Joaquin Miller Elementary School

Oakland, CA

Public School
operated by Oakland Unified School District
Phone: (510) 531-6688
5525 Ascot Drive, Oakland, CA 94611

Parent Q&A

  • Current Joaquin Miller experiences?

    (3 replies)

    Hi all,

    Our son was assigned to Joaquin Miller Elementary in the OUSD lottery for kindergarten in the fall. I don't see any recent feedback for the school, and while many of our neighbors sent their kids to JM, that was many years ago.  Would you be willing to share your recent experiences with the school? The ratings have gone down in the few years that we've been living in Montclair, but we don't know if they are a good indicator of what is actually happening at the school.

    Thanks in advance!

    Although it was 8 years ago that my son attended JM, it was a very positive experience. A major reason was his second grade teacher, Sara Green, who is now the principal. She was one of the best teachers I have ever seen. With Mrs. Green as the principal now, I would choose JM over other schools. You are lucky to have JM as your assigned school. As I've learned over the years with my three kids, leadership is very important at a school. 

    Both of my kids are at JM (kindergarten and third grade), and we are very happy with the school. The teachers are for the most part excellent, Principal Green is wonderful and proactively working to improve the school, and the community is strong. Like the previous poster, I also wouldn't put a lot of stock in the Great Schools ratings. If anything, I think the school has gotten better since our older daughter started -- with the arrival of Principal Green a few years ago, parent enthusiasm and participation has gone up, and it's a very positive place to be. There are definitely challenges, particularly from lack of funding, but a lot of effort by many people goes into fundraising and trying to make things better for the kids. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions, but I wouldn't hesitate to send your son here!

    We only have a couple of friends there, but both families are happy and really like the school and current principal. Note that the Great Schools ratings for many California schools have dropped in the past few years because they rely heavily on testing data and the state testing framework has changed. The test itself is relatively new, and more emphasis is now placed on how historically low-performing students are doing--an area that trips up even some otherwise very high-performing schools. For instance, you'll see that some of the most coveted schools in Oakland have fallen to 7s and 8s--but not to worry, the waitlists are as long as ever! Even places like Piedmont are no longer 10s across the board. Take Great Schools with a grain of salt, and go visit the school instead.

Parent Reviews

Parents, Sign in to post a review on this page.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Are things better w/ the Joaquin Miller principal?

Jan 2015

My husband and I are in the process of ranking OUSD schools for our son to attend kindergarten next year. Our neighborhood school is Joaquin Miller. In my research I couldn't help but find the negative posts on yelp and great schools. I am not looking for a rehash of what occurred last year, but would like to know if the relationship between the parents and principal is better this year? -mother of a kindergartner to be

My child is in kindergarten at Joaquin Miller this year so I wasn't around last year. But, from my prospective, any bad feelings over the change in the after school program have not carried over into any sort of negative impact on our experience this year. My son is really enjoying his first year at Joaquin Miller and there is a great sense of community among the kids, parents, staff, and principal with everyone working together to provide the kids with a great education. There may be some people who are still upset, but from what I have seen it is a small minority that isn't impacting the school overall. People who I have talked to are also happy with Kids Club, the new after school care provider.

There is a prospective parent information night on January 8th at 7pm. If you are interested in the school, please come and meet Principal Smith and hear more about the school - (the parent night is listed on the website as 12/11, but it was changed to 1/8 due to the BIG storm). Joaquin Miller Fan

Yes. This is our second year at JME and we actually are big fans of the principal. From everything I've seen she is very straightforward and no-nonsense. The small group of vocal parents who are the complainers seem to complain about everything, and need to get hobbies. They are ridiculous and the attacks on her seem overly personal. I love the school and try to tune out the distracting drama from the unhappy parents. Happy JME Parent

In my opinion, and based upon our interactions with the principal, things have not gotten better. A few quick examples: OUSD has stepped in with professional moderators to help facilitate communication between the principal and the JM families. At the first meeting, the facilitator stated at the end of the meeting that she had no idea that things were so bad, and promised to continue facilitating meetings. At one of the subsequent meetings, I personally witnessed the principal publicly berate a beloved teacher in front of the entire group of parents - about 60 people. On January 13th, another meeting is scheduled with an OUSD facilitator that is for parents only. Please feel free to attend this meeting, if you'd like to get an idea of what's really going on.

Last year a committee was formed (chosen by the PTA, and very diverse) to discuss potential solutions to the problems that were occurring. This group included parents, teachers, and was supposed to include the principal. I was a part of this committee. Out of 5 or 6 meetings that were held, the principal showed up to only one, and stayed approximately 10 minutes - after telling the group that she didn't feel that we adequately represented the school.

I hope the situation will improve. The teachers are truly wonderful. Sad JM parent

While there have been issues with the principal at Joaquin Miller, the teachers and parents remain committed to the community and putting our children as the #1 priority. All schools have ups and downs, public and private. The teachers and parents at Joaquin Miller are committed to working through the difficulties. This is evidenced in many ways - parent involvement such as raising funds to provide classes, such as PE, Library, and Computers as well as volunteering and spending time in the classrooms to support reading, math, and other special projects. The teachers are amazing - caring and at the same time engaging and challenging the students. Our sweet school is far more than one personality. We encourage you to visit our wonderful, neighborhood school! Several JM Parents

My child is currently in kindergarten at Joaquin Miller. It's our first experience with kindergarten/''real school'' and our first exposure to JM. I wasn't aware of the community drama with the principal until last summer when like you I read the terrible reviews and re-hash. I was really turned off by the reviewer(s) and the reviewee. Now that I'm a parent there, my perception is that everyone is trying pretty hard to put it behind them. Absolutely no one has been eager to talk about the principal with me, which is just fine by me. There are ongoing community meetings with a facilitator working to understand the issues and move forward from whatever happened last year.

Though I have not personally this year seen any truly outrageous moves on the part of the principal, I have heard her use a tone and words that have given me pause. I choose to not be offended, and I steer clear. There is a lot to love about JM and I focus on those good things (exceptional teachers, great kids, great parents, families from many different backgrounds, amazing well-funded PTA, wonderful after school program, amazing support staff, good communication, school spirit, a calendar full of well attended school activities, good scores...) No drama for this mama

We have been at Joaquin Miller for a number of years, including last year, the year of the great drama. We feel very fortunate to be at JM as there are many extraordinary families - meaning great, committed parents with really good kids - and there are some exceptional teachers, some very good teachers and a few that seem to be in constant opposition to this principal’s process.

Ms. Smith, JM's principal, has appeared very committed to constant, incremental improvement, which certainly seems like what you'd want the principal to be doing. Last year, she took on the school's most sacred cow: the afterschool program, Adventure Time. As there are high-quality afterschool programs that have developed since AT established its franchises at all the Hill Schools long ago, it made sense to investigate them to see if the hours at the end of the day could better serve the kids and parents. In fact, the committee Ms. Smith convened was charged by her to find ''an afterschool program that rocks!''. Unfortunately, on the committee there were a number of people very, very dedicated to AT who overtly and openly professed their absolute opposition to considering any alternative to AT and structured a survey of the community entirely about AT. When the principal proceeded at investigating the better alternatives, those very vocal people who were so dedicated to AT fought back very personally against her. The resultant polarity in the community was very unpleasant. However, by now the most vocal have either left or have quieted down.

The fact is that JM is a very good school, a great community and now has an afterschool program that is considerably better than before in all regards, from number of families served to enrichment to security. Certainly, there have been some problems in the first few months of the new program, Kids Club, run by the JCC, but they're making continual improvement and it certainly appears that the kids are loving their experiences there. If you're considering JM, you really should drop by any day after 3p, introduce yourself to the Kids Club management, and see what's going on. Most especially if you're considering afterschool care for a K kid. Under AT, they were walked into the portable and then had to make their way among the chaos of kids up to 5th. Under KC, they have their own, separate program, playground, rest/nap/quiet ares, classes and teachers. The difference for the K kids is night and day. If you can, drop in on any other AT at any of the Hill Schools and you'll quickly see the difference.

As for Principal Smith, we don't have much experience with other elementary school principals, so we don't have a basis of comparison. However, she's very clearly committed to the school, clearly loves the kids, wants to innovate and make change for the better and, as demonstrated last year, has the courage to take on vocal minorities for the benefit of the majority. However, diplomacy and communication are not her greatest strengths, both of which have been strongly instrumental in the spiral of drama that is now seeming to calm down.

Lastly, OUSD's involvement had a lot more to do with the very unfortunate appearance of anti-semitism among some people as the new afterschool program, though completely secular, is run by the JCC. That, and the fact that there were flaming emails flying and bad energy on campus. Ultimately, OUSD is involved to help a group of very resentful parents to stop resisting positive change, some of whom are the ones that have been pressing to keep the meetings with OUSD going when the great majority of parents just want to go about the business of getting our kids educated and well cared for. Kids-focused JM parent

Recent Review of Joaquin Miller Elementary?

March 2013

We got assigned to Joaquin Miller Elementary in the OUSD options process for kindergarten in the fall. I can't find any recent feedback for the school. Can anyone help me out and post some reviews of your recent experience there? What are the school's strengths and weaknesses? Are people happy with the school? Thank you! Soon to be kinder mama

Joaquin Miller is a wonderful school. Paulette Smith became principal after some trying times 5 years ago, and she's rocking the joint. Bullying is now unheard-of, every kid in the school reads to or is read to by a reading buddy, the after-school enrichment programs are flourishing, and they've got a great science night coming soon. I haven't met all the teachers, but am quite impressed with 90% of the ones I have met.

I am somewhat biased, because my son recently completed 4th grade in the same room where I had 4th and 6th grade a very long time ago. The main changes I see are that the teacher seems a lot better than mine and the desks look smaller now.

But seriously folks, last weekend's Joaq a Thon really showed the school's spirit. The Dad's club served snacks, enthusiastic parents and teachers cheered kids along the route, lots of parents hung around schmoozing, and the kids just kept walking. My son was in the middle of the pack, with 30 km, and the fittest kid laid down 44 km! That's a full marathon. This school is going the distance. Cynthia

I have 3 boys in Joaquin Miller right now. We have been very happy with the experience thus far, both academically and socially. In my opinion, the teachers are the main strength of the school. They are caring, very experienced, and welcome lots of parent involvement. The PTA is also extremely strong, raising a staggering amount of money for the school through numerous fundraising events. I know there are some political things going on right now between the administration and the PTA, but I can't really comment on that as I'm not really involved in the politics of the school. The only negative thing I can mention is the larger class sizes this year. However, that happened throughout the District, not just JM. All in all, our boys have been very happy. JM parent

Our family felt ''driven out'' of Joaquin Miller in 2011 due to a variety of difficult experiences. We felt that the school made some decisions that showed questionable judgement: they made it a top priority to set up a free breakfast program that few kids qualified for, the parent-run music program was ended, and assemblies were so long that the kids had a very hard time sitting through them. Our own family had to deal with my daughter being continually harassed by a boy, who, in my experiences at the school, was routinely quite disruptive. On one occasion, it seemed that he purposely knocked my daughter down, so that her knees were all bloody and the school never informed us of any consequences. I watched him harass other children, and I never saw any improvement in his behavior. I did not want my children in a school that did not appear to take seriously the job of disciplining overly aggressive children. In my opinion, the school yard is sub-par compared to other Bay Area schools, so if your kids are athletic, it may not be a good match for you. On the positive side, individual teachers were caring, but, at least in my daughter's class, seemed overwhelmed by a sizable population of misbehaving children, which must have made it difficult to teach. Also, we loved some of the after school activities run by parent volunteers. -Former Joaquin Miller family

Joaquin Miller for Kids Outside the Neighborhood?

April 2012

Hi, Our twins were just assigned to different elementary schools for K by OUSD. Our son was assigned to Joaquin Miller and our daughter to our neighborhood school, which we don't want. We are trying to decide whether to appeal for our daughter to Joaquin Miller, or for both of them to another school higher on our list. Our main concern is that the families at Joaquin Miller will primarily be of a higher socioeconomic class than us. So, I am wondering if anyone who does NOT live in the Joaquin Miller neighborhood can tell me what their experience has been like at the school. I know it is supposed to be a great school and I am not concerned about the overall program or teaching there (I have visited the school several times and know a few people with kids there). But, I really just want to know what your experience has been if you don't live in the immediate neighborhood, and particularly if you are not as well off as those who live in that area. Thank you!

My daughter goes to Joaquin Miller, and we think it's a great school. We don't happen to be in the immediate neighborhood, but we are in a neighborhood right next door. There is a pretty large group of kids from other neighborhoods, which makes it a pretty diverse school relative to other hills schools. I don't think in general you'd feel bad about being from outside of the neighborhood or from a lower economic bracket. However, it's a very active school and parent community, and if you can't show up for some of the extra-curricular activities your child could feel a little left out. Not everything revolves around money, though. For example, we had our walkathon a few weeks ago, and virtually all the kids come. It is a fundraiser, but even if you can't raise a lot of funds it's no big deal. The point is to get out and walk. We also have a rummage sale in the spring that's a fundraiser, as well as a Spring Faire (carnival). You can (and should, if you can swing it) also do a lot of the other programs that do not cost any money at all, like the Living History programs. You'll get most out of the experience if you can be involved in the school. If you're available during the day, you can usually help in the classroom or go on field trips, and if not, there are PTA programs and things that take place on the weekends. I don't notice too much difficulty in terms of economics (though you might want to set aside some $ if you have it to let your child go to some of the signup programs that happen from the auction, like the after school movie ($15) or maybe one special outing. More importantly, make sure you'll be able to devote at least a couple of days during the school year for the living history program or help out in the classroom. The kids that seemed upset were the ones whose parents could never come in... or at least some of them were like that. there are some cool after-school classes (some 50% scholarships are available). In terms of fitting in yourself, it is an active parent community, and most of the parents are pretty well educated themselves. Education is important there! Come check the school out during school tours (which are usually in the fall), and if you are serious about coming to the school, join the yahoo group. Check the school's website,, to see if it sounds like something you're interested in, and feel free to make contact with the PTA reps (or come to one of our PTA meetings, which are not fully representative of the school, but we would want you to be involved if you're able). Good luck with your search.

March 2011

Re: Montclair Elementary Schools
First off there are three elementary schools in Montclair - Thornhill, Montclair, and Joaquin Miller. We have a fourth grader at Joaquin Miller and a sixth grader at Montera who graduated from Joaquin Miller last year. We have been very happy. With one exception all the teachers have been great. There is PE, dance, and art, all paid for by the PTA. Both our kids have been in Adventure Time (AT). The time they have spent there has varied with our situation. I like it as its free play time in the school yard which I had as a kid after school but I think is less common these days. There is also a homework club if kids and parents want homework done there and often art projects and other activities. There are also afterschool classes including podcasting, band, chess, lego engineering, theater, art, guitar, piano, computer lab. There are more but that's just off the top of my head Happy JM parent

Feb 2009

We are buying our first home and I think our attendance area would be Joaquin Miller. Does anyone know about the second grade teachers? What about kindergarten teachers?

I am concerned because my first grade son is advanced in both math and science and my four-year old daughter is already reading the Little House in the Big Woods series.

Is anyone having similar experiences? Currently my son attends private school and my daughter is in preschool, but we cannot afford both a house and private school. Soon to be Homeowner

My son is entering Kindergarten as an advanced math/reader, and I wondered similarly. I went to the orientation and talked with some school parents, and the advanced kids get extra enrichment sessions where they learn more advanced math etc.

In addition, they will split classes and have 4th/5th grade or 2nd/3rd grade combined classrooms(not exactly sure which classes are split) to help enrich the student environment (the official line is that the membership in these classrooms is random, but if you look at the composition of the classes, it may appear otherwise :). --TT

Sept 2008

Re: Thornhill v Montclair Elementary?
I can't speak to either Thornhill or Montclair, though I hear they are both great schools. I would suggest that if you are interested in that area you not forget about Joaquin Miller. It is another great school with wonderful teachers and community. We have been very happy there. For the most part we have had no problem with our kids getting along with their classmates (though they are kids). There were some issues last year when a new principal arrived about discipline policy, but I think those have been largely resolved. There are great after school enrichment classes, from podcasting, to band, to martial arts. This year the PTA has funded a music program for all grades. You should certainly check it out. Happy JM Parent

April 2007

Re: East Bay Schools for child of same sex parents
As one Mom of a two Mom family with a soon-to-be second grade girl, we have found that we were often the ''first 2 Mom family'' or the ''first Identified 2 Mom Family'' at our daughter's infant care, Small Trans Depot; preschool, Aquatic Park School and elementary school, Joaquin Miller in Oakland.

At the infant care and preschool, many other 2 Mom families joined, and by the time we left there were at least 8 at each facility. We NEVER felt slighted or out of place at either school. Some of the 2 Mom families felt more comfortable that they had another family like theirs attend first. We spent a LOT of time at the first two places answering questions about how our daughter came to be. Most people were rather appalled that although I gave birth, her other Mom had to go through a legal adoption - which our home, finances, relationship and so on were scrutinized. Most said that if traditional families had to go through the same rigor, there would be fewer children on the planet.

Then we went joined Joaquin Miller (GREAT school!) and thought that we would have the same questions, concerns, comments. We asked the principal how many other two Mom families there were. She said she thought there was one - but wasn't sure. From the first play days at the Roberts Park until today, we have been nothing but welcome. At the back to school picnic, the Dads Club barbequed burgers and dogs, my daughter asked about the Dad's Club and how there were no Moms, I told her ''well, that's one volunteer club I can't join.'' At that, one of the Dads said, ?yes you can, we welcome anyone who wants to make our school the best it can be? - within a couple of months I was in the Dads Club.

There are at least 5 other two Mom families at Joaquin Miller. The Principal, Teachers, PTA, Committees, Children and other overall environment has been nothing but inclusive and generous. If you are lucky enough to get to become a Joaquin Miller family, know that you will have many families who welcome you and a few that are like you.

Good luck to you! My advice is to answer the questions, join the groups and show your daughter that you are more like the school community than you are different. Another 2 Mom Family of a Terrific Daughter

May 2006

We are considering switching our wiggley 6 year old from a developmental private school to first grade at Joaquin Miller. We'd like to hear from parents as to how supportive or competitive an environment it is, particularly for kids who still need to move around. We are also concerned how much homework there is with the open court curriculum, whether open court is boring and tedious, and how much time is devoted to science, art and other subjects. We'd also like to hear from people who have had experience switching kids in first grade. Ours has a hard time with transitions. anon

Our then 6, now 7yo, started at Joaquin Miller in December, when we moved to Oakland from the east coast. We have had a great experience. The principal and parents were incredibly responsive and helpful in supporting us in this difficult transition. Most importantly our son is thriving. He has made great strides in reading, math, and writing since December. He has a wonderful, caring, experienced teacher who uses Open Court without allowing it to become oppressive. There is homework, but we have found it manageable. It comes home on Friday and is due the following Friday, which allows us to plan how we are going to do it over the course of the week (I don't know if that is generally true, or just this teacher). He quickly made a lot of good friends. It was a tough transition moving across country in the middle of the year but I can't imagine it could have gone any better than it has. We've really been thrilled with our experience. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. Andrew

October 2005

Could anyone describe their experiences with Joaquin Miller gradeschool in Montclair? Has anyone looked at the school and then decided to send their child elsewhere, public or private?

I looked at J.M. School and then decided to bite the bullet and pay for private school for my daughter. There were several reasons, but many not exactly specific to J.M. -- maybe more related to the whole curriculum issue in Oakland Public schools. I found the open court and scripted curriculum to be unbearable depressing. The idea that the teachers all had to be on the same page on the same day (literally) throughout the district regardless of children's interests, abilities or teacher interests and abilities seems beyond bad education to me. Also, during an open house for prospective students the principal said they were able to ''sneak in'' a little literature here and there because the school has good scores. I coudn't bear to send my creative, enthusiastic and happy child into the environment which I found depre! ssing and oppressive. When I asked the principal how they handle diversity in the school she said they don't have problems. When I asked how they deal with bullying, she said that just doesn't happen that the school. I found the answers so defensive and unrealistic that I was totally turned off. I think as public schools go in Oakland, J.M. is better than most, but I just couldn't stomach it. Good luck -- I know many families are happy there. Everyone has to find the best ''fit'' for themselves. anon

In response to a recent posting regarding Joaquin Miller School, I have a 5th grader and a 1st grader and we have been more than happy with the talented teachers, the wonderful community, and the happy students. In response to the principal's reply to a parent who asked about bullying, she was, in fact, realistic and not defensive. There is no bullying. The principal and teachers set the tone and bullying is simply not tolerated. As for Open Court, I agree it is an obstacle however the teachers most certainly get around it by providing curriculum that uses literature, integrates art, uses primary sources for social studies, etc. My daughters are getting a creative and rich education. Happy to talk to prospective parents. Jamie

We have two daughters, very different kids, very different learning styles, one of whom graduated from JM last year and is now at Montera and one in the 4th grade. We have been very happy at JM, and so have they. Yes, the scripted curriculum seems to be a bummer, but on closer examination the anthology for Open Court is filled with really fine selections of fiction and non-fiction. The teachers at JM are also very creative and resourceful, and they augment that curriculum with literature studies, special projects, art projects, etc. JM also has a particularly rich social studies curriculum that culminates in a living history day in each grade, and last year my daugher's fifth grade teacher added a very interesting and challenging project about the Bill of Rights.

My daughters have both made wonderful friends, from great families. At JM they have learned to be comfortable with diversity in a deep-down, this-is-the-way-the-world-is fashion that I had to learn after years of adulthood. They have learned to get along with kids of many cultures, races and nationalities, and to accept those who have different learning styles, disabilities and other challenges.

The principal and teachers at JM are every bit as concerned about social and emotional development as academic. They take a proactive and positive approach to conflict resolution, and when problems do occur (of course they do, these are children!) they take quick action. No school is perfect, of course, but if you are looking for a dynamic educational environment, a wonderful community and a place where your child can learn to become a good citizen of the world, JM is a great choice. Alice

Having had a child attend part way through Joaquin Miller, I wanted to respond to the previous posts. Particularly the comment that ''There is no bullying.'' I'm afraid this wasn't our experience and we have friends who have had similar bullying experiences at Joaquin Miller. I think the poster's child was simply lucky to not have been a bully victim. The biggest problem I see with this issue at JM is the denial by the administration that there is an issue. I'm not saying it's pervasive, because it's not and we did find that the family community at JM was wonderful. But bullying does happen and when it does no one has a clue what to do about it. I also found the ''conflict resolution'' program somewhat of a joke. The ''best'' kids get chosen to pronounce dogmatic judgements in the face of conflicts. My child's preschool did a better job of getting disagreeing kids to go through a process of restating the other's concerns and figuring out a resolution together. This was definitely not our experience at JM. The ''chosen'' conflict resolution kids did not appear to have any training. If a disagreement was carried to an adult for help, the prevailing wisdom seemed to be whichever kid was angrier was wrong. JM does have some positive aspects, but I thought the original writer's concerns regarding bullying and conflict resolution after receiving a denial of their existence by the principal were insightful and on-target. An Ex-JM Parent

I have been in JM for the past five years and have two very different children there. My experiences have been wonderful. To counter the one previous comment, I have not heard of a single case of bullying in my entire time with the school, and I am an involved parent who is there everyday working on one project or another, spent a couple of years on PTA board and am generally very well informed.

My older daughter is ''certified'' gifted student, and the school has been able to meet her specific needs well (more challenging assignments in and outside of class), special roles in educational process, along with other gifted students. She continues to excell, learns a lot, never stagnates and develops healthy intellectual curiosity.

My younger daugher, a very able student, had some communication issues prior to starting school. When I asked the principal and teachers for advice, I was given a lot of support and significant accomodations prior to her starting school, which made her start of K a breeze. She is now a confident 1st-grader. Educational process is rich, empowering, targeted at developing individual strenghts and very personal.

Please feel free to email or call me if you would like to discuss further any issues re: JM. Maria

My daughter attends Joaquin Miller School. She started Kindergarten this fall. Admittedly she is the tallest child in her class. I have not witnessed bullying at the school. I have seen conflict between children, and I have watched other children and teachers work with the children to resolve conflict. One of the strenghs of Joaquin Miller is that there are two large playgrounds, one for the K-1 kids and a separte one for grades 2 - 5. This seems to help in the playground dynamics.

I believe the children who attend Adventure Time for after school care have the best of both worlds as Claudette, the head of JM Adventure time does not allow children to bully or simply be mean to other children. That said, Claudette has explained to many children that others choosing to spend time with other children and not playing with you is not bullying, but making a choice of how to spend time.

Parents and children are welcome to come to visit the school, to watch interactions between teachers and students, administrators and parents, students with each other. I have many years to go at Joaquin Miller, but I like what I see and hear. My daughter is reading, has friends, feels she is part of the school. Parents who are involved are warmly welcomed and richly rewarded in the extra-curricular activities availableto all studens. The principal is fair and visits each classroom weekly. Each child is truly known, understood and respected for who they are. And the teachers, custodians, administrators, volunteers, parents and children care about and take ownership of their school. Deb

January 2005

I'd like to hear from parents of children of color at Joquain Miller Elementary, particularly parents of Latino children. How are your children faring? Is the staff sensitive to racial issues and sterotypes? How diverse is the teaching staff? Is there a curriculum dealing with diversity? Do the kids segregate themselves? Do the teachers sterotype them? What are the other parents like? I was taken aback by the film I saw of the living history project in which half the kids dressed as Indians wearing war paint etc. Do you see this as a good place for your child? Thanks concerned parent of prospective student

Would like to know other parents experience at the Joaquin Miller Elementary School. I have a four year old daughter who will start kindergarten next year. I would also like to know more about their experience with the Adventure Time. My daughter would to need to stay there the whole day. Argus

My son is in 1st grade and this is his second year at Joaquin Miller. We are very pleased with the school. His 2 teachers are excellent; very creative, dedicated, high energy, engaged and seasoned professionals. The class size is small (20 students), and there is a lot of parental involvement, from helping out in the classroom, to going on field trips, organizing class parties and amazing efforts by many many parents to fund raise for the school. JM raises over $100,000 to spend on enrichment activites. The PTA is a very motivated and hard working group.

Go visit and talk to the teachers and principal. Go on the web and find out if there is going to be another open house. Email the PTA president with your questions.

As for the question about diversity, the principal, Ms Lu would have all of the statistics, but from memory of last year's K class of 21 kids, 4 African American, 3 Asian, at least 2 latinos.

My son went to AT everyday until 1:30,so he was just with other K kids and he loved it and so did we. The head teacher is from Brazil, the assistant head is from Indonesia and there was one other Asian teacher. My son loved to play outside and also do all the wonderful crafts that were organized. This year he is in first grade and goes one afternoon where he is with the older kids. He still loves it and asks to go more often.

Go and check it out to see for yourself and ask the staff about your questions and concerns. -happy JM parent

January 2004

I am very interested to know people's impressions of the schools in our neighborhood: Have parents been happy with Joaquin Elementary School? Did you send your child on to Montera Middle School? Were you happy with the program there? Did your child attend Skyline High School? Thanks for your opinions.
Parent planning ahead

My child attends Joaquin Miller, an Oakland public school, and I am very involved in school, as are most of parents, and present on campus daily. I never once heard a child swear, the facilities and bathrooms are always clean, children are supervised at all times, including special personnel to watch them and others to organize their games during the break, there is no record of any physical violence. When you come on campus (come visit!) children are cheerful, teachers are happy and friendly. Maria

This is actually in response to a post in the Alameda Schools newsletter about Paden/Public Schools Generally. The writer refers to public schools being ''strangled'' by standardized curriculums and heavy testing, and makes the blanket reference that ''I'd bet it's the same at all public schools right now.''

Well, let me emphatically state that at my daughters' public school, Joaquin Miller Elementary, it is not that way at all. Since we've been there we've seen a new math curriculum be adopted as well as Open Court being used in all grades, and I think it has spurred the teachers on to new levels of creativity in make the rest of the curriculum rich and interesting. We have living history projects in every grade above K, with a new program just starting this year in first grade. The teachers and PTA are actively looking for ways to get more arts into the every-day curriculum. Parents are invited to come in and share their culture, their work, their interests with the children, and the teachers use it to support the rest of the curriculum by reading stories, designing math exercises, etc. around those subjects.

I continue to be impressed by the teachers' and their desire and ability to stretch and expand the children's imaginations and interests. As I talk to my friends with children at private schools (which often have their own agendas in terms of standards, test scores, etc.), I find the only thing they have that I envy are buses for field trips! Alice

January 2003

We are very happy with Joaquin Miller School! We currently have a third grader there, and our second daughter will be entering kindergarten in the fall.

Oakland teachers are paid relatively well (compared to other Bay Area school districts), and because Joaquin Miller is considered to be a very good public school, it attracts some excellent teachers. We have been particularly impressed that the principal and teachers take a lot of care assigning students to classes and teachers, so that the students get the most out of each grade level.

There is a strong sense of community at the school and a lot of parent participation in the form of fundraising and also volunteering in the class room. The school's principal is extremely active, and is a strong leader and compassionate person. The PTA organizes fundraising for student enrichment, teacher assistants, equipment for the school, special assemblies, etc. The fall auction, a walkathon, and various other fun activities during the school year raise a substantial amount of money for the school. There is a computer lab, and good library, and a new play structure. The PTA also offers extra classes (for a fee) that children can take before or after school; examples are spanish, music, additional science and art classes, as well as chess ecology club, etc.

JM has an onsite before and aftercare program, that is reasonably priced and is open on most school holidays and during Christmas break.

I am sometimes astounded at how similar JM is to some of the small private elementary schools in around Oakland. I have talked with parents whose children attended JM as long as 20 years ago, and it is clear that the quality of education at the school has been very consistent over the years.

Anyone in JM's catchment area can arrange to tour the school and sit in on the kindergarten classes to get a sense of the school, the students and the teachers.


My daughter has always been very advanced for her age so we were concerned about her being challenged in K. We visited schools, talked to teachers & parents and made the right decision that JM school is our best option.

JM follows the academically-gifted standards for all students instead of a handful. My daughter was given homework assignments at her academic level instead of ABCs. She was reading at a 3rd level at the start of the K, yet she was one of MANY in her 19-kids class to be able to do this.

We are very involved parents and talked to her teacher about her progress nearly daily, and were very satisfied with the level of communication.

The community at JM is amazing - everyone is involved & appreciated. My daughter earned her first pay this year & donated part of it to her school, just out of love for it. Parents and community support this school so much. The PTA hires librarians, Motor Dev't teachers, computer teachers, yard supervisors, teacher assistants for every classroom and provides scholarships to students to give everyone an equal chance to attend wonderful extracurriculars that we offer.

One of the most important things about a public school is the diversity you child encounters - cultural, racial, life- style. Our child's education is thus truly well-rounded. Only the very top private schools would be somewhat satisfying for our child because of her very advanced academic level, but oh my God, don't they care about their status - thus limiting their students' horizons, life choices & ultimately opportunities.

JM is the best school & the best community you will find! Please let me know if you have more questions or if you would like me to give you more detailed answers.

Our school web site is


To add to what my spouse posted:

JM has some additional programs that are part of the curriculum but are paid-for by PTA: music, dance, motor dev't, computer class,, Spanish.

Because of our daughter's many talents, we keep her busy after school. She did Science, Chorus, Sewing, Spanish before or after school as school-provided extras. (There is a whole catalog of these - come by the school office to get your own copy). It worked very well last year, & this year she added Violin and Chess and is asking to add Photography class to her schedule.

The before & after-school care is great, is located on school site & offers variety of projects to kids every day - for every taste.


November 2002

My daughter's dad lives in the area for Joaquin Miller Elementary School, and I've heard it's pretty good. She'll be entering Kindergarten next fall, and I'm wondering how the school compares to other good public elementary schools in Oakland. I'm torn about the public vs. private school issue, and since she now goes to Mills Children's School, it's a tough choice. Any advice from those whose children attend Joaquin Miller? Lauren

My daughter always was very advanced for her age so when it was time for her to start Kindergarten, we were concerned about her being challenged! We visited schools, talked to teachers and parents and made the right decision that our Joaquin Miller school was our very best option.

Our school follows the standards for academically gifted children for all students instead of a handful. My daughter was routinely given homework assignments at her academic level instead of ABCs. She was reading at a 3rd-grade level at the start of the Kindergarten, but she was one of MANY in her 19- children class to be able to do all she could do.

We are very involved parents and talked to her teacher about her progress nearly daily, and were very satisfied with the level of communication.

The school also had some additional programs that are part of their curriculum but are paid-for by PTA: music, dance, motor development, computer class, instrumental music, Spanish. This she loved, although she adored her school otherwise to the point of bursting into tears every time we would drive by the school during a school break.

Because of her many talents, we also had to keep her busy in the after-school time. She did Science, Chorus, Sewing, Spanish before or after school as school-provided extracurriculars. (There is a whole catalogue of those - come by the school office to get your own copy). It worked very well last year, and what she likes about her school the best this year is that now she has a full-day school (her favorite #1) and Violin and Chess classes that she was not yet allowed to take in kindergarten. She's also asking to be in Photography class next semester.

The community at Joaquin Miller is amazing - everyone is involved and appreciated. My daughter earned her first pay this year and donated part of it to her school, just out of love for it. Parents and community support this school so much. The PTA hires librarians, Motor Development teachers, computer teachers, yard supervisors, teacher assistants for every classroom and provides scholarships to students to give everyone an equal chance to attend wonderful extracurricular classes that we offer.

The before and after-school care is great, is located on school site and they have a variety of projects they work on with kids every day - projects for every taste.

One of the most important things about a public school is the diversity you child encounters - cultural, racial, life-style. Our child's education is thus truly well-rounded. Only the very top private schools would be somewhat satisfying for our daugher because of her very advanced academic level, but oh my God, don't they care about their status - thus limiting their students' horizons, life choices and ultimately opportunities.

Joaquin Miller is the best school and the best community you will find! Please let me know if you have more questions or if you would like me to give you more detailed answers.

Our school web site is Maria

We are very happy with Joaquin Miller School! We currently have a third grader there and our second daughter will be entering kindergarten in the fall. We plan on sending our son there also.

Oakland teachers are paid relatively well, and because Joaquin Miller is considered to be a very good public school, it attracts some excellent teachers. We have been particularly impressed that the principal and teachers take a lot of care assigning students to classes and teachers, so that the students get the most out of each grade level.

There is a strong sense of community at the school and a lot of parent participation. The principal is extremely active and involved, as is the PTA. There is an auction in the fall, a walkathon and various other activities during the school year that raise a substantial amount of money to fund additional student activities, teacher assistants, etc. There is a computer lab and good library, and a new play structure. The PTA also offers extra classes (for a fee) that children can take before or after school; examples are spanish, additional science and art classes, as well as cooking, sewing, ecology club, etc.

There is also an onsite before and aftercare program, that is reasonably priced and is open on some holidays and during Christmas break.

Although, I, too, had heard that Joaquin Miller was a good school before our oldest child entered kindergarten, I had some doubts about sending her there, given the problems that one reads about the Oakland school district. However, I have been extremely impressed with the school, and am sometimes astounded at how similar JM is to some of the small private schools in and around Oakland, except, of course, the private schools cost around $10K per year! The large private schools, of course, have wonderful facilities like gymnasiums, swimming pool, strong arts programs, that public elementary schools don't offer.

My suggestion would be to tour the school and sit in on the kindergarten classes to get a sense for the school, the students and the teachers. I recall that you can sign up to do this in February or March, prior to enrollment.

Good luck with your decision. Charlotte