Nomura Preschool

Richmond, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
Faith Nomura
(510) 526-7847
Richmond Annex on Carlson
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
English, Japanese
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Editors' Notes: 

Prior to 2009, Nomura Preschool was known as Pacific Academy-Nomura School

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello! We've been searching for a full-time play-based preschool for our almost 3 year-old in the Richmond/El Cerrito area and wondering about Nomura Preschool. We recently did a virtual tour and the campus looks very nice, but the entire day seems very structured with little time for free play or outdoor play. Does anyone else who leans more towards play-based preschools have recent experience there? Did it feel too structured and academic? For a school that's been around for so long I was surprised to see so few reviews on BPN. 

    (Just fyi we've also looked into The Good Earth School in Kensington and Centro Vida in Berkeley as well as El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative but strongly prefer something closer to home if possible. We live in Richmond.)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

      We had two kids there, and our youngest just started kindergarten this year.  We initially had similar concerns, but did not find it to be overly structured, it just seems to be emphasized that way in their marketing.  Yes, they have some academic time, but they have a huge amazing playground and each class gets time out there every day.  They also have time to play in the classroom, the teachers were great and know that kids that age can't be in a structured environment all day long.  We felt like it was a good mix of play and learning, and Nomura had both of my kids ready for kindergarten since they do need some structure once they reach school.  We enjoyed our time and the community and would recommend them!  

    My child loves it there. She actually loves the learning aspect of it and relishes in showing off her skills (abcs, new songs, numbers, history, tiny bit of science.) She seems to have a good about of time to just play both inside and out.

    The downsides for us have been teacher turnover, variability in instruction and expectations from classroom to classroom, and lack of transparency about what’s happening in the class day to day. 

    Overall the kids seem happy, the teachers seem to really care, and the parents are lovely. The vacation schedule is reasonable and the hours are pretty good. I’m happy to answer any other questions you have. 

    Hello, I highly recommend looking into the Early Learning Center at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.  It's a play-based program for the two traditional classrooms and they have one Montessori classroom. My son is currently in one of the traditional rooms.  Wait list might be long for any of the rooms but it's worth finding out more about this program if play-based is what you are looking for. 

  • Hello,

    We've been wanting to find a new play-based preschool for our almost 3 year-old in the Richmond/El Cerrito area since we've moving over that way. Nomura Preschool is within walking distance, and the campus looks very nice, but the entire day seems very structured with little time for free play or outdoor play. Does anyone else who leans more towards play-based preschools have recent experience there? Did it feel too structured and academic? For a school that's been around for so long I was surprised to see so few reviews on BPN. Feel free to message me directly.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Unfortunately I don't have an answer, but I also have the same concerns and am very interested in what people have to say. If anyone is answering privately, could you please message me directly as well? Thank you!

    Our son has been at Nomura for several years, and we have been happy with his experience.  They spend some time in the mornings on academics, but they also get a lot of time on their huge playground area and time for free play at several stations in the classroom.  Today he was outside almost all day! 

     I feel like "play based" is more of a buzz word, and this preschool is a great mix of academics and play.  Feel free to message if you have more questions. 

  • Updated Nomura Preschool Review?

    (1 reply)

    Hi there:

    We're thinking of applying to Nomura and wanted to get a parent's perspective on the school vibes and how it's been handling Covid. I'd love to connect with someone offline to discuss. Thanks!

    Hi, we are on our second kid at Nomura.  We have been happy there, both with the school and how they have handled Covid.  All the kids wear masks, and with the separate classrooms they do a great job of keeping each class as its own pod.  Happy to answer more specific questions, good luck!

  • Nomura Preschool

    (1 reply)

    Does anyone have any recent experience with Nomura Preschool?  The most recent review on Yelp is from last year and isn't great.  My son is 2.5 and not yet potty trained.  Thanks

    I have had my two kids at Nomura the last two years.  It is a big school, but we have been happy with the care.  The teachers are very warm with the kids, and were very helpful with potty training. My kids have done well, they love the music and Japanese classes. They also have a lot of great extra curricular activities if you are interested.  They are also expanding the school and moving the older kids across the street soon.  

Parent Reviews

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There’s a very good pre-school called Nomura and they are open from 7-6pm. They are right off the Carlson Blvd exit and located in Richmond. Highly recommend! 

Our kiddo is the same age as yours (Aug 27, 2012). We have her at Nomura, and there are two classes that are substantially similar, though one class is the Bridge-K. We are considering having her stay at Nomura for another year, even though it won't be much of a jump from what she is learning now. We're also concerned that she's shy and not quite ready - but for 5 days, she'd be unquestionably in the next grade. We really like Nomura, and there is a lot of time for her to play with children of all ages on the playground. We LOVED the outside space, which is why we chose Nomura over other preschools.

We're asking similar questions to other parents and also to our adult friends who are August babies themselves. What seems to be the case is that most people don't regret what they did for their children. My cousin held back both her August babies (one in kinder and one in 6th grade) and it seems like it might be easier to just have them in preschool one more year because preschool gives them another year of more play-based time, versus a year of a more academic-model. Our adult friends are split. The shy and introverted folks seemed to hate being the youngest and found it harder to make friends, and the extroverted ones were totally fine with being the youngest and didn't care. This is a small sample group, but I think it's helpful to think about your child's temperament, too. Good luck!

Hi - just noticed there isn't a recent review here. Nomura is EXCELLENT. We were worried it would be too academic (we are no tiger parents) but our child seems to be enjoying all the learning that's happening. He seems happy when we get there and now he's a multilingual social smiling kid and I have no doubt that he is in good hands!
It's also notable that the school is very friendly to working parents. They open early and close late, and they don't even take a single week off for the summer. (Closed for two weeks for winter break and one week for spring break and that's it.)
We are also looking forward to the Japanese class starting at age 3 as well!
They are very well organized and the director and the administrator have both been extremely pleasant to speak to. Also able to reach them very easily by phone or email as well.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Your experience with Nomura?

May 2015

I am looking for a preschool in the East Bay for my 3-year old daughter, who is pretty energetic, but also a bit shy. I'm wondering if Nomura Preschool would be a good fit. I really like that the student population there is diverse, and the environment is very pleasant. But I'm also wondering if it might be too ''academic''. As one of the parents asked earlier, ''Did it interfere with play and other social learning?'' What about ''nurturing creativity and open-ended inquiry''? Would any Nomura parents please talk about your experience with the school? I would appreciate any input. Thank you very much! Annie

My son has been attending Nomura since he was three and we've been mostly positive, but with a few reservations.

In my experience, the good things about Nomura are:
  • Kids are very well-prepared for kindergarten; they learn a lot about classroom routine, academics, cooperation
  • The schedule is really friendly to working parents; there are very few breaks, sometimes daycare is offered during breaks, and no classroom hours are required
  • The administration is really well-organized and communicates well
  • The facilities are nice and safe, the kids have room to run around
  • The student body is more diverse than some schools

The things we didn't love were:
  • The kids advance through different classrooms by age, and to be honest, some of the teachers are better than others. In our experience, some of the older teachers in particular didn't have much of a toolbox for helping kids struggling with attention issues etc. and just defaulted to negative feedback.
  • The school's not really the most innovative in what it teaches; for example, the older kids do get homework, even though the recent science says that homework doesn't improve outcomes for preschool and elementary kids, and some of the material can be older and not super socially conscious (e.g. ''indian'' instead of ''native american'', etc.)

I hope that helps; I know how stressful finding a preschool can be. Anon

Dec 2013

Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
Have you looked at The Nomura Preschool/Pacific Academy in Richmond Annex? We sent our daughter there and were very happy with the school. They always seem to have openings at the school and they frequently hold Open House events on the weekends so you can check it out. We were also very happy with the other families that attended, and found that we're still close friends with 4-5 families. Good Luck. Mom of a 5th-grader and former Nomura School attendee

Input on Nomura Pre-School in Richmond

Nov 2013

I am new to the East Bay and interested in hearing input from current or past parents of pre-schoolers for Nomura pre-school. I am new to the area and heard good things about Nomura pre-school but have only heard negative things about the city of Richmond. I am looking for a pre-school that teaches/incorporates spanish, has a nurturing environment but also provides structure and prepares child for kindergarten. I welcome any additional pre-school recommendations as well. Thanks

We are a Nomura Preschool family & are VERY happy there. It is academically challenging, but the teachers are very loving and the community of families is very diverse & welcoming. In addition to the academics, they have a fantastic playground and offer several extracurricular activities such as soccer, karate, and gymnastics. My only worry about transitioning to kindergarten is that my child will be bored, after being in such a stimulating environment at Nomura. It's a great school. You won't find Spanish language teaching there, however, but they do teach the children Japanese. I don't have any worries about the neighborhood, or my child's safety there. Happy Nomura mom

Academics at Nomura Preschool?

Feb 2013

We are considering sending our son (3 years 3 months in the Fall) to Nomura Preschool. We very much liked the facility, the hours, tuition, and musical and cultural enrichment opportunities. However, I was concerned that the upper years have homework. Can anyone share their experience with academics at Nomura? Did it interfere with play and other social learning? What kind of time commitment outside of school did it require? We are also looking at Montessori schools in the area, so I am also curious how the Nomura experience --- particularly in regards to nurturing creativity and open-ended inquiry --- compares to the Montessori programs in El Cerrito and Albany (specifically, we are also looking at Keystone). Thanks! Heading off the preschool

Our 5 year old son is at Nomura now and has been since he was 2.5 years old and we have loved every minute. The homework increases as your child moves through the ''grades''. So my son, who is in the Penguin class, is doing homework 2 nights a week and it takes him about 5-10 minutes. The school is a nice balance between play and structure. We love the school and the staff and recommend it whenever we can. VERY Happy Nomura Parent- Gretchen

This is not based on recent experience, my kids now being in middle school, but we had a very good experience- as Roosters, Duckys and Pandas. In fact, both kids were talking nostalgically about their experiences there last week- they recall it as cozy but structured. As you point out, the hours and tuition and the arts curriculum were great. When we were there they had a hot lunch- which really unburdened getting ready for the day. They liked the little bit of Japanese language and culture- can still count to ten and sing a single song. Homework consisted of some letter and number recognition and a little phonics. It did not disrupt family life and kept me in touch with how my kids were progressing- not a big deal at all.

It is one of the more academic preschools, which attracted me. (Ironically both kids were slow to read, like 1st-2nd grade straight-A's in private school, test above the 95th %ile in what they say about kids getting ready to read at their own pace is actually true.) On one level the reading and math at Nomura School were more ambitious than their kindergarten and might have been wasted on my slow-bloomers, but for the kids clearly ready and able to read it was a great program, and they all seemed enthusiastic about doing big kid work. My kids were not stressed by the level of expectation and it probably did help as much as it could in getting them ready for Kindergarten- they might have seemed slower still without it. Compared to other preschools, I felt that despite the the more traditional focus, the social scene was more relaxed for parents and kids- they were socialized to school without people seeming to make a big fuss- I heard about the letters she was confusing but the fact she didn't share particularly well (well, actually she kind of hoarded favorite toys) was normalized. Montessori school has its own kind of serious/ industriousness. I think it depends on your style. former Nomura family

Nomura Preschool for active boy

Sept 2012

We recently toured Nomura Preschool and were very impressed. We're thinking of sending our 3.5 year old son there, and would like to see some more recent reviews. Our son is VERY active, and I'm wondering if such a structured environment is going to work for him. Any thoughts you have about Nomura would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Future Nomura Mom?

Hi Future Nomura parent, My son just turned 4 recently entered Nomura Preschool in July. My son is a very active boy and has a great experience with his teachers. They are firm and loving. The curriculum is both academic and fun and my son loves going to school every day. They are consistent with discipline and checks in with me everyday. I believe you will get your money's worth at Nomura. I was afraid because my son is very active and impulsive, he might not have a good preschool experience, but Nomura is a great start for him.

Will Nomura be a good fit for my 4-year-old?

Sept 2011

Hi there, I am seeking advice about Nomura preschool in Richmond. My son, nearly 4, needs a school that will offer consistency in rules, experienced teachers, plenty of gross motor and some structure. Will Nomura be a good fit? Any thoughts on the school would be helpful. Thanks anon

We love Nomura preschool. Like you, we were searching for an environment that was rich with structure, continuity, consistency and a commitment to the total development of my child (educational, social, skill development, . . . We found that and more at Nomura. My son was nearly 2 1/2 when he entered Nomura and he will soon be 4 yrs old and prepared to start kindergarten fall 2012. The teachers and administrators at Nomura are 100% dedicated to each individual child. They actually take the time to get to know the children and develop an understanding for their individual needs. While there is total consistency for all students with regard to curriculum, discipline, expecatations around behavior, etc., they also take the time to adressand assist with individual needs. My son, for example, has strong language and social skills, but has been slow to potty train and is still learning when it is/not appropriate to speak (no interuptions please). I'm fairly anal when it comes to the quality of care for my child and the Nomura staff has been more than accomodating with my issues and requests for meetings. Please feel free to contact me for more information. tm

Feedback Pacific Academy Nomura Preschl - Chickie group

August 2011

Please share your experiences with Pacific Academy Nomura preschool in Richmond Annex. Specifically, we are looking for feedback from parents whose 2 year olds attended the Chickie group. How was your experience? Although, I am quite impressed with the school, the facilities, the academics and the extra-curriculars, I'm concerned that I am putting my child in a "school setting" too early. Will the teachers be nurturing enough? Will my daughter be held, soothed and comforted if she's not feeling well or having a bad day? How did your 2 year old handle the "school" atmosphere? Was there enough ''free play'' and outdoor time for the kids? Thanks so much! JT

Our daughter started at Nomura as a chicky and just graduated this summer from Pre-K there. WE LOVED IT!! There are more teachers in the chicky classes than others and when the smaller ones needed more attention they were able to provide it. Since the chickies have their own space/building, they do not get as overwhelmed and the school feels a little smaller for them. Nomura just put in a new play structure that is phenominal, but might be a little intimidating to you as a parent. I saw the chickies out there the other day and they were all doing great and having fun on it. There are even times when just the chickies play outside on their own too. There is a good mix of indoor and outdoor time when the weather is nice. We have loved being there and hope to send our next child there when she turns two! Happy Nomura mamma

April 2010

Re: Preschool near El Cerrito/Richmond - behavioral issues
You probably want to check out Nomura Preschool on Carlson in Richmond Annex. My child had similar issues at a previous preschool and those problems are long gone. The teachers here are wonderful! Extremely nurturing but EXCELLENT with discipline and consistency. They have a lot of tenure there too, so no turnover. The one thing I noticed right away is that the teachers are very accepting of all types of temperaments and learning styles. The academics are fabulous and they have a number of extra- curriculars as well, incuding karate, gymnastics, art, dance/ballet, and piano. Importance of music in learning is a recurring theme and the students also learn conversational Japanese. Only drawbacks are higher tuition and it's on a busy street. Other than those two, Nomura really is a gem. Good luck!

May 2009

Nomura preschool has been the best to us. My son was very happy in that preschool. Their curriculum is great, my son was prepared and was welcomed into one of the best schools in bay area, bentley school, thanks to nomura preschool. He was advance in his studies for kindergarten. I recoment nomura preschool to all. Milie

July 2008
Re: Preschool where my son won't be the token black kid
Have you looked into the Nomura Pacific Academy? They are on Carlson, right on the El Cerrito/Richmond border. We love the school and feel it has a nice mix of ethnicity, not only among their students but with their staff as well. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. Brandye

July 2008

Re: Preschool where my son won't be the token black kid
Have you considered Pacific Academy located on Carlson Blvd and Burlingame St. (510.526.7847) The school is wonderfully diverse - over a majority are kids of color and mixed heritages. My son's pre-K class before the June graduation had 5 African American kids incl. mixed out of the total 20 full- time and partime students. Not sure what the diversity is in the younger classes but you should check it out. Email me with any questions. Good luck. Sue

April 2008

Hi All, We are considering enrolling our two year old son at Pacific Academy - Nomura School in Richmond Annex. I can't find one single review of the place in the BPN archives. Does anyone have any recent experience that they'd like to share? Thanks in advance! Mack's Mom

Our child is very happy at Pacific Nomura. He was at home with me from birth so this was his first experience in a childcare setting and he is happy to say goodbye to me every time I drop him off. At first, I was concerned that it was a little too rigid, but I think he has blossomed with a little structure in his life. Miss Luci is the chickies (2-3 yrs) teacher and she is a gem. Everyone is in love with her. The school is very diverse. They offer extra-curricular activities such as art and gym (extra charge)and music class (free). They have a garden, and a fabulous play area. My only concern is the mixing of older and younger kids at play time. I tell myself that my child needs to learn the rules of the playground someday, and he does not seem to mind. Most of the time there is separate playtimes. They don't mind if you hang out for a while or even stop in to check on your precious toddler espcially in those first few weeks. I recomend checking it out. Andrea

Nov 2004

Re: School for bright 7th grader diagnosed with Selective Mutism
You might check out Pacific Academy in Richmond (near Hilltop Mall). High academic standards, but flexible and small enough for individual attention, which might suit your daughter.

Nov 2003

Hello, I'd like to recommend a great school, Pacific Academy, to any parents considering a private school. My daughter just started Kindergarten at Pacific Academy and we are very happy there.

Pacific Academy has two campuses -- one on Carlson in Richmond for K-3 and one in Hilltop for 4-8. I cannot speak to the Hilltop campus, but the Carlson campus is wonderful -- great teachers, great programs, nice/happy kids from different backgrounds and cultures (Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Persian, African-American). The class size is small. There are a lot of activities to choose for the after-school program -- soccer, art, violin, piano, ballet. There is a school assembly (for K-3) every Monday morning to teach kids about the school values (tolerance, respect, courage, responsibility, tec.). I thought that is just so cool. Students come from all over. We know one family from North Berkeley. We are in Kensington. Others are from El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Hercules.

One other thing I like to point out is the administration. I read other posts about Pacific Academy prior to applying for the school and was somewhat concerned about not-so- positive comments regarding the administrators. Now that my daughter is in the school, I have to admit that I don't see any problems with the administrators at all. The director of the Carlson campus is always around, really nice, and so easy to talk to. Mrs. Nomura is very nice, always around and even teaching my daughter to read whenever she has time. The headmaster is holding a coffee meeting this week to talk to parents about the school directions, etc., and he, too, seems like a nice guy. By the way, our Kindergarten teacher solicited parents' input at the beginning of the school term regarding our kid and our expectation for the classroom. I personally see no problems with the administration whatsoever.

All in all, I think Pacific Academy is a great school and well worth a consideration from parents. I'd happy to share my comments further.

Oct 2003

Re: Racially Diverse Private Schools

My 4 year old son currently attends Pacific Academy and I think that it meets all of the criteria you are looking for. It is definitely racially diverse in both the student body and the staff and strikes a good balance between academics and 'free play'. Good Luck with your search.
happy Pacific Academy parent

We also wanted a racially diverse environment for our son when we first started looking for preschools. My son now attends the Pacific Academy in Richmond. He just entered the preschool and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see how racially diverse the kids as well as the faculty are at that school. Not only is it a thoroughly racially diverse school, the atmosphere and the environment is so warm and welcoming. I always feel like I'm a part of a wonderful community when I'm there. I imagine it is the same at the K-3 level. Good luck! I hope to remain at the Pacific Academy for a long time. A big fan of the Pacific Academy!

April 2003

Hello, We are considering Pacific Academy Normura School for our child (entering Kindergarten) and have read all available information on the website. We also visited the school once. We have a few more questions and hope those of you with kids in this school can help us. We understand the school's focus on the academics and behavior, which sound great to us. However, can someone tell us if the school focuses students more on cooperation & teamwork with each other or competition? How do teachers treat students who are not the brightest? Do average students feel like a second-class citizen? Do kids have fun and enjoy the school? Does the school offer opportunities for parents to socialize and for kids to have friends? And, last issue, how do you feel about the very small class size of around 12 for the bigger kids? We want a small class size, but 12 for grade 4 and up seems a bit too small for us. (The school told us that 12 is not the school maximum; it just appears to work out that way this year.) Does anyone know why? Is it because the school is too expensive and so parents don't join? Or is there something about the school at the higher grades that does not attract parents/kids? We want to make the right choice for our child and appreciate any inputs you may have. Anxious Parents

My child is a current Kindergartener at Pacific Academy and loves it there. We have mixed feelings about the school after 2 years (pre-K and K). The academics are very strong, with high expectations, but I never felt there was a sense of pressure or competition fostered by the teachers. They are very conscience of respectful behavior toward classmates and adults and cooperation- kids would never be in a position to get away with picking on a ''slower'' kid and really don't seem to rank each other. My daughter found lots of close friendships for playdates. The tuition is on the lower end for local independant schools.

The school does not fill at the initial application round for various reasons, and essentially is able to take anyone who wants to enroll, unless they feel they aren't ready for Kindergarten. This does allow for a wider range of developmental stages- they don't just skim the cream of their admission pool, and I think the teachers are adept at teaching to the entire range of regular kids.

The small class size in some years just reflects how many families have chosen to enroll. My daughters kindergarten has 19 students, which was fine. Kids and parents adore Mrs. Trotter the kindergarten teacher- very professional, but gentle. A friend in 1st grade likes their smaller class of 12 for lots of individual attention.

The reasons the school does not have competitive admissions like Head-Royce or Bentley or Windrush have to do with it's roots as founded by a Japanese couple. It's a little more traditional with uniforms, etc. (LOVED the uniforms once we found out how much it simplifies things) and kids lining up to walk to next building for a specialty class, like you might imagine at a Japanese school. It doesn't have an upper crust feel or a progressive Bay Area funky feel. People who like it there were looking for structure without elitism.

We loved the ethnic, cultural and economic diversity of the student body, best we've found in the East Bay. We are disappointed that there isn't more community between parents. Most families are not wealthy and lots or working moms with little time to spare. But the administrators of the school are not that warm and welcoming either. On the good side for hardworking families, I never felt social pressure to volunteer time in the classroom and donate money to the school's building fund.

The foreign language programs are very good with choice of Japanese or Spanish starting in K- my daughter has learned alot and rates this as her favorite subject. Art and music are also strong. The arts are a little more structured as opposed to a free expression sort of feel, but lots of art is incorporated into learning. There are several opportunities for little plays throughout the year to work on performing skills.

So why are we not staying for first grade? When co-founder Mr. Nomura passed away a few years ago, Mrs. Nomura stepped down to bring in a new headmaster with skills her husband had possessed. Mr. Munro was headmaster at Bentley for many years, which has very competitive admissions, and he clearly feels that we pay our money and he will deliver a well-taught product, without the need for parental input. As well, the Lower School is managed by an ass't headmaster who really does not have a clue on how to develop relationships with families and cannot articulate any plans or philosophy for the portion of the school supposedly under his direction. For my $10,000/ year investment, I need to feel I can chat about these things. Several parents have left in the last 2 years since the change of the guard. One parents is leaving because she felt the academics were too challenging for her son, but most are happy with the level of expectations. My daughter is very upset about the change and even I have mixed feelings as she has had a great K year. Hope this helps anon

Jan 2003

I just want to encourage parents to consider Pacific Academy in Richmond (previously known as Nomura School), which offers preschool through 8th grade. My son began in kindergarten and went through 8th, and my daughter began when she was 4 and is currently in the graduating class.

This school offers a very good academic program and small classes, with special emphasis on the arts, particularly music. We have always loved the personal attention to each student, and the rich diversity of the students and respect for many cultural traditions. Students typically perform above grade level, and there are many gifted kids --the school also encourages and supports students who are bright but may have difficulty in some areas. Language and music instruction begin early, even in preschool (instruction is geared to developmental level). Tolerance, respect, constructive problem-solving, creativity, and other terrific values and skills are important to the school community.

I can't describe how lucky we feel that our kids were nvolved with this school for so many years. It's given them a great foundation, academically and as humans. Maybe it's not the place for everyone, but it worked well for us. kathy

May 2002

Re: Culturally Diverse Preschools

A possibility to consider is the Pacific Academy- Nomura School. I live in N. Berkeley and the preschool is in El Cerrito, and have both kids there, age 2 and 4. The school was started as a ''music'' preschool by a Japanese woman who still heads the school and it is now is a private school up to 8th grade. Positives:
1)Very culturally diverse- with significant representation of kids of African-American, Asian, Latino, European and mixed ancestry, no ''majority'' group.(The grade school tends to attract more Asian families because of the neighborhood and the school's cultural roots)
2)Twice weekly art and dance with ''specialist'' teachers
3)Respect, cooperation emphasized
4)Japanese language instruction- very casual word play/ songs in the preschool, but continues on through middle school, not an immersion program (Spanish is added in Kindergarten)
5)Accept non-potty trained 2.5 year olds and help with training, using regular potty times for everyone etc. (my son did better at school than at home)
6)For the 4 year olds, 2 classrooms- one for the kids/parents desirous of an academic Pre-K environment (the Penguin class is felt to be the best by parents), one more Montesorri-like. My daughter is in Pre-K and it has challenged her to learn how to listen and try to figure things out, but she has enjoyed it without feeling pressured, so a good balance.
7)Very competant, warm teachers, kids are watched very closely, and undesirable interactions/ activities are nipped in the bud but in a kind no-nonsense way.
8)Nice outdoor facilities
9)Monthly field trips and ''electives'' for Pre-Ks, outside teachers come in for a fee: ballet, pre-violin, pre-piano, art, soccer- saves running to an outside site if you want that sort of enrichment.

1)This is not a Montessori program or what a would call creative in a free-form way- even the art and music are a little more structured. A little touch of the Japanese influence, my kids are probably the wildest of the bunch and I don't feel it has ''inhibited'' them much- structure seems to help them channel their creativity. (At our former co-op preschool, one director didn't last long in part because she didn't like kids running around barefoot in their underpants, and the parents felt her a bit too rigid. We also used to vote on whether snacks must be organic or not. This is not that kind of place.)
2)I have had one teacher I thought was a little too uptight even for this school, never mean to the kids or anything, just had these little rules in terms of procedure for parents etc.

So worth checking out and either you will like the relatively calm, gentle, organized feel with some palpable learning going on, or you will think it's too structured for preschoolers.

We are staying on for Kindergarten after looking at a lot of private schools, but even with good test scores and reasonable tuition, it's not one of the ''coveted'' K-8 schools in the area, it's a little different.

I'd love to hear other opinions... Kate

March 2002

We are considering Pacific Academy/Nomura Preschool for our child. Any recent experiences or comments that you can share regarding the school would be greatly appreciated. Mary

Hi, It is a great pre and elementary at least up until the fourth grade. We were there for fourth and fifth. A good friend started in first and a good friend of hers was in the preschool (her child I mean). The owner Mrs. Nomura is very invested in grades and behavior so if this is not your style, go away fast.

They are very stiff but get great results. My daughter enjoyed learning Japenese and loved the fifth grade teacher. However, that teacher is gone. He left three years ago after they built the middle school campus. There was about half the teachers who left due to cut backs in the contracts offered and upsets w/the owners. They do change teachers around from grade to grade depending on class size.

I also felt that their middle school while highly academic was too strick, if you left your shirt untucked you got a pink slip, five of those and you are expelled. So, good luck w/it. The reason I have given so much detial is we had the problem of wanting continuity and it fell through. Hard on the child. Oh, and we stayed for fifth because we knew this teacher good put my child back together again or we would have left.

July 2000

I have always liked the Pacific Academy of Nomura school very much. One of my daughters went to preschool there, the other kindergarten and first grade before we moved away for a while. The academics were terrific. The difference in the phonics foundation that my older daughter got at Nomura and my second at another school is obvious. The staff were always exceptionally kind and loving toward my kids. My kids got a foundation in music that continues to make a lot of things possible for them. The language teaching at Nomura is also outstanding. The school is high in diversity and there is emphasis on good behavior and consideration of others. The before and after school programs are also excellent, and they have very interesting looking summer programs, though we haven't tried those out. We have returned to the Bay Area and I have enrolled my daughters in middle school there so I guess I can report on that next year! I found my relationship to the staff to be individualized and personal and friendly, and the application process was likewise.


Re: Violin Lessons
My daughter went to the Nomura pre-school in Richmond. Mrs. Nomura teaches pre-school kids violin for about 15 minutes four days a week, which I think is ideal for youngsters with their limited attention spans. My daughter loved it. I suppose you have to be in the school to sign up for the lessons, but they could probably refer you to a good teacher. For those interested in bilingual ed, by the way, they also teach the kids some Japanese every day. It's in the phone book under "the Pacific Academy". Lynn

March 1999

My two girls went to the Pacific Academy school for as long as we could afford it. It is an excellent school, I think, and we still benefit from their teaching. Though things are structured, the atmosphere is very warm and the music program is outstanding. I urge you to take advantage of that as much as possible. My 4 year old really enjoyed her after school violin classes. They provide the best foundation in phonics I have ever seen also.

The variation in skills in kindergarten is very wide and they work with it. If kids have trouble they make special efforts to make sure that the kid can accomplish things. I never saw anything like what has recently been described here for the Kensington kindergarten and some other places. They do teach reading in Kindergarten. My daughter figured it out in the second semester, and has been doing well with it ever since. One fear on my kid's part: they might be invited to someone's house and have to eat sushi!

I have one friend who says her son was simply too active, couldn't sit still, enough for the nursery school, and I am that you will hear from people who find it too structured. My girls are about as active, funny, and wild as girls get but they respect adults, teachers, and other children, and I am constantly complimented by teachers on how kind and well behaved they are in class. I attribute a lot of this to their experience at the Pacific Academy.

And one other thing! You do have to get your kid to class on time, or you (the parent) have to get a tardy slip! As a teacher weary of students coming to class late myself, I don't think it's a bad idea. After a couple of tardy slips, I figured out how to arrive on time. The point is, though, that they do not blame the student.

On the gay/lesbian family issue, I don't feel it would be a problem, though my knowledge is limited. One of the roots of the school is in the history of predjudice against Eurasian and Japanese-American people. The general approach is of open-mindedness and acceptance of diversity. In fact, a gay friend of mine told me about how the topic of homosexuality came up in her niece's class (maybe 5-6 grade) and the niece was proud to be able to say that she had a gay aunt. Needless to say, this pleased the aunt quite a bit. Lynn

March 1998

I live on the El Cerrito/Albany/Kensington border and it's a five minute commute to the school, which is on Carlson Blvd at Burlingame in Richmond. I am surprised that the school has yet to be mentioned by others, but it is an excellent school. It is very academic and probably has the best music program around. The school goes up to 8th grade presently, but they are building a high school by Hilltop, which should be opened by next fall. My daughter is in the kindergarten class. Her teacher is so good that we turned down the opportunity to attend Kensington Hilltop when her transfer was granted in late Sept. They have music and PE twice a week and Japanese every day. They also have extracurricular activities which include chorus, piano, violin, gymster and karate. I'd be glad to give you more information if you contact me directly. Rose