Academically-oriented middle school? Private and public

Hi all. We are moving to Berkeley! So excited.

My 12 yr. old son (6th grade now) loves math and science so we are looking for the best school he might get into (both private and public.)

I've have heard The Berkeley School emphasizes personalized, high-quality education. I'd love feedback on The Berkeley School for STEM education. (I see it used to be a Montessori school and am worried they may not emphasize academics.) Are there other private schools that excel at teaching STEM subjects?

I see there are 3 public middle schools which we would be assigned to depending on which zone we live in. We are pretty flexible on where we live so I'd love feedback on which public middle school has a great math and science program, in particular. (I'm assuming that middle school also has other great programs as well but we are particularly interested in math and science.)

Thank you so much for your honest feedback- we really value this resource! Karen

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Black Pine Circle School has an excellent math and science program. In addition to great classroom math teachers, they have a math team.  This team does well in state-wide competitions, despite having only 60 students per grade.  The science program is also fantastic.  They recently built a state-of-the-art science center with classrooms devoted to biology and physics.  Kids have talked directly to scientists from places like the CDC in Atlanta and the Advanced Light Source at UC Berkeley.  There's a very active maker community, which overlaps with the math and science curriculum in that kids do 3D modeling and printing.  Check it out!


My son went to The Berkeley School for middle school (and we ended up moving our younger child over as well to the elementary school because our son was having such a good experience there). We were very happy with the STEM education and overall academics and found it to be the right balance of rigor and challenge without being an academic pressure cooker or putting academics above the importance of adolescent development. The science teacher there is amazing - passionate, challenging and knows how to engage students. Those were not subjects I would say my son was interested in before coming to TBS. I think also the smaller class sizes allowed these subjects to not be intimidating for students that otherwise might feel intimidated by those subjects or who may be afraid to push their limits. Our son just started (public) high school and is both very well prepared as well as is engaged in math & science. 


I suggest checking out The Academy in Berkeley and if your son really likes math the Proof School in San Francisco. I have children at both schools. The Academy is a small school, but very academically oriented. I feel my child is getting an excellent education there.  Proof School is also excellent school with a math emphasis....They also have strong science and computer science classes. Many kids at Proof School live in Berkeley and commute on BART. If your son really enjoys math, I would suggest visiting. I've also heard good things about Black Pine Circle. 



I can’t speak specifically about STEM education at the Berkeley School. I can speak about our St. Paul’s experience for middle school for science and math. Both subjects are valued at St. Paul's and the school works hard so that every middle schooler learns the material at the appropriate level for that individual student. 7th and 8th graders have the option to take math electives that can supplement there regular math class. Our daughter’s math prowess for the material grew to the point where she elected to take the additional math class. As a 8th grader math has become one of her favorite classes and we attribute this to the teachers and their ability to balance rigor with creative and thoughtful lessons. The science curriculum also operates in a similiar manner. The middle school science teachers asks students to think and view the material as a scientist. With a number of project based science assignments/labs students are tasked with both observing and commenting on the material. The students are stretched and asked to think critically on the material they are studying. We appreciate that at the end of the lab/assignment they are asked what would they do next with there answers. 

Hope this helps.

  • Work as a scientist: observe, research, and develop controlled experiments