my son to go to in the fall - COVA and Sequoia. My son is naturally talented with music so I think that he could really benefit from all of the training that he would get at COVA, but I haven't heard many recommendations for it. While I have had people I know say that Sequoia is a good school. I went to visit COVA but they did not let me sit in the kindergarten and just observe. We were led through different class rooms and the classes had prepared for our visit. Anybody have any advice? Heather
Editor note: a reply was also received for COVA
I would like some more information from current Sequoia families (at all grade levels) regarding your experience at the school. We are beginning to look at Oakland Public schools for our child and I know that Sequoia has a good reputation and we hopefully could still get our child in from out of the attendance area. We are interested in a school that is diverse and has more going on than academics (educates the whole child). How does the community feel at Sequoia? Do the teachers know how to teach kids at all ability levels? I've heard great things about the administration there. What have your experiences been? We plan to go to the info night and visit classrooms but I'd also love to hear your opinions as current families there. Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond! curious about sequoia
Re: Best schools to target for Oakland Lottery system
We have been Sequoia parents for 9 years now (older child in middle school and younger one still at Sequoia), and we have been extremely happy with the school. The teachers are excellent and are very experienced at dealing with a wide range of situations. We have always felt they have been very helpful and eager to work with us to help our children. The current principal is excellent and very helpful. I highly recommend Sequoia. long term Sequoia parent
My child will not start kindergarten until next fall, but I have been involved with my neighborhood school, Sequoia, for several years now. Through volunteering and attending school events, I have found a wonderfully diverse and interesting family population, a very talented, stable staff, and an accessible, intelligent, energetic principal. The school has been designated an Alameda County Arts Anchor School, and you can see new art going up inside and out. There is a thriving garden program and an active Dads' Club, among other things. And two brand-new play structures were installed over the summer, which are getting a lot of use!
Sequoia does not have test scores as high as the other schools you mentioned, nor does it raise as much money as those schools. This may work in your favor as far as the lottery goes, as those seem to be the determining factors as far as which schools parents most frequently request. As a teacher myself, I believe there is more to a good school than test scores, and I like much of what I have found at Sequoia. I think Sequoia is one of the best-kept secrets in OUSD and feel lucky to have access to the school without having to try and get in via the lottery.
To find out more, you could check out www.sequoiaschool.net, or attend the Prospective Parents' Night at 7pm on Tuesday, November 13th. There are also very current posts from parents at www.greatschools.net.
Good luck with your search!
If you find yourself agonizing, trying to decide where your child should go for kindergarten this Fall, I urge you to join my wife and me in sending our child to Sequoia Elementary. As a 3rd grade teacher at Sequoia for 5 years, I have gotten to know the staff, the principal, the kids and the families very well. The staff is excellent, bringing years of experience, dedication, kindness and humor to the classroom. Our young principal, Kyla Trammell, is a dynamo in her 2nd year and a wonderful fit for Sequoia: extremely popular with all. As for the students and families of Sequoia, they are, like Oakland itself, a truly wonderful mix of race and class (rare these days), from many backgrounds & corners of the world. Plus, an artist-in-residence, a wonderful choir, a new garden science program, and much more!
As a parent of a five year old girl, I know how difficult this decision can be. I feel it in my gut. Sequoia is not a perfect universe. It is an excellent school, but it is still the public domain in all its ragged glory. So what do we do with this anxiety? What if it made us get involved, like a parent this year who helped get grant money for the kindergarten to build garden beds? Suddenly not only one child has benefited but 60 and 60 next year and the next. If you believe in public education and want to play an active role in shaping your community, join us at Sequoia. It is a wonderful neighborhood school where your child will thrive. Evan
I'm a 3rd grade teacher at Sequoia Elementary. Our 2 children will be attending Sequoia in a few years. Here's why. Sequoia has the unique combination of an excellent staff & a truly diverse student body. Sequoia has many experienced teachers who have not lost their passion for teaching and their love for students. Teachers routinely stop in the hallways to discuss instructional techniques rather than gripe. We have a wonderful new principal: young, smart, energetic and very sensitive to her role in the community. Students, teachers and parents all like her. At Back to School Night she received a standing ovation. Sequoia offers excellent after-school programs, an artist-in-residence, a wonderful choir, teachers active in the Bay Area Writing Project, a PTO & Dad's Club, a new computer lab, a Website Club & more! I know this is a decision you feel in your gut. It's easy to be blinded by the myth of test scores. It's natural to want to insulate your child. However, Sequoia is a wonderful public school where your child can thrive & you, as a thoughtful, active parent, can make a tremendous contribution. Evan
Our son has now been at Sequoia for 4 years. We have been very happy with the school. All of the individual teachers our son has had have been excellent. I have been really impressed with their level of caring and concern for their students, and willingness to work with parents. The school has a great art program and PE program. There also is a more developed music program for the older classes. The school has a fair number of the younger students learning English, but by 1st and 2nd grade, most of these students were very fluent in the language. I do think the language barrier plays some role in the smaller number of parents active in the parents groups, but I also think the variety of backgrounds makes the school even more interesting for parents and children. Just wait til you experience the grade level potluck dinners- talk about a diverse meal. F.
I have consulted the website... We attended an informational meeting at Sequioa Elementary school as we begin to consider where our almost 5 year old daughter will start Kindergarten next year. Private school is a remote possibility for us for financial reasons. Is there really a difference in the experience my child will have at Sequoia as opposed to Redwood, or one of the ''hills'' schools? If so, what exactly is the difference? I'm particularly interested in the experience of people who have children now in K-2 at Sequoia. I'm also interested in connecting with anyone who is considering Sequoia for Kindergarten next year. Susan
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