Orinda Academy or Maybeck Or...?

We are currently seeking out high school options for our daughter for next year. She has been in a mainstream private school and is dealing with some severe mental health issues that make me question whether she should continue at a high-pressure school with a lesser focus on social-emotional support. She is a hard working, high achieving student with a mild learning disability who is very "basic" in terms of her social presentation and relationships. I think she perceives the smaller more alternative schools to be for kids who don't fit in socially at larger schools. For those of you familiar with Maybeck or Orinda Academy, how do you think somebody like her would fit in? Are there other schools we should be looking at in the East Bay or elsewhere that is easily accessed by BART? 

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My son attended one year at Maybeck and, while having smaller classes does offer certain benefits, I cannot say that he necessarily received more emotional support during his time there. He also struggled to find a peer group of Individuals with his interests. I think at any high school, the student needs to feel that they can “find their people”. I would also about the level of support for students with your daughter’s health issues. 

I'd highly recommend Mentoring Academy in Oakland. It's a tiny school right near Rockridge BART. My teen, who has had similar struggles, has been successful at the school. The high teacher / student ratio is awesome, the school has been flexible with special needs, and the entire community is very welcoming of differences.

Bentley and Mentoring Academy!

Bentley was very supportive for my anxious son, and had a wide range of super nice kids.  Mentoring Academy was the other place that he almost went, and we have a friend with a kid there now.  It is very one on one, perhaps there is a way to get the vibe of the place--some of my son's friends went to a one week summer session there and got a lot out of it, but didn't "click" the way my son did (he didn't want to go to the open house, and then we couldn't get him to leave).  Both will give your daughter a chance to go as far as she wants academically, but also will focus on a supportive community.  One caveat about Bentley is that one of the learning specialists who helped my son a lot is no longer there, having set up private practice, and she was key to his thriving there.  But her replacement might be excellent, too, I simply don't know.  Bentley has a bus from Orinda BART and Mentoring is at Rockridge BART.

The Athenian School in Danville is worth a look.  My daughter attended both the middle and upper school. They provide bus service from Rockridge BART, Lafayette and Walnut Creek.  Lots of bright kids with a full range of learning styles go there, so it isn’t just a college prep curriculum.  Many teachers live on campus and it’s not so small that one can’t find a friend group.  My daughter graduated in 2018, so I’m sure much has changed but it was an enriching experience for her. 

Our son currently attends Orinda Academy. If you ask him why he likes OA he will tell you: it’s a nice community, OA has small classes (which he prefers), and the teachers are nice. He immediately felt welcomed by students and staff on his first visit to campus! I believe at any school – large or small – you will find students who are more social than other students, but I think it’s the school community that can make a huge difference for a student feeling connected to their school. The students at OA are truly a community where students can be who they are. OA’s supportive community of teachers, staff and administration take the time to get to know the families and most importantly each individual student.