Sylvia Mendez Elementary School


Public School
operated by Berkeley Unified School District
English, Spanish
Phone: (510) 644-6290
2241 Russell St. Berkeley, CA 94705
Program Type: 
Language immersion
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Q&A

Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez Jul 24, 2021 (7 responses below)
Sylvia Mendez Kinder experience for native Spanish speakers? Nov 15, 2020 (3 responses below)
Feedback on Sylvia Mendez Mar 23, 2020 (2 responses below)
BUSD - Bus schedule? Jan 23, 2020 (2 responses below)
Recent reviews for new LeConte family? Mar 20, 2017 (0 responses below)
Experience at LeConte Elementary? Jan 10, 2017 (2 responses below)
  • Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez

    (7 replies)

    Does anyone know what is happening with aftercare at Sylvia Mendez? I have a kindergartener starting there in three weeks. I'd applied for the LEARNS program, but received a notice a few weeks ago that they did not have staff to run the program, so wasn't enrolling anyone. I asked for an update recently and got nothing, so I applied for BEARS a couple of weeks ago, and haven't heard anything back about that either.

    Is the LEARNS staff shortage just at Sylvia Mendez, or more widespread at BUSD? It's getting a bit late to try to sort other aftercare, and I don't know whether LEARNS will come back on-line or what. I have tried calling the BUSD aftercare staff and just got voicemail.

    RE: Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez ()

    Yes there is a huge problem across BUSD to staff the before and after school programs. I have been trying to help recruit for Rosa Parks as well :(

    RE: Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez ()

    Hi, I too have a kindergartner starting at Emerson. There is a shortage throughout BUSD and it looks like parents will have to fend for themselves unless you can mobilize with other parents to rotate childcare. Not ideal, but that's what I heard other parents doing at other schools. Best of luck. 

    RE: Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez ()

    This is a district-wide problem and everyone is in the same place as you. There are a few private options, and a recent email from the superintendent said that BUSD would offer busing to these private options, but as far as I know they are all full. The city usually runs an afterschool program but it hasn't been announced yet for this year. So you are not alone, all the working families in Berkeley are as stuck in uncertainty as you. My backup plan is to swap care with some other families at the same school and maybe hire a babysitter together, but I'm hoping that either LEARNS or the city program will come through.

  • Hi SM parents,

    I was wondering if anyone has any feedback/insights on the experiences of Kindergarteners who are native Spanish speakers?  We are considering SM but wonder if our daughter, a native speaker, will find her Spanish enriched?  Or will she merely tread water as the non-Spanish speakers get up to speed?  The school seems very appealing - they have to truly thread a needle (sounds like they do a pretty decent job) between non-speakers and native speakers.

    Any thoughts welcomed...many thanks!

    P.S.: I am setting aside the "will we get in" questions for now...!

    The teachers have to differentiate instruction, and Spanish language ability is one factor among many that affects how well a child will perform. In my experience at a public immersion school in Oakland, socioeconomic status is more indicative of how well a child will perform than home language. Assuming your child does not already read, she will be learning alongside all the other children, and she may or may not excel. Young children learn to speak languages so much more quickly than adults that it's not as much of an issue as you might imagine.

    My children were not native Spanish speakers but from what I have seen at SM, the Spanish-dominant, bilingual, and English-only-at-home kids are learning right alongside each other from K through 5. None of the kindergarteners seemed bored to me, though any kids who already know how to read or write (in either language) will be ahead and possibly less enriched during certain lessons. But the teachers don't spend time just teaching Spanish. They teach the alphabet, reading, writing, math, it just happens to be in Spanish (and they throw in a fair bit of English in K to make sure the English-only kids know what's going on). I do think immersion schools like SM will enrich a native speaker's Spanish because they will be exposed to so much more vocabulary in the classroom and from all the school books. This is even more true in later grades as they become truly biliterate, which is something that only going to school in two languages can do well. It's a great school and I think they do a great job with the immersion curriculum. And if your daughter is bilingual (or especially if she is Spanish-dominant), I would bet she would get in.

    Many thanks for both replies!  Both helpful insights.

  • Hello --

    My kiddo is slated to start transitional kindergarden at Sylvia Mendez in August 2020, assuming that Berkeley public schools are open. I'm curious to connect with more Sylvia Mendez parents, and struggling to figure out how -- is there a Facebook group for Sylvia Mendez parents? A way to join an incoming parents listserve? I emailed the school admin, and was given the link to the Bloomz app, which I signed up for, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of parent conversation.

    We speak English at home, but our kiddo has been in Spanish-immersion preschool for two years. He's Spanish is so-so -- his English is waaaay better. I'm concerned that he is rapidly losing his Spanish during Shelter in Place/Covid-19. I'm trying to do a few things at home -- videos, activity books, ect. but he is fairly uninterested. I don't understand what happens if his Spanish actually isn't "good enough" for the two way immersion program -- even though he was "assessed" back in January and got in.

    Would love to connect with families who are at Sylvia Mendez and speak English at home -- how do you organize/help your kid with their Spanish homework? I really value the opportunity of bilingual education and want to do what I can to support him, and I also don't want him to feel like he is drowning, or holding back other kids/families. Thank you in advance!

    You really don't need to worry about how much Spanish your child knows. Typically one third of incoming kindergarteners come in with zero-to-almost-zero Spanish. It's hard on a few but most just roll with it and all do fine after the first couple months. If your child is going into the Spanish TK (recently there has been 1 Spanish and 1 English class where the students in the English classes usually end up at other schools for K but the Spanish TK class continues on to K at Sylvia Mendez) he might not be as strong in Spanish as others, but he won't be the weakest either since a few of the kids will be coming from English-only homes (they get in because they have siblings in older grades--I'm almost positive that's how it works). TK is really low-stress and I'm sure he'll be fine. Definitely the bigger wild-card here is what school will look like in the fall.

    For homework, it's pretty much just reading through 3rd grade. They have SUPER easy learn-to-read books you can read to them until they can do it. You sound pretty motivated so if you do a couple hours of an app yourself to learn the pronunciation (assuming you are Spanish-naive) you'll be fine. You might get some math sent home starting in K or 1st (usually classwork they don't finish) and then it might be hard to understand the Spanish instructions (and the fact they teach math differently now) but it's Engage NY which is free online and I think some motivated parents have been able to find the English versions of all the worksheets online. The more awkward thing for Spanish-naive families is the community reading in the morning (I think TK, K and some 1st grade classes do this) where parents read to their child and any other interested child for 15 min after drop off, work schedule permitting (many parents just do a couple days per week, many do none). I thought my Spanish was strong until I tried reading some of the medium hard story books and realized my vocabulary is weak. I think they're OK with you reading in English, too (but I seem to remember all the books being in Spanish). You know the story--just read, read, read to your child. My kids learned to read in English on their own (after learning in Spanish at school) because we read to them in English so much. A teacher at the school told me it's a "gift" to learn to read in Spanish because it makes so much more sense than English and I agree! Don't be surprised if they don't teach them to actually read in TK--they may or may not, I'm not sure what they do (we didn't do TK) but I think they don't want them to be bored in K. You didn't solicit this particular advice, but I'd say don't rush and just let your TK goal for your child be to like school (or whatever it is in the fall). Academics come later!

    For connection, there is a Facebook page but it's not active for parents. Bloomz is your best bet. Usually there is a K play date before school starts, which is a good time to meet other families and get your child used to the space. I think the family engagement coordinator organizes it (they school might give you her contact info) but COVID changes everything. Maybe by August it will be OK. 

    Bottom line--don't worry about the Spanish. I think sometimes kids come in at 1st grade with no Spanish (special circumstances) and they do fine, too. 

    Thank you! This is really helpful!

  • Feedback on Sylvia Mendez

    (2 replies)

    My child has been at EBI for preschool and was admitted to Sylvia Mendez for kindergarten and we are trying to decide whether to make the switch. We'd love to support our local public schools and of course the burden of private school tuition is a factor is our decision, but we were counting on being able to visit a Sylvia Mendez kindergarten classroom before deciding. Now with the schools closed, that's not an option. Are there any current parents who can share their experiences? How is the aftercare? I'd be especially interested to hear from any former EBI parents who made the switch but any current feedback on Sylvia Mendez, especially in the lower grades, would be greatly appreciated!

    RE: Feedback on Sylvia Mendez ()

    Sylvia Mendez community is the strongest we have found in Berkeley - and the TK and K teachers are good. Property is OK, convenient enough, and the facilities are, well, public school quality, so, good enough. School leadership including the principal and admin is especially strong, and the PTA is well-organized and funded. The after school programs are subpar, but they try with what they have available, and that is generally the case district-wide we hear - both Learns and Bears. Unique challenges to Sylvia Mendez are of course its greatest strengths, a diverse community with varying needs. As with any public school, tremendous resources are spent on the most needy - occasionally at the expense of least needy - but it is managed fairly at times. You won't avoid Berkeley politics here, they often seem especially acute at Sylvia Mendez, so embrace it - a great public school experience. Our child has grown dramatically for her socio-emotional intelligence, maintained her Spanish (bilingual house), and hasn't fallen too far behind on academic measures. I'd recommend with reservations noted above.

    RE: Feedback on Sylvia Mendez ()

    Our daughter went to EBI for three years of pre-school and then moved to LeConte (Sylvia Mendez) for kindergarten. We liked the community at EBI but have loved SM...Our daughter is in 4th grade and she's had some fantastic and some so-so teachers (all the kindergarten teachers seem amazing), but she's thrived there. The families are really committed to the school, the PTA is impressive and the principal is very dynamic. The after school program for kindergartners is mostly letting them run around, but in later grades there's time to do home work and some academic enrichment and the opportunity to do some really fun activities that cost extra, like circus arts, chess, etc. 

  • BUSD - Bus schedule?

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone know the current bus schedules for Sylvia Mendez and BAM? We live near Rosa Parks, so I assume that would be our pick up spot. I realize they will change next year, but I'd love to find out this information if possible!

    RE: BUSD - Bus schedule? ()

    The Rosa Parks pickup for Sylvia Mendez is about 7:30 am...

    RE: BUSD - Bus schedule? ()

    Please call 510-644-6182 BUSD Transportation

    Every year routes are modified based on families requesting stops. You can also email transportationdept [at]

    They tend to respond 24 to 48 hours. 

    BAM is a late start school at 9pm 

    Sylvia Mendez is an early start school 8:10AM

    Also other buses that pick up at RP for other schools like Oxford and Cragmont can have stops there, so its best to ask Transportation then other parents about pick up times. 

    Personal experience: Begining of the school year my boys are picked up at BAM at 8:42am, we then lost bus service due to inactive use. When we reactivated the use of bus service their pick up time changed to 8:12am.  

  • Recent reviews for new LeConte family?

    (0 replies)

    Hi, we just got assigned to LeConte in the BUSD lottery. This was our first choice as my husband is Spanish-speaking and our kids are being raised in a trilingual house. But, having now read through some reviews here and elsewhere, I'm feeling less inspired. Would love to hear from other families about their experience at this school. Also curious to hear about after school if you have thoughts!

    In community.

  • I've just arrived in the area and am interested in learning about public Spanish immersion/dual-language in the area elementary schools. Our family is bilingual and we're interested to know about folks' experience with these public options for dual-language- how they operate, admission, performance, school culture (specifically if there are actually Latino children in the schools, a mix of learners and native Spanish speakers), and overall satisfaction. Where do kids go for MS or HS when they finish?

    Thanks for any insights!

    Check out Melrose Leadership Academy, in Oakland near Mills College. It is a dual immersion k-8 school with a good reputation academically and as far as the Community goes.

    I don't have first hand experience but have heard good things about Melrose Leadership Academy and Manzanita Community School. 

    Welcome! Berkeley's public elementary two-way immersion school is at LeConte in south Berkeley. My child attends and the following is my understanding of the aims and policies, though I may be off on the official line. They aim for 50% Spanish-dominant population and in practice I believe get 1/3 Spanish-dominant, 1/3 bilingual, 1/3 Spanish-naieve/English-dominant. At a glance, the school appears to be roughly half Latino (including biracial). BUSD uses a lottery for all their elementary schools. Any Berkeley resident can apply to LeConte. Because they aim to get 50% Spanish-dominant, it is harder to get in if your child does not speak Spanish. If you claim Spanish language on the application, your child will be tested. While I once heard that bilingual children end up filling in the 50% Spanish dominant slots (because it's hard to fill those), it seems like you may only get preference if your child is actually stronger in Spanish than English. But that may not be true. LeConte offers 30 min of language lab 4 days a week for language learners to focus on their weaker language at their level--this seems to be a very good program. The two-way immersion works. My child was Spanish-naieve and speaks, reads, and writes well in both languages after 3 years (English spelling is rough, though!). Kids speak English on the playground but I think the aftercare teachers speak in Spanish. I know a mother who speaks Spanish at home and has sent 4 children through BUSD's two-way immersion program. She says her children are very strong in both languages and she is very happy with the program. Students can attend Longfellow Middle school to continue the immersion. (But FYI the immersion is 90% in K, gradually reducing to ~50% by 5th, and middle school is <50% Spanish, I believe.) I've heard Berkeley High has lots of great classes for advanced Spanish speakers. Good luck!

  • Experience at LeConte Elementary?

    (2 replies)


    My family is preparing to apply for the BUSD kindergarten lottery. There's no recent information on BPN about LeConte, which we thought would be our top pick (for the immersion program) but where we had a less-than-inspiring visit.

    Are there families out there who would be willing to share their recent experiences of the school? Things you love, don't love, things that you see changing, etc.?

    Thank you in advance.


    Hi, our daughter is in first grade at Le Conte...she started in kindergarten and is having an excellent experience. We're happy to share thoughts about the school. You can contact me via my user name.

    Andrew Gilbert

    Our daughter is in second grade and doing very well. We are happy with the school and very glad to be there. Any issues we've encountered or observed are the same issues I hear from friends who have kids at other BUSD schools--generic challenges of public school (which is not to say private school is problem-free). Many excellent teachers, nice outdoor space, a cafeteria AND an auditorium. Other programs we like include farm and garden, monthly assemblies that parents are invited to, monthly music and dance assemblies, language lab, and PE (run by the YMCA, I think). 

Parent Reviews

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I wouldn't give up on Sylvia Mendez. Enrollment for the kinder class was low last year for obvious reasons and the district does not think those numbers will fully recover this year. So it is quite possible you would get a slot there even with the late registration -- particularly since your child was in immersion last year.

My only experience with EBI was their summer program which my son (a SM student) went to for a week after 2nd grade. It was a lovely program and did not feel exclusive at all, but of course summer can be quite different than regular school year.

Good luck to you!

Unfortunately our pre-COVID experience at Sylvia Mendez has been pretty weak, especially with regard to Social Studies. It gets a bit better in 4th and 5th grade. It may be in part because of the two-way immersion program eating up more instructional hours on reading and writing (students are to become bilingual and biliterate by the end of 5th grade). Our now 6th grader did get some California history in 4th grade including an end of year trip to Sierra Outdoor School. Sadly, that trip has been cancelled (before COVID) with no replacement at 4th or 5th grade. Our current 4th grader has had absolutely NO CA history this year.

Science is a little different. During the 2018-2019 school year, the elementary schools hired dedicated science teachers for grades 1-5. (Before that, as far as I can tell, grades 1-3 got zero science, but 4th and 5th had a dedicated science teacher.) The younger kids get ~45 minutes of science a week, and 4th and 5th get 1.5 hours. Not great, but better than nothing. They are now getting 45 minutes via distance learning. Hopefully as the science teachers get some experience teaching the science curriculum, it will get better.


Berkeley Unified, a relatively small district, has one Spanish immersion school at the elementary level, Sylvia Mendez. The program continues into middle school at Longfellow. My kids go to Sylvia Mendez and for the most part we are very happy there. Dedicated teachers and staff, and quality curriculum. The district strives to have a balance of native Spanish speakers, bilingual, and English-only students. In practice, however, it is skewed toward English-only as the demographics of Berkeley are changing and there are fewer recent immigrants coming here. If you are transferring in at 1st grade and your daughter has a solid foundation of Spanish, she might get a spot, but you should know that there is a waiting list at most grade levels.

My only other experience is with San Francisco Unified which has several Spanish immersion programs. I don't know how easy it is to transfer at 1st grade. Our daughter was at Buena Vista Horace Mann for 3 years, and while we had a good experience, it was demographically a very different school. It had a large percentage of low income families, many more kids who knew no English, and many more newcomers. Definitely a more immersive experience for our English-only kids!

Good luck to you on your search. We've been in Berkeley for 2+ years now and have overall been glad we moved. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

I haven’t been there recently, but my kids used to enjoy the small climbing wall at Dracena Quarry Park in Piedmont. Also, there’s a similar wall at the park in Moeser Lane in El Cerrito — Cerrito Vista Park , I think. And a really nice, big rope structure on the school grounds of Le Conte Elementary School in south Berkeley.Happy climbing!

My son is new to Le Conte kindergarten this year.  We also felt very excited and hopeful but the transition into LeConte has been very difficult because of the behavior of some of the kids.  At Le Conte, kids of all ages and background are welcome (which is great) but unfortunately they are very understaffed when it comes to aids and lunch/recess monitoring.  We were shocked about some of the physical and verbal behavior we witnessed.  When we discussed this with the teacher and the principal, they expressed their general strategies but acknowledged that a)they were understaffed and b) they heavily rely on kids to be able to stand up for themselves (which sounds a bit crazy for kindergarten).  We've since taken kid power workshops, volunteer in the classroom and are trying to get more funding for teacher aides.  I'm not sure if other BUSD schools are in the same situation.  In all, our son seems happy and is learning and making friends.... We are hopeful but it's taken a lot of work.  Coupled with language immersion, the program may be great in the long term but definitely is not for the faint of heart.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Current playground safety at le conte?

Le Conte: experience with TWI

Feb 2016

Hi, We are looking at the TWI program at Le Conte and wanted to know of recent experiences specifically for English speakers. Our child speaks another language in addition to English but does not speak Spanish. Do you think it is possible to sustain two languages in addition to picking up Spanish. Also, if you have comments regarding recent experiences, how the current principal is (strengths/weaknesses), if you have had any incidents of bullying, academic strengths and challenges of TWI, it would be great to hear. prospective parent

Since you specifically asked about the current principal at LeConte, I'll offer my experience: When I needed to take my child out of school for two weeks in order to say goodbye to my dying mother (who was very close to my child, and who resided out of state, necessitating the two weeks out of school), the principal at LeConte was absolutely unwilling to excuse the absence and wrote me an email, as I was at my dying mother's bedside, declaring my child a ''truant'' based on the absence. (As an aside, this ''truant'' label has not appeared to affect my child negatively in the years since the incident, but the wording of the BUSD policy regarding ''truancy'' is quite alarming, and that was all I had to go on at the time.) This despite the fact that I had full support and understanding from my child's teachers, and the fact that I obtained a packet containing two weeks of school work from the teachers prior to the trip, which my child completed. She had just begun her position as principal there at the time, so hopefully she has matured as an administrator in the two years that have passed since then, but I don't feel comfortable sending another child of mine to LeConte while she is in a position of authority there.

To answer your other questions about the school, my child made great friendships with other children that have lasted into middle school (though I suspect that would happen at most elementary schools), lost much of her early fluency in Spanish since the TWI model means that by 5th grade, very little Spanish is used in the classroom, had some favorite teachers and some that weren't as popular with students (though all seemed good or great to me, with the exception of one year in which a teacher was going through personal difficulties and became occasionally hostile towards students, but that experience seemed like an anomaly in what was otherwise an even and reliable educational environment), and seems to look back on the elementary years mostly with fondness. Again, I think that would have been the case at any of the Berkeley elementary schools, though. Looking Elsewhere

There are many things I appreciate about LeConte's TWI program. My child has had wonderful teachers. The community is diverse, with enough supportive parents that you don't feel alone when you help out at the school. You had asked about bullying. During my child's time at LeConte, he has been on both ends -- being the aggressor and also being the recipient of aggression. The few times that my child was involved, the teachers dealt with the situation appropriately -- giving consequences, informing parents, etc. The only time that I felt not enough was done, I was able to talk to the principal, and she followed through with appropriate actions. Overall, my experience at LeConte has been a positive one. - a TWI parent

Feb 2015

We put down Le Conte as a possibility for kindergarten bc we really liked the idea of immersion, and now we are wondering if the school has good playground/recess management. I know there is a new principal (I think she's the third new one recently?). I want to know from current parents what their feel of the playground safety is at Le Conte. We probably won't even get in, but it's always good to have the data points. thanks anon

My child is in kindergarten at LeConte, and I have only great things to say about our experiences there.

Regarding playground management, the TK and K classes have their own playground that is separate from the 1st-5th playground. For the older kids, 1st-3rd graders have the same AM recess. After that, 4th & 5th graders have their AM recess. A YMCA coach helps supervise the kids on the playground and sets up organized games & sports that kids can take part in. Based on what my child has said, as well as a lack of incident reports (no news is good news), I take it that my child usually has fun during recess. Sure, my child has told me a couple times that another student kicked or punched him, but I think occasional hitting is typical for this age. So we talked about how he responded (my child usually hits back in these situations) and what other options there might be in responding to someone hitting.

Overall, we have a nice kindergarten cohort, which helps to create a positive recess experience for the kids. Best wishes on the school lottery outcome and deciding on a school! - Happy LeConte parent

Sept 2013

Re: Which Schools Use A Best-for-Boys Approach?
I am looking forward to seeing the responses you get on this one. As the parent of a high energy boy in a Berkeley Public School I can say I am deeply disappointed at our school (LeConte). While the teachers have been willing to work with my to accommodate my son I am shocked at how much I have had to intervene to get them to accommodate him - I just can't believe he's the first high energy boy they've ever come across but that's what it felt like. Until I intervened the approach to dealing with his behavior was very punishment based. While I see his high energy and lack of impulse control as just another problem in a young child that should be dealt with just like kids with reading or learning challenges the school does not view it that way. We are back to school less than one week and he has already had recess taken away for bad behavior (yes, in Berkeley in the 21st century that is what they do to high energy boys!!). So no real advice but pepper your kid with questions re what is going on and intervene early and often if you have to. dis-illusioned BUSD parent

Recent feedback on Le Conte and dual immersion

March 2013

I'm curious to get more recent feedback from parents at Le Conte, now that the school is transitioning into being the only dual immersion program in Berkeley. How is the transition going? Were all the kindergarten classes truly dual immersion this year? Berkeley parent

I have been a parent a LeConte for 6 years, I have two kids there now and hope to have a third there in 2014. In my time there I have witnessed many changes, new teachers, new systems and strategies. We have excellent, hard working teachers (one received the National Outstanding Young Teacher Award last year LeConte has been in constant change since I arrived, and though this presents many challenges it has also built a very strong and involved community. This year there was still only one TWI Kinder class at LeConte, next year there will be 3. I am confident LeConte will thrive during this next transition. Our teachers, principals and staff have been preparing for this for several years, and our families are ready to do what it takes to make the program great. LeConte Parent

Nov 2011

Re: Two Way Immersion in BUSD
I have two children at LeConte Elementary School in Berkeley and have had nothing but excellent teachers for my children so far. The community at LeConte is so close knit and supportive and it is made up of both TWI and English Only students and parents. I highly recomend you visit LeConte and spend some time in both the TWI and English classrooms. Having the TWI program at our school has helped create an environment of global education, all children are exposed to bilingualism regardless of the program they are in. At a school like LeConte you can compare both programs easily and get a sense of what will work best for your family and your child. We have Celebrate LeConte Assemblies the last Friday of every month, also, we have a wonderful Latino Heritage Celebration in December. LeConte Mom

Oct 2011

Piggybacking on the really helpful advice already posted on John Muir versus Emerson by parents in the southeastern zone....what about Malcolm X and LeConte? I know there was an issue with many southeastern zone families not getting into Malcolm X and that many families have wanted to be there. And I've read some not so great stuff on BPN about LeConte (non immersion). Can those parents who have gone through thinking about these four options and then had the experience of their children attending these schools share more? We will of course go to the parent nights and tours etc but would love more info from parents who have been there. What has been the approach of parents assigned LeConte nonimmersion? Has anyone resorted to private school? Has anyone been happily surprised by LeConte nonimmersion? Thanks so much. southeastern zone mom

I can certainly relate to your concerns regarding LeConte. My family moved here last spring and due to the timing of our move, missed the first round of lottery applications. I did extensive research of each school and decided to exclude LeConte from our application (I even crossed it out!) b/c frankly, the reviews on BPN scared the heck out of me. Sure enough, we were rejected everywhere EXCEPT LeConte. After many sleepless nights, and even considerations of private school, we decided to send our son to LeConte with the plan to transfer him as soon as a spot opened elsewhere in our zone.

Man were we in for a surprise. I absolutely cannot tell you how thrilled we are with our son's situation at LeConte. His K teacher (yes, non-immersion) is absolutely incredible. Honestly, I could not imagine a better teacher for our son--someone patient and kind, who tailors her approach to each child's individual needs. I feared a chaotic environment that I so often read about in reviews, but honestly, I've never seen such a calm environment where the kids arrive to school excited and ready to learn. The school also has such wonderful offerings as Farm & Garden and Cooking as well as many PTA sponsored after-school classes. Also, I should note, my son's best friend in school is in the immersion program (they play together at recess) so the distinct separation (hierarchy?) between immersion vs. non-immersion that we were concerned about, seems to be a non-factor after-all.

Maybe our experience is different this year because of the new K teachers. Or, maybe it's the efforts of a wonderful prinicipal and an engaged group of parents, who are turning the school around. Either way, we have been pleasantly surprised (shocked actually) at how wonderful LeConte non-immersion turned out to be. -Happy LeConte Non-Immersion Parent

Our son is in one of the two English language kindergarten classes at LeConte. We had considered private school as well as three of the SE schools (we felt like Malcolm X was just too big for our tastes, although lots of folks love it). We had the usual trepidation about LeConte, but we listed it as our second choice because:

a) We know families who have gone through the school, have great teenagers, and love LeConte b) We were impressed by the principal, Cheryl Wilson, and just had a good feeling on our tours c) It's close to home

Eight weeks into the school year, we are really happy that we were assigned to LeConte! Our son's teacher is fantastic - she really seems to have a gift for teaching kindergartners and engaging kids at all levels. (She joined the faculty in August to fill an unexpected vacancy - kudos again to Principal Wilson for a great last-minute hire). We are getting to know several of the other parents, both in and out of the Spanish Immersion program, whether at dropoff or pickup, at PTA meetings, or other activities. Our son has friends in all three kindergarten classes, English and Spanish. And finally, the afterschool program is well-run and our son finds it really engaging.

When our son is at home with us in the evenings, he regales us with details of his after school anatomy lessons, recreates dishes that he learned in his cooking class, and eagerly works on his homework packet. LeConte is clearly a community that has parents and faculty working for our kids. Happy LeConte Dad

Sept 2011

My child is entering 1st grade at LeConte after completing kindergarten last year. I can share my general impressions. While the school principal is energetic and dedicated completely to her students, my overall sense is that things are not that well managed. We attended several afterschool special programs that were disorganized and disjointed; it was not clear what my child was expected to do. I was surprised by the lack of professionalism. The PTA fundraisers were not that inspiring and there was no follow up. Little thing: they asked parents to line up donations for the spring fundraiser just before the event instead of well in advance like most other schools/PTAs. So it is no surprise that LeConte raises less funds. Nevertheless, LeConte has a very nice community of kids, parents and teachers. Parent involvement does vary among classes and between the TWI and english only tracks. Despite some of these negatives, we are staying! Anon LeConte Parent

Jan 2011

I am in the south east zone and considering all of the schools there. I am having a hard time getting information about LeConte from non -immersion parents - all the parents I have encountered (at the school fare, doing the tour, at the kindergarten night) are TWI parents. So my questions are 1) if you are the parent of an non TWI child at the school what is your impression of it? 2) are the non TWI parents involved very much in the school? thanks.

There are non TWI parents at Leconte but fewer are involved because there really are two schools here. The District refuses to accept that to have a TWI school with only 1 English track is NOT a good model.

That said, if you visit the playground after school you will meet some of the parents of the English only program.

Many of us struggle with staying at the school with the structural problem, and the teachers are very dedicated and highly qualified. But any teacher will tell you, you need options for class composition and, in the English track (there is not other way say it) that is just not possible.

My daughter is still having a good experience at the school but there tends to be too much stress for us at this school. Anon

We were at Le Conte last year in the non-immersion program in the 3rd grade. I can't speak to other grades, but our class had literally no parent involvement. There were sometimes parents coming in to talk to the teacher after school, so we did meet some of them, but our class did not have a room parent until we volunteered. When we got a holiday card for the teacher, we sent email to every parent twice and sent notes home with the kids, but only one other parent signed the card that we left in the office. A number of the kids in our class were, like us, new to the school, so that could explain why there was not a lot of parent cohesiveness. It was a small class, but I would say that about half the students had developmental issues or behavioral problems. Many kids were 1, 2, even 3 years older than our kid (who is usually right in the middle age-wise w/ a spring birthday.). You asked ''what is your impression of it?'' My impression is that the district largely ignores the non-immersion component at Le Conte. It almost seems like a kind of dumping ground for the district. Maybe the district has decided that test scores will be low anyway due to the large number of non-English speakers, so it places troublesome district kids at Le Conte so as to protect test scores at other schools. Just a guess. anon

Yes! There are plenty of non-TWI parents at LeConte!

I currently have a third grader and a first grader, and next year my youngest will be at LeConte in the English/Traditional kindergarten. All the positive things you have heard from the TWI parents apply to the English program as well. We have a great community working together for the best education for all students. Our teachers collaborate (English & TWI together) to develop differentiated lesson plans for our students. The principal devotes herself to the students of the school, looking out for the best interest of each student. We have all of the strong enrichment programs at all the Berkeley schools (farm & garden, music, cooking, art) plus a full suite of afterschool enrichment classes. Additionally, we are placing special emphasis on math and technology to make sure all students have the essential skills for future success.

Parents from the English program ARE involved in our children's education. In fact, I am co-chair of our School Governance Council this year. The kindergarten events just haven't fit well with our busy schedule this year (and we already know where our kindergartner will be attending).

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about LeConte. We have a lot of good things happening at LeConte, I hope you will join us. A.

I'm a parent of a non-TWI LeConte kid who is in 2nd grade. My son has had a good experience so far with Ms. Gee and Ms. Barer, and I perceive him to be learning a great deal. He really loves the farm and garden program. LeConte has a nice kitchen facility for cooking classes, which is a feature that some of the other elementary schools don't. My son tells me about the science experiments that they conduct, shares nutritional facts, talks about plant reproduction... The school feels small, intimate, knowable. There are many non-TWI parents involved in the school, although it does seem like the TWI parents are perhaps more visibly involved as volunteers and PTA movers. I don't feel any sort of division between the parents, though. It feels very inclusive and friendly. We've enjoyed meeting lots of new people in the neighborhood through LeConte. So far, so good! Amy K.

We are parents of a ''non-TWI'' 4th grade student who, for the most part, has had a very positive experience at LeConte. LeConte is a diverse school that regularly celebrates its cultural diversity both in and after school. But, let's first deal with the white elephant in the room--API scores. LeConte has the lowest scores in the zone, and possibly the entire district. This is an unfortunate stigma that has been placed upon the school that in our opinion does not reflect the quality of instruction. Our son's teachers have been caring individuals with creative pedagogies. Because of the state standards (and STAR tests), the curriculum in the K-3 levels is focused largely on math, reading and writing. We have found that in the 4th grade, the social studies and science curriculum receives more attention, and is much more content focused (and interesting for the students). The principal is an extremely dynamic, hard-working individual who is devoted to the success of every child. It's true that the TWI program sometimes seems like a school within the school, and that the parents of the TWI program are generally more involved in the PTA leadership. However, the PTA is very active and serves all the students in the school. As non-TWI parents, we have never felt unwelcome to join the PTA leadership, or to get involved in the school in general. Perhaps what has impressed us the most about LeConte has been the ''extras.'' LeConte has an excellent Farm and Garden program, and Cooking programs. As well, the school has a great library and librarian. We have also been pleased with the after-school program (Community Kidz and PTA after-school classes).

**Warning-soapbox moment** The bottom line is this. LeConte ''feels'' like a very blue collar school (in a Berkeley sort of way). It's a fairly laid-back place. Our parents undoubtedly care about their children, but they have many other concerns in their lives as well. What you won't find around LeConte (especially in the non-TWI track) is the stereotypical Bay Area helicopter parent who starts planning their child's east coast, ivy league education before they are even toilet trained. What you will find are parents who desire that their children learn in a safe, respectful and caring environment. In our opinion, LeConte delivers in those areas. Happy parents of a non-TWI Leconte child

April 2010

Reviews of LeConte Elementary are quite old (2008) and overwhelmingly speak to the immersion program. We were assigned LeConte for kindergarten (non-immersion), our 4th choice. I am concerned as I worry there is a sense of the non-immersion classes being lower quality, ''the step-child'' if you will. I do hear the much-admired principal has high energy for school improvement and closing the achievement gap. Can any LeConte family with kids in any grade, dispel my fears about the quality of the non-immersion educational experience at LeConte? Or is my concern well-founded? -- Fretting on wait lists

We were assigned to Le Conte this year. We transferred from another school outside the district, and my child is in one of the non-immersion classes. There are many things to like about Le Conte: attractive new landscaping, kitchen gardens and chickens, cooking classes, enormous playground, good after-school program with fun activities like skateboarding, cooking, guitar and even a movie review club for older kids. There is a fantastic and very dedicated principal who knows every kid's name, a helpful school secretary who knows every parent's name, and the after-school staff is energetic and wonderful. It's a friendly school, the kind where staff smile and greet you when you come into school, and you really feel welcome.

But we have not had a good experience with the classroom environment. Although we have a very kind and experienced teacher, the classroom is very chaotic. I mean VERY chaotic. We have seen (or our child has told us about) kids constantly disrupting the class, running out of the classroom, spitting, using profanity, throwing things (including chairs). Our child comes home cranky almost every day. There are fewer than 18 kids in the class, and there is always at least one aide present, often more. A number of kids in the class have pretty major developmental issues. A number of kids are new to the school this year. There is very low parent participation in our class. Two kids in the class have left the school this year and a third transferred to another class. Our child is learning, but we almost never see graded homework or classwork or spelling tests coming home.

This school has so much going for it, but the environment has been stressful for our child, and we won't be back next year. Maybe our particular class is an aberration and other non-immersion classes at the school are fine. But our kid is also not happy in the after-school program, so I suspect it is more widespread.

Our friends at other schools in Berkeley are not having this kind of experience. Many BUSD schools are on par with the private schools. So what is going on with Le Conte? My theory: Le Conte is the lowest performing school in our zone, perhaps because of the large number of non-native-English speakers in the immersion program. Because test scores are so low, few families list Le Conte as their first choice unless they are hoping for the popular immersion program. I suspect that many families who are assigned to Le Conte anyway, despite listing it last, either manage to get in to a different school, or opt out of public school altogether. Therefore, the non-immersion classes are more likely than other BUSD schools to be populated by kids whose parents either didn't make a request at all, or who, like us, requested other schools but were assigned to Le Conte. I think that families who don't make a request at all tend to be less involved in their kid's school, which is associated with lower academic performance. At the same time, the families who have other options than Le Conte tend not to come. Which means that the non-immersion classes at Le Conte become more and more concentrated with low-performing and troublesome kids, which makes it much harder for teachers to address their needs, which means continued lower-than- average test scores and higher-than-average numbers of difficult kids, which continues to detract from the desirability of the school. And the cycle repeats.

The disparity among elementary schools in Berkeley is really pretty shocking and is of course extremely unfair to the kids who are stuck in the low-performing schools.
Not a happy camper

March 2008

Re: BUSD Spanish Immersion--How Are The Academics?
I wouldn't draw too many conclusions about a school from their test scores - that has more to do with the demographics of the student body (which does vary at the BUSD elementary schools despite all their best efforts) than with the quality of the teachers or programs. Our kids are at LeConte, where test scores are lower than at many other schools, but all the immersion teachers are excellent, and we're very happy with both the academic and social offerings at the school. My kindergarten daughter is learning to read, write, and count in two languages at once, and she is making weekly gains and so proud. In my opinion, you can't help but boost your childs learning by teaching them another language! Happy Immersion Parent

My two boys are in 2nd and 4th in the TWI at LeConte, a ''low-scoring'' BUSD school (though several BUSD elementaries are in ''program improvement'' and are really very good.) I am very pleased with the quality of the academics and the immersion program at LeConte (and perhaps more important the warm and thriving community feeling at LeConte.)

I can say that learning two languages slightly slowed my boys' reading fluency and spelling in English and thus has affected their scores, but the benefits of the dual language acquisition are clear even to me now - they make word connections/definitions easier than otherwise, get an ''ear'' and a better accent for the language, and we are able to do international travel to Latin America that is much more fulfilling for them at an early age. I am also aware of research that the more standard ''test-driven'' academic benefits of dual language appear later - middle school and life long.

I am happy to talk about specifics of our experience in the LeConte program if that is the school you are looking at. margi

Feb 2008

We are looking at elementary schools in Berkeley for our daughter who will be starting kindergarten in the fall. We live in the Southeast zone and are particularly interested in LeConte and Malcolm X. I have read the reviews of both from last spring but am wondering whether anyone has any more recent opinions. Sarah

Sarah, I'm a LeConte dad of a child in the immersion program. I love this school. Our principal, Cheryl Wilson, is in her third year and brings energy and love every day. She knows every child by name; every child is recognized on her birthday and on several other occasions throughout the year. Cheryl's energy is infectious and you can see the teachers and staff reflect that. The programs are numerous and well executed. Cooking and Farm and Garden are famous favorites of the children. Call the school, 644-6290, to arrange a tour if you have time. If you choose LeConte, you child will be happy, educated and loved. LeConte Dad

My son is in kindergarten at LeConte. We have been very happy. His teacher is great and does a good job of teaching each of the kids according to their level while working in all the little things that make for a diverse learning experience. The principal is very invested in the school and is doing a good job at building a sense of community. I like that the school is small (around 300 students) because we can both get to know everyone and make a significant impact in the time we have to give. Of course, there are all the other positives like a great Farm & Garden program, a strong dual immersion program, cooking class every other week, a grass soccer field, a diverse student population, great afterschool programs, and more! Try it and you'll like it! LeConte Parent

My daughter is a kindergartener in the two-way immersion program and we have been very pleased with our experience so far. A few unique features of LeConte include the Farm and Garden, the two-way immersion Spanish and the full-inclusion programs. The principal, Cheryl Wilson, is fantastic and I'm sure among the best in the district (which is more important than I realized as an incoming kindergarten parent). Her enthusiastic leadership and modeling of sincere support and respect towards ALL the children and their families (she is fluent in Spanish) permeates the school atmosphere. My daughter has seen older kids from LeConte outside of school and has always been greeted warmly by them which I believe reflects the sense of community and respect the students feel towards eachother. This support extends beyond the early grade students to the upper grades and faculty. This year the 4th and 5th grade teachers initiated a new program to teach all upper level students (Immersion and English-only) collectively with a tightly coordinated curriculum. So far, the teachers report great gains in all (not just immersion) studentsm work and the students/families love it. The recent test scores are admittedly lower than some others in the district, but I truly believe the supportive and positive environment at LeConte right now bodes well for future endeavors and results. I feel lucky to be a part of it. happy LeConte parent

We are now in our fourth year at LeConte and have found the school an excellent educational experience for our son, as well as very responsive to our needs. The principal, Cheryl Wilson, has devoted her life to helping children of all backgrounds. I have never seen anyone work harder than Cheryl. She has excellent rapport with the teachers, which has in turn motivated them to perform at their highest. In addition to Cheryl's efforts, many teachers have secured grants and other resources to benefit their classes. An example of this is be a teacher-led proposal which resulted in a class-size reduction for the upper grades. Next year all 6 grades will have no more than 20 students. Funds have also been secured for facility improvements. Our farm and garden is one of the oldest and best developed in the District. I could go on and on. Let me just say I urge you to give LeConte a serious look and would be glad to answer any additional questions via email. Thanks! Laurie

Hi, We're a new kindergarten family and have been so happy with our experience at Le Conte. Our son is in the bilingual program and is thriving beyond our expectations. Le Conte has a tight cadre of parents who are very involved, a principal who can only be described as a superstar, and a myriad of school activities and programs that make the school so special--farm and garden, cooking, the Latino Heritage celebration, author readings, Sports 4 Kids, concerts, and more--including wonderful after-school PTA-sponsored classes (music, art, circus arts, yoga, performing arts...).

The school just received a renovation grant, so the facilities will soon be spiffed up. Above all, I feel like the environment at Le Conte is so friendly and welcoming--there is always so much activity in the school, parents in and out of the classrooms, happy students learning, etc., that it feels like a family. Our son seems to know everyone's name, K-5! Overjoyed at Le Conte!

I have three children at LeConte (5th, 3rd and K) and I really love the school. Principal Cheryl Wilson has a personal and loving relationship with each of my children, which is far more than anyone could ever expect from any principal. The LeConte staff is connected to the kids, from the secretary, librarian, PE coaches, chefs, farmers, afterschool staff (which is especially amazing) to of course, the classroom teachers. I also teach graduates of LeConte at a BUSD middle school, and have noted among them a special sense of community and love of and excitement for learning. LeConte school has been a great place for my kids to feel valued and cared for while they learn academic skills they need. Mary

Nov 2007

Re: Choosing between public schools in southeast zone
First, you can schedule tours at each of the schools from now until January. At LeConte, tours are about 1/2 hour and parents are invited to return to observe at their leisure. Our child is at LeConte, and despite some reservations at first, I am very pleased with the school. Sheryl Wilson has been principal for about three years and is really super. She knows each kid, she truly loves each kid, and the love and caring permeate the school. LeConte has the Farm and Garden and cooking classes, where kids grow foods that are then used in cooking classes that are then served for lunch. As integrated of a curriculum as you'd want. Staff is dedicated and professional. I think the brightest to the neediest children can thrive there. Happy LeConte Parent

April 2007

Our son has been assigned LeConte elementary for kindergarten. We know that people are generally very happy with the Spanish immersion program. But do any parents have experiences with the regular (non spanish immersion)classes? erica

My daughter, how a 4th grader, has attended Leconte School in Berkeley since kindergarten where she has been enrolled in the ''non-Spanish immersion'' classes. She is a bright, articulate, and confident girl -- active in the student council, the afterschool program, and other activities. She and I have been impressed with all her teachers. She reads well above grade level and last year scored ''advanced'' on the math CST. We enjoy the small learning community of LeConte, its ethnic and socio-economic diversity, the active PTA, and its dedicated teachers and staff. I encourage anyone interested in LeConte to visit the school during school hours and to talk to CURRENT parents and students. liz

April 2007

My child (an English native speaker) was accepted into Kindergarten at LeConte Dual Immersion. I know they're going to be adding a second class in the fall, but I was wondering if someone could post about their experiences with the current k- class. We're very excited that he was accepted but now just looking for some comments on people's experience with the school- -both the immersion program and the school as a whole. Gracias! Anon

My daughter is in K at the dual immersion at LeConte. We are very happy with her class and with the school as a whole. The principal is dynamic. There is a well established farm and garden program (25 years) that has chickens, bunnies and really nice teachers. Her love of cooking is being fostered in the cooking program, she comes home wanting to cook nutritious things. The school has sports4kids who work with the kids by class once a week and assist on the school yard at lunch and recess. There is a special K playground for the morning recess where all the K kids play together which feels safe and cozy for the transition.

It is spring break now and my daughter is drawing pictures of animals and people and labeling them in Spanish. She is learning so much. This is her favorite teacher she has had. I am very happy with our decision.

That said, during the first month of school we had a very hard transition. It took me by suprise since my daugter did pre-school since age two and is a pretty well adjusted kid. Regardless, making the switch to K was hard for us and for some of the other families in our class. I felt like the teacher and school supported this very well. I was amazed at the corner we turned. The begining of emersion is confusing for alot of kids, but it really seems like they know what is going on. LeConte has great PTA sponsored after-school classes, circus, cooking, flute, dance and more. These classes really helped with the transition too.

There are after school programs provided at the school which we have participated in a little. The staff is really caring and great with the kids. The feeling I get about it is very positive and it seems to have lots of great energy being poured into it. If you have any specific questions feel free to contact me. arden

Oct 2006

As a parent of two at LeConte Elementary I want to share some of its attractions: Environmental Science: the farm/garden/cooking program very motivating and educational for the kids. Lots of science workshops and field trips, and interesting uses of computers/photography projects. Principal Cheryl Wilson started last year. There is a lot of new energy and creativity. The Spanish-English program and full-inclusion program which serves kids with special needs. The overall culture at the school is very diverse and inclusive and fun. A nice community, strong emphasis on students supporting each other, active parents. A great afterschool program with enrichment classes that is affordable (and has ample scholarships.) Low reading scores are a concern (bi-lingual program and population mix at LeConte may be the reason for this and the whole District seems to have easy answers I guess). Kids at LeConte seem to thrive and love the school. Come by and visit if you are looking at schools!
P.S. Haunted House Friday Oct 27th 6-8:30 which is a blast!

June 2006

I would like to know if anyone has any feed back or experience with Kindergarden at La Conte or The East Bay Conservation Corps Charter school. These are the two schools that my 5 year old has been enrolled in. She has been in the cocoon of a wonderful pre- school (Nia House)for the past 3 years. I would appreciate any comments. Jose

Our son has just finished his kindergarten year in the dual-immersion (Spanish) program at Le Conte Elementary. We have loved it! He was also in the wonderful cocoon of Garden Day Montessori fro 3 years before Le Conte, and we were also a bit worried, but it has been great.

The principal of Le Conte is an amazing, empathetic, and energetic force, and the community is really good. We love the garden program and the cooking classes. Our kids come home begging to make their special recipes for dinner! The after school PTA programs have been great too, and our son really enjoys flute, circus arts, chess, and singing classes on site. It's a very diverse school, with all the benefits and challenges that come with, but it's been a great experience for our sometimes sensitive son.

Nov 2005

I am going through the task of evaluating public (and some private) elementary schools for kindergarten admission next fall. I would be interested in hearing from parents with kids currently at either Emerson, John Muir, Malcolm X and Leconte. nina

I have a child in first grade at LeConte Elementary. We are having a wonderful experience at the school this year. We have a new Principal Cheryl Wilson, who has brought with her boundless energy and enthusiasm. Every morning she greets the children, calls each one by name and tries to make every child feel welcome at our school.

Other highlights of our school include the excellent dual Spanish/English immersion program, our wonderful after-school program, cooking classes and Farm and Garden program. Our daughter is in the dual immersion program which she loves and attends the after-school program which is run by a new Director with a degree in multicultural studies from Mills College. We also love the Farm and Garden program and cooking classes. Kids in the Farm and Garden program learn a little about farm animals (the school has several rabbits, chickens -- even fish). They also learn about composting and how to identify variations of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Often the Farm and Garden curriculum is reflected again in my daughter's cooking class. For example: In September she helped pick tomatoes from the Garden at LeConte then she learned how to cook with them in Cooking class. Important lessons on nutrition are emphasized in both classes again and again.

Thanks to her wonderful cooking instructors our daughter has begun to whip out cook books at home now and regularly reads recipes and has adventures in the kitchen all by herself. For more information about our school, please check us out online at: or contact the LeConte PTA (you can find us at LeConte online as well).
Cary Sanders, President LeConte PTA

Nov. 2003

Our son is a first grader in the dual immersion program at LeConte Elementary School. We are extremely pleased with the school and its neighborhood feel, community participation, multiculturalism, and more specifically the language acquistion aspects and strong teachers of the dual immersion program.

Our son loves learning in Spanish, and the native Spanish speakers are learning English very rapidly. The school has a great farm and garden program, and the PTA afterschool classes are really engaging. (Our son takes chess, kitchen science, flutes, and papier mache, as an example of the range of options.)

Le Conte's campus is not as beautiful as the other, newly renovated schools, but it is perfectly fine inside.

Overall, we think it's a fine school. Check it out! halpatt

LeConte Elementary School is a well-run, diverse school with some wonderfully innovative educational programs.

All students spend an hour every other week in Farm & Garden, where they receive gardening and nutrition education in small groups and work in 3 school gardens (including butterfly garden, vegetable gardens, aquatic area, rabbits, chickens). Farmer Ben really knows his stuff and he is fabulous with the children.

LeConte also hosts a dual immersion program, in which English and Spanish speakers come together in Spanish immersion classrooms that gradually introduce English instruction as the students progress to fifth grade. The program works hard to be an integral part of the whole school and to share cultural immersion experiences with the other students: e.g., all of the kindergartens learned baile folklorico last year.

The entire LeConte faculty just completed 2 years of intensive training in science instruction and they teach an integrated curriculum, in which literacy, math and science skills are reinforced in all academic areas. This integration contributed to a significant increase in the school's API score last year.

Currently, all students are receiving PE, music, art and cooking classes, in addition to Farm & Garden. We also have a strong schedule of PTA-sponsored after-school enrichment classes with scholarships.

Three after-school childcare programs are available, serving families in all income brackets. The programs are organizing joint activities to bring the children in all 3 programs together.

We have several really fun community events, including a Halloween carnival, Winter Fair, Quilt Raffle/Pancake Breakfast/Student Talent Show, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, and Communty Garage Sale, as well as Literacy Nights and a Science Fair.

Our school is also very well-run. I have never seen students wandering the halls aimlessly or blatantly showing disrespect to the staff or teachers. The school is small enough that the principal seems to know all of the students. My son really feels like he is part of a community.

If you have any questions about LeConte, feel free to call me. I am a mother of a dual immersion first grader and a Co-President of the PTA. If I can't answer your questions, I will put you in touch with other parents or staff who can. Rita

Nov. 1998

My son is in his 5th year at LeConte and I like the school very much. There is strong parental involvement and community involvement, which results in a very nice school feeling.

The principal, Barbara Penny-James, has been principal for at least 20 years and is to a certain extent coasting, but all in all she's okay. As far as teachers go, some are better than others, but the overall average is fairly high. It's a nice environment to teach in, I believe, and many of the teachers have been there for 5, 10, or more years.

LeConte Primary School is the closest school to the south side of campus (I think Arts Magnet is the closest to the northside, not sure). We both love the school, which is small, has good teachers, and has a small farm in the middle of it. The farm has some small goats, chickens, a duck, and rabbits, and also each classroom has a small patch of land to grow crops on. Recently the garden was much expanded, an expansion planned and carried out by the 5th grades classes, with teach support.

May 1998

I've been sending my daughter to LeConte Elementary School's PTA sponsored summer camp for several years now. It's terrific...very empowering for kids...enthusiatic, talented, and diverse adults run the program, older kids help,...emphasis is on building kids' self esteem. Performance, science, farm & garden, computers, swimming and ice skateing lessons in the afternoon. Just call LeConte Elementary and ask for the number to call. Since it's PTA run, it appears at first glance not to be totally slick, but that may also mean that they are not full yet (late getting flyers out, etc.). But the actual staff is indeed very good. Katherine

Oct 1996

On Berkeley schools: my experience to date has been very positive. My son goes to LeConte, a smallish primary school in south Berkeley. The principal seems to know all, or most of the kids, the teachers range from okay to good to great, there is a farm in the middle of the school and there is very nice community support for the school. Of course, things are a bit up in the air just now because all the schools are scrambling to make the 20 kids/class ratio for the lower grades, but the kids are already benefitting greatly from these smaller classes. Dianna