Caliber Beta Academy
Caliber has been our home for the last year and we absolutely love it! Nothing makes our soon to be first grader happier than to be at school learning STEM related topics, reading, writing, adding, subtraction and even multiplying! I would high recommend this school to anyone looking for another option! :)
Archived Q&A and Reviews
The incredibly short Kindergarten day in WCCUSD was a problem for my family too. My kids would have ended up in after-care for more hours than actual school! And we would have been paying at least as much as we did for pre-school (once transportation is added in), for mostly programs that seemed very uninspiring.
So, what we did was go with a public charter school in the area. My children go to Caliber Beta Academy, which is in Richmond about a block from the El Cerrito border (near Del Norte BART) (The location is changing next year, but will be in the same general area. They have a long school day, from 8am to 4pm plus there is free aftercare on site afterward. The long school day may sound a bit intense for Kindergarten, but it allows them to fit in lots of time for playing, exploration, building motor skills and social skills, as well as academic subjects. In addition to the basics (math, reading), they do hands-on science, social studies and art/publishing/writing every day. Plus other things like mindfulness, computer coding, and music. It's really an amazing school. http://www.caliberbetaacademy.org/
Charter schools are still public, so it's free for members of the community (admission is by lottery). I think their spots are officially full right now, but if you apply and get on the waiting list, I'm pretty sure some spots will be opening after parents have to commit or not to enrollment soonish. It's a great alternative.
Some of the other charter schools in the district (such as Richmond College Prep also offer full-day kindergarten and/or free and/or affordable onsite aftercare-- one of the many ways that some of the charters are more responsive to the needs and realities of the local parents compared to the WCCUSD district, which seems oblivious or apathetic about such things. --Caliber parent
Caliber Charter School in Richmond is brand new this year, and we are considering it for our son for 6th grade next fall. Can anyone give insight on how it's going so far? Thanks in advance. middle school seeker
My kids are their first year at Caliber and love it. It's such an innovative and exciting school. It has an intensely personalized focus, so that students all work at their own level and pace, with their own personalized learning plan. Yet, at the same time, there is a real attention and focus on building community within the school. It's got a great balance. I love that it has very rigorous academics, but also focuses on the ''softer'' things-- social emotional learning, music, yoga, mindfulness, lots of hands on learning, and exploring and building. My kids are younger than yours, so I only know about the middle school kids from what I've observed second hand, but they seem to be doing such intense, creative projects-- and I can tell that there is so much attention given to developing those students as leaders and role models, including leaders to the little kids. It's a real hidden gem of a school-- I definitely recommend checking it out. You can do an online application at their websitecaliberschools.org --caliber parent
Our son is a sixth grader at Caliber and we would recommend it to you and your middle school student. As you know, the school is new and as with any ''start-up'', there will be ups and downs as the teachers, administrators and students come together. The school's physical campus will likely change before next year, but considering the very short window of time they had to create a welcoming campus environment, our current location is workable. More importantly, we have been thrilled with the quality of teaching and leadership at Caliber. We are seeing growth and a sense of confidence in our son that had been declining over the last few years. He likes school now. He especially likes his teachers and has adjusted well to their model of teaching. His current strengths and gaps in learning have been assessed and a learning plan that is tailored to him has been developed. He works independently, in small groups and 1:1 with some very impressive teachers who know him well. He is able to work ahead where that makes sense and have additional support where it's needed. He is involved in the school band, takes capoeira twice a week and has weekly mindfulness classes. The school uses a restorative justice model for conflict resolution and to enhance social/emotional learning. I'd be happy to talk with you if you have other questions. Lisa
It may not feasible for you, because it's also in Richmond (near the El Cerrito BART), but my kids attend a new (public) charter school called Caliber Beta Academy, that really sounds a lot like what you're looking for. The school's philosophy is to provide personalized education, specifically designed to meet the needs and abilities of all students.
We stumbled upon this school, because we too were concerned about what a typical school experience was going to be like for our bright children who love and thrive at reading and math and woudl be bored by a lot of whole class lessons around things they already know. Each student at Caliber gets a Personalized Learning Plan, outlining their specific strengths and needs and detailing the academic goals for the student that year.
They combine some computer curriculum (to allow the kids to work at their own pace on their own level), with lots of hands-on exploration in science and social studies, differentiated reading and writing groups, and they do just a whole lot of really cool things-- robotics and yoga and art and science experiments and music. For example, my kids came home the other day drawing eighth and quarter notes, talking about programming their robots and talking to me about their ''unique identities'' (their words, ha), while also demonstrating different yoga poses! A lot of the kids in the kindergarten class are English Learners without a preschool background-- so there are a LOT of different needs and current academic abilities in the classrooms, but they manage to my kids really stimulated too.
I also like that they really quickly pinpointed the areas of need my kids do have-- though they're really ahead in some things, they have some other areas where they need some real development, such as in fine motor skills-- something they do not gloss over at all at the school. Oh, and my kids very favorite part of the kindergarten is the whole room that's the tinker tank-- devoted to building, designing, and engineering (as well as doing hands-on math modeling).
It's brand new, so there have been a few kinks to work out in the beginning, but overall, it's a pretty cool place thus far. Good luck with your kindergarten search! -- caliber mama