Emerson Elementary School


Public School
operated by Oakland Unified School District
Website: http://www.emersonschool.net
Phone: (510) 654.7373
4803 Lawton Avenue Oakland, CA 94609

Parent Q&A

How do you like Emerson Elementary in Oakland? Jul 26, 2018 (0 responses below)
Seeking current experiences at Emerson (Oakland) Mar 14, 2017 (0 responses below)
Transitional kindergarten at Emerson in Oakland Mar 14, 2017 (3 responses below)
OUSD TK Options - Sankofa or Emerson? Nov 18, 2016 (1 responses below)
  • Hi!

    I'm hoping to hear from parents of Emerson Elementary students about their experiences with the school, good or bad. I've heard Emerson has a staffed library, a garden program and after school care, so that sounds promising? I'm making my short list for the 2019 lottery and our family is very near Emerson, though our assigned school is Piedmont Ave. I'd love to hear about recent experiences at the school: school culture, classroom environment, parent groups, volunteering experiences, etc. Thanks!

  • My family is moving to the East Bay from out of state in late May/early June and is considering renting a home zoned to Emerson Elementary in OUSD. Our child will be entering K in the fall. We will arrive far after the lottery is said and done. Assuming we decided Emerson is a school we would be happy to send our child to (which it seems to be, based on what we know so far), is it reasonable to expect our child could attend Emerson since it's our neighborhood school, in spite of our late arrival post-lottery? Or is Emerson "up-and-coming" enough that it might be full by the summer and we could be scrambling/placed elsewhere? Thank you for any information!

    You should be able to get a spot at Emerson with no trouble; as a neighborhood family you will go to the top of the waitlist, and seats often open up there in the late spring/early summer as waitlists at other schools move. As soon as you have a signed lease, call the Student Assignment Center and let them know you'd like to enroll and they should be able to help you. Welcome to Oakland!

    Your chances are good. I'm pretty sure Emerson does not fill up.

    Just a note that a signed lease is not sufficient. We were turned away with a signed lease and told we could not enroll until the kids had a final year-end report card from their current school.

  • Hello!

    We were assigned Emerson for our incoming kindergartener and I'd love to hear about recent experiences at the school. If folks are willing to share, especially around school culture and climate/ social emotional learning, that'd be wonderful. 

    Thank you!

  • I am curious to hear about experience with the transitional kindergarten at Emerson and any feedback about studio one for aftercare. Our local school does not have TK and Emerson was on our list in part because it's in between home and work.  My child could theoretically stay at preschool so I'm trying to assess whether or not switching for one year is a good idea since he would go as a kindergartner to our local school (I hope!). Any advice/  thoughts are appreciated;  he's very active and does well at preschool but has a lot of energy and I've been relieved that he's eligible for TK because I think going to kindergarten right now would be too soon for him. 

    I can't speak to that specific TK program, but my daughter did TK at a different school from the one where she ended up going, and it was totally fine. The TK program was great and she was very ready for kinder. Though she was ahead academically, she was right on track for kindergarten emotionally, so it was good that she basically got 2 years of kindergarten. You know what I'd recommend? See if you can go to that school and meet with the TK teacher. Maybe see the class in action. That's what I did and she was amazing and we ended up having a great experience. Best of luck! 

    My son is currently in TK at Emerson and is in the same situation - he will go to Kinder at a different school. For us, the decision was pretty clear - he had completely outgrown preschool and needed to move on, but I was really nervous. He's very active, lots of energy and has a hard time sitting still. It's been a big struggle. The social emotional aspects have been very hard, impulse control, keeping his hands to himself, learning how to act in a big school setting. The academic side has been good, and I'm surprised and pleased and how much he is learning. But, all in all - it's really a struggle. It may continue to be a struggle in Kindergarten, but I'm hoping that we are laying the foundation now for better experience in the future. I will say that the TK teacher Mrs. Minor has been great. She is very caring and patient and really has been trying and working with us to get my son in a better spot.

    Studio One has been fine, it's certainly convenient. Although I would prefer an afterschool option that was strictly play or sports for my active boy.

    Good luck.

    I do not have direct experience with TK at Emerson, but my friend's son went to Emerson TK and then moved onto Chabot, which is their zoned Elementary school. My friend's son is also a very energetic child, as most boys are. The parents liked the school alright. It's definitely not fancy and wasn't perfect but there were a lot that they liked about the school. They liked the after school program option there, the teacher was really great. Coming from a play-based preschool where the boy got to run outside and run around almost whenever he wanted to a structured, traditional school setting was a big adjustment. But, the boy did pretty well, made friends, and the parents particularly commented that the TK teacher was amazing. The class size is larger for sure but the parents felt that Emerson TK was very convenient because it was on their way to the BART station and the son got the transitional education he needed and the son was very well prepared for K at Chabot. The son is now a 1st grader at Chabot and is thriving. The parents could have kept the boy at preschool for another year, but they felt that they made the right decision because it made the financial and logistical sense. They also felt that 1 year of TK is a drop in the bucket. They felt that even if it's not 100% the absolute best ideal situation, it's only for a year, so they decided to give Emerson TK a chance and they are glad that they did. (I'm in a similar situation with my child assigned to another TK school that is outside our zone because our neighborhood school doesn't have  TK, so I had an extensive conversation about my friend's TK experience. That is why I'm able to share a lot of info.)

  • OUSD TK Options - Sankofa or Emerson?

    (1 reply)

    We are just starting to tour and get ready to submit our Options paperwork to OUSD for TK 2017/18. We are zoned for Sankofa, but are looking into Emerson (the next walkable TK school), & a few other schools down hwy13 that are on our weekly commute route, and where we already have a large community of friends. I am drawn to the idea of a neighborhood school, saturating our efforts into our immediate community, and being able to walk. That's why we're making a go of an urban family life after all.

    I'm looking for recent Sankofa & Emerson parent and student experiences. PTO, TK, K & beyond. I've had a comfortable experience so far reaching out and getting encouraging information from Emerson. I can't say it's been positive or even organized with Sankofa. Am I missing something?

    Also, I'd love to hear any experience, advice or protocol for re-optioning for Kindergarten after a TK assignment, just in case that seem best for our family.

    Thank you.

    We know families that have gone to Emerson for TK then Peralta for K. I live less than a block from Sankofa and our daughter is at Peralta. 

    Last year OUSD discouraged any family outside of the Peralta district from putting it as their first choice. I don't know of any new families outside of the district that got in on the first pass, but I know many that got in from the waiting list over the summer or in the first week of school.

Parent Reviews

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RE: OUSD elementary shout-outs! ()


I have one child at Chabot and another at Emerson.

Chabot is obviously a very good school academically. Beautiful campus and great teachers. Nice families. Drawbacks are the size of the school makes it hard to connect and since there are 4 classes per grade your kid ends up not having much overlap with friends in the same class as the years progress.

Emerson, a school not as well “rated”, I love so much. The community is very tight knit. There are tons of wonderful events and community building (more than Chabot). The parents are extremely warm and open. My child has only been there one year, but his teacher is beyond excellent. I would recommend both wonderful schools, but especially look into Emerson! Good luck!

I do not think Santa Fe CAN is going to be successful in reopening the school, for all the reasons already provided.  However, since you're looking at North Oakland, my son went to TK at Emerson and we were VERY happy with his experience.  Mrs. Minor is a phenomenal teacher and my son loved going there.  Emerson can get trickier in the older years, but as far as TK, kindergarten, and 1st grade go, it's a very good school.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2015

RE: We might not get into our neighborhood school

I'm an Emerson parent, and am the one who leads the school tours so maybe I've met you. My daughter and our family are very happy at Emerson, love the teachers, the principal, and the community. I'm happy to answer specific questions if you want more info on Emerson.

Before/after school care at Emerson in Oakland

May 2013

My daughter is enrolled in Emerson in Oakland (not Berkeley) in the Transitional Kingergarten program. The in-house after school care isn't for TK kids. I know about the place across the street, but its $25 a day and no before school care. I need care from 7:30-8:20 in the morning, and from the close of the school day to 5:30/6:00 every day. Any ideas? Thanks Amanda

Another good option is Mosswood Rec Center at Mosswood Park (MacArthur and Shafter). They pick up directly from class and go until 6PM. Here's some more information about Mosswood from theEmersonSchool.net website. I know some families who send their children here and they're happy with it.

Mosswood Rec Center's After School All Stars Program also picks up at Emerson. Full-time care is $130/month, and for $20/month extra they can provide a snack. Their program extends from the end of the school day until 6PM. They offer dance, computers, sports, cooking, art, kid's choice days, and tutoring and homework help. Located in Mosswood Park at the corner of Webster and MacArthur, their program takes full advantage of their fantastic outdoor space and sports facilities. Daily drop-in rate is $20. Stop by to tour the classrooms and dance spaces, this is a gem with room for more enrollment. Financial assistance is available. Call them for more details, (510) 597-5038. Kia

Feb 2013

I am zoned for Emerson Elementary school (Oakland) and would like to hear from parents in the neighborhood. Are you happy with Emerson? If you sent your child elsewhere, why? I'm concerned about the lack of other out LGBT families at the school, but I'd also like to hear specific feedback about the school as a social and learning environment. Phoebe

I'm a neighbor of Emerson Elementary and I've put in the paperwork to send my incoming kindergartener there this fall. There are many aspects of the school that I'm feeling really good about, and am excited that my daughter will go there.

I've gotten to know the kindergarten teachers (and so has my daughter), and they are great. They are warm, passionate about teaching, open and accessible, and driven to bring enrichment and gardening to the kids. Also, I've gotten involved with the Parent Teacher Organization and have been really pleased to find them welcoming, enthusiastic, and super motivated to make the school great. The PTO funds a lot of enrichment activities, like art and music, which are high priorities for me. Finally, I've also gotten to know Principal Hatzke (who lives in the neighborhood!) and she is fantastic. Because of her, Emerson is one of six Oakland schools pioneering Balanced Literacy, which de-emphasizes phonics-based reading instruction, and instead gets the kids reading what they want to read. It's about getting kids passionate about reading what they're interested in.

A good way to meet other Emerson families is through our monthly play dates, first Saturday of the month, from 11AM to 1PM. We meet on the Emerson Playground closest to 48th and Shafter. It's a potluck, and open to current Emerson students, prospective students, and neighborhood kids. It's a great place to talk to people who are considering Emerson, or who already have kids enrolled there. Come on out and join us on March 2nd!

Also you can sign up for our newsletter by going to www.EmersonSchool.net and scrolling down to the bottom of the front page.

Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Kia

Our son attends Emerson Elementary and I wrote the piece below about our decision to send him there (ran in the Jan-Feb Temescal News & Views, and I think it's going to run in the March Rockridge newsletter). I hope it will address some of your questions; feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss further. -Molly

Emerson Elementary, Our Neighborhood School

I spent a chunk of the first week of this school year in tears. Some were the predictable mom tears for the "baby" in our family starting kindergarten, while another child began middle school (with all those imagined big, bad kids). But many of them were tears of concern and frustration.

We chose to enroll our son in kindergarten at Emerson Elementary, our neighborhood school. A school where 70 percent of kids receive free or reduced lunch. Where test and "API" scores are climbing, but still low. A school whose visual picture is amazingly different from the Rockridge bubble in which we live.

But it's a school with new leadership and vision, growing parental involvement, and exciting new programs in reading, music, art and poetry. A school that we decided, after much deliberation (and tears, of course), that we should support. Schools need a mix of kids to be successful our son would help build a mix. The "baby" was gung-ho (they have a great playground, what else could he need?). He's a solid kid - easy going, eager, curious - and with our support, he will be fine wherever he is.

But I still worried. Did we make the right decision? What will he miss out on by not being at a school with more resources? Will he lack challenges by not being in a cohort of similarly privileged classmates? Will the family challenges of some of the students overwhelm his teacher?

The tears of concern brought on tears of frustration: Why does getting your child a good, public education have to be such hard work? Why do decisions to benefit our own kids have to be at the expense of other kids in our city? Why aren't the masses of children attending chaotic and underperforming schools more of a concern to our country? I can imagine this frustration is shared by many parents in Oakland, particularly families with fewer or no options for better schooling.

While a tad more relaxed than the typical "Tiger Mom," I'm fierce in my love and hopes for my children. I want my children to learn, to be challenged, to have the opportunity to develop passions. But I also want my children to be compassionate and empathetic, and to know and value what it means to live in a truly diverse community. School is an integral piece of any child's community, and such a great opportunity to experience diversity.

I'm happy to report that the tears of worry quickly stopped after the first week: we are confident and pleased with our decision to enroll our son at Emerson. Our son has never questioned the decision - from day one, he has been excited to go to school and begs us to let him stay and play with his classmates at the end of the day. And it's not just the playground he loves: he told an adult friend recently that his favorite part about school is the reading, writing, and drawing that he does in class. Emerson is pioneering "Balanced Literacy," an exciting new reading program that is immersing the kids in books, stories and characters, some together as a class, and some at each child's level. He belts out new songs taught by the music teacher, and shares stories about interactions with teachers and peers.

We know that attending Emerson will require a sustained time and resource commitment by us as parents. Current enrichment programs, such as art and music, are not a part of public school funding and have been launched at Emerson with hard-fought-for dollars raised by a small but energetic PTO. To continue to offer these programs, as well as other support needed to ensure all Emerson students achieve, will require parental and community investment.

But it is a commitment we are willing to make. Emerson is giving our son a love of school and learning, and feeding his curiosity - invaluable and foundational tools. And Emerson gives him a beautifully diverse cohort of friends - a community he would not see in a more resourced school or in our daily lives. We are grateful and happy to be attending Emerson Elementary, our neighborhood school. Molly B

Oct 2011

I'm a neighbor of Emerson Elementary in Oakland, and even though my daughter is not yet old enough to attend, I've gotten really involved with the PTO over the past year. It's been an amazing experience. I've been welcomed into this great group of parents and been able to make a difference in the school.

The parent group was founded in 2008, and has really taken off. The fundraising is going great and we're getting to bring amazing enrichment programs to the school:

* Music instruction in every grade with the fantastic program Cantare Con Vivo. Every student learns to read and write music by 2nd grade!
* A new fence gallery project, an artist and science educator will be teaching students about local ecosystems and then working with them to create permanent art for the school.
* Art instruction (including ceramics) with Studio One.
* Coming soon: poetry translation and composition with Poetry Inside Out. Children translate poems from around the world into English or their native languages. So Dante from Italian, Rilke from German, Neruda from Spanish.
* And more, field trips, a new salad bar, a nutrition program.

Plus, we've got a great new principal, Kathy Hatzke, who even lives in the neighborhood!

There are fantastic teachers, a diverse student body, and a beautiful campus. As a prospective parent, the PTO has been receptive and welcoming. Check out the updated website: www.emersonschool.net and I encourage everyone to put Emerson on your tours list! Kia

August 2008

We recently bought a house in Temescal just down the street from Peralta, but it looks like my 2nd grader might not be accepted. The Admissions office told me to check out 2 other schools that might be interesting, one of them being Emerson. What seems to be posted here is from 2006 and it was an interesting post about getting Temescal parents together to improve their neighborhood school, Emerson. I'd love to hear how things have gone over the last 2 years. Thanks! Diana

Check out the Yahoo group:


It's been a mixed bag. Efforts to restart a PTA faltered. There were some deeply disheartening racial divisions that kept the PTA from flourishing. On the other hand, there are some parents who are trying to revive the efforts. Hopefully Emerson's time will come. Emerson neighbor

Emerson in Oakland is great! Many of the teachers who were causing issues have left, and the staff and teachers currently on site are wonderful.

My daughter finished kindergarten last year and will be attending first grade there this year.

We have had a few meetings (and a picnic!) of parents and neighbors at the school, some prospective parents of children who will be enrolling this fall, next fall, and the following.

I am trying to get parents of children currently attending together, although with varied work schedules that can be difficult.

Whatever issues occurred with the last attempt at bringing a parent group together have yet to raise their little racially charged heads. I don't expect that we will try to form a PTA- probably more along the lines of a PPTG as at Peralta should we actually create a formal group.

As I say- my goal is just to get people together and talking, and be supportive of anything I can.

Do check out the yahoo group (even though it is mostly me talking) or contact me if you have any further questions or info, or if you are interested in taking a tour of the school or volunteering!




Did not get your public school choice in Oakland?


March 2006

A group of North Oakland/Temsecal parents who did not get their Oakland school lottery choices are attempting to join forces to make Emerson Elementary School (located in the vibrant Temescal neighborhood) a viable option for our prospective kindergarteners. (Emerson is the neighborhood school for most of us; my daugher's local school is Santa Fe). We would love to hear from any other Oakland parents in or out of the neighborhood (the school is currently underenrolled) who would like to help us make Emerson a vital school. You can email me, or better yet, show your interest at EmersonSchoolNeighbors[AT]yahoogroups.com. Thanks

Editor Note: for replies to this posting, see Did not get your public school choice in Oakland?

April 2006

My husband and I are considering moving with our young son (and soon-to-be newborn) to Temescal. However, the Emerson School gets terrible reviews and does not seem to be an emerging school. I went to parochial school as child and am curious about whether people have good opinions of St. Leo's on Piedmont. I would also like to hear whether there is anything new being said about Emerson. Thanks. Andrea

I'm one of a number of Temescal parents who are trying to make Emerson School a viable choice for our children. At this time Emerson has a terrific principal, a beautiful facility and a growing group of interested parents. If you would like to learn more about who we are, please email me, or visit (and join!) us at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EmersonSchoolNeighbors/ (If you go to our group site and are interested, please add your name to our growing database of interested families!) Also, we have another community play date coming up on May 20, 10:30 am, at the Emerson yard, 49th and Lawton. carrie

There is a group of parents and neighbors of Emerson School in Temescal (Oakland) who have been working to create community support for the school. Take a look at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EmersonSchoolNeighbors/ There will be a playdate at the Emerson School playground on Sat. May 20 from 10:30 to 12:30. Join us! Emerson is at 4803 Lawton Ave at 49th St. beth

April 2005

My son will start kindergarten in Fall 2006 and our neighborhood school is Emerson Elementary in Oakland (Temescal neighborhood). The scores for Emerson are very discouraging and, based on the data reported in the OUSD ''report card'', the student body doesn't seem to reflect the makeup of the surrounding neighborhood. My questions are, why are't the Rockridge(below Clifton)/Temescal families sending their kids to Emerson? Are we all going to be competing with each other for inter-district transfers? should we all ''bite the bullet'' together and consider Emerson? is anyone else thinking along these lines? Christie

I live in the Temescal neighborhood near Emerson, and it seems that many of the kids bus in from other West Oakland neighborhoods. Although Emerson's scores and ratings are dismal, apparently they are better than what is available elsewhere. I'll be honest and say that the kids are rough, to say the least. I'm not in this situation, but it seems that the other parents may keep their kids out of Emerson to protect them -- and I'm not saying that to be snotty. You truly would not want your child to be exposed to a lot of the behavior that I see as they walk through the neighborhood after school. In addition, Emerson is located between Oakland Tech, and Carter Middle School (soon to close) and suffers from problems caused by those kids.

Having said that, I have heard that Emerson is a good school with a principal who cares and is trying to improve things. I hope that Emerson's bad reputation is overstated. I would love to see the kids who live nearby feel comfortable attending it and I applaud any parent who works toward that. I think the only way to find out what you want to know is by observing in a classroom for a good amount of time. Good luck.

I am a teacher who used to work at Emerson elementary school in Oakland. One writer stated that kids at Emerson are bussed in from West Oakland. That is misinformation that is disturbing to me. Oakland busses about 30 kids to Emerson, all of whom attend special day classes for severely handicapped. Some of the children come from elsewhere in Oakland, but quite a few live in the neighborhood and are not able to get to school indpendently because of their special needs.

Few if any of the children in regular classrooms come from families that live outside your neighborhood. Many of these African American and Latino families care about their children's education as much as you do. Why not go to a PTA meeting and see if you can work together with them to save your neighborhood school?

Through my earlier posting., I have connected with some other parents who are interested in building community support for Emerson Elementary School in Oakland. (Emerson is in the Temescal neighborhood, and its district extends north to Clifton St in Rockridge, and south to 36th St near Mosswood Park.) The school has its share of challenges, but it also has some things going for it including its small size, a decent facility and a new principal who is dynamic, experienced and committed. We hope to generate interest in and support for the school by bringing together neigborhood families -- will you join us? Christie

If you are interested in builiding support and a positive cirtical mass for your local Oakland school (Emerson) amongst the families with young children (pre-elementary age) I suggest that you speak with at least the following two nieghborhood groups. The Glenview nieghborhood organized a community group among young families to encourage more local families to send their kids to the public school. I beleive they even worked with the school's PTA. The Maxwell Park neighborhood association may be organizing a similar effort. I beleive their neighborhood association has built up a lot of momentum over the past couple of years, with many young families moving into the neighborhood. You can try google-searching, contact the PTAs, or call someone at the City of Oakland who works with neighborhood associations to try to track down the right contacts. Anon

March 2005

It's in the heart of Temescal -- I'm surprised there aren't parents on this list who've considered this school or who even send their kids there. I'd love to hear any comments about it. Thanks! Anon

As part of the Marcus Foster Institute-OUSD ''Principal for a Day'' program, I was recently the ''principal'' at Emerson. I shadowed the real principal, Wendi Caporicci, for most of the day. If I lived in this neighborhood, I would have no problem sending my daughter to Emerson. So far, I have visited the school twice, visited all the classes, been a story-time reader and a homework helper. The classes are small, the principal and teachers dedicated, the grounds and facilities well maintained. I would recommend visiting the school to see for yourself. Liz

The issue I see with Emerson is that the kids who attend the school do not live in the neighborhood and so the resources of the parents in Temescal go to Peralta and Chabot schools which everyone tries to transfer into and Private schools which are the option if Peralta and Chabot don't come through. As the parent of a soon to be kindergartener in the Emerson district I am extremely frustrated by the Oakland Public Schools, the only good ones it seems are in the expensive neighborhoods like Rockridge and the Hills and as a result the resources come from the families in those areas, I am stunned at the disparity between elementary schools within the same school district. And am distressed by the walling off of schools like Hillcrest, one of the only schools that runs through junior high. It appears to me that if you want a good public education in Oakland you need to be loaded with time and money or you need to live in a terrible neighborhood so you can transfer your kids to a good school. feeling stuck in Temescal

Nov 2004

Hello: I am looking for parents' reviews/experiences with Emerson School in Oakland (on Lawton St in Temescal). It is the default neighborhood school for my children (who are currently pre- school age). Thanks. anon

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