Envision Academy


Charter School
operated by Envision Schools
350 students
Website: http://envisionacademy.org/
Email: info [at] envisionacademy.orgPhone: (510) 596-8901
1515 Webster Street Oakland, CA 94612
Editors' Notes: 
  • Envision Academy in Oakland was formerly known as Urban Renaissance

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2013

Re: High schools with extra support for Inattentive ADD son
If by ''Envision Charter'' you mean Envision Academy on Webster Street in downtown Oakland, I would urge you to drop it from your list. I am a parent of a student. While the school and its very dedicated, passionate staff do certain things well, it is a very chaotic environment, to put it mildly. And if your son needs an IEP, I feel even more strongly that it's the wrong school. The on-the-ground resource staff is great, but the school's director of special education is not, and they report to her. I won't say anything else this publicly...

Oct 2012

Re: Help finding an appropriate school for my ADHD son
I completely understand your frustration. My 17 ADD son has been to 7 schools trying to find one that worked for him. I had really good results at Envision Academy in Oakland. It is a public charter school focused on getting graduates preparred to get into college. They have an advisory period every day and must complete all work during and after school. This worked well for my son who didn't do well with homework or managing his own time. Unfortunately, he begged me to put him back in his old school with his friends, and I did. I was really happy with Envision, although my son was only there for a semester, so I really can't speak to the social environment or extra curricular activities. Anon

Jan 2011

I'm working with an 8th grader who is a good kid and smart but really undisciplined, a bit spacy, and needs a lot of individual attention. The four schools his mom wants me to help learn about are: MetWest, Architecture College Prep, Life Academy, and Street Academy. Any information about any of those, good or bad, would be great! Thanks! oakland tutor

You may want to try Envision at 15th and Webster in downtown Oakland. It's not an Oakland charter (part of a small group o high schools throughout the Bay Area) but we have been pleased with it. a.

If you're researching small high schools in Oakland, you should include Envision Academy of Arts & Technology on your list. It's a charter school in downtown Oakland. My daughter is a freshman there, and I chose it for her in part because it's small. I feel her teachers really keep an eye on her, and they let me know if she's not up to date on assignments. But it's so much more. Call the school to find out when the date for the next orientation meeting. 510-596-8901. Lorraine

Nov 2009

Re: Gifted 9th grader with possible AHDH
Our 14-year-old daughter is twice exceptional, too: gifted and emotionally disturbed (anxiety and depression). She was miserable in a traditional middle school due to social aggression from other girls. We pulled her out and she now is thriving at a school that values her specialness. It's the Envision Academy in Oakland, a charter school that is the quality of excellent private schools but is free because it's paid for by public funds. Envision is pioneering learning centering around projects and numerous other alternative approaches to learning. I highly recommend it. Search this site for reviews, including mine. I did have to advocate for accommodations for her giftedness. I recently donated 2 books and a CD to the school on Teaching the Gifted in a Regular Classroom. It included over a hundred sheets developed by experienced teachers that show in detail how to teach the gifted in a regular setting. These have ''primed'' the pump with her teachers, the learning specialist, the school psychologist and the principal, and they welcomed my input. It sounds like your son would fit well in this school community and thrive there too. Nancy

October 2009

Re: 11th grader having a very hard time socially
You might want to check out Envision Academy in Oakland. It's a non-traditional charter school (so still a public school) with a progressive program for high-schoolers. My 14 year-old daughter had horrible experiences socially 18 months ago (shunning and ostracism) in her public middle school. She got so anxious and depressed she nearly killed herself. Suicide is a real possibility with depressed teens.She is much better now, on medication and receiving therapy.

Among the things I like about Envision is the emotional safety-net it provides teens. Onsite resources include an excellent school psychologist, Martha Manetti, twice a week and psychology graduate students available every day for therapy at no additional cost. My daughter sees one of these students for therapy each week. Martha established a great rapport with my teen and has been central to the staff's efforts to individualize her learning environment to meet her particular needs. When she has felt she's falling apart, she's been able to get immediate support from her advisor, Martha or Elisa, the intern. The school values individuality in students and welcomes parental involvement. Nancy

October 2009

I just wanted to get the word out that Envision is beginning to enroll for next year. This academy has been a savior for my bright but unfocused 14 year old.There is structure and accountability, and my child (who has previously disliked middle school altogether) is excited about attending school and working towards attending college.This a great small (Bill and Melinda Gates funded) charter school. Contact Rick Gaston @ http://www.envisionacademy.org/

October 2009

Re: Oakland Public High Schools - for a regular student?
Your child really needs to be in a smaller school like any one of the charter schools in Oakland. The class size is smaller and the teachers are dedicated to teaching and don't have to deal as much with classroom management because of the ground rules each school has. BPN lists all the schools. My daughter is a senior at Envision Academy, and was a B and C student in middle school. She has been an A and B student at Envision. Oakland Charter and Lighthouse are 2 more to check out. Check them all out.

You're right, not everyone is an honor student, but no one deserves to be herded into a school of 2000 to 3000 people. Would you go and work for a company where you had to change desks every hour and move at the same time as 2000 other people. Of course you wouldn't. Then why do we make our children do this? OK you can have the soapbox back. Jenny

March 2009

I am looking for a charter school for my son. I'm looking for any feedback about Envision Academy in Oakland from current families. Is it academically challenging? Are the teachers well prepared? Is it safe? How large are classes? Are there enough extra curricular activities? etc. Rochelle

Hi Rochelle- my son is a freshman at Envision and is definitely academically challenged. The homework load is not overwhelming but is not easy. For example, in math they do a word problem that takes all week to solve. The teachers all do a good job of differentiating instruction so that kids who are ahead in one area receive work that challenges them. If you check out the teachers' backgrounds on the website you will find that most have advanced degrees: http://www.envisionacademy.org/staff.html. It is a safe environment inside the school, although they recommend that students walk in groups to the bus or BART. Class sizes are all pretty small - I think under 25. The trade-off is that there are few electives, although there is a great digital media program. Hope this helps.

March 2009

Re: A Kinder, Gentler High School???
Our daughter had a horrible time at OIS too, in 7th and 8th grade. We ended up pulling her out ... The other place that might be great for her is Envision School in downtown Oakland (15th & Webster, a business area). My daughter was just accepted there for 9th grade and we are thrilled. It's a charter school (free public school) and sounds like a magnet school for kids interested in the arts and technology. My daughter is a prolific writer, too, and loves drawing. For further info, search the BPN site for Envision School, Google it and go to its website, and check out parent reviews on the Great Schools website. Act quickly; there are a few spaces left and the school is in the midst of parent information nights. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her advocate. Nancy

March 2009

Re: Charter high schools in east bay
We were looking for alternatives to the private schools and felt lucky to find Envision Academy in Oakland. You can get a good sense of the school from their extensive website, with video of students and teachers. The Principal is communicative and articulate, and hit all the right notes for me: engaged learning, sophistication of course outcomes, students working at differing levels, etc. It is spearheaded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a space that is simply gorgeous--many of the expensive private schools in the area are in spaces that don't begin to compare. It's simply a joy to be there. Someone wrote on one of the BPN groups that it's in a seedy area, and I completely disagree. The light is beautiful in that part of Oakland, and the streets are quiet there. It is an urban, not a residential setting, so if you're squeamish about an urban school's being in an urban area, it's not for you. But I would have no problem sending my only son there at any hour in daylight (true of any neighborhood in the Bay Area). My son wondered if he'd feel comfortable in classes with so many students clearly from parts of Oakland he doesn't know, but he came out of the classes he visited with a huge smile, he was just delighted. This school is going to keep growing; it is a terrific resource for Oakland families. Mother of Private School Student

My son is in 9th grade at Envision and is very happy there. The teachers are all enthusiastic and dedicated to each student's success. The curriculum is very motivating and project-based. It is so small no one can fall through the cracks. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Jan L

My daughter has been going to Envision since the very beginning and I believe she would not be the excellent, motivated 11th grade student that she is today if it wasn't for Envision. I believe this has all come from the teachers and administrative staff who really care about each and every student. They really do care that my child is successful, and they are helping her get into the college she wants to go to. This school is not easy. The curriculum is project based and if the students haven't completed their work for their assigned projects, they have 'Success Days' where the students stay until the work is done. There is extra help available to kids who need it and I've seen some amazing transformations in behavior and academics from some kids. I've also seen kids leave because they couldn't follow the code of the school. And being in downtown Oakland gives them opportunities they wouldn't have at other suburb schools, like last year, classes went to city hall and met with the mayor. This year, the 11th graders have internships with local companies. Come and check it out. Jenny

Nov 2008

Re: Oakland Tech for a Smart but Shy Boy
I would like to suggest Envision Academy of Arts and Technology in Oakland for your son. My son, who also came from a small middle school, just started in ninth grade and loves the low- key, hands-on approach. Class sizes are small (I think they cap them at 22 per class) so kids don't fall through the cracks. There is a big emphasis on digital media and project- oriented learning. Their website is: http://www.envisionacademy.org/home.html. Feel free to contact me, or the principal Rick Gaston at rick [at] envisionacademy.org.

October 2007

Re: Choosing between Oakland Tech and private high schools
Consider a charter school for your son. The Oakland charter high schools have smaller class size than both Oakland Tech and the private schools. Your son can get the individual attention he needs to advance in all subjects. He won't be another face in the crowd, in physical danger (a friend's child was ''jumped'' on his first week at Tech), and you can save your money for college. My daughter attends Envision Academy - which we are thrilled with, but I know others who are happy with Lighthouse and Native American. Due to Oakland's foresight with the small schools initiative, there are many more small public high schools to choose from than in other communities. But look around now. Schools fill up early. Jenny

Nov 2006

Re: Seeking small charter high school
Envision Academy (formerly Urban Renaissance) is the best charter school I have found so far. My daughter has been going there since they opened in September. Since they have a small student:faculty ratio, they have the time to work individually with the kids who need it. They work with the parents and district on IEP requirements. In addition, they offer a challenging curriculum no matter what the abilities of the child are. My daughter went from getting C's and D's in middle school to A's and high B's the first quarter at Urban (Envision). The only drawback to me is the location. They have a great building, but the walk to BART is a little seedy. Thankfully they walk in groups and there have been no problems. Check it out. Go to http://www.envisionschools.org/page.php?page_id=103 or Call Alcine at 510-596-8901

Sept 2006

Re: Independent study or intern schools for bored 14-year-old
To the parent who asked about independent study for her 14 year old: Check out Urban Renaissance on Stanford near the Oakland/Berkeley border. The school just opened with 70 students, all 9th graders. My son is there and I am impressed with the staff and the quality of the young people. Urban is a charter school under the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation that is using project based learning while building community. Good luck!

Just a second on Urban Renaissance in Oakland. My older daughter attended a similar school in Napa so we knew what to look for when it came time to send my younger daughter to high school. Urban encourages independent thinking and the school is very community oriented. Friday afternoons they all get together to acknowledge successes and difficulties. Kids are taught that their actions, whether positive or negative, affect the entire community. Call the school soon, because its one of the only schools like this in the area that has any openings. The only drawbacks that I can see is that the school is very small (only 125 in each grade) so if your child wants to blend with the multitudes, theres no chance of that at Urban, and there is no sports or pe program yet. Oh, this is Urban's first year so they only have a 9th grade but Envision Schools, the parent foundation, has 3 other schools in the Bay Area. Check them out at http://www.envisionschools.org

June 2006

Hello, my name is Alcine Mumby, and I am the Co-Principal of Urban Renaissance Arts and Tech High School in Oakland. Urban is a new free public college preparatory charter high school that will open in August 2006 with a freshman class of 125.

Many of you may still be trying to decide which high school to send your student. You DO have a choice.

I want to tell you a little about the academia of Urban Renaissance and our outlook on education. Urban is based on a nationally recognized and award-winning model for secondary education. The model consists of three core values that Urban seeks to embody: rigor, relevance and relationships.

Rigor: Urban will have a rigorous academic curriculum that will use art and technology to engage students in their learning. All Urban students take college prep classes and all Urban faculty have high expectations for student work. In fact, all students are supported to meet or exceed UC/SCU requirements for admission.

Relevance: Learning will be contextual, active and authentic. Core activities will be integrated and interdisciplinary.

Relationships: With fewer than 25 students per class, the school will provide a highly personalized environment to challenge students. All students are supported by an advisory team and meet with superb college counselors (with very low student-counselor ratio). We also encourage stong parent participation in the Urban community.

Urban still has spaces available for our incoming 9th grade class (you can find an application form on on website www.envisionschools.org). I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have. Feel free to contact me at alcine[at]envisionschools.org

Alcine M.