Claremont Middle School
Claremont vs. Montera
So we dropped the ball, and didn't preregister our son at Montera. (pound head against wall). Right now he's registered at Claremont and waitlisted at Montera. We're also checking out Canyon, the itty bitty school in the redwoods above Moraga. Please share any thoughts on the merits of the three schools. Thanks mortified
As a teacher and a parent of a middle school daughter here is my take on the schools you mentioned - The Great, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Claremont Middle School has a bad reputation for not having high test scores. I can tell you that it is not poor teaching at the school, but that the students come from diverse backgrounds, including being poor, in some cases very poor, and not having access to academic vocabulary and college educated people at home. The twin principals are good - very good. They've reduced the absolute nonsense, racial issues, low academic behavior around campus and the ''girl issues'' that often resulted in physical fighting. Also, if your child wants to take Spanish, it's a good bet that (s)he will get in. That said, there are still some of the issues that come with lower income environments.
Montera is a good school, however, they have had their share of problems as well. What makes Montera different from Claremont is that there are parents at the school every single school day to monitor what classes their kids get into, the size of the classes, the curriculum and so on. However, there is downright meanness on the AC Transit busses that serve Montera students. Students are quite restricted on campus, in part to limit poor behavior. If your son or daughter has a club at lunchtime, there is an entire release procedure to let him or her out of the area. There has been at least 5 Spanish teachers in the past three years and the shop teacher finally left after having too many things stolen from him over and over again. It is a good school IF you manage your child's classes.
Finally, Canyon School is a great little school. Your child will do well there if your child is just below, at, or just above average in all areas. If your child is particularly gifted in say, Math or Science, Canyon is not the school for you simply because it is not large enough to have specialists for each grade to handle students who are able to work ahead one, two or more years in a given area. The campus is beautiful. You will find the parents a little on the ''granola'' side of the equation, however, you will not find the meanness, nor the blatent disruptions that you will find in the other schools. For some students the small enviornment helps them thrive, for others it is like breathing through a wet blanket.
Honestly, Claremont is a great place to be. If you monitor the classes and learning environment for your child I think you will be happy that your family received the Claremont placement. Even if offered a Montera slot down the road, you should first evaluate Claremont on its own merits before accepting the new placement. D.
There are some amazing families at Montera and the PTO is extremely dedicated, but I wouldn't waste any energy trying to get into that school if you have other options. I am hearing good things from current families about the relatively new leadership at Claremont. I also know folks that are at Bret Harte and Edna Brewer, all say they are glad their kids are there and not Montera. Good luck! OUSD middle school dad
Consider your inaction a stroke of luck. If your child is enrolled at Claremont you are in for a great year. After years of terrible word-of-much (much undeserved, but some rightly so,) the school is on track for greatness. Last year, Mr. Ronald and Mr. Reginald Richardson came on board as co-principals (we no longer have an Asst Principal.) They are twin brothers and there was a lot of curiosity/interest (tons of local and even national press) when they came on board. Now that the novelty has worn off, it has been nice to see them in action as strong educational leaders. They have done a ton of work on developing the teaching staff (which was largely already strong but not a cohesive team.) They are inspiring community leaders and great role models for all the students having come up in Oakland public schools themselves.
I don't want to disparage another school, but I would venture to say that your child won't necessarily have a better experience nor get a better education at Montera. Certainly the economic status of the parent community is higher, but Claremont has an incredibly active PTA and parent involvement has grown year after year. Montera is also a very large school which was a shortcoming in my opinion when considering middle schools. Claremont's enrollment has been growing with each 6th grade class, but continues to be a great size for our family (about half of Montera.)
Since your son is probably already at Claremont, I would suggest proceeding with an open mind and getting involved as much as you can. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Claremont Parent
Perhaps by now (the 3rd day of school) your son has landed somewhere and all is well. But my son just started at Claremont, so while I don't have any in depth knowledge of the school yet, I have been listening and learning about it for the past two years (yes, it's our neighborhood school). Two of his teachers I am absolutely thrilled with, having seen them in action last year (science class and design class). My son likes his English teacher. So while it is only the third day of school, it is going better than expected. I really thought my son would be stressed and anxious navigating Claremont and that the first weeks might be rough. But he's happy! No complaints thus far. We know other families who have been there for a year or two and their mostly-positive opinions weighed heavily in our decision. The principals are committed and engaging and set a very positive tone at the school. If your son lands here, I think he will be just fine. Oakland mom
What's happening to improve Claremont Middle School?
Hi, I'm interested in finding out what is currently happening at Claremont Middle School. Is there an active PTA? Would like to hear back from current parents as to their experience and recommendations. Why is there such a high level of attrition from Peralta and Chabot Elementary schools? Possible future parent
Yes, there is a very active PTA. You are welcome to attend any PTA meeting. The next one is Nov. 1. Dinner is served at 6, meeting starts at 6:30.
Why the high level of attrition: No clear-cut, short answer, but you are welcome to attend any meeting of the Chabot Middle School Committee. Please feel free to contact Chabot to get the contact information for their meetings. They regularly hold different kinds of get-togethers you might find very interesting. Many of their activities include getting together current Claremont families with potential ones. You can get more specific information that pertains to you and your child. Mom of 7th Grader
Ahh... another day, another BPN question about Claremont Middle School...
To answer your specific questions very candidly:
1) Yes there is a very active PTA that meets monthly, raises money for programs and school events, etc. Currently, most of the PTA leaders are from Chabot and Peralta, but there is a push to try to make it more diverse and representative of the school community.
2) There is a high level of attrition from Peralta and Chabot for a few reasons:
--For parents who use test scores as a judge, the numbers at Claremont can be tough. However, you should know that their API made a dramatic jump last year while other highly-regarded public middle schools leveled or dropped slightly. Also, the testing shows that students who come to Claremont with high test scores continue to maintain their level of proficiency. It is the achievement gap that needs further progress.
--Because the neighborhood is affluent, private school is a real option for many families. I have noticed that many of these parents never even considered Claremont for their child throughout their time at Chabot.
--Claremont has not historically ''presented well'' and I think a lot of parents just can't picture their innocent little ones going there. There are big, ''rowdy'' kids that hang out in front sometimes. The school facility has looked a bit shabby for a while (although this is changing with some beautiful new landscaping and internal upgrades.)
--Not sure about Peralta, but about half of the 5th grade student body does not reside in the Claremont cachement. Many are students that started off in the lower grades as neighborhood kids but moved out of the area and stayed at Chabot until graduation. Many others are transfers from the start who often started at Chabot in 4th grade. Lots of these parents tend not to choose Claremont as a school to drive to from across town, Berkeley, or beyond.
Claremont is not a perfect school, but my child is having a great experience. Good to excellent teachers so far (one dud) and communication from them has been surprisingly forthcoming and easy. The Assistant Principal who started this year is very open with the parents and great with the kids.
One thing I have found is it is important to remember that this is middle school--a difficult age for basically all people. It bothers me to hear about the foul language and I am also uncomfortable with some of the rowdiness so I am not in denial, just open-minded. This is anecdotal, but I sometimes think part of the problem is that so many Rockridge parents are old and cannot remember what kids go through at that age. Yes, you can probably shelter them for longer in private school and maybe that is good for some kids. I have come to believe that public school is important and I want my child exposed to all sorts of people as that is what life is like, especially here in Oakland (although less so, obviously, in Rockridge.)
Just trying to be honest. Best of luck to you. Anon
There was another question about Claremont a couple weeks ago and I replied to that, but I thought I would post to you as well.
There are a lot of things going on now to improve the school and you would do well to make an effort to learn more about the school. My daughter graduated from Chabot last year and is really enjoying the year so far. She is a high-achiever academically and I was concerned that she would not be challenged but I am pleased so far. In fact, there is a Math Club on Fridays and it is finally getting her excited about her abilities in this subject. (Claremont has 7th grade Algebra and 8th grade Geometry so math is strong here.)
I am on the PTA Board and have met many other parents who are very motivated to make it a better school not just for our kids but for the whole community. So far, I would say the attendance at PTA meetings is comparable to Chabot which is impressive since there are fewer students and family involvement tends to peter out by middle school.
There will be a number of events coming up that you can come to if you'd like to dig deeper. It sounds like you are not a 5th grade parent so you have time, but you are welcome to start now. On Saturday, November 5th, there will be an Open House from 1:00 - 4:00. Information will be on the Claremont website if you'd like more details: http://www.claremontms.org Elizabeth
Updates on OUSD Claremont Middle School?
I would love to hear the most recent news re: Claremont Middle School in Oakland. I have heard that parents from both Chabot and Peralta are sending kids there these days. I don't necessarily feel encouraged by news that kids are less rowdy and it now appears ''safe.'' Although I hope that my kid's school is safe, I hope for much more as well . . . Is it academically challenging? Interesting? More than just the basics? What is the current racial/socioeconomic make up? How are kids doing moving on from Claremont? How are parents involved? Considering Claremont.
Claremont is like any Oakland school - you need to separate the drama/preconceived notions/prejudices/hearsay from the reality on the ground.
We have a kid at Claremont and it's gone well. Middle school is socially turbulent at the best of times, but here's what you need to know about Claremont:
Students - you'll get lots of economic/racial/social/class diversity. Don't underestimate the value of this.
Teachers - Really good. They are an impressive group overall. I don't know how they maintain their energy and enthusiasm. Spending all day with middle-schoolers would drive me crazy! There are lots of younger staff, and that's good - there's very little deadwood here.
OUSD - Infuriating. However, District 1 Board Member Jody London takes a close interest in Chabot - this is a very good thing.
On Site Administration - not exactly fantastic - they need to get better organized and communicate effectively with Parents. It's easy to be driven crazy by the dis-function of big city school administrations, but if your kid's teachers are effective and discipline/safety is under control they'll do fine. The administration really do have a firm hold on discipline at Chabot.
PTA - Growing in strength and effectiveness. There are many active parents who have come from Peralta and Chabot (and other schools). The PTA now has the energy and size to actually make the administration sit up and listen.
Physical facilities - The buildings look dull from the street, but inside you'll see lots of evidence of a busy, active, learning environment. Claremont has received funds from the Caldecott Tunnel fourth-bore legal settlement which is providing lots of new landscaping and building improvements.
Curriculum - as well as the State Curriculum, the kids have access to a mix of after-school enrichment programs. There are several really outstanding programs at Chabot - just three would include the band /orchestra program, Media/Computer lab, and after-school Math program.
Claremont is a diverse public school with great teachers and a strong PTA - your kid can get a good solid education here. What you don't get at Claremont is the 'We wrap you precious baby in cotton wool and immerse them gently in Socratic learning' guff that every private middle school blathers on about ad nauseum. When the cotton wool comes off in High School I think kids who have attended Claremont will be well prepared for the challenge.
Go Knights! Claremont Parent
The first two weeks of Claremont have been unusually chaotic this year and no doubt you've heard all the developments by now. If not, you can contact the moderators of two Yahoo groups - ClaremontBoosters and chabotmscommittee. They can also provide you with more direct contact with Claremont parents.
To answer your specific questions: Is it academically challenging, more than just the basics? My child is a GATE student and frankly no, his abilities are not always challenged. However, I don't think ANY school, public or private, can really do enough for a child who is advanced. The facts are such that most of the kids are average, and the schools do their best to get the lower performers up to speed and then keep the mid level going. And ALL public schools have to teach to the Star Test - so they're bound by that. I will say that I have really liked almost all the teachers my child has had and saw how hard they worked. My child is doing fine academically and has had mostly positive classroom experiences. And another plug for the fabulous music teacher - she really is terrific and does challenge and improve skills, behavior, attitude.
Current racial/socioeconomic make up? OUSD keeps precise records on that and it's public info. You could probably find it on the website.
How are kids doing moving on from Claremont? We're still there, so can't answer that. I know three families whose kids are now at Oakland Tech and in the AP program there.
How are parents involved? There is very strong contingent of families from Peralta and Chabot who are very involved and working hard to pull in families from more far-flung schools. Parent involvement in all middle schools tends to drop off, so even parents who were involved K-5 tend to burn out, and parents who were never involved, it's harder to get them turned on. But the PTA membership this year is at new high, and folks are feeling more fired up than ever to make a difference! The middle school decision IS difficult. We feel for you! Another Mom
I chuckled a little to see one of the previous responders to your question getting Chabot and Claremont mixed up as they were posting. Yes, we parents with kids at both spend a lot of thought and energy on the two schools and it can begin to blur.
The good thing about that is it points out that more and more neighborhood kids are going to Claremont to add to the mix of the many children that attend. We just had a large community meeting last night with the OUSD regional executive officer, Mia Settles-Tidwell, and Maria Santos, OUSD Deputy Superintendent as well as many other school and district stakeholders who are really looking to bring this school to the next level. It really is a gem of a school, and I feel that when we get through this period of shaping and polishing it more people in Oakland will see it as we families that are there do.
Our experience is that our daughter is having a great start to middle school. Yes, she is safe and like you I expect that to be a given. That is not to say that she hasn't witnessed other kids acting up. Regarding academics, 6th grade really is mostly the basics so I'm not sure what you expect beyond that. The four basic classes are set up as 'houses' which means the teachers (ELA, History, Math, Science) all have the same kids and share a prep period where they can discuss ways to collaborate across these subjects as well as talk about challenges with students and best practices. I am VERY impressed with the teachers. While many are young, they are very engaged and committed. I have gotten emails (not just replies!) already from two of my daughter's teachers checking on things.
6th graders only get one elective (my daughter has Spanish,) but 7th and 8th get two, I believe. Claremont has a computer animation program that is renowned in the state where kids learn the MAYA program and others in a huge, fully outfitted computer lab. Also, our band/orchestra program is lead by a teacher who seems to be legendary with the kids (wish my girl was interested in music.) There is a huge participation level in music at Claremont as it is considered 'cool' and not nerdy like when I was in school. I know there is Art and other electives, but these are the ones I am most familiar with.
One other note, last night's meeting was also helpful that it was made plain and clear that Claremont Middle School will not be closed even though it came up on a list when all district schools were put up against of a set of parameters. Claremont is the only middle school in North Oakland and closure is not a concern. Elizabeth
Re: Middle School Options in Oakland/Richmond/Berkeley
Claremont Middle School is a small (~400 students) middle school in the heart of Rockridge. It is currently riding the same wave of improvement that Edna Brewer rode about three years ago. A strong new principal has brought the student body under much better control; test scores for all students are improving; teachers are dedicated, enthusiastic, skilled, and responsive; the after-school program has been recognized by the district as one of the best in town; gender specific science and math classes help students focus on the academic topic rather than on each other; the music and art programs are great; the school boasts a one-of-a-kind state-of-the-art computer animation program that students can continue when they move into high school at Oakland Tech; the PTA is energetic and active in the school and the community. Check it out on one of the Friday tours and talk to the parents of current students. Good luck! Local Oakland Public School Parent and fan
We are considering pulling our current 6th grader out of private (financial reasons...) and putting into public in Oakland. Does anyone know much about Claremont? worried parent
Claremont Middle School certainly doesn't look inviting from a visual or school scores point of view. Unfortunately, we as parents often stop then and there and don't consider it more seriously. I now look to my son's perspective with regard to whether Claremont Middle School is any ''good''. I can tell you from his perspective it is a great school. Consider; He has gotten straight A's since starting there and is now devoted to learning and being conscious of his GPA. He is in the 8th grade & had attended Chabot. He is in the band along w/about 1/3 of the students. Btw, it's cool to be smart and in the band at Claremont. He is taking Geometry in the 8th grade at Oakland Tech. w/ about 15 students a year ahead of schedule. Taking Geometry at Tech. has been another huge boast to his self esteem. Since he is taking an extra math class he also has been tutoring other students in Algebra during a regular math class, another boast & benefit. He loves all of his Rockridge friends that attend CMS and he loves all the new friends in Oakland and beyond that he has meet. I would say that his academics were not quite as rigorous as I might have liked (he is still scoring in the 90th percentiles on State testing), but his social growth & confidence in any life situation has way out weighed this drawback. Middle school is trying to figure out who you are as a person & he will graduate and move onto Tech. a happy, very well adjusted young man. Also, most of the teachers are really good and the PTA is getting stronger every year. Ron
I live down the street from Claremont and this year I began doing a lot of work with their dedicated PTA. My kids are still in elementary school, but I've been meeting lots of the students, teachers, parents, and administrators at Claremont. It is an inspiring community. There are a lot of great programs and projects occurring at Claremont. If you jump in and talk with people, you'll hear from lots of happy students and parents. (Of course, it's not perfect, but then again, it IS middle school.)
From a total outsider's perspective, the students seemed to be getting pretty unruly last year. But trouble from rambunctious students has STOPPED in our neighborhood. There is a new administration that is putting tons of energy into the school. And it is paying off. In addition to the dedicated staff and administrators, there is a long tradition of an active, energetic PTA at Claremont. They all work together to give the kids the best possible opportunities.
I suggest you take a tour with the vice principal (if you haven't already) and maybe attend a PTA meeting to get a feel for what the experience is like for current parents and students. The unknown can seem quite daunting. But I think after you visit and meet people you will feel greatly reassured and hopefully even psyched about making the change!
There is more info on the website, but here is the specific info on tours that were held during the options season:
Every Friday at 9:30 AM, Assistant Principal Kevin Taylor leads a tour of the school. Tours involve viewing classroom instruction and facilities, receiving information about our music and digital media elective programs, and a general question and answer session. The tours typically are completed by 10:45.
You can still set up a tour by calling or texting Kevin Taylor at 355-5991 or by contacting the PTA vice president, Mike Napolitano at mnapolitano [at] waterboards.ca.gov or 510-622-2397.
Also feel free to contact me if you want more contacts or information. I'm not an expert, but I can put you in touch with people who are! Shona
Does anyone have any experience with Claremont Middle School? We live in North Oakland and I am wondering if it is worth trying to get my son into that school next year. There are no reviews for it on BPN, which makes me wonder.
I also have a child approaching middle school age, and we have been watching the changes going on at Claremont. I got the impression that many of the changes have been terrific - an active PTA, a gardening program, a fantastic music program, and a new and improved media lab. However, I understand that the current principal is leaving, and that state budget cuts may have a severe impact on the library and other programs. For more information, I would suggest getting it touch with the PTA and perhaps attend a meeting. Their contact info is on the Claremont website: http://www.claremontms.org/Claremontms/PTA.html Ellen