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Mira Vista Elementary School (Richmond, CA)

(Richmond, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > West Contra Costa County School District > Mira Vista Elementary School (Richmond, CA)



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Middle School at Mira Vista

March 2013

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!


My son is in 7th grade at Mira Vista. He has been at the school since 1st grade. Our experience with the middle school has been largely good. I understand your question about teachers who are multiple subject credentialed. But I am impressed with our teachers. In 7th grade, for example, one of the teachers has a doctorate. She teaches English and World History. She is having the kids read some great books and fosters great discussions. She also has a long history of teaching kids at all ages, but particularly middle school. I think she was a principal at a K-8 elsewhere.

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


My kid is in the 7th grade at Mira Vista, and my younger child will be there in a few years.

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


Mira Vista or Crestmont School

Sept - Oct 2012

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


Our child is now a 2nd grader at Mira Vista and has been at the school since starting Kindergarten. I'm sure you will gets lots of responses to your question, and many of them will likely be praising Crestmont. I don't have any experience with Crestmont, though lots of families that I know and respect have chosen it as their school, so I'm sure it is a wonderful place. I am writing to encourage you to choose Mira Vista if you do end up in the neighborhood.

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


I wanted to respond to the question about Mira Vista School in East Richmond Heights. My son is in first grade there and went to Kindergarten there last year and I can emphatically say we're very happy at Mira Vista. His Kindergarten teacher was excellent, and I was hugely impressed by the PTA and parent involvement when we began school last year. I'd heard from many parents that Madera was the better school, and I'd checked BPN before he started Kindergarten, and was pleased to see the reports about the strong community at Mira Vista. I'm very happy to report that this has absolutely been the case.

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 live in the Richmond Hills, and my kids have been at Mira Vista from K thru now 7th grade for my oldest, so we are 'veterans' of a sort!

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


Greetings. I am a Mira Vista parent. Our son is in 7th grade and started at the school for first grade. Our youngest niece is in 7th and has been there since 4th. Her sister attended from 5th thru 8th and was part of our first 8th grade class. I have been in the PTA throughout and also active in our site council. We have been very happy with the school.

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


I replied previously, and then realized I had one more thought to share. When choosing between Crestmont and Mira Vista, please think of them both as ''Co-op'' schools. That is one mistake that I feel a lot of parents make when choosing a school. Parents who choose a Co-op go into it knowing that they will be expected to put in hours of their time, volunteering in the classrooms and working to make the school great. The parent involvement and commitment is what makes the school what it is. Public school is no different. If those parents who work diligently at their Co-op were willing to put in the same hours, the same passion, the same commitment at their neighborhood public school, the public school would be just as successful as any Co-op school. For that matter, if they were willing to attend their local public school and donate even 50% of what their Co-op/Private tuition would have been to the PTA, it would change the face of public education.

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


Welcome, (possibly), to the East Richmond Heights neighborhood! We have two children at Mira Vista and thus far we've been very happy. The community is wonderful. Our PTA puts on fun events all year long, including our Fall Festival, Craft Night, Multicultural Night and Free Book Fair. In the last two years, parents have returned art instruction to the school day, and started a strong afterschool Band/Orchestra and Glee Club program. We have a grant committee that procures yet more funds for field trips and classroom supplies. Parents volunteer in the classroom, the library and at recess. We have two gardens, one of which was funded by a generous grant from the American Heart Association.

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


We are very happy with Mira Vista K-8. I have a third grader and a kindergartner this year. In addition to the top-notch parents, who roll up their sleeves and make things happen, the teachers and staff go above and beyond to make our school thrive. These are difficult times for public schools, but despite the challenges, Mira Vista has art and music, a spelling bee, a science fair and more. It's great that my children can stay at Mira Vista through 8th grade. It is incredibly rewarding to invest my time, money and energy in our neighborhood public school where I feel that I am making a difference not only for my kids, but for all children in the community. Victoria

Editor note: reviews were also received for Crestmont


Nov 2011

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


8th grade at Mira Vista?

Feb 2011

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


Hi there. My daughter is a current 5th grader at Mira Vista, and we plan on keeping her there through 8th grade.

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


Both of our children attend Mira Vista, the older is in sixth grade this year. As I understand it, it won't be known for some time who the eighth grade teachers will be, however we have an excellent principal (formerly at Adams Middle School, and MLK in Berkeley), a dedicated PTA and lots of wonderful neighborhood families to lead the way. I strongly encourage you to visit the campus and check us out! -happy MV mom

After school care for kindergarteners?

Feb 2010

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


the YMCA has Y kids that is a good program juliet

Transferring from parochial school

Feb 2010

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!


We transferred our son from parochial school to Mira Vista this school year. He is in the lower grades so the class is small. Smaller than those at his previous school. Of the 20 kids in his class 4 have significant behavior issues that monopolize all of his teacher's attention. There is more swearing, hitting and misbehavior than at his previous school. The kids don't line up and walk into the room, there is a lot of talking out of turn in class, and things aren't as clean and orderly as in his parochial school. However, I'd say that overall it is a safe place and he is happy. Considering the fact we've been at two difffernt parochial schools where there were significant bullying problems that were not addressed, I'd say that the public school is a fine option in comparison.

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


Our daughter is in kindergarten at Mira Vista and we love the school. It's very near to our house, the principal and staff are very responsive, and we absolutely adore her kindergarten teacher. Of course the school is not as wealthy or high-profile as Madera or Kensington Elementary, but I really like the close community of the school. And the parents - working class, multicultural, down to earth - rock. There is a lot of homework (a full packet per week!) but there are also fun things for kids, such as Holiday performance night, pajama/cookies reading night, garden clean up, field trips, etc. Mira Vista is not glamorous or really touch-feely, but it's a good basic school with a good heart. Plus, it's part of our community. I love getting to know people in the 'hood. Good luck. Jo
Welcome to the Mira Vista Community!

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


Mira Vista School is comprised of an excellent community of students, faculty, administrators, and parents. We're mainly a neighborhood school and so the students and parents are also our friends and neighbors, which strengthens our entire community. This is our fourth year at the school and I can only speak highly about every teacher our daughter has had. Also, parent involvement is relatively high, ever-increasing, and integral... so come prepared to get involved! Betty's Mom
Hi there. My son has attended Mira Vista for 4 years. He is in fourth grade and he has had a good experience. He is one of the younger kids in his grade and a good student.

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


We live in El Cerrito and Mira Vista is our local school. Our daughter is a first grader at Mira Vista. She loves it. She had a great kindergarten teacher last year and this year she really likes her First Grade Teacher, Mrs Hoy. They also have a great new principal, Mr Szot. The school district recently put quite a bit of money into the facility and it is quite nice. Next year we will send our younger daughter there for Kindergarten. We think the school works out very well for us and there are lots of great parents that we meet at PTA events with whom we have become good friends. Cheers, Paul and Christine
I am a parent at Mira Vista, and I think I can speak to some of your concerns. You wondered about the community -- though we are a large school (400+ students), there is a strong (and growing) community of involved parents. I've met some great families both in my children's classrooms and through our PTA, and what I find wonderful is that I keep meeting more families as the years progress. Involvement in the PTA is really the best way to be a part of a great community within the school.

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


Welcome, future Mira Vista family!

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


Mira Vista Elementary School has a strong community of parents and a committed group of teachers and staff. My son is in kindergarten this year and we are very happy with the academic and social environment. In my experience, the older grade students seem very respectful and kind. Some of them are in after school care with my son and he looks up to them and they all play well together most of the time. There is a new principal, Mr. Szot, who is excellent. The parents step up to help where we can: in the classrooms, patrolling the grounds, helping with supervision on field trips, donating supplies and raising money. Sorry to hear that you have to switch schools, but I hope you will be as happy as we are with Mira Vista. vf

2005 - 2009 Recommendations


Moving to Richmond View

Oct 2009

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


Mira Vista elementary is a pretty great little school that tends to fly under the radar more than the ''big two,'' Madera and Kensington. We don't have their test scores or their population (mostly white) but we do have a lot of positives. We have some great teachers, a diverse student body who genuinely get along most of the time, a free after school program, and a new principal (Julian Szot) who by all accounts is very impressive -- involved, attentive, and present. Oh, and we also have a beautiful campus with million dollar views of the bay!

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 is in kindergarten at Mira Vista and we are delighted with the school. If I could go back and do it over, I wouldn't spend one moment fretting about a transfer or the possibility of private school.

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


Welcome to the neighborhood! Our experience with Mira Vista was mixed at best. The level of parent involvement was quite active, and we really liked the kindergarten teacher (and the principal the first year, but she was gone after that), but things went more or less downhill from there. Test scores drop off dramatically into the upper grades.

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


My kid actually goes to an arts-based school in downtown Berkeley near my workplace, but when I was shopping around for schools a year ago, I was favorably impressed by MV and would have been happy for my child to go there if we had gone the public school route. I live a few blocks from Mira Vista and often walk my dog in Mira Vista field, a community-run park and nature reserve just adjacent to the school. It seems to be a well-run school and people speak highly of the kindergarten teachers. Campus is very nice, all-new playground equipment, etc. Mira Vista is proactive with parent tours and info sessions and setting up pre-kindergarten socials before school starts. -Mira Vista Neighbor
Mira Vista has several K tours for prospective parents every spring, which is a good way to see the K program in action. Before requesting a transfer, my suggestion would be to visit Mira Vista, meet our principal and connect with some of the PTA members via our group email (found on the school's website). Both of our children attend Mira Vista and we have been very happy with the teachers and the school community. Do I wish the test scores were higher? Yes, I do (and they have, in fact, increased 32 points in the past year). Do I wish more local families would choose to stay at their neighborhood school instead of requesting transfers to other local elementary schools? Yes, I do. What's important to me about the concept of a neighborhood school is that my children grow up attending school with other kids who live nearby; they make friends and see each other in the neighborhood on weekends, at the local stores, etc. The school is part of their community and vice versa. With Mira Vista scheduled to become a K-8 school over the next two years, entering families have the option to keep their kids in the neighborhood school through their middle school years. Bottom line: when you make a commitment to a place, whether it's a home, a neighborhood or a school, you get out of it what you put in. Glad we stayed at MV
My son started at Mira Vista kindergarten this year and we are very happy with his teacher, the school and the community. The kindergarten teachers are very experienced and committed and are planning on at least three field trips for the year. The kids go to the computer lab, school library, and bookmobile regularly. There is an active PTA coordinating fundraising and lots of great activities including a fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 11 to 2. Perhaps you can come by to meet some of the families and teachers and/or look for the kindergarten information sessions early next year. Happy Mira Vista Parent
Our son is in his 4th year at Mira Vista and we are very happy with his experience and the community there. He has had wonderful committed teachers each year and has made many lasting friends, all of whom live near us, which makes it very easy to coordinate their getting together on the weekends and after school. This year in particular feels full of promise at the school. We have a new principal, Julian Szot, who is very experienced, has a great demeanor with kids, parents, and staff, understands how things work, and knows how to work with the district. We also have a vibrant PTA, that has many plans for the coming year and for ways to support our teachers and student learning.

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


June 2009

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.


Hi! I'm a Mira Vista parent of an incoming 4th grader and 1st grader. Overall we are very happy here, for a number of reasons: excellent teachers, *nice* student body (upper and lower grades), beautiful campus, active but small PTA, and inclusive (though small) community of involved parents. We also live close by and have really enjoyed getting to know our neighbors through the school. My two kids LOVE their school and the teachers and friends there. As far as negatives, I wish that we had more involved families. As far as I can see, that is the big difference between our school and the neighboring 'better' schools like Madera and Kensington. We have a lot of working class families who simply don't have the time or money to donate to the school. This year will bring challenges as our class sizes are going up, and the school is transitioning to a K-8. Watch the announcements for the next upcoming Mira Vista K playgroup -- it'll be a great way to talk to current parents and meet incoming parents & kids. Happy MV parent
Our son has been at Mira Vista for 3 years. He began in 1st grade and will enter 4th grade in the fall. We've been very happy with it. Our son has had great teachers so far. And it's a warm community. Very diverse. Our PTA recently elected new officers and there's a good energy going there. Our school was rebuilt and has a really pretty site. There's a free after care program. We also reportedly will be going to a K-8 format, beginning gradually in the next few years. Our family is happy to have the alternative of keeping our son at the school through the middle school years. He's made a lot of good friends there and also knows the campus and the staff well. Although middle school can have advantages, we've also heard that minimizing the added disruption that a transfer to middle school means in those important years can be helpful in keeping kids focused on learning and feeling more confident. Also it's quite lovely to avoid the private school tuition. Rather save the money for college and family trips (which themselves provide some good educational opportunities about new places and people, etc.).

Hope you find a decision that feels right for your family. All the best! debora


We have two children who attend Mira Vista. While these are certainly challenging times for public schools in the WCCUSD, and will continue to be, I encourage you to give our school serious consideration. We enjoy the campus community and the fact that we can walk to school and to the homes of the friends that our children meet in class. We have a growing PTA for the coming year with many new parents stepping up to support the school. Our school community is very reflective of the Richmond community with many different ethnic groups, languages and cultures represented. The school was recently renovated and there are plans to make Mira Vista a K-8 school by adding a 7th grade in the 2010-11 school year and an 8th grade the year after.

Since it is summer, you may be able to connect with other MV parents by contacting miravistapta@gmail.com. I'd be happy to talk with you more about our experience, Lisa


Nov 2008

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.


We have two children at Mira Vista Elementary and it is our neighborhood school. We have been happy with the teachers and the parent community. We live within walking distance of the school and many of our children's friends do too, which enhances the sense of community that we feel with other families.

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


My son is a current K student at Mira Vista. We also considered the transfer to Madera or Kensington, and in fact got the Madera transfer but turned it down.

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


Feb 2008

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


April Jorden runs an after-school program out of her house that serves children from Mira Vista. It is called The Kids House. You can reach her at 510-237-2870. April picks the kids up from school in her big van and brings them back to a well run, fun environment. Call her to schedule a visit and see for yourself. Allison
We have not used the school's afterschool program, but have a son at Mira Vista in third grade and a kindergartener-to-be next fall. Both will attend April Jorden's The Kids House for their after school hours. My son has been there since first grade and I can highly recommend April's program. She picks kids up in her passenger van and returns them to her house each day, which in and of itself is a lifesaver. Her program operates out of her home...and it feels much like the house in the neighborhood where kids just like to hang out. She has a great art room, tons of books and games, a back yard that's very kid-friendly and the ever-popular air hockey table. There's no screen time, but a quiet time for homework begins at 5:00. She is warm without being a pushover, creates an environment of respect and boundaries without being rigid and gives great hugs. You can contact her at 237.2870. Give her a call! Lisa
My son is a second grader at Mira Vista. He is not in the After School Enrichment Program but many of his peers are. You can get more information about the enrichment program from the program supervisor Shallah Jones. She's can be reached at 510- 231-1416, ext. 23519. She forwarded to some information about the program. As I understand it, the program is free of charge. Care is provided after classes let out until 6 p.m. on Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri. On Wed., care is provided until 5 p.m. Children do home work and receive tutoring. They also have the opportunity to do art projects, take computer lab, creative writing, cooking, hip hop dance, and math classes, and engage in sports activities.

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


Jan 2008

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 son attends Mira Vista Elementary School and is in the third grade. We look forward to enrolling his brother for Kindergarten in the fall of '08. Like most parents, we want strong teachers, a nice campus and a friendly, active community of kids that our kids can learn with and from. We also want to support our neighborhood school and see our children develop friendships that carry over into the neighborhood. On all counts, we've been happy with Mira Vista. Our son's teachers have been excellent, our campus community is diverse, we've participated in the PTA and attended most school events. Our son is happy at school and although we don't utilize the afterschool program, he attends a program called The Kids House, where some of his classmates also spend the after-school hours. We already know a number of siblings who will be entering Kindergarten in the fall and look forward to our younger son's experience at Mira Vista as well. I recommend a campus visit and kindergarten tour and would be happy to talk further about our school. Lisa
My daughter finished 7 years at Mira Vista this past year and my son is now in his second year there. We have been very happy with the love and commitment of the teachers and have found wonderful parents to share in the growth of our children. If you are seriously interested in a neighborhood public school, come check it out. There are many events that are open to the public, you don't have to wait for a formal tour to get a taste of the school community. Keep checking the website for PTA meeting times (usually the 1st Wed of the Month) and other upcoming dates. Kindergarten Tours are Jan 23rd at 8:45am. Happy Mira Vista Parent
I am posting this for a friend not on this list: Hi! I'm a Mira Vista parent of a former 5th grader, current 2nd grader, and soon-to-be kindergartner. In answer to your questions about the upper grades, Mira Vista currently has one 3rd/4th grade class, one 4th grade, one 5th grade, one 5th/6th split, and one 6th grade class. If you are wondering why they are so many split classes it is all due to class room sizes. Once we get into the 4th grade, class size jumps to 33 per class. Here are my takes on the teachers: Ms.Tutass (3/4) came to us this year, but she only has accepted the position for one year, so she might not be here next year. Mrs. Zittel (4th) is actually one of our former MV parents, she has been with us for about three years. Both of these teachers do a good job.

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


Dec 2007

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!


Hi there. Our son attends Mira Vista. He is in second grade. He began school at Mira Vista in first grade, having completed kindergarten in his pre-school.

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


I have been a Mira Vista parent for 3 years now, and have been quite happy for the most part. Most of the teachers have years of experience, have been there a long time, and are great educators. MV has a small but dedicated group of parents who help make things run, and has a really nice community feel. The school and grounds look fantastic as it has been renovated quite recently. If you want to talk further please email. chult
Oct 2007

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


April 2006

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


My daughter attends Mira Vista as a kindergartner. I am active in the school, to a certain extent -- volunteering in her classroom, serving as a ''room mother,'' and attend PTA meetings when I can, and I can say that I am very happy, and somewhat pleasantly surprised, with MV. It is a small school with great diversity (ethnic, racial, economic, etc.), and the children (at least in the lower grades) seem to get along quite well. I have heard really good things about most of the teachers (our K teacher is phenomenal), though there are a few lemons. We are very fortunate to have a committed, energetic, and very loving principal, Ms. Brown- Garcia. She makes it her business to know each kids' name, and seems to be involved in everything. We also have a very dedicated, if small, PTA. There is not as much parental involvement as I'd like, but this is definitely a place where you really feel like one individual can make a significant difference. (By the way, there is a movement afoot to make this school a K-8, allowing our children to say in this smaller, more secure environment until high school, which I for one support.) Christine

After-school programs for 1st grader

Jan 2006

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


There is this great afterschool program at the Berkeley Richmond JCC. My daughter (kindergarten) goes there, and she has a lot of fun. They do art, cooking, drama, aikido, capoeira.. and they help with homework. The children's program director, Karen Cagan, is just GREAT with kids, and she has a great team working with her. So, check them out at their web page: www.brjcc.org Elena

2004 & Earlier


December 2003

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


Both my boys went to Mira Vista for the primary grades. We live diagonally across the street from MV and it made sense to send our kids to our local elementary school. I have lots to say about MV...I'll try to be concise.

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


All three of my children attended Mira Vista from K-5. The principal is a strong leader, the PTA is active, the larger adult community is involved, the teachers are caring, open and engaging. My children left prepared for middle school (in another school district with ''better test scores''.) We still attend certain school functions there; my children's former teachers remain in touch with them and are interested in their lives as they move through middle and high school. That's what we call a real community. We couldn't have asked for better from a public school.

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


July 2002

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!


My sons are former Mira Vista students and I say YES! Go to Mira Vista!!! Your child will have the unbeatable experience of attending the shool that is actually located in their neighborhood (gasp! what a concept!) thus being able to develope friendships with children ALSO located in that neighborhood. The principal, Carlena Moss, has a great reputation and all of the parents that I have spoken with are extremely pleased with her performance. There are a bunch of GREAT teachers (and, of course, a few stinkers - don't worry, the other PTA parents will let you know who they are). OK, so Madera's scores are higher, but let's be realistic here - socio-economic factors figure HUGELY in those scores (ever wonder why Kensington's scores are so high? hmmmmm....). Mira Vista offers a true cross-section of Richmond - mostly working class families of many races and ethnicities and, I can't state this enough - ITS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD! Viva Mira Vista! a Mira Vista neighbor
Both of my boys went/go to Mira Vista. My 11 year old went there through 3rd grade and my 6 1/2 year old is now in 1st grade.

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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