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Mira Vista Elementary School (Richmond, CA)
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Re: Moving from Madera zone to another WCCUSD zone
Hello, I have two boys at Mira Vista and both attend the FREE after school care program there. My kids are in 5th and 2nd grade. We are very happy with the school and the after school program, which is run by Bay Area After School All Stars and funded through state and federal grants. The program provides homework help, art, PE, cooking, computer lab, social skills building, and other fun and educational activities, as well as an after school snack. Students can stay until 6pm. Mira Vista K-8 School provides a rigorous educational experience supported by an active parent community. We have two gardens, elementary and middle school libraries, band, art, glee club and more. We have a wonderful principal who has brought positive energy and consistency to the school. Please contact me if you want to know more. Good luck in your search! vf
The after-school program is a wonderful resource. It is free and available for students in 1st-5th grades; my older child has attended the after school program for the last 2 years. It is well organized, and offers kids time for physical activity, homework completion and enrichment activities. Is it perfect? No. I wish the kids had a bit more input on which activities were offered. But it is a life saver for our family (that also has two full-time working parents). I encourage you to come and learn more about Mira Vista (check our website for upcoming public events or contact the PTA to arrange for a tour). MV Parent
Dear BPN: My family (husband, 25 month-old child) and I are considering a long-term move to East Richmond Heights, which is zoned for Mira Vista K-8. I know my child is several years from kindergarten, but I'm looking for feedback regarding the school's academics, teachers, social dynamics, extracurriculars, PTA -- especially regarding (but not restricted to) K-5. The last archived post I read was dated almost 1.5 years ago. How did parents reconcile API scores (which are below those of Madera, Kensington) with the more intangible qualities that make a good school? Which public high school do most Mira Vista grads attend? Any info/guidance would be appreciated! Thanks! Mama Who Is Considering Richmond
On the other hand, there are families who are committed to the idea of bettering this school and education in general. Mira Vista is not Kensington- it is Richmond. There is a good deal of poverty and the problems that come with it. But for some that is a real plus- not being isolated in a community of haves. I would suggest you think about what kind of community and experiences you want your child to be part of. Visit the schools that interest you. You will know when something feels right. disappointed
The PTA was a small group of overworked parents when we started 5 years ago, but has grown every year. Now we are a vibrant community of hard-working parents who show up to monthly meetings after work and create amazing opportunities for our kids via the PTA. We throw great parties (the Fall festival, the Spring Dance, The Pajama Party), we provide enrichment activities (art in the classroom, gardening in our 2 school gardens, STEM club, etc), and we help out every teacher with classroom grants for supplies and field trips. Our principal is enthusiastic and committed to making Mira Vista better every year.
Please come to a Mira Vista PTA meeting (they happen on the second Wednesday at 7:00 pm throughout the year) and see for yourself what a great place Mira Vista is. We welcome anyone curious about Mira Vista to join us! MV Parent
- Mira Vista has wonderful, experienced dedicated Teachers.
- The Prinicipal Gabriel Chilcott has proven himself to be an outstanding leader for the varying age ranges and diverse student population.
- The PTA is STRONG and is responsible for bringing enriching activities to the entire student body (STEM, Band, Glee club, art classes, dance, drama) as well as community building events (Fall Festival, Multi-Cultural Night, Walkathon, Craft Night, Concerts, Spring Dance).
- Parent participation and volunteers continue to propel the school forward. (Our library is open daily because of parent volunteers!)
- The student body is incredibly diverse.
- The campus is beautiful complete with upper and lower school gardens that the students have an opportunity to work in.
The class size in on par with other public schools in the area. For K-3 this year I believe the maximum is 24. Test scores are not as high as Madera or Kensington which I believe scares some families away. Viewed through the perspective of the diverse socio-economic backgrounds of the students, may of whom are ELD (English Language Development learners) and the fact that Mira Vista has Special Education/ NSH classes, the test scores make more sense but it is something the school has struggled with.
While Richmond is an economically challenged city, East Richmond Heights (as well as bordering El Cerrito) is a solidly middle class neighborhood. As the number of neighboring families attending Mira Vista is increasing, there is still a large number who seek transfers to more affluent area public schools or send their children to private or charter schools.
Ultimately for me it has boiled down to: 1) is their a sense of community? 2) is my daughter flourishing?
As my daughter enters 4th grade the answer is an overwhelming YES on both these points! Mira Vista K-8 is an up and coming school that deserves serious consideration to families moving to &/ or living in the neighborhood. Amy M.
Our 3rd grader was too young to start kindergarten so we sent him to a nearby Montessori School at great expense, but there were few choices at the time. With mixed results at Montessori we could not wait for our oldest to start Mira Vista in 1st grade. He thrived and excelled in his first year. Barely missing a day of school! He LOVES going to school!
-The Prinicipal Gabriel Chilcott has proven himself to be an outstanding leader for the varying age ranges and diverse student population along with leading the volunteer based Site Council in making the right decisions for the school. He is busy but ever present! And our numbers have improved each year since he arrived.
-The PTA is STRONG and getting STRONGER with involved, dynamic, creative and dedicated leadership!-
The PTA is responsible for bringing enriching activities to the entire student body. There is a small yet strong group or grant writers and fund raising committee who are always thinking outside the box.
-Parent participation and volunteers continue to propel the school forward. (Our library is open daily because of parent volunteers!)
-The campus is beautiful and safe and friendly
Our son is looking forward to starting 3rd grade and we look forward to another great year!
We are extremely happy with Mira Vista and are dedicated to the over-all continued success of the school, it's teachers and the entire student body. Casey L.
High school assignments can be viewed through the district website and are based on address. Our child is slated for El Cerrito High based on where we live, but I'm not sure if that's true of all Mira Vista students, as our draw area is quite large. The good news is that if you decide to give Mira Vista a chance, you will likely fall in love with our school community and then won't have to worry about changing schools again until after 8th grade. K-8 rocks! MV Parent
I'm looking for feedback about the 6-8 grades middle school at Mira Vista, especially about academics and quality of teaching, social scene, any discipline issues. I think they've only had the one 8th grade class graduate, but I'd love to know if you had a student there and thought they were well-prepared for high school. I hear MV has a great principal, and generally know about the advantages of a middle school on a K-8 campus (though we'd be new at the school in the 6th grade, so wouldn't have the benefits of continuity). I'm a little nervous though about having mulitple-subject credential teachers instead of single-subject specialists, and also about the lack of language and elective choices. Thank you BPN community!
The math and science teacher is incredibly organized and has been super active in getting enrichment for the kids. He helped get us an American Heart Association grant to build a middle school garden, that facilitates discussion of science and nutrition. Garden is nurtured by the entire community, teachers, parents, and kids. He also has continued a partnership with UC Berkeley grad schools, so that we have two grad students helping teach biodiversity and related topics each week in science. As a result of this partnership, the kids in 7th grade will have two great field trips, one to China Camp and one weekend trip. The same teacher partnered with another lower grade teacher to get the kids a field trip on a local schooner, where they received specialized science instruction related to the bay.
My impression of the 8th grade teachers is similarly positive. Our math instructor is well versed in algebra and has taught other teachers how to teach the subject. Our English and Science teacher is very dynamic, frequently seeking grants for new science materials, and has previously taken kids on a camping trip to Yosemite.
Our sixth grade math and science teacher is the liaison also to our student council and teaches the elective class that publishes our school yearbook. She is energetic and knowledgeable. The other sixth grade teacher is new to the position this year, so I have less information. But overall it is a good team. And our principal is engaged and focused on making the middle school a success. He is very responsive. He takes prompt action where needed. He is a good communicator. And he really cares about the kids.
For electives, the kids have had team sports, yearbook, nutrition, cultural awareness, and a few other topics. I do wish we had language. Perhaps that is something we can offer in the future depending on our teacher contingent. But overall, the warmth of the community, the small size of the middle school (making it easier to spot and address issues early), the incredible diversity, and the energy of the teachers lead us to feel satisfied with the experience our son has had. debora
We are mostly quite happy with the experience. Frankly I am pretty thrilled with the faculty. I think the fact that they all have multi-subject credentials is actually beneficial: it allows the teachers to be more creative in their instruction, especially in the ability to capitalize on the connections between, say, Literature and Social Studies, or Math and Science. The teachers work really well together, too, and are committed to making the school academically strong.
There were some discipline issues last year, but I feel fairly confident that they've been (mostly) resolved. Some of the more problematic kids have left, and the new principal is keeping a tighter rein on the kids -- being clear about expectations and consequences, for example -- than the previous principal did.
I think new kids will be welcomed, in part because some of these kids have known each other since the early grades and are eager to meet more kids! I know mine has enjoyed getting to know new kids, and making new friends, as they've come in.
I do wish there were more electives (including Spanish!), and that the kids had lockers. But overall it works very well for us. Happy MV parent
Hello BPN, We are considering buying a house in East Richmond, and are wondering about school options for our son when he's ready to start kindergarten. I would love to hear some current feedback from parents who have kids attending either Mira Vista or Crestmont School. What has your experience been like at these schools? We would appreciate any info you can provide on the teachers, administration, environment, curriculum, parent support, and student body at these two schools. Thank you! Parent of Prospective Kindergartner
Mira Vista is a great community. We have a new principal who has made some really great changes and who seems to be truly interested in working with parents to help make the school even better. Like any public school, money is tight. And as a result, class sizes have gone up this year. But our teachers and parents are working together to make sure that increased class size has as little impact as possible on learning. In Kindergarten, Ms. McLachlan (teacher) is amazing! You will not find a better qualified, more passionate, more effective teacher anywhere (public or private). Thanks to our hard working PTA, we have art programs (band, choir, art), two functioning gardens, and tons of fun events throughout the year.
Even if Mira Vista weren't such a great school, I would still encourage you to choose your neighborhood public school over private school. Part of the reason that public education is in such dire straights is because many (if not most) of the families who have means (money, time, education) have been choosing private schools. If those same families would commit themselves to their local public school and invest their time, money, energy and ideas there, then the whole community of children could benefit from the improvement of public schools. Please, bring everything that your family has to offer to your local public school. Mira Vista Parent
Because Mira Vista is part of West Contra Costa Unified, it therefore suffers from the same budget cuts as all other elementary and middle schools in the district. The difference is in how the PTA steps up to serve students and parents in the face of those cuts. The good things: Mira Vista has a great arts and music program, with glee club, band, orchestra, rock band, dance, and some art courses -- all PTA arranged and provided. Field trips were fabulous last year in Kindergarten (they went to a farm and the SF Symphony; my son still talks about it); school events are well-executed and fun. The campus is stunningly gorgeous, with full bay views and an architecturally significant design. There are two working vegetable gardens. Most of all, I'm a bit of an introvert but I've made some of my best friends already through the other parents at the school. I've continually been surprised and delighted at the level of creativity and involvement parents have, and the strong sense of community.
The dark side? It's a public school, and faces public school challenges like any else. Administration has fewer staff than I would like (but the principle is great). Private school is not an option for us, and I'm not convinced it would be any better. As well, Mira Vista now goes up through eighth grade, so there's the opportunity for us to build and work towards success on all levels as my son moves through the grades.
Good luck--I highly recommend Mira Vista. Their web site is www.miravistaschool.com (PTA-run), and there's a really active Facebook and Yahoo group too where you can ask more questions. SF
We have been really happy with Mira Vista. The PTA and parent involvement keeps growing, with the result that we have a really strong community-feeling at the school AND we've been able to fill in some of the funding gaps from budget cuts (adding music, art, a garden, and many other activities).
The curriculum is set by the district, so it is consistent with all the public schools in the area. We've been fine with it. Most of the teachers are gifted and love their jobs. There are a few exceptions, as in probably any school, but overall the teaching caliber is high. We have a new principal this year, Gabriel Chilcott, who seems responsive, intelligent, and committed to making Mira Vista an even better school.
The student body is extremely diverse, with a very multi-cultural and multi-ethnic makeup. I think this is a real strength of the public schools in general -- our kids are really getting to know children outside their own particular demographic.
Though your child is still quite young, another advantage of Mira Vista is that it is now a K-8 school. There is a middle school component that is really strong, with a faculty committed to excellence.
I encourage you to see the school for yourself in December -- we will have the first of several K tours that month. Please see our website for details about this and other aspects of Mira Vista: http://miravistaschool.com/ Good luck in making your decision! Christine
Over the years that we have been part of the community, the PTA has expanded and increased its organization and activities. It is very engaged in partnering with our teachers and the principal to create a successful and enriching environment. We have a number of experienced and committed teachers who are just wonderful. Our principal came to us midyear last year from an assistant vice principal position at Helms. He has hit the ground running and our parents and teachers seem universally happy with his performance and direction. He is very available to staff, students, and parents, an effective communicator, and focused on moving the school forward particularly as we establish our new middle school.
Our PTA has been successful in filling many of the gaps that contracting budgets create. We help to provide art classes is many grades and dance. Last year a recently retired teacher wrote and directed a school musical, to tremendous school acclaim. We have band, orchestra, and a glee club. We have a lego engineering club resuming, artist of the month displays, and many well-attended school events, such as our fall festival, cultural potluck with many performances, spring dance for parents and students, winter performances and band and orchestra performances.
Our middle school is off to a good start. Students in those grades have class at the top of our campus, so they generally are physically separated from younger students. They also have separate schedules for lunch and recess and different release times.
Middle school students switch between two core teachers who divide the curriculum according to expertise. For example in 7th grade our son has one teacher for math and science and one for english and world history. He also has a separate PE teacher and an elective. Electives include team sports, yearbook/student council, nutrition, cultural awareness.
The American Heart Association gave us a grant to start a middle school garden. Our 7th graders also receive science instruction on biodiversity from two Cal grad students most Wednesdays thru a collaboration with the university and will take two or three special fieldtrips with them. We have a science demonstration and computer lab for the middle school equipped with computers, and a separate computer lab for lower grades. We have separate libraries for elementary and middle school students as well.
If you are interested in visiting the school or have questions for our principal, you can reach him by phone at 510-231-1416. Just hit zero when you get to the recording and you will be transferred to our school secretary. We also have a great web page which is frequently updated and to which you can subscribe:miravistaschool.com; and a facebook page where you can get news and also post questions: www.facebook.com/miravistaschool. If you have further questions, feel free to email me directly. Cheers. Debora
Some parents believe that if they choose public school then they have no obligation to work to improve the school. They don't give of their time or their money, and then they wonder why their school doesn't seem as great as the Private/Co-op school up the street. So, if you choose Mira Vista, please plan on being a ''Co-op'' style parent in our public school. We need you!
And if you do choose Crestmont (or any other private school), please remember that public schools still need your support. Vote ''Yes'' on our school funding measures, support our school fundraisers and donate some time by volunteering (even if you don't have a student enrolled). If you have the means, consider making a donation to the PTA that matches (in full, or in part) your private school tuition. Attending a Private/Co-Op school doesn't excuse you from the obligation that the larger community has to support public education. Mira Vista Parent
Teachers: I am so grateful for the wonderful teachers we've had at Mira Vista. One of my children has some special needs, and I have always felt that he is warmly accepted by his teachers and the Speech/OT folks who help him reach his full potential.
Administration: Our principal is fairly new, but has shown strong leadership and is responsive to parent concerns.
Diversity: Mira Vista is a truly diverse school. You know how in Berkeley and SF, they have lottery systems to create ethnic and socioeconomic balance in their schools? We have that at MV without doing anything special--it's a neighborhood school.
I won't lie--it's a tough time in WCCUSD. Measure K narrowly failed to pass last spring, and class sizes went up for lower grades. Now we really, really need to pass Measure G--which is simply a renewal of an existing parcel tax--to keep what we have now. But I like our school and I like that it serves everyone in our community, so I'm willing to fight for it.
To learn more about Mira Vista, check out our website, miravistaschool.com. Also, you are warmly invited to come to our Fall Festival, which is on October 27th from 11-3. MV Mom
Editor note: reviews were also received for Crestmont
Re: New to El Cerrito - Junior High and Elementary
Hello and welcome to El Cerrito! Our son attends Mira Vista K-8 school on the El Cerrito/Richmond border in the Richmond Hills, and we are very happy with the school and the community. It is our neighborhood school and it is great to walk to school and have his friends nearby. I do not know if the 4th grades at Madera or Mira Vista are full, but you could call to find out. Mira Vista is another option for middle school when you get to that point. Good luck. Grace
What are the upper grades like at Mira Vista? Is there a good teacher in place for 8th grade? We are considering transferring our daughter (currently independent study through a charter school) there for 8th grade and then going on to El Cerrito High. Would it be difficult to get a spot in the 8th grade? What were our experiences with the 7th grade class? Any info or suggestions you have would be appreciated. Exploring our options
Right now there are no 8th grade teachers as there is not yet an 8th grade. In a conversation I had with the current 7th grade teacher, Mrs Van der Meer, she indicated she was hoping to move up to 8th grade next year. From what I've heard and observed, she is an excellent teacher who has high standards for the kids, and they seem to really like her too. The other current 7th grade teacher is Mrs. Tutass, who has a lot of experience and is also a great teacher.
Since the program is still new, I'd say we're in a transition period. It is unclear who the 7th and 8th grade teachers will be next year, at least to me as a parent, though it is clear that Mrs Van der Meer will be staying on for sure. I'm optimistic, as we have an excellent and committed principal, great teachers, and I like the small school experience. The negatives are that there are no real electives, at least yet, but that may change in the next year or two.
Make sure you check with the office about availability, especially if you are hoping to transfer. Christine
Hi, My son will be entering kindergarten at Mira Vista Elementary this August and I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations for aftercare. I have met April (The Kid's House) and been to her house which was great but I am wondering if any other options exist out there. The Kid's House charges $7.50/hour (and includes lunch). Does anyone have any information about other aftercare options? Thanks! MV mom
Greetings! We will be transferring our children from a Parochial School to Mira Vista in the Fall. What are your thoughts about the Community at this School? I am used to a close knit/family feel to my children's school as well as having concerned and attentive teachers. We are also used to children treating each other nicely (no not all the time but, most of the time), I have a very young son he started school at 4(November Birthday) because he was reading and doing basic math at the age of 3 and the teachers at his preschool basically said there was nothing more they could do and that he would probably get bored if kept there another year. I am concerned that he will be teased, taunted or picked on at a public school. I am not so concerned about my daughter as she is very outgoing. We unfortunately are no longer able to afford the school due to all the cuts at my husbands current job so, sadly we have to make this change. Any and all reviews will be greatly appreciated! Realizing more & more why they say parenting is the toughest job in the WORLD!
The biggest difference that I've found between the public and parochial schools is that since you don't get a school roster, it is hard to make playdates with other kids in the class if one or both families have working parents. Other than that I'd say that there are as many, or more, parents at the PTA meetings. The PTA holds events and fundraisers every month so it is possible to feel a part of the community if you show up and participate. mira vista parent
I think that you will find that we have a strong sense of community and collective responsibility at our school. I have a current kindergartner at Mira Vista and I feel very happy about the ''village'' we have found for her there. Like your son, my daughter is also a ''young'' kindergartner, and yet she has made many wonderful friends here and has been surrounded by supportive adults when she needed them. There is a great group of parents who are involved in the PTA. We are not a huge group, but there are enough people involved to help share the work. In recent years, there has been a renewed sense of enthusiasm and participation by parents. The school is also wonderfully diverse, so I feel that our children are learning to be kind, understanding and appreciative of students that are different from themselves.
The biggest challenges we face are those that are due to district and state-wide financial problems. This seems to be difficult just about everywhere right now. Nonetheless, we see good things happening in our school. I will personally be happy to speak with you or show you and your kids around the school if you are interested. Again, welcome to Mira Vista! Rachel
The Mira Vista community is quite diverse, which we enjoy. And the kids all get along very well. My nieces from Peru recently joined the community and although they speak very little English they have already made quite a number of friends. Other spanish-speaking kids help to translate for them. But english-speaking children and children from other countries also have taken them under their wing. It's very sweet to see.
We have a thriviing PTA and many committed teachers who have been at the school for years. Turn out at school events is very impressive and to me heart-warming. Our parking lot and auditorium are full for events like the winter holiday show and a recent bookfair that was paired with a ''cookies and hot cocoa'' literacy storytelling event. We also have a fall festival at Halloween, a cultural awareness potluck, campus clean ups and gardening events, a spelling bee, a field day with athletic activities, and we are planning a Spring Dance.
It's a warm community and I think that your son and daughter easily could feel at home there in no time. My son did and he came from a small comparatively small neighborhood pre-school (Keystone). My nieces did also and they were coming to a school in a new country, with a new language, and many new customs. Good luck! debora
You also wondered about how an intelligent, shy, young-ish child might fare. I have no crystal ball but I can tell you that he would not be the only child at the school with those qualities. There are very smart, bookish children in each grade. I've observed that these children tend to gravitate towards each other for friendship. Additionally, I have not witnessed or heard of any bullying of the smart, shy kids (and I'm on campus quite a bit).
Finally, I want to say that we are very fortunate to have a fantastic, committed, and experienced principal who is very responsive to any concerns that might crop up. He welcomes input from parents, so you know you always have an ally should you experience any problems or issues. Christine
My son is in kindergarten this year (so possibly a classmate of your son next year :)) Thus far, we have been extremely happy with the school. My son's teacher is wonderful, and quite attentive to his needs. Early in the year she noticed that he was having some challenges in the classroom, and she wasted no time in getting him the extra help that he needs to thrive. I am so grateful for the care and consideration that the professionals (including the principal) at Mira Vista have shown towards my child.
As for worries about teasing, etc: I haven't seen much of that kind of behavior, and I volunteer at the school often. There are plenty of kids with autumn birthdays, as well as kids who are reading and doing math at an advanced level.
Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any further questions. liza
We are considering moving to the Richmond view area and our neighborhood school most likely would be Mira Vista. Our son will be entering Kindergarten next fall (2010) and I'm curious to hear what current M.V. parents and their kids think of the school, in terms of academics, atmosphere, parent involvement, etc. Also, would it be worth it to request a transfer to Madera or Kensington? Thanks! public school supporter
My kids attend Mira Vista and are doing great academically (they perform above grade level). I also like the fact that we can walk to school, and see other families in the neighborhood. I also like that we are helping support our local school rather than one several miles away.
I think kindergarten tours will start in January, at which time you'll be able to tour the facilities and talk to other current and prospective parents.
My son's teacher is passionate about her profession, and is truly dedicated to each child in her classroom. The diverse group of kids are so sweet. Every morning before the bell rings and at pick-up time, the kids play and ride tricycles while parents, grandparents and teachers chat. It's just a lovely environment.
The parent community is active, and filled with friendly, unpretentious folks. Many parents volunteer in the classroom and donate basic supplies to the teachers.
The curriculum is the only area where I'm not %100 happy about my son's education. He does a few too many worksheets for my taste and I'm not thrilled that he has homework in kindergarten. But, the curriculum is the same throughout the WCCUSD. My son's teacher does everything in her power to make every day fun and exciting, even within the confines of the curriculum.
I wouldn't think about transferring if I were you. A) because the schools you mentioned are full and you won't get in B) while the other PTAs might raise more money, those schools don't necessarily have better teachers and C) walking to/from school with your kid is one of life's great pleasures :) . proud MV parent
A few examples: our child was a decent reader entering kindergarten (for that age - knowing letters, simple words, etc.). In the last month of the school year, the teacher said, ''you know, [xxx] can READ!'' as if it was a shock to her. Going into first grade, homework consisted mainly of repetitive busy work (tracing letters and words). Although the teacher adjusted by sending home more advanced work, it became very quickly apparent that teaching in the classroom was to the lowest level in the class. I appreciate the need to not leave kids behind, but at the same time the more advanced kids in class were clearly not challenged. In fact, in talking with the teacher it seemed as if our child was more often than not acting as a teacher's helper in class, as opposed to actually learning.
Our child now attends a nearby parochial school. The request for transfer (or finagling not-so-ethical ways to switch) into Kensington and/or Madera schools appeared to be a common one in the time we were there, but was not something we wanted to do. Might help explain some of the dropoff in test scores. former Mira Vista parent
Our son is doing quite well academically. And he also is getting important opportunities to connect with a really diverse and rich cultural array of kids from other communities. They learn from each other. And they connect over common interests.
With the school going K-8 in the coming years, we are very happy to think that our son will be able to remain in a community where he knows the teachers and other students well, and can walk to school as he gets older. Although the middle school experience offers some exciting changes, there's a lot to be said also for foregoing the transition at that age, when so much else in their lives is changing. The move to K-8 has become something of a trend nationally (and of course is well entrenched in many private schools) and we understand that students' academic progress often benefits from the continuity at that age.
Wishing you all the best for your family. If you have questions or would like to talk directly, please feel free to contact me. debora
Can families with children at Mira Vista school please give some feedback about their experiences? We did the WCCUSD transfer rounds and just found out that we got in. Of course this is after we've already put down a deposit at a private school... but saving on the monthly tuition is nothing to ignore. We are interested in information about the sense of community, quality of program, discipline etc. potential parent.
Hope you find a decision that feels right for your family. All the best! debora
Since it is summer, you may be able to connect with other MV parents by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be happy to talk with you more about our experience, Lisa
My child is due to attend Mira Vista next September, and I'd like some candid, recent information about the school from parents whose kids have attended. Everyone I know wants to transfer to Madera or Kensington, and I'd like to give MV a chance before applying for transfers (the archival info is pretty old). What were your experiences at the school? Did your child feel challenged? Were the teachers nurturing and/or engaging? Was there a balance between academics and play, especially at the kindergarten level? What's the parent community like? I'm a little anxious about this whole process, so any info you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. He's growing so fast.
I encourage you to seek current information about the school by coming to campus to visit, attending a PTA meeting and reaching out to parents as you are now before making a decision to attempt a transfer. Every school has its challenges and I'd be happy to share more with you about Mira Vista if you care to contact me through the moderator. We choose to stay because we believe in supporting public education in our neighborhood, because we value the diversity of a school like Mira Vista and because our children are thriving there. happy MV mom
We are mostly very pleased here. Two of the K teachers are *really* excellent teachers: engaged, enthusiastic, committed, intuitive at solving classroom problems, etc. My son is very challenged and is SO excited about learning to read, which is happening in leaps and bounds. He loves his classmates, which are a very diverse group ethnically, and economically. I think the balance between ''academics'' and fun is good -- there is lots of coloring, and a variety of other art projects. We have some amazing parent volunteers in the class, one of whom teaches dance and another who performs and teaches music. We have a small group of active and committed parents who do make a real difference.
Schoolwide there are a lot of problem kids, or kids with problems, but for the most part there seem to be various strategies in place for dealing with them. I have an older child at the school as well as my K student, and neither have had any problems with other students (i.e., no bullying, etc.). Happy MV parent
I am interested in learning more about the after care program for kindergartners at Mira Vista, or options other than y-care. Does anyone have their child in after care at Mira Vista that could share some insights? Thanks! Heather
When our son started at Mira Vista, the after school enrichment program hadn't yet begun. We found the ''Kids' House,'' instead which is run by a wonderful woman named April Jordan. April primarily cares for kids who attend Mira Vista. She is licensed to take care of 14 kids in her home and has staff to assist. Our son really loves being at the Kids' House and sometimes it is a bit of a struggle getting him to leave at the end of the day. If you are interested about details, please feel free to e-mail me.
Hope you find the right place for your child. Debora
We are interested in any current reports from families with children enrolled at Mira Vista Elementary School. We would especially like to hear from parents who have children in 4th and 5th grade. Thank you for any information you have on the school community, administration and upper grade teachers. East Bay Mom
Our 5th grade teacher, Mr. Haynie, has been with us quite awhile. He is excellent with kids who love school, but has very little tolerance with kids in his class who are just there to be social (lots of detentions). Mr Johnson came to us this year and he teaches the 5/6 split. The kids really can relate to him, he is young with lots of energy. From what I see is a great asset to MV. The 6th grade class is taught by the wonderful Ms. Posner. Some of our 5th graders and their parents do not believe their child is ready for middle school. Ms. Posner is a wonderful teacher who engages her students and encourages them to think outside the''box.''
Please give out school a try. This is the most diverse school in the district. There is very little bullying, most of the kids get along wonderfully. Please come by for open house and check out the campus. Mira Vista Parent
My daughter is assigned to Mira Vista Elementary in Richmond for Kindergarten. I saw some very nice reviews on the website and when I called the school, the people I spoke with were extremely friendly. I was just wondering if anyone has any new reviews of the school. This is my first daughter going to school, so I don't have any experience with this stuff yet. Thanks!
We are very fond of Mira Vista. Our son has had wonderful first and second grade teachers. The school is very diverse and there is a warm and active community. Many of the teachers have been at the school for years and are well-loved. The school recently won a grant that permits it to provide free after care through 6 p.m. The facilities also were recently renovated, new landscaping has been put in on the grounds, and work on the play ground is nearing completion (new play structure for the older children, new play equipment for the kindergartners, a ball wall, new striping on the grounds, etc.). The school also has a lovely garden that students help to tend.
The school has a number of annual events and the turn out is really impressive. There's a fall festival around Halloween. Recently we had a winter holiday show during which different classrooms performed songs and poems with an international theme. The attendance was wonderful. It was standing room only.
Our test scores are not quite as high as those of Madera and Kensington but they are reasonably good and improving. As I understand it, the improvement in the students' overall reading scores last year was one of the best in the district.
My son has learned a lot during his time at the school. He's comfortable and happy there. Parents are very welcome in the classrooms as volunteers and vistors and my son's teachers have been available, kind, and helpful. We think Mira Vista is a wonderful place.
Happy to talk if you have more questions. debora
Re: Kindergarten options in west contra costa unified
I missed the original post, but I'd like to put in a plug for Mira Vista Elementary in Richmond. My daughter is a second grader there, and my son will enter next year for kindergarten. The teachers are excellent (with a few exceptions!), the school has been updated and remodeled, and the PTA is small but active. The principal, Mrs. Hendon, is new but I've liked what I've seen so far. I have volunteered in the school library and my child's classrooms, so have met many of the children. The student body is very diverse racially, ethnically, religiously, and for the most part get along as well as any group of children. The school is K-6, which means you may be able to put off middle school decisions a bit longer! Christine
Our girls currently attend Ocean View Elementary and Albany Middle (next year Albany HS). Originally, we got into these schools because we lived in the village and when we had to move due to my graduation, we secured an inter-district transfer. Now, due to the Albany schools being impacted, we may not be able to renew the transfer and our girls would go to Mira Vista Elementary and Kennedy HS in Richmond. These schools dont look great on paper (test scores) but I am aware that isnt a great gauge of the school. My daughter does horribly on standardized tests, so I am leery of relying on them to judge the school. Does anyone have experience with these Richmond schools that might help? Please let us know if you have ANY advice. Jodie
I've checked past postings, but wonder whether anyone has more recent experience or advice about after school programs for a first grader? We live in El Cerrito and our son is to go to Mira Vista Elementary School in the fall as a first grader. The Y runs an after school program at Mira Vista. But we are wondering about other options in the area. For example, we are considering the possibility of sending him to the after school program at Castro Elementary. We're also looking at private after school programs but have not found many so far. Another issue will be transportation between school and after school. We've heard of ''A Car 4 Kids,'' which provides transportation but wonder if anyone knows of other providers . We appreciate any information or tips you may have. (We have not found much current information in the postings.) Thanks very much. Debora
Any recent experience with Mira Vista Elementary in Richmond? What are its strengths/weaknesses? The info on their web site is quite old in some areas. Looking at Contra Costa Unified's web site, Madera's standardized ratings are much higher than Mira Vista. Is it possible to get a transfer to Madera? Should we try? Is there something concerned parents can do to improve Mira Vista before a child attends? Our daughter will be entering Kindergarten in '05. Thanks. Curious
Mira Vista has a really strong, yet small community of very involved parents.I think being involved in your child's school is an essential part of making a school work, and this is definately true for MV. MV has some of the most wonderful dedicated teachers I've ever met, especially the K-3 teachers. (our kids didn't go beyond 3rd grade at MV...another story).
MV's principal, Carlina Moss knows every child's name in that school, as did our previous principal, Dean Karahalios. My boys got a good education at Mira Vista and also really great exposure to kids of different races, ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles....some they made friends with, some they didn't.
We started a fabulous garden project at Mira Vista about 8 years ago and it's still going strong. We got grants from various organizations including Aquatic Outreach Institute.The students are involved in the school gardens and various projects.
I thoroughly support having a neighborhood public school. I'd suggest ignoring the negative things you've heard, and go check it out for yourself (as you are doing by writing your post)...go on the school tours, talk further with the teachrs, principal, other parents, some of the kids...attend a PTA meeting or a school event and see what it's like.
Personally, I think state test scores are an unfair view of a schools quality. There are too many variables such as non- english speaking kids, kids who don't take tests well, and kids who work carefully and slowly and can't finish a test in the alotted time(such as my younger son).
In fairness, I should tell you why we left MV and are now at Tehiyah Day School (also in the neighborhood). When my oldest son was in 3rd grade he was bored and needed more of a challenge. He's a bright boy and loved learning and he needed more than he was getting at MV. There happened to be room in his class at Tehiyah...long story short, in 4th grade he started at Tehiyah. He's now in 7th grade and is doing well.
Our younger son went through 2nd grade (very happily) at MV but he has some anxiety issues and was not ready to go on to 3rd grade. Rather than keep him back to repeat 2nd grade at MV when all his friends were going on to 3rd grade we chose to enroll him in the 2nd grade at Tehiyah. This was a good move for him but we were very sad to leave Mira Vista and our friends and teachers who we adored. We'd NEVER considered a private school before but this sort of fell into our laps and seemed like the right thing to do. Please feel free to e-mail me if you'd like more info and opinions about MV. Given the problems and lack of funds that most of our public schools have, I think Mira Vista is a gem. June
Test scores don't tell the entire story about what a great school Mira Vista is. Please don't pass over it in a search for higher test scores. You'd be missing a gem. Mom of 3 Alumni
Does anyone have experience with Mira Vista and/or Madera Elementary Schools? I would love to hear experiences with 1st grade teachers and the principal in particular. Thanks!
We have been very involved at Mira Vsita school even before my oldest son was in kindergarten. I can only tell you about our experience through 3rd grade. It's been great. The kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers are gems. You have never seen more loving and dedicated teachers (we have our favorites and there are 1 or 2 teachers that I would not choose for my kids).
We have a new principal this year, Carlina Moss. She is even more of a jewel than the fabulous principal wehad for the past 5 or 6 years, Dean Karahalios, who is now at Terra Hills. Carlina is so supportive of our students and teachers. She's very honest and real and knows how to get a job done. She diciplins with love and support, knows each and every student. She spends time in the classrooms so she really sees what's going on. The teachers, as I know them are very caring and loving and are good teachers. We have been very involved in the school and that has given us (and other families who have been involved) some leeway in requesting specific teachers for our kids.
Mira Vista is a very diverse school racially, culturally, socioeconomically. If you want clean and prissy and white, don't come to MV. If you want your child to go to school with children of different races and backgrounds, thats the place to be.
I volunteer in my sons classroom regularly so I get to see how his teacher teaches. Classroom volunteers are always welcome. The library welcomes parent volunteers, any event thats put on is done so by volunteer parents. We also have a wonderful school garden project at MV. It was started about 6 years ago by my husband and some of the teachers. We've gotten several large grants from Aquatic Outreach Institute to install and build our gardens. This year we received a $5000.00 environmental project grant from the PG&E environmental dept. We were 1 of 4 schools in Calif. and 30 schools in the US to receive this money. We are very proud of our school gardens. Some of the teachers involved with the gardens (specifically Mrs. Underwood (K), Mrs. MacCracken (2nd) Mr. Watts(2nd) take their students out to the gardens to do planting, art, nature, science, etc. We have a great community of very involved and dedicated parents at Mira Vista. If you're someone who likes to roll up your sleeves and get involved, you can sure do it at MV.
On a different note, my older son goes to a private school and there is no comparison. The private school teaches in what I consider a more creative way (I speak only from experience of 4th and 5th grades), it's kept cleaner, there is a lot more parent involvement....but we pay dearly for it. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that for a public school, I think Mira Vista is a great place to be. I especially love that it's a 2 minute walk from my house...my son has friends in the neighborhood that he can play with, whereas my son in the private school has to be driven to play with his friends.
It's a tough decision. My suggestion is to talk to people (as you are doing), go visit the schools you're interested in, talk to the teachers and principal, and don't listen to anyone who trashes other schools...they usually don't know anything about them. Good luck. June
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