Berkeley School versus TRIS

Hi -

we are debating between sending our son to elementary at The Renaissance International School or the Berkeley School.

i am curious if family have experience with both schools how they would compare them or if families looked at both why you chose one over another.



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RE: Berkeley School versus TRIS ()


I can't speak about TRIS because we have no experience and didn't even consider another school once we found TBS. It was the campus size, their core mission, and their ability to innovate quickly to meet the demands of a changing world. Let me know if you want to chat more.

RE: Berkeley School versus TRIS ()

Hi Deepti:

 The two schools certainly have different philosophies and approaches. The Renaissance is focused on language acquisition and an international focus whereas the The Berkeley School is focused on civic engagement and pulls from Montessori and Reggio pedagogical approaches. I as a current parent at the Berkeley school with a 2nd grader who started in the kindergarten program. The growth and satisfaction I saw in my son from being involved in current events such as donations to the women’s shelter to support for the homelessness to understanding the election and why we vote was very inspiring. It was quite a sight to watch the class in a video and see the Kindergarten class hold their own election to change the class blog name with the administration and faculty showing up to register to vote.  Now as a 2nd grader, my son organized a food drive in the neighborhood on his own. What I have appreciated is the small teacher to student ratio, he has received a lot of attention to allow his strengths to shine and provided more attention in an area where he needs additional support. 

TBS parent of a Happy 8 year old.

RE: Berkeley School versus TRIS ()

Hi Deepti,

I hope you are doing well. I can't talk about The Renaissance International School, but I have been a Berkeley School parent since 2017. My son started on their Early Childhood Campus and is now in First Grade at the University Ave Campus. After we graduated from their preschool we tried Albany Unified at Marin, only to go back to TBS a couple of months after school started and I couldn't be more thankful that we did. 

I don't know how old your child is, but the Kinder class is just magical. If I could say two words to try to convince anyone to go to The Berkeley School Elementary would be "Danette Swan". She is the kinder teacher and oh my God we love her so much. In addition to that, we also love that TBS is so involved with social justice and civic engagement. We are also very happy with how we feel welcomed and loved. TBS is also very concerned about children's emotional growth and stability and I feel very supported by their staff regarding that. They have a behaviour professional on site whom we adore. He checks in with us often about how our son is doing emotionally and we can seek him whenever we feel like we need help dealing with something regarding our son's emotional development. I could not recommend them enough. 

We are repeating everything with our daughter who's in ECC like her big brother was. 

Let me know if you would like to chat more. 


RE: Berkeley School versus TRIS ()

Hi Deepti,

TRIS is a phenomenal school.  Our eldest (now age 7) entered TRIS at age 2 1/2 in the pre-primary classroom, went through primary, and is now in a pod in lower elementary. Our youngest (age 3) is now in a primary pod.  

We were initially drawn to the strong language immersion at TRIS, which has indeed been incredible. Each primary class has native Spanish or French guides and an English-speaking guide, while all three languages are combined at the elementary level.  We love that the three languages, while themselves studied, are also mediums of instruction in math, science, cooking... or whatever. The language used simply depends on the guide or assistant who is leading a lesson.  

While the international orientation and language curriculum initially attracted us to TRIS, we soon also came to adore the Montessori philosophy and pedagogy, which we found has bred self-confidence, autonomy, independence, and most importantly a deep love of learning.  We have been so grateful during the time at home in the midst of the Covid pandemic for the way that TRIS has helped our eldest daughter become an independent learner.  We also love the Montessori materials, especially in math, which breed concrete understanding and provide a rich foundation for later advanced math.  

TRIS also has a very strong visual art and music program, as well as an international travel component at the elementary level.  The emphasis is on helping kids plan the trips, fundraise, and lead the way in every possible respect.  It is a school that breeds a sense of community, service, and responsibility rather than entitlement; that is so important in an independent/private school.

Finally, we are especially appreciative of the thoughtful and creative way that TRIS has adapted during the pandemic, first offering an online program for a brief period and now with in-person pods that have kept students and faculty safe.  The Montessori pedagogy actually is remarkably adaptable to the current context.

Our two kids are thriving at TRIS, and we are so grateful that we found this remarkable school.

Good luck with your choice, and please feel free to message me if you need more information!

-- A happy TRIS family