Advice on Albany schools

Hi all, we are contemplating a move to Albany and looking for more information about the schools.  Elementary and middle are most important to us.  We aren't really going by greatschools ratings as that's not informative for us.  We are particularly interested in:

  • What kinds of enrichments - foreign language or music- do the schools offer?  We'd appreciate specifics, as once a week music for 30 min is very different from opportunity to join a chorus or learn an instrument.  Same for language.  If they aren't offered in the curriculum, but there is an after care option, please share
  • What is the level of emphasis on STEAM?  How is that built into the curriculum?
  • Is there a culture of being able to walk to school? Part of the reason we are interested in the move is to be able to give our kids modest free-range opportunities. 

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RE: Advice on Albany schools ()

My daughter is a 5th grader at Marin elementary. There is no foreign language taught as part of the elementary curriculum. There was an afterschool program with some Spanish but just about everyone I know who sent their kid there has reported zero advancement in their child’s Spanish.
As far as STEAM I would say that reading is definitely more emphasized than math and science. Math is not strong at all and we are supplementing with an extracurricular. Again, at this point I can only speak about the elementary school level. 
Yes, kids do walk and bike to school. Albany is awesome in that respect. 

RE: Advice on Albany schools ()

I can only speak to the middle school. In sixth grade, kids get one elective, which could be music of some sort (band/orchestra/chorus all offered this year). In seventh grade, they add a second elective, which could be a language or "the wheel" which includes a maker class/home ec/drama. Electives happen on the same schedule as the core classes, basically every day (there is a modified block schedule, which you can read about more on the school website). To me this is essential for progress in language and instrumental music, so no complaints.

We have been very happy with the science and math curriculum at the middle school, where there is an advanced math placement option, and we've liked the 8th grade science & math teachers a LOT; they are caring and thoughtful.

At the middle school, my child gets themselves to school and reports the bike cage is full with bikes and scooters. I have been a little surprised the few times I've dropped them off (because they had something bulky or heavy to bring in) how many kids are getting rides to school. I agree, middle schoolers should be capable of walking or biking independently and at least some do at AMS.