Archway School


No longer in business
Private School
Email: businessoffice [at] archwayschool.orgPhone: (510) 849-4747
1940 Virginia Street Berkeley, CA 94709
Editors' Notes: 
  • Archway School closed in 2015, per their website.
  • Prior to 2013, Archway School also included grades K-5, and the K-4 school was in Oakland near Piedmont Ave.

Parent Reviews

New reviews are no longer being accepted.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Nov 2014

I want to encourage parents looking for middle schools to check out Archway, a treasure of diversity and progressive education located in North Berkeley. The school's focus is project-based learning, an approach which excels for kids who ''learn by doing'': building, performing, creative projects, sports, and community service. The highly experienced teachers are able to integrate academics with activity, to cultivate meaningful and individualized learning. My 6th grade son is happier and more involved than he ever has been before at school. We feel so lucky to have found this gem of a middle school. See for more information - and come visit! suzanne

March 2014

Re: Private vs. Berkeley public school education 
Archway School in North Berkeley has been a great alternative to public schools for some kids. My son's class is small and he feels like a part of a welcoming, friendly community. He's happy and he's learning more without feeling like it's ''work.'' I know of at least four students who recently moved to Archway from public schools (in the last year), and my sense is that, while public schools can be excellent, they may not be for everyone. In particular, children who are a little bit shy may be overlooked in a larger school -- at Archway that doesn't happen. Those kids thrive in smaller classrooms. Archway's been a great school for our family. Happy at Archway

Feb 2014

Re: Moving to east bay in March; school options? 
You did not mention which grade your kids are in but if in middle school (grades 5-8) I recommend that you contact Archway School in Berkeley. I know other kids have transferred there mid-year looking for a change from their current school situation, so it's possible they would be amenable to your mid-year application. It's a really amazing school - small class sizes, fantastic teachers, truly project-based learning, etc. My middle-schooler started this year, and is very happy there. Archway parent

I've seen two recent questions about moving to the East Bay and finding a school, mid-year. Archway School, in North Berkeley has been a wonderful place for my son and may have space. It's a great community with phenomenal, experienced, high energy teachers. My son and his classmates are pretty happy there, and they are learning a ton. Ryan Freed (510-849-4747) can give you a tour and let you know if there is still any room in the grade you're looking for. Archway Parent for Five Years

Sept 2013

Re: What schools have differentiated instruction? 
I'm not sure if the teachers at Archway are using ''differentiated instruction'' in a formal way, but I do know that the school is small enough that my son's teachers are able to treat him very much as an *individual* student and person. In practice, this means that when my son needs extra help, it is immediately apparent and he gets it; likewise, when he is able to handle greater challenges, he is given them as a matter of course. It's all done rather seamlessly, by teachers who are really good and who are not overwhelmed with huge classes. The classes are really small (fewer than 15 students, and sometimes even smaller), which means that the teachers have the time to focus on each student. So, if you're looking for a small school but not for individual tutoring, you may want to check out Archway in North Berkeley. Happy Archway Mom

August 2013

Re: Entering 8th & 5th Grade from overseas 
You might consider Archway in Berkeley. Both of your boys could go as it's a 5th-8th grade middle school. Progressive, small, welcoming families. Your boys would be comfortable and nurtured in their transition. I am a parent of a 7th grader (this coming year); we've been at Archway since kindergarten (we just closed the lower K-4 campus after this school year, focusing on the middle school only). Great teachers, cool kids. Please email me and I can give you more information.

June 2013

Re: What type of middle school for best fit? 
Check out Archway School in Berkeley at the corner of Virginia and Milvia. www.archway We have two kids there and have been very happy. Classes are small (16 max) and the school's philosophy is all about teaching to each child's learning style and strengths. Very caring, sensitive environment. Richard K

May 2013

Re: Choosing middle school for shy bright kid 
My daughter is graduating this year from eighth grade at Archway School, in Berkeley. Archway is kind of a hidden gem among East Bay private schools -- small classes, some truly inspired teachers, a strong feeling of community with individualized attention and loving support for each child. My daughter thrived there -- her teachers knew her not only as a student but as a person, and encouraged and supported her as she developed into the strong, compassionate and self-directed young lady she has become. She feels loved, which is kind of an amazing thing to have at school in the middle school years.

Because of the small size of the school, her teachers were able to give her the academic challenge she needed. The kids in her class are also a terrific support system for each other -- they are bonded together and push one another to achieve.

With all that, it is also, amazingly enough, on the more reasonable end as to tuition (and with aid available for some families). I hope you'll take a look -- you might find it's the kind of environment to get your son through what can be difficult years, socially and academically, in a way that really helps him grow. Happy Archway Parent

March 2013

Archway Middle School (5th-8th grade) has been around for a long time but we just joined in middle school. My son is the happiest he has ever been after attending one other public and one other private school. The school works well for a wide range of students including those that have learning issues like dyslexia. It is a small (middle school only as of Fall 2013) campus situated in a great location (North Berkeley between Shattuck and Martin Luther King) with great facilities (full size indoor basketball court!). But most importantly, it has great teachers, small classes and exciting project based learning mixed in with traditional curriculum. The teachers are known for their talents at keeping all kids engaged at the level they walk in at, and growing their skills so they walk out ready to attend any of the public or private high schools in the area. Joanna

Feb 2013

Re: Private School for Quirky Middle-High Schooler 
Have I got a school for you! Both of my kids have been happy, accepted and well-educated at Archway School, in Berkeley. It has everything you're looking for: small classes, warm and accepting environment, personal attention, and, yes, as private schools go, reasonably affordable. I think it is that rare find -- a middle school program with solid academics but where the kids feel supported, accepted by their peers and with teachers who know them as human beings and individuals. Academically, the small size allows the teachers to offer challenges appropriate to each kid -- a kid with a particular interest in an area can get the chance to do some amazing things either as part of, or outside of, the usual curriculum. For a small school, it also serves a diverse population of kids. For many families it's been a place where they felt welcomed after having a hard time finding a good fit for their kids elsewhere.

It does not, alas, offer high school. (My older daughter, currently in her junior year in high school, wistfully said when she was figuring out where to go that she wished there were an Archway high school.) But it might be a good place for your son to spend the eighth grade year while you figure out what of the many many possibilities for high school would work best. Website:, phone 510-849-4747 Kathy

Oct 2012

Re: daughter isn't happy at her school 
You don't write where you live or how old your daughter is, but please, consider Archway as an alternative for your current school.

The Lower Campus is in Oakland off Piedmont Ave (K-4) and the Upper Campus is in Berkeley (5-8). My son started there in 5th grade and for the first time, he LOVES school. He has always been an excellent student, but never enjoyed school. His life turned around by 180 degrees in his first few days at Archway. He has had fabulous teachers in the past few years and has been thriving socially and academically.

First I was worried about the small class size, if it would be difficult for him to make friends. But he found a super nice group of kids in his class that was so welcoming, he forgot he was the new kid within hours. He also had lots of contact with the older kids on campus who served as great role models for him. There is just a vibe of mutual respect and friendship on both campuses, and all kids love coming to school everyday, because everyone knows they are valued for who they are and are treated with kindness and respect from all students and teachers alike. The teachers are the heart of the school. It is unbelievable how much work and thought they put into their teaching every day. The curriculum is very hands-on and there is so much creativity involved in all classes every day. But it is nevertheless challenging and engaging and preparing the students well for any high school.

There are currently openings in most grades, but they also just start tours for the following year. Please, check out the website: Very happy Archway mom

Oct 2012

Re: Hands-on, no-homework private/charter elementary? 
Please consider Archway School in Oakland. My son started there last year in kindergarten and is now in first grade. It is a truly amazing school. It is small, intimate and wonderful. The teachers/staff are absolutely the heart and soul of the school. They are devoted, motivated, kind and loving. We came to Archway from a very well-known montessori-based school.....and Archway is light years better. Please call Michelle, Admissions Director, at (510) 547-4747. You need to do a tour and meet the won't get a feel by driving by campus. The facility is irrelevant. The teachers are everything. Very happy mom

We were in your position last year, searching for a Kindergarten for our son with many of the same qualities you're seeking. Archway School in Oakland has been a wonderful fit for our family and I hope you'll take a look at it.

Archway is an independent, progressive school with two campuses: K-4 in Oakland and 5-8 in Berkeley. Classes are small and multi-age with a maximum of 16 students, so there is no possibility of falling through the cracks. Archway is a warm, tight-knit community and our son is really thriving there. All the students know one another and the older kids look out for and mentor the younger ones. If you read the school's goals on their website you'll see that one is to prepare students both academically and socially. Particularly at the K age, the school recognizes how crucial social-emotional development is and actively fosters it. Across all grades there are community building efforts, both at the school level, then at the surrounding community level, and of course, the larger world.

There is no homework in K and the homework for other grades seems very reasonable, with no busywork assigned. The ''h'' in Archway stands for ''hands-on learning'' and project-based learning is key to academics at the school. In my son's class there is plenty of opportunity to move around, both in the classroom and at recesses, plus there is scheduled PE time. In addition to the math, reading, writing, social studies, and science that are part of the K/1 curriculum, all students also have Spanish, music, and art classes. We've been very pleased with the enthusiasm and creativity of all the instructors at Archway. Our biggest problem is getting our son to leave school at the end of the day and reassuring him, when he wants to go to Archway on the weekends, that Monday will come soon enough.

Call(510)547-4747 to reserve your spot at the K-4 information meeting on Sat., Nov. 10, 10AM-12PM. Free childcare is provided. You can also sign up for a K-4 school tour (adults only) on many Thursdays, including Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8, 29, Dec. 6, 13, and Jan. 10, 17, 24. Best of luck in your search. Happy at Archway

Change in Archway leadership?

July 2012

I was hoping I could find out some information about the change in the head of school for Archway? I was so sad to hear that there had been a shift and I am wondering if this indicates problems for the health of the school - financial, interpersonal, or otherwise? Any information you can provide would be so helpful to me. Thanks! Theresa

Yes, Archway just hired a new Head of School. This small school with its focus on small class size, great teachers and inclusive-but-diverse community has been under the leadership of an interim Head since its long-time Head retired two years ago. When the interim Head's contract came up for renewal, Archway's Board decided not to renew, but rather seek a Head of School with the right mix of qualities that could lead the school in the next phase of it's strategic plan. So it was a planned and thoughtful process, and I think the school did a good job of handling the inevitable discomforts of the transition. Archway really lucked out with the new Head of School. Bruce Shoup is a seasoned and experienced administrator with knowledge of teaching and curriculum that is deep and broad. I think he's ready to give excellent support to Archway's outstanding teachers. happy long-time Archway parent

Nov 2010

Re: In 5th grade and still loving your school? 
I'm so glad BPN is here. I have used it myself as far back as preschool to help in our searches.

Your post caught my eye because my child is currently in the 5th grade and you mentioned the word ''kind'' as something you are looking for. My child goes to Archway School. He has attended since Kindergarten at the Oakland campus and is now at the Berkeley location. Kindness and consideration for others is definitely high on the list of traits you will find in Archway students.

Maybe because it is a school with smaller classes that the kids really get to know each other,(the staff knows each and every kid as well.) and they are able to see each other as individuals. A few years back I remember watching some 7th and 8th graders at the annual all-school Walk-a-Thon talking with some K and 1st graders and walking alongside them (even though they could have walked faster and gotten more laps for themselves). They treated the little ones so sweetly I remarked about it for weeks afterwards.

This year was a year I expected some pushback. 5th grade is a big step. So far, its been fantastic! Do I get little complaints about homework? Yep, but not a big deal and it gets done. I think the style of teaching, where the staff is encouraged to bring their own interests and ways of presenting the information helps alot. (and by the way, we have some phenomenal teachers! Stop and talk with them if you get a chance) The core academics get done well but the kids also get dance, drama, music, Spanish, art, cooking, different PE activities(running, flag football, I have heard of Extreme Frisbee but have no idea what that is, just to name a few) so their days are structured well.

My sons class just returned from a living history overnight trip at Ft Ross. They were in costume(they made their own hats), cooked their own food, created in depth characters, guarded the fort etc. It was a really fun trip for the class. Upon return they were of course able to use that in the classroom for essay writing and different lessons on summaries and reviews.

I can tell you they have many field trip opportunities to expand their worlds. Camping, Symphony, Museums(Science and Art) , Aquarium, Zoo, Ski trips. They released trout at the lake they had grown for a special state program, traveled by train to Sacramento to learn about California History, the 8th graders will go to Washington D.C. for a week and the 7th grade just returned from Yosemite. One trip I love seeing every year is when the children go out to the farm that supplies food for the Peoples Grocery in West Oakland. They put in volunteer time(and even grow some vegetables to donate right at school). Families are also invited to share their traditions with the class. Just remembering back, the kids have built a Sukkah , visited one of the students family Tipi, shared a King cake with stories of New Orleans being read. All of this helps them with empathy and perspective. They ponder ways of doing things that are not necessarily what they are ''fed'' by the crazy culture. It's okay to be an individual here. In fact, when you have an interest, you are encouraged to share and encouraged to lead.

I've probably gone on way too long but please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have and good luck in your search. Archway Mom

Nov 2010

Re: In 5th grade and still loving your school? 
Yes, my daughter is in 5th grade at Archway and still really loving it. I think that it is a combination of the awesome staff and teachers and that she has been able to form very meaningful relationships with her peers. These kids really love one another! My daughter feels like she is an important part of the entire school community and I have seen her grow and mature significantly because of the balance of challenging school work and the opportunities for social skill building. The small class size really works for her personality type because she gets the attention she needs. At the same time she can't hide in the crowd and has gently learned to express herself. The other important factor is that parents are really involved in every aspect of the school community. There are many opportunities to volunteer and I can always find something that interests me and works with my busy schedule. I highly suggest that you check Archway out if you've got a bored or disconnected 5th grader. Proud Archway Parent

Nov 2010

Re: In 5th grade and still loving your school? 
Ironically, our family moved to a specific neighborhood in the East Bay because of its amazing test scores (in the 900s). I've since learned that a good school is more than test scores. My son didn't thrive. He was miserable and bored. While he had some excellent teachers, the curriculum in his public school was less than inspiring and the school was large. After a lot of research, we transferred our son to Archway School in 3rd grade. What a world of difference! The teachers are extremely creative, love the children, and are very passionate about teaching.

This year, I started a job that supports education reform efforts, and I feel so fortunate to have found Archway School that embodies all the elements of a great school. Small class size (10 to 12 students), personalized attention, excellent leadership and teachers, creative and engaging curriculum, parent involvement, safe school culture, etc.

While it was a battle to get my son to public school every morning, now in 5th grade at Archway, he looks forward to school and there has been times when he didn't want to leave at the end of the day. I'm so pleased that he has found a school that has nurtured his love of learning and be in a community where he can thrive. Thrilled Archway Parent

Nov 2010

Re: In 5th grade and still loving your school? 
I wanted to reply to your post since we too made the decision to leave public school around the 4th grade. I had been a strong advocate for our local public school, however, my older child had a hard time with just the large numbers of people around him and we knew it would get even more difficult for him in the upper grades. Our children have been Archway for middle school and while they are both completely different students, both have felt challenged, successful, and valued. While I do not think the bottom falls out of public school, for us the small size and wonderful teachers at Archway have been the right fit. Kristine

Oct 2010

Re: OUSD kindergarten not a good fit--what to do now?! 
I would like to recommend a small school located off Peidmont Avenue that offers exceptional hands on learning experiences from some of the best teachers in town. Archway school is more than a school, it's a community where kids go and LOVE to learn. The ''experiential learning'' that happens at the school provides children with opportunities to use their natural gifts and sense of exploration to master the basic subjects. The school is involved in service learning and community building as part of it cirriculum as well. The outstanding teachers all take a special interest in your child and are open and communicative on all levels, making themselves fully accessible to student and parent alike. Archway is a hidden gem in Oakland and we'd like you to check us out! lee

Oct 2010

Re: Oakland elementary that values creativity, peace, fun, learning 
Hello, I would like to highly recommend that you look into Archway School in Oakland. This is small Independent K-8 school in which the lower school is located in Oakland and the upper school is located in Berkeley. Our son had been attending a ''good'' local public elementary school for the last 3 years but because of the increase in classroom size and one-size fits all type of curriculum we decided it was time to make a change. We have been so impressed with Archway's unique style- it is a very compassionate, loving and warm school. On our son's first day he was greeted with a great big hug from his new teacher (so different than public school!). The curriculum is creative and engaging. Classes are small. Children are respected and valued and not expected to all be at the same academic or developmental levels. Most importantly, kids love it there- in fact, they often don't want to leave at the end of the day, including our son. The classrooms are joyful, happy places that the kids are eager to go to each day. The school offers music, art, drama, cooking and other enrichment programs. Archway is a hidden gem that we are so lucky to have found. I highly recommend you visit this school- Here is the website: and their number is (510) 547-4747. Feel free to email me with any additional questions. Jocelyne

Oct 2010

I would like to highly recommend Archway School in Oakland. This is small Independent K-8 school in which the lower school is located in Oakland and the upper school is located in Berkeley. Our son had been attending a ''good'' local public elementary school for the last 3 years but because of the increase in classroom size and one-size fits all type of curriculum we decided it was time to make a change. We have been so impressed with Archway's unique style- it is a very compassionate, loving and warm school. On our son's first day he was greeted with a great big hug from his new teacher (so different than public school!). The curriculum is creative and engaging. Classes are small. Children are respected and valued and not expected to all be at the same academic or developmental levels. Most importantly, kids love it there- in fact, they often don't want to leave at the end of the day, including our son. The classrooms are joyful, happy places that the kids are eager to go to each day. The school offers music, art, drama, cooking and other enrichment programs. Archway is a hidden gem that we are so lucky to have found. I highly recommend you visit this school- Here is the website: and their number is (510) 547-4747. Feel free to email me with any additional questions. Jocelyne

Sept 2010

Re: Private Middle School with strong academics 
You should look on Archway school, The middle school is in Berkeley. I have a child in seven grade this year and he does Algebra. My daughter graduated last year and finish geometry. this year she is doing Algebra 2 accelerated. In her school there are two kids who got to algebra 2 out of 113. in most of the middle school I know you can not get higher then geometry, don't rash if they get higher it's mean sitting with junior as freshmen. We chose Archway because it was the only school who let my daughter to sit in with older kids or make a class for her. Other school told us she will have to sit with her grade and get some extra. you can e-mail me with more questions. We are very happy with the school, and the most important the kids love it. My daughter got in to the high school of her dream. gt

June 2010

Re: Looking for an affordable K-4 private school 
I was in your shoes three years ago when I wanted to find an affordable, quality private school other than a catholic school. Some of the prices for the private schools in the east bay are outrageous and yet the education isn't distinctively better. After an extensive search, I found Archway School. The tuition is more than a catholic school, but remains less than most private schools. We are so happy with the education and it has proved to be the best value in the east bay as it offers small class sizes, a strong community, and hand on learning taught by incredible teachers. Archway is located on two campuses: k-4 in Oakland, #547-4747 or 5-8 in Berkeley, #849-4747. Good luck! Budget Happy Archway Parent

May 2010

Re: Private school that is not trying to prove itself academically 
I would encourage you to visit Archway School. The small class size, emphasis on experiential learning and commitment to meeting the needs of each child make it a supportive and safe environment. At Archway, being kind and supportive of each other is every bit as important as academics. Children are taught to love learning for it's on sake and all efforts are supported. In the last five years I have seen many children who struggled in other schools thrive at Archway School. Teachers work closely with students and families to support learning at all levels. They also build relationships with students that encourage curiosity, participation and best efforts. Over and over I have seen a child arrive in the morning to shadow a class looking scared and uncertain. At the end of the day that same child is laughing, playing and eager to stay. Jackie

I hope I'm not too late to reply to your post...your son sounds like a perfect fit for Archway School. Please come visit! My son has been there since kindergarten and is now in 3rd grade. We are diverse, welcoming, small, and we have outstanding, caring teachers that are the heart of the school. My son has learned SO MUCH in his time there, but it has never felt like a pressure-filled hyper academic environment. So much learning by doing and critical thinking goes on--and the kids seem to relish the opportunities they get to take charge of their own environment (student government in 3rd grade, camping trip planning and execution, conflict resolution, cross-grade buddies for reading). I am so confident that my son will be ready for high school when he leaves Archway, but it won't be because he has competed or has been tested to death, but because of the richness of the curriculum and the amazing teachers he has had. Full disclosure--had my son tested this fall for suspected learning issues, and he has some, not big ones but they have been particularly evident the last two years (processing speed and associated anxiety). Great help from teachers and specialists. Laura

As a parent (and ex-teacher) with two happy school kids, I would suggest that you consider Archway School. I think you might find that it offers just the right balance of being academic without the stress and competitive nonsense. The small class sizes, hands on approach to learning, and rich curriculum keep kids engaged and makes learning fun. You can contact Archway School at 510-547- 4747 or 510-849-4747. Good luck. happy archway parent

April 2010

Re: Diverse private school for Hispanic daughter 
I suggest you look at Archway School, a k-8 private school located in both Oakland and Berkeley. Diversity is reprensented in both its faculty and student body and children thrive and grow under the guideance of some of the best teachers in the east bay. (FYI- the spanish teacher is a native speaker and spanish begins in the lower grades). If your child is entering k-4 contact their Oakland campus at 510-547-4747, and contact their Berkeley Campus at 510-849-4747 if entering 5-8. I think you will find the Archway community a good fit. a happy Archway School parent

April 2010

Re: My 4th grader son gets into 'trouble' for being a normal little boy 
You should check out Archway School, a k-8 independent school located on two campuses: Oakland (grades k-4) and Berkely (grades 5-8) for your son. My son and daughter LOVE to go to school because of their Archway experience! I attribute so much of my kids'(particularly my son's) self-esteem, confidence and academic success to the great teachers at Archway who seem to have a gift of bringing out the best in every child - academically, socially and emotionally. Their numbers are 510-547-4747 Oakland; or 510-849-4747 Berkeley. Good luck! parent at Archway School

Feb 2010

Re: Bullying -- a school with zero tolerance? 
Wow! Sorry to hear that your child has had such a hard time in kindergarten. The school my children attend is an independent non-profit school in Oakland called Archway School. The type of behavior you describe in your email is never tolerated at Archway. If one child hits another child the offending child is not only sent home, but required to write a written apology, or dedicate one if your not writing yet, and have a discussion with the a teacher and the child that was hit. However, I must say that these are extreme cases and kids rarely get to this point because of the importance the school gives to the social emotional development of the child. It begins in kindergarten with the 4 Agreements, the peace stairs, mediation and continues on with our fourth grade students trained as conflict managers in which they monitor the playground each year and so on all the way to 8th grade. If you have the means to choose an independent school I highly recommend Archway School. Happy Archway Parent

Nov 2009

Re: Challenging Progressive School? 
I really think you should look at Archway School. My two children have been there for 3 years and I find that the culture and teachers do a wonderful job of balancing a strong academic program with social/emotional growth and inspire a love of learning at every grade. Archway values creative thinking and learning through real life experiences and the kids at the school are confident and happy. My kids can't say enough about their teachers and the school. Their small class sizes allow for great peer and teacher relationships and flexibility within the curriculum. I believe they are beginning tours and it is never too early to start looking. Archway has two campuses: Grades k-4 at 250 41st Street, Oakland 510-547- 4747 and grades 5-8 at 1940 Virginia Ave, Berkeley 510-849- 4747. Good luck! beth

Oct 2009

Re: Elementary schools where African American boys thrive 
Hi, We are a two mom family and have always been treated well at Archway School. My son has been at Archway (Oakland) since Kindergarten (now in fourth)and I have served on the Diversity Committee for these past four going on five yesrs. Archway values it's diverse population and each year the Diversity Committee tries to do something fun and unusual to support our efforts to get to know each other better. This year, three families are grouped together with each family taking a turn organizing a meal in their home, at a park, wherever, but focused on fun ways to celebrate our cultures through food and engaged communication.

We also have a diverse teaching staff. The second and third grade teachers are both African American males with many years of teaching experience. This influenced our decison to go to Archway because finding male role models was very important to us. These men are well loved in our community for their ability to support, nurture and educate all of their students with an emphasis on the individual needs of each child. My son truly loves these men and Archway School. An important aspect of Archway's mission is the committment to creating a community where everyone is valued and supported. It is a community where chilren thrive and develop a love of learning. The biggest complaint of parents is how difficult it is to get the children to leave school at the end of the day.

Please take the time to visit our school, meet the staff and take a tour. You can contact the office at 510-547-4747 to ask questions, arrange a tour, sign up for an information night and get to konw us better. The office staff would be very happy to refer you to other African American families who are happy to share their experiences with you.

Good luck with your school search. Jackie

May 2009

Re: Looking for a wonderful kindergarten
I would highly recommend you take a look at Archway School. With small class size, a loving and exceptional teaching staff, and hands-on learning Archway is a gem. The experiential learning curriculum for kindergarten includes educational enrichment field trips to places like Ardenwood and Briones, music field trips to the San Francisco Symphony and singing for the local retirement centers and walking tours of Oakland's China Town. The K-4 campus is in Oakland and 5-8 in Berkeley. It truly is a must see. Archway Parent (1st and 2nd grade)

March 2009

Hello, Does anyone have any recent feedback on Archway school (specifically the Oakland campus)? I'd love to hear your experience! Thank you in advance. Elaine

Hi, Responding to your post about Archway school. We are a kindergarten family at Archway and have been happy with our choice. Academically our son has done very well. He was quite proud to tell everyone that he was learning about ''metamorhphosis'' during his first month at school. He has had some challenges with the change from a play based preschool to the more structured setting of elementary school, but the school has been very proactive in helping him with this transition. Archway is a very loving, warm place for a child. In light of the current cuts to the Oakland Unified school district, I am very glad to not be in that system. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Katie

My two children, grades 3 & 5, have been at Archway for the past 2 years since our move to CA. Being an ex teacher from MA, I am very clear and critical about what I want for my kids education, and I ''highly'' recommend Archway. Archway delivers an extrodinary learning environment that fosters creativity and curiousity-- and builds happy, confident learners. I know that my children are getting more than an average education largely due to the magical and talented teaching staff, small class sizes, community mindedess and positive atmosphere that Archway offers. I find Archway's teachers and administration very approachable and genuinely vested in the best interest of the children. The Oakland campus (k-4) is a gem and the same is true for their Berkely campus (5-8). The saying ''big things can come in small packages'' suits Archway, and I am thankful that my children are reaping the academic and social benefits a small school can offer, particularly in today's educational climate. There is no doubt that Archway is developing a life long love for learning in my kids and giving them a memorable education that will carry them far. Please feel free to contact me. beth

Feb 2009

Re: Daughter not ready for K or is it just the wrong school? 
My son is a Kindergartner at Archway off Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. I am not aware of any of the kids in the class being particularly young, but the class is very small - 7 kids - and so each child gets loads of love and attention. My son is reading at a first grade level, and comes home chirping about electricity and gravity. The entire lower school only has about 60 students, so there is a real laid back, family atmosphere. I think it would be a great place for shy student who might need a little extra time easing in. Feel free to contact me if you want more information. ann

Feb 2009

Dear Struggling Parent, My son went from a small school to Martin Luther King Middle School. It didn't work at all and he is a great kid. I actually took him out after 3months and home schooled him through Hickman Charter School in Berkeley. I realize not everyone can do this. It's not my things either, I transfered him into Archway School (private) It was Great and make a huge difference in everyway! What a happy relief. if you can afford private school I would go for it. Especially for middle school which for many kids is just plain painful. This is an extremely important time. tracy

Oct 2008

Just wanted to put in a plug for Archway. I am a long time educator and grandparent. My granddaughter went to Archway from K-3rd grades. She absolutely flourished at Archway. The academics were stimulating and presented in fun and creative ways- it was a very hands-on curriculum, with a lot of science and art. It would be difficult to say what I loved most about the school- whether the intimate environment, the stress free feel of the place and upbeat attitudes of the staff, the warmth and caring of the very loving teachers, the amazing field trips: working on a farm, picking vegetables to give to the needy, skiing with her friends, camping, staying at a youth hostel on the ocean... the list goes on and on. I remember, as I'm sure does she, the daily hugs, loving smiles, greetings and closness she felt with her Archway teachers. They are phenomenal in every way. On the last day I sobbed with many emotions- one of which was the knowledge that her new school would be very different from the unique experience she'd had here. My granddaughter had been handled with care in this nurturing place, an experience that neither I, nor my children had ever had, and that I wanted so much for my granddaughter- Archway delivered. Sara

Dec 2007

We are considering sending our extremely bright 6th grade daughter to Archway School. The school sounds wonderful from what we have heard, but we wonder if anyone can tell us about the volume and type of homework, and whether there is any flexibilty in this area for a student who is very smart but struggles with a high volume of homework. Our daughter is really struggling with the high volume of homework at her present school, so this is an important factor for us. Josh

My sister Audrey has a child at Archway, and this is her response to your question...

I have a 6th grader at Archway School and my older daughter graduated last year. There can be quite a bit of homework, but not an excessive amount.It sounds like your daughter will have some trouble keeping up. However, because the school is small the teachers can be somewhat flexible.They do have study hall periods built in 2-4 days per week so they can finish all or some homework at school. They also have opportunities to work in the media lab so that they can do some research and writing of reports/projects at school.

They have daily math homework and English is usually daily. The other classes vary. These last two weeks my daughter has been working on projects for English and history, so she has put in quite a bit of time, from 1 to 3 hours per day, including the last two weekends. (She enjoys the assignments and is doing an excellent job, so she may be putting in extra time.) But at the beginning of the school year she often had only 30 minutes per day, but sometimes up to 1 1/2 hours per day.

I know that the English, History and Science teachers give plenty of time to complete long term projects, but students will have a hard time if they procrastinate. Also, the teachers space out the assignments by giving a short one and then a longer term project.

The homework projects vary from math problems, to spelling and vocabulary, to reading, to projects and writing assignments. I will describe a few assignments that my children have done recently: choose a character in the book that they are reading and complete journal entries based on that character's point of view, interview someone who experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake, working with one or two other students research an ancient civilization and create an artifact box which includes 6 artifacts from that civilization and make an oral presentation to the class, study lines in a play to be performed for drama class, a book talk -- make a poster about a book you've been reading and present it to the class, create an ancient dwelling from the book ''Maroo of the Winter Caves''.

Also you should know that the math program emphasizes critical thinking so involves reading and problem solving, not just doing 10-20 problems per night.

You should contact the school's learning specialist, Noreen Axelson, who can answer your questions. She can let you know to what extent the teachers accommodate the kids who need more time with their work.

Hi! I am an Archway parent, and like any other school this school also has assigned HW. The volume and complexity of work increases exponentially from grade to grade. The children have lockers from 6th grade on, which in itself is an organizational nightmare. The teachers and Principal are very supportive, however, please know that if your child has any special needs, the school will be understanding, but they are not equipped to support those needs. Unfortunately, even if the kids are bright intellectually, they have to work through this mundane educational system. Best of luck. anon

I have a child in middle school at Archway. I don't think the homework load is bad at all. There are daily assignments, but my daughter completes much of her work during the study hall period (which they have four days a week -- she has more work to do at home when there is no study hall). She does about half an hour to an hour of work at home most nights -- sometimes, like now, when there are longer term projects due, she has more work. I don't have direct experience with what the homework load is at other schools, but I suspect that Archway is below the median in how much work is assigned. My daughter is very happy at Archway and while the level of academic stress has risen somewhat now that she's in middle school, overall I think the school does a good job of balancing giving the kids a challenging curriculum without overburdening them with work. Archway parent

Sept 2007

Re: Private middle school for academically advanced but socially insecure 11-year-old 
I have a recommendation for a private Middle School that is perfect for the smart and tender student: Archway School. They offer classes K-8, with two different campuses. The Upper Campus is located in North Berkeley and offers 5th - 8th grade, the Lower campus K-4 is in Oakland, with a shuttle bus service between the two campuses that leaves from the Oakland campus every day. Great teachers, a culture of kindness and tolerance, wonderful parent community, strong science, great art. Give them a call and take a tour. The Head of School, Sarah Flowers, is exceptional and sets the tone for the whole place. 510 849-4747. website is Feel free to contact me if you are so inclined. Could be just the place. Carol

April 2007

Re: Private Middle School for Nature Loving 6th Grader???
I urge you to check out Archway School, at Virginia and Milvia in Berkeley. It matches your description very well. linda

April 2007

Re: Private Middle School for Nature Loving 6th Grader???
Our family has been very happy with Archway School, a private middle school we found for our two sons. We have a sixth-grader there now and had an eighth-grader there last year. Wonderful community, great culture of kindness and acceptance, and good solid academics. Unbelievable science teacher (who now helps run educational programming at Lawrence Hall of Science...) The staff and faculty bring commitment and a lot of joy to their work. Archway has made middle school fun -- now that's an accomplishment! Their upper campus (grades 5-8) is located in Berkeley at 1640 Virgina, at the corner of Virginia and Milvia Streets. Their number there is: (510) 849-4747. Sarah Flowers is the Head of School. Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you want a positive parental perspective. Carol D

October 2005

Re: Oakland Elementary school for possible learning delays
In response to your question, I cannot recommend Archway. I am a mom of two adopted kids with a son who developed ADD when he was in second grade. My son only lasted in Archway for 2 months. The teacher had nothing good to say about him. Everyday I would hear all the terrible things my son had done wrong; some days he was on a ''time out'' on the hallway steps when I got there (the class was in an old house). In a matter of weeks he went from a gregarious, happy kid to a sullen, sad kid who could not be dragged to school. We immediately tried to escape and looked at 2 other private schools with late-year openings, but when it came time for the kindergarten teacher to fill out the necessary paperwork, she didn't. It got so bad that one of the administrators from one of the other prospective schools tried to help us out by calling her. It didn't help. We finally got into one of the other schools by the 1st of November solely on the basis of the preschool teachers' recommendations. Karen

Jan-Feb 2005

Hello. Can anyone shed some light on the academic aspect of Archway? It does not appear rigorous, but the setting seems ideal for my child and the teachers seem incredibly down to earth, warm and supportive. Can anyone with first hand experience please inform me on how it compares to any of the other East Bay private schools, academically, particularly in the lower grades. Thank you SO much! Curious Mom

We have been at Archway for three years now and I have to take exception with the notion that Archway and any of the other developmentally-focused schools are anything less than rigorous. My 7 y/o 2nd grader and 5 y/o Kindergartener are doing fantastic both in terms of academic,social and emotional development.

By the end of Kindergarten my oldest daughter was voraciously reading chapter books and picking up my non-fiction books off the nightstand to peruse and pepper me with questions. She completely identifies herself as a serious scientist and her knowledge of matters dealing with the biological and physical world blow me (& most everyone we meet)away.

All that is nice but what is most important to me is that she has experienced learning as a fun adventure and one in which she takes a meaningful role in creating knowledge and shaping her own education.

The Archway learning experience is not one of children as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge but one that develops critical thinking and analytical skills & that celebrates creativity. Ethics, respect, and individual & social responsibility integrated into an academically and socially challenging curriculum; a culturally and ethnically diverse teaching staff who work closely together to coordinate curriculum and learning experiences across subject areas.

It is a small school by design - my 5 y/o has 10 kids in his class with a teacher and an aide. There are lots of cross-age activities that create mentoring relationships and regular opportunities for boys and girls to have separate time with teachers and kids of their respective gender.

If you are the parent who is anxious about making sure your 4 year old is accepted into Harvard, this is definitely the wrong school for you (& you might pick up copy of David Elkind's ''The Hurried Child'' & read about the consequences of pushing children ahead of their developmental schedule)

If your priority is for your kid to develop a love of learning in an intimate connected community and to be able to really think, create, and problem solve (rather than just test well), you'll be thrilled with Archway. We are! Happy mom w/ thriving kids

This is our second year at Archway. My daughter started last year in the fourth grade. Besides being a wonderfully nuturing environment where the whole child is educated (academic, emotional, social, etc), we have been extremely happy with the academics. I'll admit to being a little concerned at first because my daughter kept saying everything was ''easy''. But I think that she enjoyed learning here so much better than in public school that it made it seem easy to her. In reality, when I compare what she's doing with other fifth graders I know, her grade is sometimes at the same level but more often surpassing them. In language arts she is reading books friend's kids are reading in 6th grade. Reports seem to me to be more in depth. They learn researching skills in a much more hands on and in depth manner and they do the majority of this work at school where the teachers help them learn HOW to do the work - a whole new concept for us being used to the public school where the majority of this type of work is done at home. They have an extensive coordinated math program that addresses the same skill level by grade as the public school, but which, because of its methodology, is much easier for the kids to grasp. It includes hands on and group problem solving and seems to me to be teaching much more than just facts. It engenders a real understanding of what's going on. They also have Spanish, Science, Social Studies, History, and PE. Into all this they are able to interweave concepts of community involvement, values clarification, and social responsibility. The teachers are all incredibly dedicated, take the time to devise individual learning plans as they are needed, and really work together to develop truly coordinated programs. This is a great school. Cathy

My daughter is currently in the second grade at Archway, and has attended Archway since Kindergarten. We think the academics at Archway are excellent. A lot of learning happens in these early grades, but it is a very integrated approach to learning. A project, such as planting a garden, making an aquarium, cooking, will integrate reading,writing, science, and math so seamlessly that it all just seems like fun. Our daughter loves reading and her teacher in a recent reading assessment found her to be reading at a 6th grade level. Granted not all kids in her class at in this range, but my point is that Archway has supported and fostered her love of reading, and her kept her interested and motivated. The amount of homeowrk is reasonable, not overwhelming, which I think is good. I also know that the Kindergarten through third grade teachers have made a great effort this year to coordinate the curriculum so that there is a logical progression of academic skills from one year to the next. We coudln't be more happy with both the academics and the nurturing environment at Archway, and we hope to have our youngest starting in Kindergarten Rick

My girls went from K to 8th at Archway, and are A students in public high school. Except for some math slips in 5th, it was a fine experience and they were well prepared for high school! Kevin

Hello, I definitely understand your concern about Archway academics, but as an Archway parent and an educator I can assure you that the academics are top notch, and based on educational research.

Archway's program is focused on project based learning. Educational research shows that this is the best way to cultivate higher order thinking skills which are exactly the skills that are needed to succeed in the current 21st century knowledge based economy. These skills include complex problem solving skills that are facilitated by working in groups of diverse people.

I think that I was misled by the fact that all the kids at Archway seem so happy and relaxed. I kept thinking how could the academics be rigorous if they seem to like school and not be stressed out? But Archway's attention to social and emotional development really allows the the learning to happen. The kids know how to work together, they know how to solve interpersonal problems, and they are having fun. This environment facilitates learning.

Please feel free to email if you would like to talk in more depth about Archway. My daughter is currently in second grade. She has been at Archway since kindergarten. Ann

I've been intrigued by the discussion concerning Archway's academics. I visited the school when my now 5th grader was in preschool, and it struck me as being a wonderful school for a shy child that needed a little more attention than public school or the larger private schools can offer. Our daughter was spirited,so it didn't seem like a good match. She has since excelled at a Montclair public elementary school, but we haven't yet made a final decision about middle school. After reading the comments about Archway's academics being ''rigorous,'' ''top-notch'' and ''challenging,'' I am wondering if it is worth another look. Our child has been tested as gifted,particularly in math and science. We are currently planning on sending her to Montera Middle school, which has one of the best math/science programs in the east bay - private or public. It will allow her to take algebra in 7th grade, if appropriate - something that I can't seem to find at any private middle school. However, the idea of smaller class size is appealing, so could Archway be the answer? I know that there are split classes, so has anyone had their child take advanced math at Archway? Also,how easy was it - both socially and academically - to move on to a large high school,like Skyline or Bishop O'Dowd. The 2 children that we have known attend Archway have had learning differences -- how common is this? Thanks very much for your insight. anon

Although I have had my problems at Archway School, I still would have recommended the school if you had asked me earlier this year. However, Archway's recent decision to move their middle school from Oakland to Berkeley has changed my mind.

The board began to seriously consider their move in December but only a handful of parents were invited to tour the new campus, including our single parent board representative. Parents were presented with a fait accompli at the beginning of February after first- round admissions for other schools had closed.

I live in Oakland, a short drive from the school, and do not want to add an hour's drive time to my child's school-day. I identify as an Oakland resident and look at Archway as a neighborhood school. I value the fact that the school community includes kids from 5 to 12 and do not want to see the school split. I value the parent community who will be fractured by this move.

A letter to parents about this decision went out a day before our children were told about the move. The first I heard about the move was a statement from the children that next year they were going to a great new building. No tours were organized for the parents although we were told that we could join the children on their tour. This announcement came only 24 hours before the tour, however.

For all of these reasons, you may want to think twice before coming to Archway. Archway Parent

My child just graduated from Archway last year after attending for several years. We had an excellent experience at Archway and were delighted with great teachers, a warm, supportive environment, and a responsive new administration. The only problem we had with Archway was the limitations of the physical site. Expanding the site was an issue that the entire school community had been grappling with for years. I am delighted to hear that Archway has found a new site for their 5th - 8th grades. The new Berkeley site sounds like a major improvement, with a full gym, a number of large classrooms, a computer lab, a spacious art room in a new facility built in 1997. Any time there's a change like this in a school, there will always be some families who find it inconvenient. Overall, this change is what's needed for the school as a whole.

The new Head of School at Archway started 2 years ago. She was brought in as a result of a revitalization of the Board of Directors. In these two short years, she has brought about many positive changes, including pushing for parent representation on the Board and actively searching for a larger and better site. During the past two years there were several times that I went to the new Head of School with my opinions, and seeking advice. She was always respectful, caring and responsive. She has been a real blessing to the school. She is clearly looking out for the best interests and future growth of Archway School. I know that the entire faculty and all the parents I know are squarely in support of the new site. Finally the school your children deserve is getting the site it deserves. A Delighted Archway Parent

The recent posting about Archway and its decision making process does not present a complete picture nor put the decision in context. I believe the Board of Directors and the Head of School acted in the best interests of the school as a whole when it made its decision to move ArchwayÂ’s upper campus to a beautiful new site. The current upper campus site is unattractive and unsuitable for class sizes much beyond 12. It is housed in buildings that are cramped and in poor shape. Archway is committed to small class sizes (16 pupils per class) but wants to provide a broader social opportunity for the middle schoolers. The present site does not allow for it. Of course, when any decision like this is made, there will be people who are understandably upset with it. ItÂ’s a big change and presents both obstacle and opportunity.

But what remains steadfast is that the school has an excellent curriculum and superb teachers. And that is why I send my child there and will continue to send my child there. The teachers, in fact, were unanimous in their support of the decision to relocate the upper campus. I have found the administration approachable and responsive and find it unfair to represent that all decision-making is out of the parentsÂ’ hands.

This was an opportunity that presented itself with a very short decision-making time and I believe that the decision makers felt that bringing it to the larger parent community would have been divisive and counter productive. I don’t believe that not including the parent community was motivated out of fear that the outcome would have been different, but instead that there was not adequate time for a healthy process. Finally, I think there are some decisions that are the responsibility of school administrations – admissions, teacher hiring and retention, after school programs, student/teacher ratios and so on. I believe the decision, while it was “top down,” was appropriate for the Board and Head of School to make. My responsibility is to decide if I agree with those decisions.

Archway is a great school.

Cynthia, Archway Parent

I'm an ''Archway Aunt'' and hope to one day send my two boys there. I shared the previous posting regarding Archway's middle school move with my sister--an Archway mom. She asked me to post her response. Here it is:

My children are getting an excellent education and an amazing school experience at Archway School. (Both of my children started at Archway in Kindergarten and currently are in 6th and 3rd grades.) I have always wholeheartedly recommended Archway and do so even more now with the upcoming middle school move to a beautiful, spacious facility in Berkeley. The new site, although a bit farther away than I would like, solves the problems that Archway has been wrestling with over the years--insufficient classroom space in old buildings in need of extensive and prohibitively expensive renovations.

Of course parents would love the comfort of being consulted before every significant decision is made with respect to their children's school, but that is unrealistic where school-wide issues such as facilities and financial concerns are involved, and appropriately so. However, in matters concerning my children and how they are doing in the classroom, my parent voice always matters and I have immediate access to their teachers and Head of School.

Admittedly, a sudden change can be unnerving or scary when it comes to your children's school where he or she is thriving and happy. But, upon reflection I know that Archway School is in excellent hands under the direction of the current Head of School and the Board. In fact, Archway teachers (who are the dedicated, creative and inspired heart and soul of the school) have never been happier than under her leadership these last two years.

The current Head of School has worked steadily and energetically to make school operations run more smoothly, all in an effort to support Archway's excellent teachers and enable them to flourish in their classrooms and focus on enriching their curriculum, while adhering to the original philosophy of the school. I trust that under her continued inspired and dedicated leadership the transition to Archway's new middle school site in Berkeley will continue to be one of many positive steps for the school. Archway has always done an amazing job with our children, but our current Head of School has infused it with a refreshing breeze of vision, efficacy and an unprecedented number of improvements.

Although Archway's Head of School and Board did not consult with all of the parents before taking advantage of this opportunity to move the middle school to a more suitable location, they acted in the best interests of the school with its future in mind. They were forced to make a decision quickly or lose the opportunity. Many parents who have long volunteered at Archway (serving on the PTA, fundraising, making repairs on the charming old buildings, etc.) and the entire teaching staff were consulted and asked for input. The move to a new facility is simply in response to a committed, hard working, and effective Head of School who knows the school's existing shortcomings and is willing to work for its continued success in the future. It is important to note that Archway's teachers unanimously support the move.

Archway has always provided a superior learning environment with wonderful teachers in small, supportive, hands-on classrooms, ensuring engaged, happy learners. The classrooms are in small, cozy, but aging houses in need of repair that do not ''show'' well to prospective parents and therefore do not attract enough students to maintain full enrollment capacity, especially in the upper grades. The new site with its beautiful classrooms and gym will have room for more students per grade, which is important for middle school peer groups, will attract more families, and will provide more practical working classroom space for our committed teachers and their excellent programs.


Nov 2003

I just want to post a recommendation for Archway School, a K-8 school in the Piedmont Avenue area of Oakland. After agonizing searches for the right school for my son, we were lucky enough to find Archway. It is small (10-12 kids per class), the teachers are incredibly dedicated, the administration is committed to both the kids and the faculty, as well as keeping open communication with parents, and the curriculum is both challenging and reasonable. There is much emphasis on the whole child, and I find that the school is full of remarkable, intelligent, emotionally and socially aware kids, parents, and staff.

Archway is holding a Parent Information Night on November 13th. You can call the school at 547-4747 for more information. It might be the right school for your child and you.

Archway Parent

Archway School, a small private school located in the Piedmont area, will have a Kindergarten Information Morning at 7:45-9:00 a.m. on December 9, 2003.

We invite you to learn about Archway's missions and philosophy, to meet the Kindergarten teacher, and to learn about the kindergarten curriculum. There will be a tour of the school at 9:25-10:25.

If you are interested in signing up for the Kindergarten Information Morning or a tour, please call 510-547-4747. admissions at

Feb 2003

My child has been at Archway School since kindergarten and she is now in 6th grade. She has thrived, made wonderful friends, and will graduate with a really good education. The school has also helped her develop confidence, and an appreciation of her place in the larger community.

What makes Archway special is its homey, intimate environment. The classes are held in retrofitted houses and a former church, and the atmosphere is relaxed and cozy. The kids have personal relationships with their teachers and the staff, so it feels like an extended family. The small number of kids in each class often results in the students making friends with kids in different grades, which has been a good experience in our case where there aren't any siblings at home.

My daughter has had amazing teachers at Archway. With such small classes, the teachers really seem to be able to focus on teaching. They take lots of trips, and each class goes on a camping trip in the fall and the spring, and a snow trip in the winter. Our experience of the school has been positive.

Feb 1999

If you are searching for a private school for your child, I'd like to recommend that you check out Archway, a small, developmentally-focused school located in Oakland near the Piedmont Avenue area. Our daughter, in Kindergarten this year (after an unsuccessful pre-K at another school), has flourished there, in an atmosphere that is child-friendly and fun, yet very academic. We've been pleased by how excited she is every single day (this from a child who, last year, used to say her favorite days were the "S" days because she didn't have to go to school on them).

As educators ourselves, we're impressed by the quality of the multi-cultural hands-on learning, and the way the teachers focus on each child and their educational needs. Class sizes are small (there are 13 kids in our daughter's class with a teacher and a full-time aide) and all the teachers and staff seem deeply involved and highly enthusiastic. We're also pleased by the strength and good feelings of the parent community. Archway has around 90 students, goes from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and it's been around for 26 years. The tuition for kindergarten next year is $6400. If you have questions, you can contact Aimee Moss at the school: (510) 547-4747. Ericka