Looking for Oakland school advice? Moving from SF

Hello! We are looking to make a move from SF to Oakland or Berkeley and have a 7 and 9 year old, so elementary and almost middle school. We don't know many people in the east bay so would love some advice on schools both public and private. For Upper Rockridge, I know Hillcrest is small and crowded with no guarantee. What other private schools for both elementary and middle would be an option for that neighborhood if public is full? Would love any and all advice! Much appreciated. 

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We moved from SF to Upper Rockridge about 3 years ago. Our kids are much younger (4 & 6). We are currently enrolled in a public K-5 (not Hillcrest) but I have toured almost all the surrounding private schools. There are a few private school options in or around Upper Rockridge. Aurora K-5 mixed age classes, Park Day, K-8 progressive, St. Theresa's Catholic School, K-8. Then there are many more private schools outside the UR area. Tours usually happen in Nov-Jan and acceptance in March.  Hope this helps. 

If I could go back in time to give myself advice about schools in Oakland, I would tell myself to NEVER move to Oakland.  We are very involved parents, but after 6 years of trying very hard to make the schools work for our kids, we finally decided to move.  It was the best decision we ever made.  My kids went from being stressed & suicidal to being happy and engaged at school in another district.  Our experiences came from top-rated elementary schools in OUSD, so I don’t think that a top rating means much.  If you enroll in one of the “good” elementary schools, you will be asked to contribute about $1000 per child per year otherwise the school can’t pay for anything beyond the basic classroom teachers (no PE, art, computer, library or music programs without parents funding).  Some schools aren’t even allocated enough money to pay the class teachers, so parents have to pay just to cover the basic teacher salaries.  It’s bad!

I would love to recommend Berkwood Hedge, a small private school near Downtown Berkeley. Our 5 year old entered halfway through the year and has been met with such care by his teachers Hanan and Silver. He is thriving there and we love the emphasis on social-emotional learning and creativity, and a lot of opportunity to be outside, which is wonderful for my son. The school is a warm indoor/outdoor space and there seems to be a lot of fun school-wide events all the time. There is a real positivity to the school that you feel upon entering and when you see the children's comfortable and contented faces. I would highly recommend this hidden gem!

So many wonderful private schools in the area! Aurora (K-5), Escuela Bilingue Internacional (K-8), Park Day (K-8) as a starter and would be closer schools near Rockridge. The Academy School in Berkeley is fantastic.

Hi there,

We recently moved from SF to Oakland (summer 2017) and found the most amazing school for our son.  At the time he had just finished second grade.  He had attended private school in SF so we looked only at private schools in Oakland and Berkeley.  Of course our son was nervous about the transition and didn't want to leave his school and his friends, but when I ask him about his school now, he says he likes it so much more!  The school we ended up choosing is Berkwood Hedge in Berkeley, it's an East Bay Independent school, grade K-5.  I couldn't say enough in this posting about the dedication, talent and commitment of the staff.  They truly meet each child with where they are in their education, and who they are individually.  The curriculum is challenging and engaging and fun, my son actually tells me that he can't wait for school to start after he's been on a break!  I'd NEVER heard that from him before Berkwood Hedge!  Also, the campus is lovely, they have a garden and chickens and plenty of open play space.  I'd be happy to share more about our wonderful experience at this gem of a school!  Please feel free to reach out anytime.  Also, I'm certain that the school is always open to providing information, tours, and connections with other parents.   Wishing the best of luck in your search! - Amy   

Hi Taralin! My husband and I moved from SF to Rockridge and our daughter is in Kindergarten at Berkwood Hedge, a private K-5 school in Berkeley. It's not as much on the radar in Oakland but it's such an incredible school and the drive has proved to be no problem. Good luck with your move and school search! 

If your budget can handle Upper Rockridge, you may want to consider Piedmont, which is very close by. We’ve been happy with the public schools.