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St. Joseph Elementary School (Alameda, CA)
Re: Alameda elementary school options
We moved to Alameda from Boston six years ago and enrolled our four children in St. Joseph Elementary School. It has been a wonderful experience -- our kids have flourished and we have made many friends with St. Joe's families. We still have one son at St. Joe's, and our older kids go to Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School, the college prep school next door. Our kids are getting a great education and are part of a happy, diverse community. St. Joe's Parent
The kindergarten, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers and assistants are the same - (talented each in their own way) and my daughter is now a 4th grader. I've enjoyed visiting the newish 1st grade teacher's classroom and find her students happy and fully engaged.
There are opportunities I hadn't expected - free guitar lessons after school with the 5th grade teacher, knitting with the science teacher, etc. The school library is well organized and the students seem to take their borrowing privileges seriously. Testing takes place in the fall in order to reveal what students have retained over the summer break and identify areas for support - I've come to prefer this model.
It's a Catholic school ~and~ students from other faiths and or non-religious backgrounds are respected. Everyone goes up for a blessing during mass, but some keep their arms crossed over their chest as a sign that they will not receive communion. This is true for practicing catholics as well as those who don't follow a particular religion.
The film Road to Nowhere had a strong impact on many of its viewers, and I know that some SJES parents pursued school placements with less of an emphasis on homework as a result. Our experience has been that homework and regular tests on the subject matter have helped our daughter understand and retain the information; we are still close to the families who made different choices.
Some joke that catholic school is private schooling on the cheap. I've found that it has provided a focal point for our family that neither I nor my husband had experienced at this age. We are involved in the school and parish, and sometimes make it to mass on Sunday. We're glad to have invested in this way, and are supportive of our friends and neighbors' efforts to pass Measure A for public schools on the island. Hope this helps all the best, Deirdre
Have one child in the middle school of St. Joseph Elementary and can report having been pleased with the school as a whole. We chose the school for the spiritual and social justice emphases, the involved parental and staff community and the education, in that order. We liked the size of the school as a whole with one class per grade (K-8) as our child prefers a smaller environment. The children are very safe, exposed to many extra curricular offerings, are fairly insulated and seem to do well. The class size of 34 to 36 per class is too large for my preferences, though. The staff has been attentive, aprroachable, helpful, concerned and committed. The community is all that we hoped for, and more. The more one gets involved, the more satisfying the entire experience is for both child and parents.
If a child who is NOT Catholic is going to transfer IN, I would encorage looking at the religious focus of the 2nd grade where the emphasis is on First Holy Communion in the Spring each year. If a child was not Catholic, I would suggest joining AFTER 2nd grade.
Chose it for the religion
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