Seeking input on Julia Morgan Middle School

Hello, neighbors!

Our rising 4th grade daughter has been in a local (EBAY) private school since K.  The school is academically rigorous, progressive, and has a strong stated culture of inclusivity/social justice.  It is a good school, but we find ourselves starting to consider (not the original plan) moving her to a new school for middle school.

I am seeking input from the community for local middle schools, public and private, with a preference to hearing about recent girls' experiences at Julia Morgan.

Some deets about our student:

She is bright, very verbal, imaginative and has a burgeoning aptitude for writing, especially creative.  Struggles w/ math a bit, and it takes her more drilling and time to learn math facts (ie the multiplication table), but really has a good work ethic so she is good natured about practice (thank goodness!).  She has been diagnosed with adhd, inattentive type, and has slow processing speed and some executive function issues.  This really plays out socially, which is a big reason for the search for a new school. She has not found her tribe, and this friendly, sweet girl deserves one, IMHO.  She has worked w/ a speech therapist in a social group, but we have not seen this wonderful curriculum translate well onto the playground at school.  Maybe it will improve with maturity, and I expect it will, but 4th grade feels and looks like a time when most girls are really getting solid into some real friendships, and unfortunately, this has not blossomed for my daughter at her current school.  (She has some good friends outside of school, which is great)

I am hot and cold on the idea of Julia Morgan. I like the idea of an all girls school, but worry about mean girl culture, especially after reading some reviews.  I don't want to throw her from one relatively alpha girl/overtly competitive environment into another.   

Welcome input on other schools too!

Thanks much!!

Parent Replies

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Our daughter graduated from Julia Morgan a year ago, and although I was skeptical going in (for some of the same reasons you mention), it was a great experience for her. The school's deeply thought-out philosophy and the excellence of their teachers really impressed me. The staff excels at recognizing the individual talents and learning styles of each student and helping them to grow and stretch. As you'd expect from a girls' school, there's a lot of emphasis on helping girls enjoy math and science and in finding practical applications for STEM subjects. The math curriculum is rigorous without being intimidating, and my daughter had especially good teachers for math across all three years. 

The possibility of negative social situations in a small, all-girls environment was one of my concerns when we were first looking at JMSG, and I remember seeing some old reviews on BPN that mentioned this as a problem. But what we found was that the school knows how to socialize the girls as a group from the beginning, so that the entire 6th grade (only about 45 kids) bonds intensively.  For the first year and much of the second, all the girls considered their friend group to be the entire class and groups of friends seemed to mix and combine easily .Sometime in 7th grade, friend groups got tighter and more separate, but there was very little drama--and what there was was handled quickly and sensitively by the staff. The three-day orientation at the beginning of 6th grade, the small advising groups that meet every morning, fun overnight trips each year, and the many other support structures in place really work to create a warm environment that supports all the girls and shows them how to support each other.

My daughter's take on Julia Morgan, one year out, is that there was a bit of "mean girl" dynamics, but far less than at the schools her friends from elementary school attended. She says JMSG is great at finding a place for every kind of personality. She also suggested that you might think about enrolling your daughter in the school's day camp, which runs for a few weeks in June and early July. She has been a counselor there for two years, and she says it's a good way to sample the school's culture and to meet girls who have recently graduated and see what they're like. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more about our experience.

My review isn't for a recent JMSG graduate; my daughter went there several years ago. However, I witness evidence of how amazing her education there was all the time. She developed her voice, sense of self, intellectual curiosity and built skills for friendships during that time. The peer group for her shifted each year and having so many different classmates to connect with helped a good deal as interests and maturity levels changed. One of the most valuable aspects of single sex schools is the potential for a wider expression of identity - all the leaders were girls, the range of "girl" behaviors (yes, including those trying out meanness or exclusionary behaviors) were present, there was a host of identity choices of how one "should" look, and so much more. The educators at JMSG across the board are some of the most intentional, mission-driven people I've ever met who work intensely to see each student for who she is and who is becoming. Good luck to you and your daughter.

Hi,  I am an extremely happy parent of girls who graduated from and currently attend Julia Morgan School for Girls.  I don't understand your and other parents concern about "mean girl" culture.  Whatever you think mean girl culture is could exist anywhere with girls involved - ANY school.   Anyhow,  Julia Morgan School puts an extraordinary amount of effort into creating a not only healthy but exceptional social/cultural environment for their students.  Nothing is overlooked and every girl is seen and supported for her individual strengths and challenges.  Read the research on girls' schools.  Girls’ schools are leading the way in STEM education for women in the world. Graduates of girls’ schools are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology and three times more likely to consider engineering compared to girls who attended coed schools.  I could not be more proud and happy about the existence of Julia Morgan School for Girls and my girls are so fortunate to have benefitted from their education there.  If you question the value of a girls only education, it is not the place for you or your kids. 

My daughter graduated from JMSG, and BHS this June. I agree that there was a lot of "mean girl" activity at the school. Despite this, my daughter found a great group of kids. They have maintained their friendships even after many of them split off to different high schools after JMSG. The best thing about JMSG is the support for STEAM (STEM + Art). My daughter's confidence in math grew exponentially due to her experience there -- so much so, that even after a rough couple of years dealing with the math department at BHS she still feels like she's "good at math,"  and plans to major in Cognitive Science in college. The Social Emotional Development program at JMSG is really great as well, and has informed my daughter's learning style, empathy, and sense of self. I'm sure the lessons she learned (not just purely academic) at JMSG will continue to inform her as she maneuvers through her college years.