Small Alternative High Schools for 11th grader?


Do any of you know of any small alternative or private high schools that would take an 11th grader who has done poorly academically in her previous school (ie has poor grades)? Looking for something in the Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond area.

Thank you very much in advance for any recommendations.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

The schools I know of are:

Millennium in Piedmont- they are open to students outside of Piedmont

Fusion Academy Berkeley (private very expensive)

Orinda Academy (Orinda)

Holden High (Orinda) 

There are also some charter schools such as in NEA in Alameda

They are all slightly different in focus. Some are free and others very expensive. 

Good luck!

My two teens are thriving at Maybeck. It’s academically rigorous but lots of support from teachers and staff. They really want your child to succeed and will develop flexible plans with your kid. Only 125 kids—very small. Lots of support for kids to be themselves! 

Sounds like you are looking for Holden High School in Orinda. Super small (around 40 students in grades 9 - 12) and very supportive of students' academic and social-emotional needs. My child would not have graduated high school without Holden.  

I recommend Mentoring Academy in Berkeley.  It is a private, and very small 8-12 grade school.  The learning pace is based on the individual, which is great for my son.  It is a very nurturing environment.  On top of all these, Mentoring Academy is an accredited school that offers A-G courses, which is a UC Admission Requirement.  

Mentoring Academy has moved to Berkeley, I found them through my nephew who is now at Midjourney doing AI Art!  My son started 2 years ago after being traumatized in public schools, we even tried OSA charter school during Pandemic but it failed him again.  He needed mentoring, one on one tutoring, 40 hours a week with no homework because they helped him at school which helped this single dad!  Mentoring does groups trips to give them experience and helps develop their whole schooling.  If you need to give them a possibility beyond the public schools that are under staffed and lack the ability to help our kids, then mentoring will give them hope they need.  

Mentoring Academy was a great alternative high school for my son. The head of school, John Muster, really had a good sense of what he needed after a challenging freshman year at another HS. The school is located on University Avenue in Berkeley. 

I am a parent with a student in Mentoring Academy on Bonita and Berkeley Way in central Berkeley.  The non-profit school is very small and specializes in meeting the student where they are at. My teen had a very difficult time in the more traditional private middle school setting. At Mentoring Academy, he has a mix of both individual and group classes. He really likes the flexibility the teachers have and the social aspects too. Please give them a try. Contact John Muster johnmuster [at] 510-517-6609

Greetings.  You don't say why your kid is struggling in school, and that's important because some of these small schools do better with certain issues than others.  If you're kid is struggling because of dyslexia, for example, then Bayhill is going to be the best fit.  Orinda Academy can handle mild learning differences (LD) and ADHD, Holden gets kids with mild LD, ADHD and anxiety issues. These two are in Orinda, so not in your area, but they're just off the BART. If your kid is on the spectrum: Fusion, Tilden, Mentoring Academy.  Mentoring is pretty cool, the kids do international trips.   A lot of 2E and gifted kids end up at Maybeck.  These are the private schools that I know of. 

My kid is at Fusion and just the other day he told me that he thought Fusion was the right fit for him because it eliminated all distractions. This was a real milestone; for a while he hated it because it didn't have all the excitement of a big high school. Now he has friends and things to do outside of his academic life, so he (finally!) appreciates it for what it allows him to do.  Two years ago we didn't think he'd finish school. Now he gets As and Bs.  This isn't a pitch for Fusion, per se, just that for some kids the right environment is huge.  Also, there can be an overlap in what the schools can do, so for example there are spectrum kids or dyslexic kids at all of these schools.  Which one is best depends on what your kid needs.  Good luck!

It feels like there is a wide range of things you might be looking for. I am a Berkeley resident with an 11th grader enrolled at Millennium High School in Piedmont (note it is a public school). Our challenge at the Berkeley Middle School he had attended was poor performance and pretty limited support from the school (he was not doing well, but doing well enough to pass while fading back and just doing the minimum and a gap growing year by year- just for context on our specific challenge). We would periodically hear from teachers that he needed additional help outside of school but they would continue to give him decent grades and had no interest in coordinating any outside support. Millennium is small (which was a better social fit for him) has some different flexibility on completing work, has small class sizes (at times, I think, as small as half dozen kids- so no fading into the background), and continuity of at least some teachers across his entire time at the school. In addition, he does have access to classes at Piedmont High School, so for the subjects he is really interested and engaged in, he has had some access to more variety.

Hope this is useful.