Maybeck High School

Community Subscriber

Private School
120 students
Email: office [at] maybeckhs.orgPhone: [510] 841-8489
2727 College Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705

Parent Q&A

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  • Moving to Albany - Albany HS or Maybeck?

    (4 replies)

    My family of four is moving this summer from NY (Hastings on Hudson / Westchester) to the Bay Area because I have a new job in SF. I have a 16 year old and a 14 year old.  I have many friends and family in Berkeley, so was thinking East Bay. We want to rent for at least a year. I've been talking to one person in Albany about her house.  Any input on Albany versus other towns?  Any input on Albany High? And my 14 year old son is looking at the small private high school, Maybeck.  I would so appreciate input and advice.  Thanks!

    I would recommend Albany or El Cerrito high schools for students new to the area because the towns and schools are smaller and easier to navigate. Both Albany and El Cerrito are near Bart/bus so it will be easy to commute to San Francisco.

    Your 14-year-old should give the public high school a try, I think the commute by Bart and bus to Maybeck from Albany/El Cerrito will get to be a drag, and both Albany and El Cerrito are very walkable.

    Berkeley High or Oakland Tech are fine but might be overwhelming to students who don't know anyone or the area or have friends already at the school.

    Hi There,

    Maybeck and AHS are really really different. Friends have loved both. Additionally, for private schools also look at College Prep and St. Mary's. Many friends have sent kids there and been really happy.

    Albany High School (as all of AUSD) is very very focused on academic achievement and test score. For a CA public school it is well resourced with several local foundations that help support Art, Music and additional programs. The school is a great fit for some kids, but not such a great fit for others. Albany is a wonderful community to live in. It's walkable, close to BART, safe.. etc.

    And with all that, I would like to bring attention to current conflict at AHS regarding recent two racist incidents at AHS. In the first incident, a group of 9th grade boys were giving each other nazi salutes for several months before anything was done.  In the second incident very racist images and words were posted along with photos of African American students on Instagram.

    Have look at the videos from recent AUSD school board meetings to get a sense of the climate.

    Good luck with your move.

    An Albany Mom

    Yes I have lots of thoughts for you- best to email me directly at gretchen_davidson [at]

    I have had kids in both Albany and Berkeley schools as well as input on local private schools.

    My son is at Maybeck, and it's a wonderful small school with a welcoming environment and lots of personal attention. The school has some of the best teaches I've ever come across. Two are Oxford grads, and another has a PhD from Cal. For the most part teachers do not assign busy work. Maybeck has a flat organizational structure, which has its pros and cons. Your tuition dollars are not going toward an over paid administrative layer, but there's not always someone who can make a quick decision. Overall it's a great school for the right type of student, and my son is thriving. Perhaps you should consider trying out public school for freshman year, and then if you are unhappy, transfer to Maybeck as a sophomore. 

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Our child went to 9th and 10th grades at Berkeley High with a similar situation, with a 504 Plan. The teachers varied greatly, a few who were extremely responsive and helped with accommodations and support, some who would not respect them (one who said tutoring was not allowed outside of school!), and most somewhere in between. He floundered, couldn't keep up with homework, and then the pandemic hit, so we took him out. He's now at Berkeley Fusion, which is AWESOME for him.  He's doing great, but it's an extremely small school with all 1-on-1 classes, so it's really not a typical high school experience.  He's very sad about that, although he's made friends. 

Our other child has started at Maybeck, and it seems really great for kids with learning challenges of some types.  Also small (~30 per grade) but has typical classes that are very interactive and teachers are very focused on the whole child. 

Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to speak further about either school. 

My son attended one year at Maybeck and, while having smaller classes does offer certain benefits, I cannot say that he necessarily received more emotional support during his time there. He also struggled to find a peer group of Individuals with his interests. I think at any high school, the student needs to feel that they can “find their people”. I would also about the level of support for students with your daughter’s health issues. 

Our son recently graduated after 4 years ago Maybeck. It's an extraordinary place and we're deeply glad he was there for high school.  The annual graduation ceremony encapsulates what is so wonderful about the school. Each student has one of the faculty/staff speak for him/her/them for a few minutes and then the graduate is able to speak as well. It's shocking how profoundly the teachers get to really know each student. They appreciate the things that shine in each one, even if not a traditionally celebrated academic trait. Freshman year, I wasn't going to attend the graduation (thinking it would be tedious and long) but got convinced to go by my better half. It was gorgeous- hearing about the talented, innovative, witty, sly, activist students brought both tears and laughs. The school knows that it takes all kinds to make the world work- the striving academic achievers, the tinkerers, the dreamers, and those who push for social justice. They will really SEE your child in ways that are almost unimaginable in other schools.  

My daughter is currently a rising senior and has been attending Maybeck for 3 years and counting.  She is thriving there.  The culture at Maybeck is warm, happy, and genuine.  My daughter is a gifted and driven (sometimes to a fault) student. Maybeck has kept her academically challenged without creating an environment that would fuel anxiety.  Almost all of the teachers and staff are top notch and resourceful. I was very impressed with how the Maybeck team rallied to quickly get up and running with online classes, activities, and events during the pandemic.  Because of the school’s small size and seminar style classes, there is nowhere to hide.  Every student is an active and important participant in every class and the Maybeck community, as a whole.  The downsides of a small high school include fewer electives and extracurriculars than larger schools.  My daughter, like many of her classmates, engages in several activities and an occasional course outside of Maybeck.  Overall, Maybeck is a very special place and worth a look!

I never thought I'd send my kid to a private school, but Maybeck is a gem. The kids who go here represent everything from struggling to gifted learners, but everyone gets what they need. In her four years there, my daughter went from a pretty overwhelmed freshman to a confident, aware, insightful college-bound graduate. Speaking of which, their recent online graduation was so moving, I was overwhelmed by texts throughout from friends and family who deemed it the best high school graduation they'd ever attended. The thoughtful speeches of the teachers about each graduate, as well as the speeches by the graduates themselves, were a testament to the strong bonds and mutual love of learning shared by everyone in the Maybeck community. Maybeck is like a small, liberal arts college, and while I was concerned that it might be too hard for my daughter, whatever they did with her the past four years has awakened an intellectual curiosity I never would have predicted. The kindness and enthusiasm of the teachers is worth the downside of not having the traditional experience found at large public high schools. True, my daughter, like a few others, got itchy for more of a social scene in 10th grade, and wanted to transfer to a bigger school, but I held firm. Instead, she got involved with extra curricular activities outside of school so that helped, and then once the academically-rigorous junior year hit, boy was it lucky we stayed -- she was accepted at all 8 of her college choices (except 1 because she decided against pursuing that particular school). The camping trips, the special programs, the grass roots parent association are all part of Maybeck's connection to nature, global issues, and inclusivity. As the mother of a brown-skinned child in challenging times, we have been very pleased with the continuing progress in the school's efforts to address the needs of POC through conferences, consultants, workshops, talks, clubs, staffing, and their willingness to listen and learn. Bottom line: kids who get the chance to attend Maybeck are very lucky.

Our 17 year old son just graduated after 4 years at Maybeck. He loved Berkeley public schools through middle school but we thought he would get better academics at Maybeck than BHS. He initially struggled with the change to a smaller environment with fewer social options. But after a year or so he truly thrived and embraced Maybeck. He loved most of the teachers and staff, and the bonds that he built with his classmates were very rich and importantly extended to many types of kids he may not have engaged with in a larger school. 

Maybeck had fabulous college advisory support and he got into his first choice college. Homework was real but not totally overwhelming. Classes are small and very engaging. And the teachers and staff always go above and beyond for their intimate community, including for parents. 

Take a look at Maybeck in Berkeley. It is small, supportive, joyful, and calm, with great teachers and administrators -- they can adeptly provide accommodations and adjustments without hassle or headaches. My son just finished 9th grade year there -- it was a wonderful experience. And, they transitioned to online teaching very smoothly in March. My son continued to have interesting assignments, classroom discussions, check-ins with teachers, contact groups, and all-school events from home. I feel very lucky that he had such a great year. 

You might also look at Orinda Academy. I don't have any personal experience with it, but have heard good things. 

Good luck with your move and welcome (in advance) to the Bay Area!  

RE: Alternatives to Tilden Prep? ()

Maybeck offers exactly what you’re describing—I t’s almost as expensive as Tilden though. St. Mary’s is cheaper but maybe less good with learning  differences. 

We cannot say enough about our wonderful experience with Maybeck High School.  We searched for a great fit for our child and found It there.  Having experienced other high schools in the area,  Maybeck feels very unique.  It is run by the most thoughtful group of administrators and teachers.  The kids are kind, accepting and genuinely care about each other.  The lack of pretention and competition make it a very rich learning and growing environment.  It is academically challenging and is a high school environment but without all the limitations and restraints we experienced elsewhere.  The kids are the priority (unlike so many other schools that have other agendas) and that is the most exciting and refreshing part to us.  Our child is so proud of his school and so happy to be a part of this amazing community - and that is a beautiful thing.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sept 2015

RE: Berkeley High or a private school without Common Core?

If you decide to go the private school route, you should also look at Maybeck High School in Berkeley. It sounds like your daughter might be an excellent fit at Maybeck. The classes are small and taught seminar style, so there's lots of interaction with the teachers. And many of the classes are equivalent to college level courses. For example, this term my junior daughter is taking an introduction to Western Philosophy (Eastern is next semester), a seminar on ''Don Quixote,'' calculus and yoga (plus science and Spanish). There are many very bright kids there. It's been a great fit for my academically advanced and shy daughter. Maybeck is not the right school for everyone, but for the ones that find it to be a good fit, it's a wonderful school. Maybeck Mom

Given your daughter's preference for smaller classes, you might want to explore Maybeck High School in Berkeley. It's a remarkable place, certainly not perfect (no school is perfect!!), but nevertheless a wonderful high school where students can find intellectual challenge (if they want) and supportive, engaged and really good teachers. Good luck with your search! Been There

Jan 2015

This is a cliché, but here it is anyway: Maybeck High School is a hidden treasure.
Check it out if you value creativity, warmth, thoughtfulness, independence and
non-competitiveness in your child's education. My kid really didn't want to attend this
school (preferring to follow the crowd from middle school to a different high school)
but was immediately glad that she did. At the end of the first week of classes, she
bemoaned the fact that it was the weekend, because she was going to miss being at
school -- and believe you me, that's a compliment as high as they come!
- A happy parent

Sept 2014

Re: Homework loads for various high schools?

Maybeck Sophomore Parent here -- in our experience, the homework load at Maybeck has been manageable. My daughter is bright and a diligent worker and generally manages to handle the work load without major drama. Every Maybeck student has a free period in their schedule, and she takes advantage of that time to get work done. She has a very heavy extracurricular schedule -- often at rehearsals for 3-4 hours every weeknight and all day Saturday, but she has become an excellent time manager and can get her work done without working all night. I hear the work load increases as the kids age, but so far so good. Maybeck Mom

August 2014

Re: Alternative for 14 year old who hates school? Check out Maybeck High School in Berkeley. Very academically stimulating and has a personal touch. Classes are very small and taught seminar style. More like college than a traditional high school. Happy Maybeck Parent

Maybeck High School in Berkeley is the most respectful one I know. The faculty actually treat the students like people who can be responsible for themselves and their own learning - and student representatives are part of the disciplinary system for those who have trouble with that. The classes are rigorous and engaging, the student body is inclusive and diverse, and the students end up feeling both confident in their own sense of self as well as well-prepared for college. Maybeck Mom of 3 Alumni

Not sure if private school is an option or not. I went to Maybeck in the early 1990s and loved it.

I get the impression the school is less ''alternative'' now than it was- more ''college prep'' (even though the academics were amazing when I was there from a stimulation perspective).

But anyway I think people still like it and it definitely instilled a love of school in me- would still be in school but for $$ - JD and LLM later... Class of '93

I'm sorry your daughter's having such a tough time. Check out Maybeck High School in Berkeley. My jock-ish son is a sophomore there and he loves it. I've long been impressed with the strong sense of community and tolerance for every sort of kid; there are goths, geeks, genderflexible, mainstream, foreign exchange students, punks, even an evolution-denying Christian. And they all get along! Amazing, I know.

Tolerance is taught and expected. Community is built from the get go with the beginning of the year all-school camping trip (where there are workshops and summer reading is discussed), and the year end camping trip. All students are expected to contribute, from participating in workshops to washing dishes.

My son struggled with time management his freshman year - he's involved with a competitive sport six days a week - and his grades were flagging. Towards the end of the year, he finally realized that his teachers were on his side; wanting him to be successful, and that their availability at lunch and email updates to me were to help him be successful. What a breakthrough!

And then there are the Special Programs. Every Spring, approximately seven different programs are offered for a two week period. The teachers design and lead the programs. Last year's included a trip to Ashland for the Shakespeare Festival (they went to plays, met the actors, made fake blood, etc), caving in Belize, and more locally, mural making, a photography course (lots of field trips and learning photoshop). The cost of the programs varies quite a bit, but there is financial aid so that every student gets to be a part of an international trip. At the end of Special Programs, the community gets together for ''Slide Night'' - to share learning and experiences and reconnect.

After a year of being a Maybeck parent, I attended the graduation, along with much of the entire school community, and, again, I was floored: Each graduate gave a speech - some short, some long, but everyone was heard and celebrated. There was so much love, and so many amazing, thoughtful, funny, and grateful things were said. This event cemented my respect and affection for Maybeck.

Wishing you the best in finding the right school/community for your daughter.

March 2014

Maybeck High School is a great place and we are thankful for being a part of it these past 3 years. It's the kind place where students (my child) know their teachers well and have access to them readily. Maybeck has a small student to teacher ratio, usually 8 to 10 kids in a class. The courses are rigorous, but really interesting. The building where the school is has a ''common area'' that has a dining-room like atmosphere and is where the kids meet/hang-out, talk and study. The students work hard, but are equally supported by the faculty. I would describe the school as being similar to a liberal arts college. My child has grown intellectually, socially and academically. I strongly recommend that if you're looking for a quality high school, that you check-out Maybeck. At Maybeck people can be themselves, and there isn't judgement or stress. My child feels at ease, like being at a home away from home, it is a good place. Recommending Maybeck High School

Feb 2014

Not every school is right for every child, but if you want a small nurturing and academically rigorous (but not brutal) school, check out Maybeck High School, located not far from the Julia Morgan Theatre and very close to Cal). We transferred there from Piedmont schools and couldn't be happier. The teachers are top notch; very committed and enthusiastic, as well as experienced. It has been a wonderful experience.

Classes are very small and are taught seminar style, so there is no ducking the conversation. In many ways, this school feels more like college than high school. Students are expected to be active participants in the classroom and the community. For example, there is no vice principal for discipline. There is a committee of staff and students who deal with issues like tardiness, etc. Students create clubs and can petition for new classes.

The school is very accepting and tolerant, but that doesn't mean it is lax. There are strict rules about drugs and alcohol, and treating others respectfully.

My daughter often was bored in other schools, but not Maybeck. She's spouting Spanish after only a few months, she looks forward to English (formerly her least fave subject), and her history teacher's class is so compelling that she often brings up news of the day to discuss. She is itching to get into Chemistry after the teacher made a presentation to the school about some cancer research he is pursuing part-time.

There is a very calm and upbeat air about Maybeck. Part of the reason is that the school also works to reduce stress. For example, all students are required to have a free period. Most use this time to do homework and that makes our home life so much better! They also have a real lunch period that is 60 minutes long, so students can eat, socialize and even explore the Rockridge area.

Student's don't slip through the cracks at Maybeck. Each week, all the teachers sit down and talk about how all of the students are doing and figure out what's up and how to bring put the potential in each one.

Yes, you don't have football and cheerleading, but you do have futbal and ballroom dancing and fencing, and there are social dances.

As icing on the cake, the whole school starts and ends each year with a camping trip, and in the spring there is a mini term called Special Programs. Many students travel abroad with teachers to places like Thailand and Belize, and some stay at home and work on cool short courses. This year, my daughter will visit S.F. daily for explorations of various neighborhoods. (Note: Maybeck is a teacher-run school and they have committed that every single student will have the chance to travel abroad, regardless of the student's financial means. This is pretty cool and is indicative of Maybeck's attitude toward not being too impressed with stuff, but being really jazzed by creative thinking and cool learning opportunities.)

Maybeck is not for everyone, but if your kid is a creative thinker and interested in how the world works, check it out. They have rolling admissions so you can enter mid-year if you need to and they have space. p.s. Not that this should be a measure of a school, but Maybeckers end up in some of the nation's best colleges - in no small part due to the school's counselor, who is awesome. Also teachers really know their students and write super letters of recommendation. This fall 50 college reps. visited Maybeck to tell students about their schools.

p.p.s. Parking and drop off is easy. The school is well-served by mass transit, and close to Rockridge BART, or you can take either Hwy 13 and drop down, or use College Ave. I've heard that several kids bike to school. cturtle

Feb 2014

My daughter was homeschooled all the way thru to the end of her sophomore year. She entered Maybeck last fall as a junior and is really loving it. It's a small community, but large enough to find friends. The teachers are brilliant, passionate, and committed. She is repeatedly struck by the respectful class discussions which represent a wide variety of viewpoints, and are stimulating and at times anachronistic in their maturity. She loves the assigned reading and is intellectually challenged in many areas.

She describes Maybeck's environment as welcoming, diverse, enthusiastic, and caring; laid back but academically rigorous. The school is populated with students who are very artistically inclined, as well as academically.

It's easy to create and participate in student organizations---there is a thriving and diverse community of clubs that meet during the school day. There is an amazing array of special programs in the spring. Both the excellent faculty and nurturing staff are very accessible and responsive. The college counselor is amazing.

The campus is distinct--set back from the street in a lovely neighborhood, with easy access to the Elmwood shopping district for lunch, Telegraph Ave, and the Berkeley campus.

This school has just been an incredible asset to our whole family. A very satisfied mom

Nov 2013

We're looking at high schools and are a little put off by giant BHS. Maybeck seems cool, but maybe too small for a good experience, socially. Also wonder if it's strong academically. Would love to hear about families' experiences there, or suggestions of other schools that might be a good fit for a kid who would probably be stressed out by BHS. Thank you. Hoping for advice

I have a freshman at Maybeck, and so far, we could not be happier with my daughter's experience at the school. I have a high achieving and academically curious kid who is thrilled with and challenged by her classes. She LOVES her teachers. It's been, by far, the most academically enriching experience she has ever had (and she has attended some really excellent public and private schools). But even if your kid is not an academic superstar, my impression is that the school does a great job of accommodating varying academic levels.

Maybeck is also a very welcoming community. The staff and students really care about each other, and my impression is that all types of kids can fit in there socially. That being said, there is a fairly high ''quirk'' quotient among the students, but as long as your kid is comfortable among peers who march to the beat of their own drummer, your kid will be fine. And many Maybeck kids do activities outside of school (sports, arts, community service) which help expand their social horizons.

I strongly encourage you to have your kid visit Maybeck for a day. S/he will be able to tell whether the school is a good fit. Happy Maybeck Parent

My daughter went to BHS in 9th grade. She got all A's and was very unhappy. She transferred to Maybeck for 10th grade and loves it. She loves the camping trips and travel opportunities, her classes, and the friends she has made. Maybeck is academically rigorous without being brutal. No one should got thinking it is academically ''easy.'' There would be a very rude awakening. Classes are small so there is nowhere to hide or check out or fall between the cracks. Discussions are in-depth, substantive, thought provoking. There is an emphasis on developing very strong writing skills and kids get a quality and quantity of feedback not possible in a large school like BHS. Maybeck is a human size. Everyone knows each other. There is a real community at the school. There is no room to hide casual meanness or bullying. The kids are kind to one another. There is no way to have tissue-box throw-away relationships because of the small size. The girls wear clothing. It is a very different culture than BHS. BHS is great for many kids, but it was not for my kid. It's about the right fit for your kid, but Maybeck is a fabulous school. My daughter and I both love it. Mom Loving Maybeck

My child went to Maybeck HS. I'd say that the pluses are TONS of attention, a caring community, high value on accepting all kids. The minuses are the small community (only 25-30 kids per grade level) so if you don't find your social niche or don't like some of your teachers, you are stuck with them OVER and OVER again. My child only really liked about 50% of the teachers and so it was agonizing to have the other ones repeatedly, for different classes.

My child was not super fringe in lifestyle or personality and didn't need a Special Place where they would be accepted. For some kids, Maybeck is the only place where they will ever feel comfortable, and that's fantastic for them, but wasn't necessary for mine.

Having said all that, my child did get a very good and quite rigorous education. IE the summer reading assignment before entering freshman year was to read AND ANNOTATE every single page of A Thousand Years of Solitude (Marquez). This was no small task and I think indicative of the high academic standards at the school. They expect a lot but also support a lot.

My child got an an inarguably good education. I think there are many things of value at the school - but there are limitations too - the claustrophobic nature of the school as well as the limitations when you only have 100 students and a few rented hallways in a church building. Our family stuck it out for the whole four years - we didn't object enough to warrant the effort it would have taken to find another school, and our child had good grades and got into a good college, but mentioning the school will always evoke a huge sigh and an eye roll.

It's not for everyone, but for the ones it's good for, it's very very good. Anonymous

Maybeck High School has been a wonderful experience for our child. It's an academically rigorous college prep. school without the preppy. Classes are taught seminar style with 6-12 around a table. Imagine how much faster students learn a language when they are in a class this size? The teachers have amazing backgrounds. The Chemistry teacher, for example, also teaches part-time at area colleges and has been involved in cancer research, another has published a dictionary on surfing. Maybeck ismall (about 100 students) but the size brings lots of leadership opportunities and creativity. Students can ask for classes and the school has a long track record of creating curricula that are then approved by the U.C. system as meeting their requirements for college entrance. The campus is on College Ave., across from the Julia Morgan Theater and students can go out for lunch, which is a REAL lunch break 60-75 minutes long depending on the day. If you have a student who is interested in a fun, creative and interesting group, this may be the place for you. Maybeck students leave well-prepared, and have attended colleges such as MIT, Reed, Wellesley, Kenyon, Stanford and Evergreen. Students work hard but they also have fun clubs like the Bad Movie Club and the Mix Tape Club. In the spring, the whoel school ''breaks'' for two weeks of special programs - travel to places such as Puero Rico, Spain and Italy - along with local programs. ct

When I think of Maybeck High School I think of an old song by Cat Stevens from the 1970's, "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out." It's a song that encourages and celebrates young people finding their own way in life, wherever their path might lead. The school is unique in the extent to which it creates a safe and supportive learning environment where students can be themselves, develop their interests and strengths, and participate in a vibrant and diverse community. While there is an accepting, relaxed environment that gives students flexibility, the college preparatory curriculum and academic standards are high so students are challenged to excel. Classes are small so students learn mostly through interaction with peers and instructors rather than memorization of lecture material. The seminar-style format of classes enables instructors to understand each student as a person. In the spring there are ''special projects'' activities that give students amazing opportunities to explore varied interests locally and world-wide. During the 11th and 12th grades the school makes extensive efforts to help students apply to colleges and universities that match their interests and strengths. The undergraduate institutions where Maybeck graduates are accepted are impressive and include schools throughout the country as well as all of the University of California institutions. Douglas

June 2013

Re: Tilden Preparatory School for Kids without Special Needs
I don't know if you have considered Maybeck High School for your daughter, but if not, you might want to look into it. It is a small independent high school in Berkeley. In might be a good solution for your daughter. The classes are small, so kids can't really get lost, but there are school plays, camping trips, etc., so not as socially sparse as Tilden. My daughter is leaving BHS for Maybeck in the fall. She did well at BHS academically, but was very unhappy otherwise. Best of luck finding a good fit for your daughter. - anonymous

Dec 2011

Re: Affordable private school for struggling teen
I would check out Maybeck High School in Berkeley. That's where I ended up when I was flunking out of Berkeley High. They turned me around, and I ended up making it into UC Santa Cruz. Best of luck! Anon

Jan 2011

My daughter is 14 and started at Berkeley High in the IB program this year. In the past, she loved school, but it's gotten increasingly more difficult socially over the years. She excels in school academically (this is a kid who read The Hobbit in first grade) but is bothered by the general attitude of most of the students and teachers who don't care about actually learning. She is also suffering under a huge load of busywork. We're looking into alternate options, especially Maybeck, for next year. Is there anyone who has transferred their child from BIHS to Maybeck?

Our son has been at Maybeck since 9th grade and he is now in 11th. He really loves the school and is very happy socially there. I think there is a lot less busy work than at other schools, and maybe there is no busy work at all. Some kids transfer in in late January, when the 2nd semester starts, so just letting you know that is an option. you can email with questions. m.

Although my son did not transfer to Maybeck from another high school, I can give Maybeck a strong recommendation, and from your description of your daughter it seems like a good fit. Maybeck provided my son, an eager and engaged student,with countless wonderful experiences-from compelling classroom discussions to foreign travel. He was very well prepared for college,too. Fan of Maybeck

Hi There, I have a current Senior at Maybeck that left BHS (CAS program) after his freshman year and a current BIHS freshman this year so I don't exactly fit the criteria you are looking for in a respondent. Regardless, here is my experience. For my son, leaving BHS and going to Maybeck was the best thing for him. He finds Maybeck stimulating academically , enjoys the small classroom size and the learning environment. For my daughter, yes, it is full of a lot of ''busy work'' and she is not learning to her full potential. Yet, after coming from a small private school, she enjoying being part of a more diverse school and is overall happy there. People tell me that the work does become more interesting and stimulating in the second and beyond years. Only time will answer that question. She has a least one teacher that is pretty bad and I suspect there will always a lemon here and there. I suggest you arrange a visit at Maybeck for your daughter--this was a very enlightening and exciting visit for my son and gave him hope in finding a place that would be a better fit. Good luck, each kid is so different. Shoshana

May 2010

Re: Home school to high school transition
Greetings, I would check out Maybeck High School in Berkeley. They are a a small private school with a lot of small group learning experiences. The school culture is one of acceptance. I could see a child as you described needing support in this sort of setting. Ask to speak to Trevor, he is in admissions. Good Luck! anon

Dec 2009

Re: How to Choose which Private High School?
My son is a sophomore at Maybeck High and is extremely happy with his teachers and with the social life at the school. This is one of the best schools in the Bay Area. It's small and is run by the teachers as a co-op. It is truly a unique and vibrant place. We went to visit the various schools on our list to get the feel of their atmosphere. My son was able to participate in classes, and most importantly, talk with students and hear first-hand of their experience. His impression of the interview was also an important factor. It was his decision where to go, and I feel that letting him decide was the best guarantee of his present happiness and success. Rose

Oct 2009

Re: Switching Schools as High School Junior
Maybeck High School might be a great fit for your daughter. It is not unusual for students to transfer to Maybeck after starting high school elsewhere.(She might even be able to start mid-year.) I suggest you check the BPN postings for Maybeck, and plan a visit if it sounds like a school she would like. I cannot say enough good things about our experience at this wonderful school- strong academics, small classes taught seminar-style, plenty of intellectual stimulation, close student-teacher relationships, and students who are accepting of others. Maybeck students are extremely well prepared for college. The writing program, especially, is superb. They also offer exciting travel programs each spring- last year kids had the opportunity to go biking through Japan, surfing in Kauai, explore the Theater and Art worlds in SF and NYC, or travel through Copper Canyon in Mexico, for example. Tuition is less than at most independent private schools. And the new location at St. John's on College Ave. is beautiful!

I would say that its small size would not suit every kid. It is not for someone who wants a classic ''big high school'' experience, for example. But it may suit your daughter very well. Happy Maybeck Parent

March 2009

Re: A Kinder, Gentler High School???
I have two sons that go to Maybeck High School in Berkeley, which is currently on Bancroft Ave across the street from the CAL campus. This summer Maybeck is moving to a new site on College Ave (St. John's Church). The school is one of the smallest high schools I know of (approx 100-110 students), which creates the environment of intimacy for both student relationships and student/teacher relationships. My sons have flourished there emotionally, socially and academically. There are many talented and interesting students. There are interesting opportunities to travel during a ''special programs'' session in the spring. Right now some of the students are bicycling in Japan; others are in the Copper Canyon, Mexico. Mine are in Hawaii hiking and surfing. There is an emphasis on academics, the environment and bicycling. There are no competitive sports teams, however, if that is an interest. lauren

Dec 2008

Hello - I am trying to find a good fit more my daughter who is academically gifted, but struggeling in the large classes and crowds of Berkeley High. We are considering a smaller school like Millenium or Maybeck (my ex lives in Piedmont). Does anyone have experience with either or both to share? We would like to find a place where kids can develop personal relationships with teachers in an kind and intellectually challanging environment. (shouldn't all schools be like that?). curious mom

My daughter went to Millennium from freshman year (fall 2000) through graduation (June 2004). My son went to Maybeck for his junior year (2007/08). These schools offer very different types of opportunities. Millenium is tiny--less than 80 when she went. About half the students otherwise would have been at Piedmont High, and the other half were from other districts. For her, the great advantage was that classes were graded by what she accomplished, and units allocated by how much she accomplished. It took her a very long time to complete some classes (math for example), while others she completed very quickly. There was a lot of leeway in how assignments were accomplished, so if she didn't feel like writing a paper, she could do a poster and a collage or present a scene from a play (much less choice in math--perhaps why it took so long). The down side was that she didn't get much experience with some of the more traditional skills one needs for college. The plus side was that she graduated (I don't think she would have made it through PHS) and that she felt good about her accomplishments. Maybeck is much more challenging, and does a much better job of prep for college. My son wrote at least a paper a month in English class (as compared to at most one a quarter at PHS), the feedback was intense, and there was a lot of personal attention. For him, the down side was the size (around 100 students) and one teacher, with whom he had really serious problems (generated on both sides). He went back to PHS in his senior year for the social scene, and is doing much better there this year, but he admits the quality of the teaching for most of his classes was excellent at Maybeck, and that he learned a lot while he was there. Both my daughter and son felt the diversity at their respective schools was a real plus. There are a lot of Berkeley kids at Maybeck, so it might be an easier transition socially than to Millennium, which is more and more PHS transfers, from what I hear. A parent who seeks out alternatives

Greetings, My son is a 10th grader at Maybeck HIgh School after spending his 9th grade year at Berkeley HIgh School in CAS. He loves the small school learning environment at Maybeck and is finding it stimulating and challenging. The teaching staff are dynamic, engaging and have high expectations for their students. While miserable at BHS, he has blossomed at Maybeck. The physical location will be changing sometime next year which will be an improvement from what I am told. Has your daughter visited the school yet? I encourage you to arrange this, the answer to your question may become clearer after she sees what the choices are. Good luck. sh

My daughter attends Millennium and has many friends at Maybeck. Your child sounds like a good candidate for Maybeck which is more challenging than Millennium. My daughter has liked Millennium a lot, but doesn't do much homework and gets A's and B's without much effort. She was interested in Maybeck but knew herself well enough to know she didn't want to work as hard as they expect, quit a bit I think. So if your child is motivated I'd chose that as I think they have a great program. Anon

My son started at Maybeck this year and he is very happy there. The classes are pretty small (around 15 students) and the classes are interesting. My son was very bored with middle school, but he is happy and interested at Maybeck. anon

My daughter is a 10th grader at Maybeck this year after attending public school k-9. Maybeck has really turned her life around--it is a challenging and interesting environment. One that goes deep in the subject areas without being competitive. It also supports students with artistic passions. The downsides are that it is small, there are few extra curricular activities and the physical space is bare bones.That said, the new building is beautiful and I have been impressed by how thoughtful the teachers are about learning and just teens in general. Go and check out the school, Trevor the admissions counselor is a wonderful person. Anon

Nov 2008

Re: Private school for 8th grader
I used to teach at Maybeck High School on Bancroft Way, across from CAL. I would suggest he spend part of a day there attending classes and having lunch with some students. It is a very small school which has its pros and cons. Cons are that it does not participate in team sports with other schools. Because it is small, there is a limited social scene, so if he doesn't click with the kids there -- it will be even more limited for him. The positives are that the teachers are genuinely concerned with the students' academics and social development. They will not let them be anonymous. If they are having a problem, teachers will talk with them and with the other teachers and parents. Art and Drama are strong. Writing is exceedingly strong so when he goes on to college, he will be better prepared than most. There are also cool camping trips at the year's start and end and a two week Special Program around Spring Break where they can do things like learn to surf, make films, visit a foreign country, etc. It is less expensive than some of the other schools and is a teacher cooperative (low admin. costs). It is close to CAL so lots of opportunities to see plays, films, art exhibits, visit labs, etc. Most of the students go on to smaller liberal arts colleges, but I personally knew a couple who went on to CalTech and Stanford. They also have some financial aid available. Take him for a visit and listen to his feedback. Several faculty members will also interview him once he applies. kl

Feb 2008

Re: Trying To Choose A High School
Maybeck High School Feedback. The small size is a drawback for a number of students, especially if they don't fit into the rather artsy, ''original'' dressing, piercings, etc. social scene. Also, they have no team sports programs if that is important to your student. They offer ''lifelong'' sports like yoga, swimming, fencing, etc. Pluses are 1)they learn to write like no one's business!, 2) plenty of individual attention -- you cannot hide and not do your work, 3) great, bonding camping trips at the beginning and end of school year, 4) cool programs before spring break where they can choose to travel abroad with a teacher, or stay local. Past trips have included surfing in Hawaii, studying sea turtles in Costa Rica, studying film making in Hollywood, etc. I would suggest having the student spend a typical day there if they could, going to classes and meeting other students. kl

I can't offer an opinion about the other high schools on your list, but my son (now in 10th grade) considered many of them and chose to attend Maybeck. I was concerned about its small size, but his experience there has been rich and satisfying beyond my expectations. Maybeck is truly a gem! The small size of the school fosters close relationships with both fellow students and teachers. The level of classroom instuction, and the enthusiasm of the students and staff provide a high school experience that is challenging,rigorous,and intimate. The kids are comfortable being themselves, and there is a warm feeling of acceptance among them that is rare, in my opinion. The more I see,the more I am impressed with Maybeck, and I am delighted with my son's decision to attend this school. That said, it would not be a good choice for a kid who wants a ''big high school'' experience, or a kid who is not interested in rigorous academics.

We looked at almost all the schools on your list (and more). He applied to several of them (those we preferred) and was accepted at all but one of his choices. Choosing between those was a difficult process! Ultimately, his father and I felt that it had to be his decision- after all, he was the one who would be attending the school, and he had only applied to schools we approved of so.... he chose the school where he felt most comfortable, and it was the right decision for him. I say, allow your daughter to go with her gut (and your guidance); they are all good choices. Happy Maybeck Parent

Feb 2008

Re: Choosing a high school for gay son
Maybeck High School in Berkeley has a wonderful, accepting and progressive social environment. My second child is there now; my older one graduated from there and is doing very well in college. Maybeck is definitely a place you can be gay/bi or ''on the spectrum'' and be totally accepted.

Check out an open house, and talk to the teachers and students who give presentations. Also, each of my teens were sold on the place after they spent a day visiting classes during 8th grade. They are very different kids, and it has been great for both of them. By spending a day at school, your son will really get a feel for the program. Maybeck is academically rigorous (without being overwhelming), so if your he is a reasonably strong student, it could be a great match. Satisfied parent

Nov 2007

Re: Current feedback on Albany High/Maybeck
Hi, Our family has had a terrific experience at Maybeck H.S. so far. Our daughter is a freshman and we were a little worried about what we'd heard concerning the homework load, but she's found it very manageable, and did very well in her first school report (maybe because she got such a great preparation at Berkeley Montessori School!). I highly recommend Maybeck for its passionate teachers (it's a teacher co-op, as you probably know), its academic rigor without being insane with the homework, and especially its acceptance of kids who like and are comfortable being themselves. It's an intentionally small school where the kids feel well-known and supported; there's no getting lost in the crowd. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Laura

Sept-Nov 2007

Re: Private high schools in east bay

Picking a good fit for your student depends on so many variables. I would recommend that you take a look at Maybeck High School in Berkeley. Your posting basically touched on all the reasons we sent our son there (''schools that present the curriculum in a very interesting way, and encourage social, artistic and critical thinking development'') and we have been very impressed. By the time our boy is done, we feel he will not only be ready for college, but will be ready to take on the comlexities presented by our culture today. Don't be put off by the appearance of the school; take a good look at the curriculum and the emphasis on social and personal responsibility. The program gives ample room for self expression in different artistic media -- drama, film, painting, drawing -- and offers a good solid education that will serve them well as fledgeling adults. Their website is I am happy to speak with you about our experience there if you wish. Carol D

Maybeck High strongly recommended! My son came to Berkeley mid-way through his last year of middle school and fortunately we were directed to Maybeck High School by a friend. It was the best thing that happened to him in his school career. The staff truly care about not only what they teach but about the kids and the school community itself. The school is run in a more cooperative style than most schools which is why the teachers are more invested in thier work. My son was challenged intellectually and philosophically, supported for all efforts and had enough diverse experiences with the special programs to last a lifetime. What was most thrilling to me was to see how the teachers loved their subjects and taught with enthusiasm and innovation. Many Maybeck parents, including me, would say that they wished they could go to the classes themselves. If you and your child are looking for an academically exciting college prep highschool without the uniforms, a small and diverse community of people who build strong bonds and an attitude of openness and inquiry, then take a look at Maybeck. They have introductory evenings during the year. Call the office Sign me as: parent of a Maybeck grad 2007 Parent of Maybeck Grad 2007

I can wholeheartedly recommend Maybeck High School in Berkeley. It is a small and unique school that offers both excellent academics and a warm accepting community. Subjects are taught in a manner that reminds me more of a college seminar than a typical high school class. Topics are explored in depth, with students actively engaged in discussion. During his first week there, my son commented that ''Everything they talk about is SO interesting!''. He is now in his second year and loves Maybeck. We are so pleased to have found a school that satisfies his intellectual curiosity and that is filled with students who want to be there. He truly looks forward to every school day- he may not want to get out of bed in the morning-but he never wants to miss a day of school! The small size of the school and the dedication of the staff provide an exceptionally caring, supportive and intellectually engaging community for its students. The work is very challenging and there is quite a bit of homework,but as my son says,''It's never busywork.'' Maybeck graduates routinely go on to excellent schools, and are extremely well prepared for their college careers. I suggest you visit Maybeck; it may be just what you're looking for! Happy parent of a happy Maybeck Student

Please take your student to Maybeck High School and let them look around. It's on Bancroft, in Berkeley, across from the big Cal Rec Ctr. upstairs in former Sunday school rooms of a church. My student was drawn to the space immediately upon seeing ''murals'' painted in the halls, by Maybeck students from their own designs. He was suffering at first, from the homework load, but became adjusted to it. All classes are very small and the foreign language classes are fabulous: he took French from a native French; and Spanish is taught from a native Spanish (not Mexican). They have wonderful philosophy, history, and literature classes which all build strong critical thinking skills. The Maybeck students are all strong critical thinkers. Maybeck also has a strong math program, and strong science classes. Due to the small class sizes and the dedicated, hard-working teachers (these teachers are crazy-dedicated), the students are actually functioning at a college level in their Maybeck classes. Most graduates breeze through their first year of college classes--Maybeck prepared them very well. They have a wonderful Art program, and also a very strong Drama Dept. Students make films, display their art, and stage Drama productions each year. Because the school is small (about 90) the students know each other very well. Through the (also wonderful) twice a year teacher-led all-school camping trips, strong bonds, mutual support and respect are established. They go to Yosemite and up the Russian River, plus there's a winter inter-session where teachers lead special interest programs that include travel to Europe, So. America, art, stagecraft, etc. Maybeck is supportive, affirming, academically challenging and rewarding. Most kids suffer emotionally during their high school years (one of mine graduated from Piedmont and never wants to see those girls again--not uncommon) but our Maybeck student has had a completely different experience. He has had supportive, caring teachers and staff, as well as fellow students. And, somebody else took our teen-age boy camping twice a year, which is a real plus to us, since we parents have been so busy earning money and keeping up with our busy kids' schedules that we never took our kids camping, and we had always regretted that. There's a booklet available called ''Private High Schools of the East Bay'', but it only contains general info----I urge you to take your 8th grader to check out Maybeck. Grateful Maybeck parent

I have to second all those opinions expressed in the last newsletter about Maybeck High School. That school is doing something right. My son was drowning at one of the ''best'' East Bay public schools--drugs, partying, found his classes boring and meaningless, straight Fs etc. etc.--he transferred to Maybeck and is enjoying studying for the first time since he was a child. He has stopped getting high every day--because he's doing his homework! It's an academically challenging school where students feel respected and appreciated as individuals, and have space to really grow. Some parents have commented on the appearance of the school--its site is the Methodist church on Bancroft shared by the Berkeley Free Clinic and various services for the homeless--but teens find this gritty aspect way more ''real'' than some gated haven. I should add that Maybeck also has access to UC Berkeley sports facilities just across the street, which are state of the art, and the classrooms themselves are good-looking to me--very Berkeley, in the best sense. Relieved Parent

Re: Maybeck High School - it is not for every student!! My daughter had a terrible experience a few years ago that took her at least a year to recover and feel like a successful student again. Interestingly all of the positive comments were from parents of male students. My daughter's class lost 1/3 - 1/2 students in the first year. Perhaps things have changed and there is new faculty and administration. Check it out, ask hard questions and be certain it is the right fit. I'm glad my daughter left and has been thriving in another small school and getting ready to apply for colleges. Had she stayed at Maybeck, I doubt she would have made through high school. anon

I am the mother of a Girl who is thriving at Maybeck. I think it's important to know your child and matching their personality and needs with a school before enrolling them in. It's true Maybeck is not for every student but it is an excellent school where students are taught to think. My daughter would not have been as successful at a school like St. Mary's for instance but she is excelling, going beyond the classroom thanks to attending Maybeck. Daughter doing great at Maybeck

My daughter just graduated from Maybeck High School this year. She did not want to apply to any other High School. Maybeck was perfect for her and she knew this after spending a day there while she was in 8th grade. She did not have such an experience at her private middle school. The teachers know every child- her graduating class was 18 students. It is not uncommon for teachers to take an interest in kids who have not had classes from them and help steer them into projects and classes that they think a particular child would enjoy. The community is very close knit and this is nourished by the camping trips at the beginning and end of the year. It would be hard for a child to be an outsider there- they would hard to work hard to not get involved. There is a culture of acceptance and respect for individuals. And enthusiastic and interesting teachers. The coursework is academic but there support for children who need extra help. She is at college and misses Maybeck- it was a nourishing high school experience in every sense. ex maybeck parent

Sept 2006

I am a 24-yr-old Maybeck Alum and I just wanted to speak to the various comments about Maybeck High School. I can honestly say that Maybeck saved my academic career. After one year at Berkeley High I was really struggling so I transfered to Maybeck my sophmore year.

I did very well at Maybeck, because of their very strict academic and behavioral rules it created a community of kids that wanted to be there and to learn. The teachers were always accessible if anyone needed help. The fact that it's a teacher?s co-op and that students are involved in policy making and enforcement created an environment of equality, commitment and personal freedom. It was such a unique and wonderful experience, it really enforced my dedication to learning. What ever your passion was Maybeck provided an outlet. I had amazing opportunities of directing and acting in the school?s play, traveling and doing service learning abroad, and taking ballroom dancing.

I went on to Occidental College and graduated with multiple honors, awards and distinctions. While my friends were struggling with the workload I was well prepared. I would strongly recommend Maybeck to anyone.
Very Happy Maybeck Alum

April 2006

Re: High school for 16 year old daughter, creative and academic
My son recently switched from Piedmont High (public) to Maybeck High School (private) in Berkeley, where he's very happy. At Piedmont, he was harrassed by a couple teachers for his hair being long; found no support among his peers for the genres of music he is dedicated to (he's a serious musician and has played with professionals for a couple years); lost his best friends to pot smoking, drinking and chasing girls (he's not interested in that and not engaging in that meant being dropped, socially); and was beaten up. Switching to Maybeck was the best thing for him----academically, emotionally. The Faculty and students accept and support one another. It's wonderful. Within one month after school began, the Drama Dept staged a Moliere play (the Maybeck Drama teacher used an excellent translation which really heightened the enjoyment)---every student attended this play, most with family and additional friends. Even the teachers. I was incredulous at such a successful effort being pulled off after only 4 weeks of school's commencement. They also recently staged some One Acts that included Lysistrata, along with some modern humorous ones. They were great. Again, all students, teachers, families, etc. turned out to show their support. In May, there's a Film & Art Night, where students are free to perform & display works of their own choice, regardless, I've heard, of ''tastefulness.'' It's a great school for the performing arts- inclined student. They also have a strong Visual Art program, I believe. And there's more! Each fall, the teachers take the school body camping in Yosemite for one week before school starts (bonding and probably, if there is any ''culture shock'', it's overcome during that week), then for a week of backpacking in Yosemite at the close of the year, plus, mid- year, they run a two week ''Special Programs'' session and, for example, my son's on a two week camping trip in Baja Mexico with 20 other Maybeck kids , lead by 4 Maybeck staff, two of which are Science teachers. Maybeck classes are small----my son's French class only has 5 students and the teacher is native French. And, despite its bohemian reputation/appearance, the school's academics are outstanding.

Despite its rigorous academic environment, the demeanor of the school is low-key---it's no pressure cooker environment and the kids are the kind that don't like to be in a pressure/competitive environment. They don't have such a thing as a Student Body President. Or Sports teams. But, my son groans under the weight of 4-5 hours of homework per night. He's a bright kid, and he's definitely being challenged. They regularly send graduates off to the best colleges and universities. And at Maybeck, he can be himself. All of the students are supported by the Instructors as well as their fellow-students in their self-expression. One more thing: A Berkeley High parent-friend remarked to me that they had heard Maybeck has a lot of students that smoke dope. That worried me, so I asked my son about it (he's very honest with me) and he informed me that it's the Berkeley High kids he sees smoking dope all the time, plus approaching him trying to sell dope, AND, there's a much smaller percentage of kids at Maybeck who smoke dope than Piedmont High (!).
Fan of Maybeck

Oct - Nov 2005

If you're in the East Bay and not sure public high school is the place for your child, please check out Maybeck High School near the U.C. Berkeley campus ( I'm in my sixth year as a Maybeck parent and I highly recommend it. For some odd reason not that many people take advantage of this unique educational opportunity, and several families have moved away, so there are still some openings for this year. Call admissions director Trevor Cralle, 841-8489, and tell him I sent you. Ann

If there's anyone out there who has a highschool aged kid who is unhappy, bored, listless, unchallenged in school, I'd love to recommend Maybeck Highschool in Berkeley. I have a kid with some minor learning differences who is totally in love with school; who is challenged academically, who is involved and happy socially. I couldn't be more pleased! A teacher-run coop, it's been in business for 30 plus years and these people really know kids and have built a wonderful community. I'd be happy to talk with anyone who's interested. debbie

I have a very different point of view than the two comments a few weeks ago about Maybeck High School. My child left after freshman year, as did one third of the class. The school was very academically challenging, with very little support from the teachers. My child felt intimidated by three out of four of the teachers, so was unwilling to seek out their help out of fear of being humiliated. As my child started to do poorly in a few classes, not one teacher made the effort to contact us to discuss what was going on; in fact, one teacher never called despite repeated messages left for him. I thought the idea of a teacher run school was terrific, but now think there is very little teacher accountability. The other problem I found was very little feedback on assignments and tests. If you are interested in the school, I would ask them many questions: why so many kids leave, what is the percentage of students who stay for the four years, what recourse is there for a poor teacher. anon

My 16 year old spent one miserable semester at Maybeck-our experience was much like the ''alternative experience at Maybeck'''s writer's experience. Our son had a miserable time with no support and we received no telephone calls from his teachers-only saw the failing progress notes. We thought we were enrolling him in a small arty hippy type of school-rather it was very academically challenging and did not offer him the help he needed to keep up or the communication we needed to realize how far behind he was getting. He ended up feeling very depressed. In contrast, he's now at Arrowsmith (after spending one year at BHS independent studies) and likes it very much. He likes his teachers, the other students. After going to the parent teacher meetings I feel like the teachers know my son and care about him. I trust that they would let me know if a problem starts to develop. They really emphasize that the strength of their program is that they can work to a particular student's strengths and weaknesses. He tells me that he will never love Arrowsmith (after all, it is SCHOOL) but that he does like it and we are thrilled that he's doing well in school and is feeling good about himself and his capabilities. If you are considering Arrowsmith I recommend you visit and see the school, talk to the staff. We have been very pleased (and relieved) to finally find a high school that is working for our son. still there and doing that

In response to the parent whose child left Maybeck High School after freshman year:

While I sympathize with some of your frustrations with Maybeck High School (see below,) my son's experience there (he graduated this year) was so different that I had to reply. Maybeck was my son's third high school, after trying a large public school for one semester and then a smaller, less academically challenging private school for the rest of his freshman year. Coming to Maybeck was, for him, like an infusion of pure oxygen. The school is small, safe and personal, with a rigorous anti-bullying/tolerance policy which everyone takes quite seriously. While the academics were tougher than he was used to, the classes were small enough, and the teachers demanding and supportive enough, that he was able to grow in confidence and competence. What especially excited him was that he was treated as an adult in most of his classes. He was expected to manage his own work load, keep up with the curriculum and do extra work (many teachers set aside time outside of class to meet with students) if he found himself falling behind. The burden was on him to ask for help; in this way Maybeck is more like a junior college, where parents are peripheral, than like a middle school, where the parent is very much in the academic loop. Parents can be involved in their kid's academics at Maybeck but, in my experience, they will have to take the initiative for that to happen.

This sudden burden of personal responsibility can be quite stressful for some kids - it certainly was for my son. It was the dedication and encouragement of his teachers, many of whom let him redo assignments, that pulled him through that rough first semester. This is why it astonishes me that your son found the teachers there unhelpful. I wonder if maybe your son's reluctance to approach his teachers for help early on may have set up a negative spiral for him. I'm not sure where the fear of humiliation came from; with one or two possible exceptions in three years, my son was treated respectfully by all of his teachers.

I agree with you that Maybeck does not seem to have a mechanism for getting rid of the occasional poor teacher - or if they do, it didn't always work to my liking. And they could do more to contact parents early on if a kid starts to falter. Yet overall, its incredibly dedicated staff (who take the entire student body on a three night camping trip at the beginning and end of each school year - now that's dedicated) made it a wonderful experience for my son. I'd be happy to talk to any parents who are considering sending their child to Maybeck. Anna

Our daughter is in her 4th year at Maybeck High School. Our family will be forever grateful for the education we have ALL gained during this time.

In the new parents' orientation session, we heard, and took to heart, Maybeck's message that students accepting responsibility for themselves is a critical component of the Maybeck experience. It is a college prep school. (Somedays I think it is a college.) Just as in college, any student floundering is to approach the instructor(s) involved and ask for help. Some instructors are able to wait for the student to approach. Some reach out first. Parents are not encouraged to be involved in the kids' work. We are gently encouraged to start letting go. That said, there is a process for intervention on a student's behalf. The ''scariest'' of the teachers insists that all parental criticisms/complaints about him be shared with all the staff. And the school does have a process to alert parents of impending failure.

Good communication with the student, at home and at school, is critical to fully appreciating Maybeck's strengths. The reward is an exceptional education, lengthy community service, travel opportunities, potential life- time relationships with excellent instructors and a strong preparedness for college. Kathie

My son is in his second year at Maybeck High as a junior. I can't speak to the experience described by the posting of the anon dissatisfied ex-Maybeck parent, but I hope I can put it into context, because many kids who haven't done well in other settings do benefit from Maybeck's unique community.

Maybeck is, as the anon poster says, ''very academically challenging.'' This is particularly true for entering students, who must adjust to a near-college level of teaching, testing and homework.

Adding to this challenge, Maybeck operates on the strong belief that once kids reach high school, they should take responsibility for their own actions, including asking for help when it is needed. This is part of Maybeck's college prep experience. ( This sometimes requires parent adjustment, too.)

My son had a discouragingly time-consuming workload in his first year. It was hard for him to step up to a teacher and ask for leeway when he truly was overloaded, but with coaching from us, he did, and the response when he did was supportive. (I also spoke to the academic counselor, who was very helpful in my coaching him.)

Maybeck is a teacher-run cooperative in which all of the teachers carry multiple curricular and extra-curricular hats, which makes them extra-busy. (This year teachers have posted office hours for students.) As in all schools, some teachers are better or more receptive to feedback than others, but our kid, even when he hasn't liked a teacher, has been intellectually challenged and engaged in every subject.

With only 100 kids, even a small number of departures can look like large turnover. When considering Maybeck, we heard about a number of kids who had been there for one or two years. In most cases, the reasons for departure were extra-curricular: the kid wanted to be at a big high school with lots of social and sports activities that Maybeck is too small to offer. It's important to note that there are transfers in every year, too, from those same schools, that have proved too distracting, socially intolerant, or not academic enough for other kids.

Moreover, because Maybeck bends over backwards to consider bright, creative kids who have not done well at other schools, it takes chances in its admissions process that other private high schools don't take. It would seem to me that a natural consequence of Maybeck's relatively liberal admissions policy would be student turnover.

Finding the right high school for a kid who is struggling with academic motivation or other issues is tough. Maybeck High School offers a unique small school alternative for many kids. As the poster suggests, you should ask lots of questions of Maybeck (and the questions suggested are good ones to ask all schools), but you'd do yourself a disservice if you struck Maybeck off your list.

Satisfied Maybeck Parent

Maybeck suffers from profound misperceptions held by the outside community. One of the prior postings succinctly stated this misperception of Maybeck as follows: ''We thought we were enrolling him in a small arty hippy type of school-rather it was very academically challenging''.

The result of this misperception (in the case of this prior posting) was an unhappy student who struggled academically before transferring to Arrowsmith and finding a likable fit.

My impression is that a large percentage of situations in which a student/family withdraw from Maybeck are because of the workload. People often mistakenly associate and/or confuse Maybeck with Arrowsmith, which is quite problematic because although they are both very tolerant ''Berkeley'' schools, they have radically different academic demands and styles.

My son is now in his junior year at Maybeck, having attended since the start of his freshman year. He loves Maybeck. He has received incredible support from his teachers, including especially intense development of his writing and critical thinking skills. He continues to be inspired and supported by his instructors and fellow students, and receives excellent counseling related to his academic development and college considerations.

All of his class sizes are small, ranging from 4 students in Spanish 4 to 18 students in Pre-calculus, Chemistry, and Greek Literature. His Greek Literature class is taught by an inspiring teacher, whose Ph.D. thesis dealt with some of the texts that the class is reading. The students love to have him read Homer from the original Greek (in class) and to compare his translation impressions with the translation that the class read. I showed the SEMESTER syllabus for this class to a friend who is a tenured UC Berkeley English professor and he commented that the intensive reading list would be a lot even for a UC Berkeley course!

In fact last year, the UC team accredited Maybeck with flying colors. However, they did provide feedback to the Maybeck staff that many of Maybeck's classes were at or above the honors or AP level even though the students were not receiving the honors or AP designation on their transcripts. Maybeck is now in the process of preparing the paperwork for submission in order to get honors or AP status recognized. They hope to have this in place by the beginning of the next academic year (fall '06).

I think word of Maybeck's academic rigors really needs to get out to the community (and especially to Middle school counselors - that make high school recommendations to students/families). Although Maybeck is often misperceived as an ''arty hippy type'' of high school, it is an actually incredibly academic learning institution that really engages the student, resulting in remarkable achievement from its students (many of whom, for example, produce college level papers during their required 10th grade Literature class).

Students looking for an easy ''arty hippy type'' of school are destined for a rude surprise, which may result in an academic struggle before they transfer out to a less rigorous school. However, Maybeck is an outstanding school for students interested in a strong small college preparatory school with a safe, lively, engaging, and tolerant social environment, located on Bancroft across the street of the UC Berkeley.

I would be happy to discuss Maybeck with any family considering Maybeck for their student. Reuben

my son went to maybeck as a not-very-studious sophomore. i asked for and readily received a weekly monitoring sheet, which each teacher signed on friday and my son then brought home. it listed any undone work, which he then had to complete before he could go out on the weekend. this plan worked very well, so that after a couple of months he did not need it anymore. although he didn't like to study much, he was fascinated by some of the history and english courses at maybeck. he admired the teachers, talked about the lectures, got interested in the reading and then immersed in writing papers for them. the quality of teaching was just far superior to that at the big private high school he attended as a freshman. his history teacher still works there on emeritus status. those teachers spent extra time with him, academically and socially, to his great benefit. during his junior and senior years he transformed into an excellent and dedicated student, one who earned a four point average during his senior year, even in algebra 2, which he had dreaded. whenever he asked for extra help, it was available. so, it is true that maybeck is for serious students, but i found that if he and i took the initiative to ask for these various kinds of help, help was readily available.

satisfied parent of maybeck graduate

Feb 2005

RE: "Where do kids go who just want to be educated in a safe environment where most of the challenges are academic?"

Some go to Maybeck High School at Bancroft and Dana in Berkeley. I've been a Maybeck parent since 2000, and I highly recommend it. Imagine classes of 12 students, many of them very bright; wonderful, caring teachers; all-school camping trips; and opportunities to travel to another country with a small group! It's relatively affordable (15,100 this year), and financial aid is offered. Call 841-8489 for info. Ann

November 2003

I am the parent of an 8th grader applying to high school for next Fall. I would like to hear parents' recommendations and comments regarding Maybeck and high school. Thanks. Meri

Maybeck High School is tiny (100 students, 9-12 grades) founded and run by teachers. Located on the second floor of a church on Bancroft, across from UCB's athletic complex, the funky physical plant is quickly not relevant. Staff model respect of each other, the students, parents. Rules are few and strictly enforced. It's ''college prep'' in more ways than academic, at which they excel: students are responsible for their actions and work, free to leave when not scheduled; access to instructors is easy; students are away from home two to four weeks per year, traveling with the school. Perfect for kids with strong outside-of- school interests. Excellent drama, film, art -- Arts & Film Festival each May. It's a treasure for high and low caliber students, college-bound immediately, later or not at all. Tuition is ''moderate'' like parochial schools, aid is available. Second-semester admittance a bonus.

Happy Maybeck Mom

I am interested in hearing from parents whose teens have had both positive and negative experiences at Maybeck High School and Bentley Upper School. I am specifically interested in getting a good handle on the teen social scene/peer interactions and on the supportiveness of the faculty and administration for a kid who is bright and funny, but somewhat shy and sensitive to criticism. Views on the advantages and disadvantages of the urban open campus (Maybeck) vs. the closed suburban campus (Bentley) are also welcome. General posted replies and private emails to mgomery

Regarding Maybeck High School, what I've observed over several years is that it can be a wonderful place for ''a kid who is bright and funny, but somewhat shy and sensitive to criticism.'' It's a small community in which teachers and students get to know each other well. The all-school trip to the Yosemite area at the beginning of the year and the small classes of 12 or so make getting acquainted easy, and acceptance of people's differences is embraced. Teachers encourage students to stretch beyond their comfort zones and do their best. The location (near Telegraph and Bancroft in Berkeley) and open campus give kids some nitty-gritty real world experience without having to deal with that stuff in the school itself.

It has been a very moving experience attending two graduation ceremonies at Maybeck. Each senior gives a short, informal speech, and many of them talk about what an ''amazing'' place the school is. The teachers, in introducing the students, show their appreciation for each one's individuality, endearing qualities, and growth over their years at the school.

I can't compare it to Bentley, but I can highly recommend it.

- anonymous parent (somewhat shy and sensitive to criticism)

February 2003

Our son is in his second year at Maybeck and really likes it. He is a serious student who did well at at intensely academic middle school, but wanted a more socially relaxed atmosphere for high school. He is challenged by and likes his english and history classes, among others. And although Maybeck is without its own sports facilities it is able to take advantage of UC Berkeley's, as well as those at the Y. He had a wonderful ultimate frisbee class last semester on a university field and is doing weight training this semester at the Y, both classes taught by Maybeck faculty. Maybeck's art and drama programs are also fine. We are all very happy with this school.
a content parent

December 2002

Any advise about Maybeck, my daughter is in 9th grade in Public School and we are thinking of changing her to a private school because she needs to be challenged more and she needs to advance faster, she does not want to go to Berkeley High school, any suggestions? Elena

My daughter joined Maybeck in September as a 10th grader and so far feels positive about the school. The academics are definitely challenging without producing a pressure- cooker atmosphere. Your daughter would need to be O.K. about being in a small school (Maybeck has about 100 students) which does not offer the full range of facilities larger high schools provide. Maybeck seems to be working for my daughter who is enjoying its supportive and community atmosphere -- she has an active social life outside school and some extracurricular, out-of-school activities as well. Stella

My son is in his third year at Maybeck, and I highly recommend it. He does find it challenging, but he has been much more motivated about school work than in middle school. To quote another parent's recent Annual Fund letter, ''In most of our lives, there have been special teachers who have made a difference. They have challenged us to think, encouraged us to try, and taught us by their example. We and our children are very fortunate that the teachers at Maybeck do all this and more. The small classes, camping trips, and Special Programs provide ample opportunities for learning experiences our children will remember and cherish forever. Some of us parents feel it's a minor miracle how much value Maybeck provides for such modest tuition.'' (Tuition and fees for 2002-03=$10,600.) The school has its limitations, such as very little in the way of extracurricular activities or AP classes, but the mutual appreciation and respect among the students and teachers is wonderful. Check it out! I believe there are mid-year openings for girls. harzim

Sept 2001

From the discussion "Transferring to Berkeley High from private school ...

[After not clicking with Arrowsmith and Athenian] a wonderful therapist suggested looking into Maybeck. I was quite doubtful, after our risky Arrowsmith experience. But she interviewed there and again, loved it. The difference is, the school is more structured than Arrowsmith, expects more academically from the kids, yet is small enough that they won't let a student fall through the cracks. They are very strict about drugs and cigarettes etc. My daughter went there last year and I won't say she had an easy time academically, but she definitely finished her work and is very motivated to graduate this year. She is planning to go to CCAC or another 4-year art college next year and has grown (and grown up!) so much. All I can tell you is that we carpool with about 5 other kids each day and they each have their own reasons for going to Maybeck--mostly for being "different" from their peers at mainstream schools. But they all seem to really appreciate--and almost seem relieved--at the chance to go to Maybeck, where everybody accepts and respects everyone else. It's quite an eye opener to see--high school kids not being "cliquey" and acting tough--but just being themselves, their quirky, interesting selves.

Sept 2000

We looked pretty hard at Maybeck a year and 1/2 ago when our son (who sounds somewhat akin to yours) was in 8th at King; we liked it and would have gladly sent him there. He eventually decided to go to BHS, because he has a core of friends with him. I suppose we'll know in 20 years whether that was the 'right' decision. To address the question however, we were in touch with a number of people whose children had attended Maybeck and felt that it would be a good place for a creative kid who needs more personal handling by the teachers. The information night we attended was more useful than most -- a couple of students spoke at length, one of whom had struggled in the school before adapting to the relatively heavy homework (~3 hours a night, he said.) I think the humanities program is probably stronger than the core English/History program at BHS seems to be (because it doesn't have to reach as wide a range of kids). OTOH, the physical lab science facilities are spartan at best. I doubt that really matters if the instruction is good, but others may differ. Maybeck turned around one of our friends' kids who was even failing fencing at BHS. He went to Sarah Lawrence and is now a minor 'Net mogul in NYC, for what it's worth. One final note: my wife and son both thought there was a pretty heavy Goth presence in the halls when they visited. Tim

Jan 2000

My son looked at Maybeck last year and liked it, though he decided to go to BHS to stay with friends. I'm not sure I would describe it as light on academic demands, though. That being said, the original poster's message reminded me of the story we heard from a friend that led us to look at Maybeck. His son was flunking fencing (!!!) as a freshman at BHS (and other things I suppose). He transferred to Maybeck mid-year and never looked back. Ended up at Sarah Lawrence for college and is now in media in NYC.

My son, Aaron, went to Maybeck for four years, graduating in 1995. He was not doing well in middle school, and needed a place that provided more encouragement and connection that a public school could offer.

We have only positive things to say about his Maybeck experience. Staff really care about the students, and because the school is small, they can get to know them pretty well. The trips the students take at the beginning and end of the year help the students connect with each other in positive ways.

The intersession courses provide unique opportunities for growth. (My son spent last year as a CSU exchange student in France as a result of the travel with Maybeck to France in his Junior year.)

Maybeck involve students in creating school rules and maintaining discipline. Students learn to think for themselves. The regular curriculum is strong. Most Maybeck students in Aaron's graduating class went on to college (several to UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz.) He is still in touch with friends he made there.

I know Maybeck offers students the opportunity to visit for a day. (We took advantage of that when Aaron was in the 8th grade -- following which he decided that he definately wanted to go there.)

June 1997

I attended Maybeck High School from 1975 -79 and had the best school experience I could have imagined. After graduating I went to Reed College in OR and then finished my Bachelors in Physics at UC Berkeley. I came to Maybeck after four years of Berkeley experimental schools, with some serious set backs in basic reading and writing skills. At Maybeck I was challenged like never before, and encouraged by the supportive teaching AND student community. The small school atmosphere lended itself to close relationships with peers and teachers, and gave ample opportunity for small, indepth discussions or outings. The teachers at Maybeck were motivated and inspirational. I came away from my High School experience with a true appreciation for learning.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Maybeck High School and it is still thriving. I definitely hope to send my children there six years from now, or something as close to Maybeck as possible. sharon

For the parent who asked about Maybeck: I have a good friend, Mike Golston, who teaches English at Maybeck. He is a fantastic teacher, and really enjoys working with his students. I was an English major here at Cal, and he and I often talk about the subject and what he's teaching the students, and there's a real joy and love to his work. Mike has told me that Maybeck is that way in all of its subjects, and they really work with the students to get each student into the love of learning. They also do big trips, although they're pretty expensive, I guess. For example, Mike took a group to Egypt last year.

Maybeck is a popular alternative for students who don't work well at Berkeley High (and whose parents can afford the private school tuition, of course). These students seem to thrive on individual attention, and Maybeck offers that opportunity.

My stepdaughter, now graduated from college, went through Berkeley High and loved it and excelled in everything. We thought all of her teachers were topnotch. But, Berkeley High is not for everyone.

Good luck! The high school years whiz by in retrospect!