Melrose Leadership Academy


Public School
operated by Oakland Unified School District
English, Spanish
4730 Fleming Avenue Oakland, CA 94619
Program Type: 
Language immersion

Parent Q&A

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  • Melrose Leadership Academy

    (3 replies)

    My child will be attending TK at Melrose Leadership Academy in the fall. We were attracted to the school for its social justice based curriculum, project based learning, and dual immersion program. I'd love to hear more from parents about the school-- there are not many recent reviews on BPN. How is the school working out for your kids? What do you like/ appreciate about it? What are some areas where you hope it could improve? Thanks for sharing!

    My daughter started MLA in kindergarten and is now finishing up 1st grade. It has been a wonderful experience for us all so far. When she began, she did not speak any Spanish but has learned so much in the last 2 years. The teachers and principal have been warm and nurturing. There is a good community of parents and an overall positive vibe in the school. The emphasis on social justice is amazing and has meant even more to us in the current political environment. Like most public schools, funds are short and things are not always neat and tidy but overall the energy of this school has made it a place where our daughter loves to learn. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

    Our daughter is in kindergarten this year at Melrose Leadership Academy. We choose MLA for similar reasons to what you listed and have been very happy with the school. The curriculum is interesting and the teachers and staff are great. The project-based learning approach provides a cohesive structure to what they are learning - even in Kindergarten. The 90/10 model was hard the first few months for kids who came in with only English, but all have adjusted and most have been very quick to learn Spanish. The kids get art and music once a week (at least in K) with amazing instructors paid for by the PTSA. They also go the library once a week. There is active parent involvement at the school - volunteering in the classroom, fundraising, organizing fun events, etc. The afterschool program is great and very reasonably priced - they get art, capoeira, and ballet folklorico at least once a week in addition to general running around time (and signups for next year have started so contact them now if you need aftercare).

    Many of the kids in K this year were in TK last year and those families all have glowing things to say about the TK teacher. The TK class does a fair bit of mixing with the K classes, but also seems to carve out space to meet the needs of that younger group (breakfast together in the cafeteria after everyone else is in class every morning, rest time, classroom in a portable that provides a little bit of separate space, etc.).

    The main area where we see room for improvement is communication. There is a bi-weekly newsletter that gets sent out mostly be email and posted on the school website (occasionally a paper copy gets sent home but not consistently). But we don't get much more than that in the way of regular communication. That said we've been able to get answers any time we needed them.

    Will include my username; happy to answer any other questions.

    My daughter is in K this year. She comes home every day very happy with lots of stories about what she has learned and activities she has done. She came in bilingual so the transition was not difficult for her, but I know it was for other students. My friend has her kid in TK and she is pretty happy with it as well. One thing she said was that she actually thought the breakfast together every morning made the transition much harder for her daughter. 

    In terms of where to improve, my daughter's K teacher is absent a lot and the subs aren't great. Also the communication is not the greatest.

    Overall, we are really happy there!

  • I've just arrived in the area and am interested in learning about public Spanish immersion/dual-language in the area elementary schools. Our family is bilingual and we're interested to know about folks' experience with these public options for dual-language- how they operate, admission, performance, school culture (specifically if there are actually Latino children in the schools, a mix of learners and native Spanish speakers), and overall satisfaction. Where do kids go for MS or HS when they finish?

    Thanks for any insights!

    Check out Melrose Leadership Academy, in Oakland near Mills College. It is a dual immersion k-8 school with a good reputation academically and as far as the Community goes.

    I don't have first hand experience but have heard good things about Melrose Leadership Academy and Manzanita Community School. 

    Welcome! Berkeley's public elementary two-way immersion school is at LeConte in south Berkeley. My child attends and the following is my understanding of the aims and policies, though I may be off on the official line. They aim for 50% Spanish-dominant population and in practice I believe get 1/3 Spanish-dominant, 1/3 bilingual, 1/3 Spanish-naieve/English-dominant. At a glance, the school appears to be roughly half Latino (including biracial). BUSD uses a lottery for all their elementary schools. Any Berkeley resident can apply to LeConte. Because they aim to get 50% Spanish-dominant, it is harder to get in if your child does not speak Spanish. If you claim Spanish language on the application, your child will be tested. While I once heard that bilingual children end up filling in the 50% Spanish dominant slots (because it's hard to fill those), it seems like you may only get preference if your child is actually stronger in Spanish than English. But that may not be true. LeConte offers 30 min of language lab 4 days a week for language learners to focus on their weaker language at their level--this seems to be a very good program. The two-way immersion works. My child was Spanish-naieve and speaks, reads, and writes well in both languages after 3 years (English spelling is rough, though!). Kids speak English on the playground but I think the aftercare teachers speak in Spanish. I know a mother who speaks Spanish at home and has sent 4 children through BUSD's two-way immersion program. She says her children are very strong in both languages and she is very happy with the program. Students can attend Longfellow Middle school to continue the immersion. (But FYI the immersion is 90% in K, gradually reducing to ~50% by 5th, and middle school is <50% Spanish, I believe.) I've heard Berkeley High has lots of great classes for advanced Spanish speakers. Good luck!

    there's also Global Families in the Fruitvale. 

Parent Reviews

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The school board decided to expand Melrose Leadership Academy in response to its high demand, so it will be a bit easier to get in to compared to previous years. Plus, there is a limited number of students who have the language abilities to start in later grades to fill the spots opened by attrition, so you probably have a good chance at a spot for a first grader, even with late enrollment. (Don't be disheartened if you are initially waitlisted - spots always open at the last minute.) The neighborhood around Melrose Leadership Academy is pretty nice if you are looking for somewhere relatively affordable.

There are many great elementary schools in Oakland. My kid goes to MLA and loves it. We are very happy there.

I don't know what your criteria is, but if you are considering Chabot (which is very big) and Peralta (small), you may also look into Glenview, Cleveland, Montclair, and Sequoia.

I know you wrote you want to live in Berkeley, which is understandable since you will be at LBNL. However, there is an excellent public bilingual "dual immersion" Spanish-English public K-8 school in Oakland near Mills College called Melrose Leadership Academy. The commute would be long-ish, but not impossible, and the neighborhoods near Melrose are nice - you could probably afford to rent a whole house down this way (my neighborhood) for much less than in Berkeley. You could take Bus or BART to Berkeley, and there is also a shuttle between Mills College and UC Berkeley, though I don't know it's frequency or limitations. The school website is   Berkeley Parent Network discussion of MLA is at:

Oakland neighborhoods near Melrose Academy include : Laurel District, Maxwell Park, Millsmont, Steinway Terrace/Jefferson, Brookdale Park, Allendale, and Redwood Heights. This sounds like a lot, huh? the neighborhood boundaries are quite small and a neighborhood may be only 4-6 square blocks. For example, my neighborhood (Steinway/Jefferson) is only 4 x 3 city blocks. But these are names to use when looking at real estate maps when looking for a rental. This general area of Oakland is about 30 min by car from North Berkeley, depending on traffic and the route you take. The closest BART station is Fruitvale, which has dedicated bike parking and a bike service station. We have friends up the street who commuted to LBL for several years on a (electric assist) bike.  

My daughter goes to MLA and it is awesome. I highly recommend you check it out. The principal is a strong leader with caring, loving teachers. I know parents who have kids in TK there and are very happy with it. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Manzanita Seed vs Melrose Academy

Dec 2013

Hi! I recently toured both MLA and Manzanita Seed and didn't feel like I got a thorough sense of the school community. I'm interested in hearing stories from families that looked at both and decided with one vs. the other. Happy with your decision? What do you love most about the school? Thanks in advance, searching for spanish immersion in oakland


I, too, did both school tours and had a difficult time choosing. In the end, I chose Melrose Leadership Academy based on speaking with parents in the school, talking further with Principal Moira about the curriculum and school ethos, and reading more about the 90/10 immersion approach (vs. 50/50). I am very happy with my decision. My son is thriving academically, and is learning Spanish very quickly. He also loves being at school and actually asks me to pick him up late from the afterschool program.

Parents at MLA are really committed and I am amazed at how everyone works together, volunteers willingly, and wants to make this a better school. We recently worked one weekend to put together garden boxes and create a green space on the blacktop playground. We also cleaned classrooms and washed rugs that same day. I had heard that MLA had a strong PTSA, but I am witnessing first-hand how committed everyone is and I think it is great.

I also love the diversity and the strong cultural learning that my son is receiving, not only in school but in the after school care. My son is learning yoga, Capoeira, doing lots of art, and dance. (This weekend he had a capoeira class and performance and I was really impressed by how much they have learned) He gets a lot of time outdoors too, which he both needs and wants.

Needless to say, I am really grateful to have my son at MLA. There are always going to be things that are not ''perfect'' with a school but I believe that it is up to the community to do something about it, and at MLA, I believe that our parent community steps up to do so.

Good luck with your decision. MLA parent

Aug 2012

Re: Bilingual Schools in Oakland and Berkeley
check out melrose leadership academy in oakland, mills college/maxwell park area. it is a two-way immersion program growing to 8th grade. kinder starts out at 90% spanish. currently k-3. we've been very happy there but more importantly my son loves it. mla mama

June 2012

Re: Expeditionary Learning Schools
The two Oakland schools using it are Manzanita Seed and Melrose Leadership Academy. My son is at MLA & this is the first year they implemented EL. He loves the expeditions they have done so far and has been very engaged with the process. We are looking forward to what they do with EL for next year.

Dec 2011

Re: Spanish Immersion after 5th grade

In Oakland, we have Melrose Leadership Academy, a public two-way immersion school that is building a k-8. Right now I have a son in 2nd grade and every year a grade will be added until 8th.

Dec 2011

Re: Comparing school districts: Bilingual Immersion
If you change your mind and consider moving to Oakland. There is a public dual immersion (span/eng) school in maxwell park called Melrose Leadership Academy that has been phenomenal for my child. buena suerte!

June 2011

Hello- I live in Maxwell Park near High Street in Oakland and wonder about this new-ish school in our neighborhood called Melrose Leadership Academy. It is a dual-language immersion school (Spanish/English) which appeals to me, but beyond that I don't know anything else. My kid will be attending Kindergarten not this coming Fall but the next. I'd love to send him there since it is close to home and he would learn Spanish, but how is it REALLY? Do any of you have feedback about your experiences with this school? Thinking ahead about my options Oaklandmama

Melrose Leadership Academy has just completed its second year with an elementary K & 1st grade dual immersion Spanish program (which means that 50% of the student population speaks Spanish and 50% speaks English as their primary languages and are immersed into a Spanish educational program). MLA has been in existence for about 10 years as a middle school 6-8th grades (which have many Spanish speakers but is not an immersion program yet) and now has Kindergarten and 1st grade and will add a new grade each year. The 2011-2012 school year will include 2nd grade.

The administrator, teachers, support staff, families and community are working together toward its goal of having ethnically and socio-economically diverse classrooms along with a balance of English dominant and Spanish dominant students who will become bilingual and bi-literate and will develop a respect for diversity of language through the intentional inclusion of multi-cultural education.

My daughter has attended MLA for the last two years and my son will begin in the fall. I have served as a member of the design team for the school and am also part of the Parent Teacher Organization for the school. I would be happy to chat further about MLA please feel free to contact me. keller

Hi, I too live in maxwell park. We have been part of MLA since the beginning. We started in the first kinder class and now my son is going into 2nd grade. We are a spanish speaking household. MLA is unique for many reasons but the two that stand out for me is that it's growing into a k-8, I personally love the idea that my son won't have to transition to a new school when his hormones get all wacky and it's two-way immersion vs bilingual so the focus is for ALL students to retain their mother tongue and to learn a new language too. The classroom is purposefully designed to have 50%native spanish speakers and 50% native english speakers. Kinder starts 90% spanish/10% english and tapers off as the grades get higher. For ex: 2nd grade next year will be 80/20. There are also many exciting things happenning right now: collaboration with stopwaste to improve our schoolyard, a weekly farmer's market, restorative justice practices, and a strong parent group. But most importantly, my son loves going to school. He is happy there and feels loved and safe. Having said all this, we are a growing school so hence we have some growing pains but with that there are so many parents stepping up to say how can we help/support. I really can't ask for anything more from my neighborhood public school. If you'd like to know more or get a sense of the school community please free to bring your family to a workday. We have them the first saturday of every month and we'll start again in September. Feel free to email too. Good luck with your research/decsion! libby

To the person who lives in Maxwell Park and asked about Melrose Leadership-- There are a few families in the neighborhood getting together in the fall to talk about neighborhood options for the school year 2012-13. We are hoping to hear from families of both Maxwell Park as well as MLA students. If you are interested in attending this meeting please let me know. Jennette

April 2010

I am curious to hear more about Melrose Leadership Academy and the dual immersion program that just started this year. How are parents of kindergartners liking the program so far? Can anyone share more info about the plans for adding additional grades in the future? My son will be going to elementary school in 2012 and I would love to keep him in a Spanish language setting (he's at Monte Tavor now). I love the idea of the dual immersion program but I have heard that it can be difficult for kids who are Spanish speaking to transition to the 50/50 language split since they start at 90Spanish/10English. Does anyone have experience with this sort of program? Why do they start at 90% Spanish? How does the transition to 50/50 work - is it gradual, or sudden? What's the plan at MLA? Any advice or insights would be great. I also plan to contact the principal this year but love the advice from this community so appreciate any of your thoughts. thinking ahead

My son is in the current crop of kindergartner's at Melrose and is really loving it. He is a native English speaker and had no background in Spanish. He's doing great and the 90/10 set up of the program has not hindered him. It's my understanding that 90/10 is more effective at getting children bilingual faster. I believe that it stays 90/10 in 1st grade and then progressively moves 80/20, 70/30 etc. until it is a 50/50 program. The school plans on adding a grade a year until it is a K-8 dual immersion program. Right now it is just K and 6-8. My child will be in the 1st first grade class and an new group of kinders will start in the fall. I suggest you speak with the principal, she has a very clear vision for her program. We have a pretty involved parent community as well. I encourage you to take a closer look at the school and its program. We've been very happy. Please feel free to contact me via email if you have any more questions. Tina

Oct 2009

Re: Kindergarden Next Year, but which one?
If you are in OUSD than I would highly recommend checking out Melrose Leadership Academy in the Maxwell Park area of Oakland. It is a dual-immersion Spanish/English K-8 school of which my son is lucky enough to be a student. Check it out here: and here: Tina

Oct 2009

I've heard that Melrose Academy is a Spanish Immersion school. Is anyone in this community going there? What have been your experiences? I'm interested in all opinions. Thanks! Should I send my child to Melrose?

Hi! My son is a student in the kindergarten at Melrose Leadership Academy. We could not be happier with the community of children, parents and educators. It is a wonderfully diverse group of kids and the program itself (90/10 spanish immersion) was intimidating for me as a parent initially, but my son (with very very limited spanish background) adapted quickly and loves it. I highly recommend speaking with the Director, Moyra Contreras to get a feel for her philosophy and see if it works with your needs. You can also read about the school here: and view a news story from Telemundo here: tina

Hello, My son, who is already a fluent spanish speaker, attends MLA. It's only been a few weeks since school started but my son loves it so far. He comes home singing songs and excited to do homework. The principal is very experienced and warm. Also, in a short time the parents have really come together to support the program. His teacher is great too. The not so great? The afterschool program is still getting it's footing though we appreciate having a safe place for him to be, it's more like childcare. They will be offering art and drumming so eventually it will be more enriching. There are also some logisitical issues with drop off that hopefully will be resolved soon. Finally, they need more spanish speakers. There are current openings in the program for spanish speakers so if you know of any send them our way! happy mla parent

We were nervous about enrolling our child at Melrose Leadership Academy for kindergarten this year. There was no kindergarten class to visit last year! It's been really great though, and we are so glad we decided to go for it. We are thrilled for our child to have the opportunity to attend a dual-immersion Spanish/English public school, and amazed at how much the kids are learning so quickly, in both languages. Both kindergarten teachers are great, and the director is also wonderful-- experienced, and dedicated. We are also getting to know many wonderful families in a very short amount of time. Many parents are involved in the school, and also with volunteering in the classrooms. A weekly farmer's market happens evey Wednesday afternoon on the playground! There is also a beautiful garden on the school grounds. The after-school program got off to a slow start, but the kindergarten kids now have an after-school art program, and capoeira classes, with more classes to come. Come and meet this wonderfully diverse community!! The school phone number is 879-1530, if you want to call for more information about the program, or to come visit the classrooms. The director's name is Moyra Contreras. --Very happy MLA parents

March 2009

I can't find any info on the BPN about Melrose Leadership Academy's K-8 Spanish/English dual immersion program. My understanding is that this is not a charter school, but a regular Oakland public school. Can anyone tell me more about it? Thanks! Diana

Hello, No previous postings because it doesn't exist yet! Currently it is a middle school. It is a small school and you can enroll in it through the regular OUSD process. It's first dual immersion K classes will be THIS Fall. They will have 2 Kinder classes and each year will grow a grade until they get to 8th. My son will be attending and we are looking forward to growing with the school. The Principal is very open and I'm sure would be happy to talk with you in greater detail.

Melrose Leadership Academy is an Oakland Public School not a Charter school. Currently it is a 6-8th grade but is beginning a spanish Dual Immersion Kindergarten this fall 2009. Spaces are still available for fall enrollment. If you are interested please contact Moyra Contreras (principal) moyra.contreras [at]  I am currently serving on the Design Team for the Dual Immersion School as a public elementary school teacher and a community parent of a child that will begin Kindergarten at MLA this fall. Here are the websites available with information about Melrose Leadership Academy. kellerthomsak