Montclair Elementary School
Daughter assigned to Montclair
My daughter was assigned to Montclair; although this wasn't our first choice we are happy with placement and still not sure if I would appeal. I would like to hear from parents. How many students are there per classroom? Are there any teacher assistants? Is there a cafeteria for kids in the morning? Is there a reduced lunch program? Do you feeling teachers are nurturing or more rigid? How is parent involvement? As a parent . Do you feel you belong to a helpful community willing to help each other? Are other parents easy to talk to? Any other experiences good/bad I should consider before enrolling? Oaklandmom
Congrats on getting assigned to Montclair Elementary! We left a highly regarded private school in early elementary for Montclair, and never looked back. The families are amazing, the leadership and faculty top-notch., and now our second child is attending the school. The PTA covers a lot of what used to be covered by the district--- yard duty supervision, drama, art, computers, music, teaching assistants, and more. Unfortunately, Montclair gets much less money per student than most all of the other schools in Oakland, so parents and the community help compensate with time and money. Every child at the school benefits, regardless of what his or her family has contributed in time or money. There is a new building getting built, and it will have new classrooms for the upper grades and a new multi-purpose room, including a full kitchen. If you care about test scores, it's the highest scoring school in Oakland, but the school definitely doesn't have a mentality of teaching to the test. Good luck with your decision! MES parent
5th grader transferring from private school
We just got the news today that my daughter got into Montclair Elementary as a last-minute transfer fifth-grader for this fall. (She's coming from a private, year-round school which has a policy of no homework until middle school.) She's having lots of anxiety about this big transition, and unfortunately, we know very little about the school. My daughter is very bright and motivated, but she's heard horror stories about the excessive homework loads at some schools, and she fears she won't have any free time on weekdays anymore. Can anyone give us an idea of the daily homework load? How big are the classes? Will it be hard to make friends when most of her classmates already know each other? How is the fifth-grade teacher? Any information, opinions, and observations about the school would be greatly appreciated. We're feeling lucky but nervous. Anon
My son who is now in middle school attended MES 2nd-5th grade. Depending on how outgoing your child is I don't think it will be too difficult for her to make friends - it is a fairly warm and active community, so it will also help if you get involved. The teachers can change from year to year, but there are typically two 5th grade teachers, both of whom are good: one is more strict, one more relaxed. The homework is not overly burdensome but she should expect to be doing an hour or so of work every night. Depending on the number of 5th graders the class size ranges, my son was in a class with 34 students and you can expect anywhere from a low of 28/29 to a high of 36. former MES parent
First, Welcome to Montclair. It's a great school and I have no doubt that you and your child will be very happy. I have two daughters, one just finished 5th grade and the other will be in third. The fifth grade homework load is not too bad. One teacher gives a bit more than the other, but overall, it's good work, not busy work. The content is engaging and applicable to what they are learning in class. There was another child last year who transfered in as a 5th grader from private school and I'd be happy to connect you with that parent if you'd like. Just send me an email. One thing that helped her child was connecting with a couple of other kids before the first day so that she didn't walk in on day one not knowing a soul. I'm happy to find someone to connect your daughter with so that she has that as well if you write to me offline. Happy Montclair Parent
Montclair vs. Thornhill
Hi there. We may move to Montclair, so our child can be in one of the good elementary schools there. But we've heard mixed things about the schools ... If you have children in either of those elementary schools, what do you think of them? How is the homework? the arts? the PE? I am having a tough time getting adequate info from the schools. Also, what do parents do for middle and high school? I know several families that went private after elementary school, due to poor middle/high options in Montclair area. We both have graduate degrees and were lucky enough to attend some exceptional schools, so education is a HUGE priority for us. We're really interested in your thoughts, your stories. Thanks! sw
Montclair school is fabulous! We have an amazing principal who really cares about the whole child- social, emotional, physical and academic, and the teachers are truly wonderful. Please check out our school website: http://www.montclairelementaryschool.org/ (in the process of being updated), but do know that every student gets art, library, music, drama, computers, and instrumental music, depending on their grade level. Every child also gets PE. Academically, the school is top-notch, and the teachers use a mix of strategies and curriculum to teach the kids. If you care about test scores, our school's API was higher than two Piedmont elementary schools, as well as some Lafayette and Orinda elementary schools this year. There will be tours coming up later in the winter that are led by parents and include a talk with the principal, I suggest you go on a tour to see for yourself. Also- it's important to note that there is a TON of parent involvement, and it is somewhat expected that every parent help out in some way- although there are a ton of options for everyone, including those folks that work full-time. I don't know much about Thornhill, but the families that I do know who have children attending Thornhill think very highly of the school. happy Montclair parent
Can't respond about Montclair or Thornhill elementary (we were at Redwood Heights, which we couldn't have been happier with), but I can throw in my .02 about Montera Middle School as I've got two kids currently attending.
Go visit Montera before you totally rule out public middle school in Oakland. You'll be pleasantly surprised. We've been nothing but happy there. Both my kids are engaged and excited about learning - and doing well. Teachers are communicative, open and responsive. API test scores are up. The PTO is organized and very active. And our family is active and involved in the school.
It's not a good fit for everyone, obviously. But if you live in Montclair, go take a look. It's only getting better each year. Lauren
Can anyone shed light on the class sizes at Montclair Elementary School, from Kindergarten up through the older classes? How many children are in each classroom/grade, and what is the student/teacher ratio? Thanks, Inquiring Mom
There are 20-23 kids in the Kindergarten classes. 1st-3rd has about 20 per class, and then there are about 30 in 4th and 5th. It's a fabulous school, and the teachers know how to teach and manage a class, so the size issue is less of an issue than it could be. There are also lots of parent volunteers on any given day to help with anything from photocopying to shelving books in the library to prepping the hands-on science curriculum materials, so the teachers can focus on teaching. They must be doing something right, since our test scores beat Piedmont and Lafayette schools this past year, both of which have smaller class sizes and full-time aides in their respective districts... Happy Montclair Parent
There are no recent reviews of Montclair Elementary and so I am wondering if a current or recent parent can provide some information regarding their child's experience at Montclair Elementary? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Thanks! Melissa
Montclair Elementary is amazing! We've got two children at the school, and can't say enough good things about it. Our principal is phenomenal, and really cares about each and every child at the school. The teachers are incredibly dedicated, and my kids don't want to leave at the end of the day.
If you care about test scores, we're #1 in Oakland (tied with Hillcrest), and our scores are higher than most of the Piedmont elementary schools, as well as a few of the Lafayette elementary schools, such as Happy Valley.
We have a very active parent community (if you come, be prepared to volunteer, meet fabulous families who care about their child's education, and have a great time doing it!), which supports the library program and librarian, music teacher, art teacher, computer program, and a motor curriculum program for the kindergarteners, the salad bar staff, and more. We have also have a language program that you can pay for your child to take before or after school-- I think they're offering Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, and French this year. As for the downsides, it's a constant budget struggle with the larger district (it would be nice if the district could cover costs for things like yard supervision at recess), like everywhere. We're also funded to have a new building, so some kids will be in portables for a while, while the building gets done. The portables are really nice inside, so it's not such a bad thing. And...the academics are really challenging, even when the class sizes get bigger in 4th and 5th grades.
If you'd like to see the school community in action, come to our annual fundraiser-- the Metrathon on 10/17. It's free to come-- there's great music (Asheeba is performing in the afternoon), yummy food for sale from early in the am until the end of the day, a silent auction with things to bid on such as a week at many popular summer camps, a tour of Pixar Studios, and more. The children have an all-day walk-a-thon, and it's a great way to get a feel for the commuinty. --Happy Montclair School Parent
Hi there, I'm interested in finding out more about Aftercare at both the Thornhill and Montclair Elementary Schools. Any information you can give is very appreciated. Thanks, Jen :)
My son attends Montclair elementary and participates in the aftercare program run by Adventure Time - he loves the program, it is run by wonderful people and is a great opportunity for him to have extra time after school to play with friends. The also do a homework program and have a number of organized sports that the kids can participate in (depending on season). I would strongly recommend it to anyone in need of aftercare or just looking for easy, unstructured play-time. Maggie
The reviews on the Web site are now nearly two years old. I'm interested in comments, opinions, insights from parents of current Montclair Elementary students. My son will enter kindergarten next fall and Montclair is our neighborhood school. I was unable to attend the most recent tour; a friend of mine did and had an alarming experience with the principal (other parents on the tour felt the same). I wonder how that fits with the rest of the school/teachers, what you think of Open Court, how one goes about getting into full-day kindergarten. Is it ever possible to meet the teachers? (didn't happen on the tour) concerned Montclair mom
I think you're right to be concerned. We had a horrible experience at Montclair Elementary this year. We ended up pulling our daughter, we felt that disconcerted. I will say, though, that our situation was due to a bad set of circumstances (our daughter's class had 27 kids vs. the other K classes having 20, the new teacher quit after one week and the principal dealing with these circumstances inappropriately and with hostility and rudeness). I know, in meeting other Mont. Elem. parents that the school (besides the prinicpal) is great--a wonderful community with dedicated teachers. We just could not tolerate the principal--bottom line. I wish you luck and think you are so smart to check this out. One more thing, if you do try Montclair, I would encourage you to try to get Mr. Jue as your child's K teacher. He is phenomenal and we wish our daughter had been in his class.
--a very disappointed parent
We transferred from a developmental private school to Montclair in 3rd grade. We were placed with the teacher we first observed years ago (and based our decision NOT to attend Montclair at the time), and now I know/think a 30 minute-1 hr. observation is NOT enough. The old adage holds true for us, 'don't judge a book by its cover'. This teacher ended up being an exceptional fit for our daughter, especially given the transition from private to public. Also, each year many of the teachers are reassigned grade levels within the school, bringing a fresh perspective each year. We are finishing up 5th grade now. There will always be good and not so good teachers at any school but children for the most part are resilient and resourceful. As far as the principal, I don't know what your negative experience was but my daughter has had only positive things to say about his presence. Despite lack of state funds and cuts to many programs, science is strong within the classroom, the music program is still exceptional, the PTA strong and the Language League (extra fee) much stronger than our old private school. Good luck.
With so few people replying to the recent post about Montclair Elementary, I just had to throw in my $.02. My son just started kindergarten there this year and we couldn't be happier. I, like many others, worried that an Oakland public school couldn't possibly be as good as one of the local private schools. I'm finding that -- with the right teacher -- the school is fantastic. Our son's teacher is great at engaging the students, keeping order in a room with very wide-ranging attention spans and skill levels, and making my child love the learning process. I can echo the previous comments on the principal (he is a bit condescending and, at times, inappropriate), but we have had little interaction with him. And to his credit, he seems to be very suppo rtive of the teachers' needs. All in all, the teacher you choose/get and the interactions with and dedication on the part of other parents are what makes this school so great. I would highly recommend it.
Happy at Montclair
As a resident of Oakland who is planning on sending my two children (4 & 2) to our local elem school, I'm concerned about what I read happening at Montclair. Why would one kindergarten class have 27 kids and the other two classes have only 20 children? That seems so unfair to the families and kids in the large class and it makes me angry just thinking about it. How common is that experience? I understand that there are funding issues tied to keeping classes at 20 or less, but the solution shouldn't be to have one massive class while the other two classes are more manageable. I'd love to hear from other parents about their experiences with th is situation.
Concerned parent of pre-K child
Regarding concerns over the class size--why one K class had 27 students enrolled, while the other 2 were kept at 20...the principal at Montclair Elementary told us he did this due to the Class Size Reduction incentive program. Schools are given bonus money for grades K-3 if they keep the class size at 20 or under. Go over that and they lose that bonus money. If the school is over-enrolled (due to letting in too many inter-district transfers and not anticipating neighborhood enrollment, poor planning in my opinion), the Mont. principal said he always chooses one K c lass to be the ''designated overflow'' class. Frustrating when you know that the other classes are where they should be at. I don't think the CSR program was meant to be manipulated like this. I asked around about the other ''hills'' schools to find out if this ''overflow'' happened and this year it did at Thornhill (but the teacher who got more students was a veteran teacher to the school vs. the brand new teacher at Montclair being given the large class) and it did at Crocker, too, but my friend whose children attend Crocker said that the principal there did redistribute the classes to make them even. This didn't happen at Hillcrest, Joaquin Miller or Chabot. --a disappointed parent
My son is in 1st grade at Montclair, and so far I have nothing but praise for the school and its staff. If you have concerns, my suggestion is to talk to the teachers; my son had Mr. Jue and he was wonderful and very supportive of my son's science interest. If I'm not mistaken, as an entering kindergarten parent, you can schedule a time for a class visit to see the teachers in action. We have been fortunate so far in that we have not had any serious issues, like having him in class with 27 kids, but the bottom line is that life is not perfect, and one should try not to broadbrush a school in a negative light because of one specific problem with a specific teacher. I attended Orinda schools as a child, and I had good and bad teachers there as well; it's just the way the world is. Parents are also very involved and supportive with fundraising and volunteering, which allows Montclair to afford PE, art, science, and music programs. My son is happy, challenged, and has made great friends. Hope this helps, and feel free to email with any other questions/concerns.
We just moved to Montclair and are considering sending our daughter to Montclair Elementary for the kindergarten class of 2005. I'm really intereseted in hearing feedback about the school (parent involvement, academics, diversity, teachers, foreign language, computer use--anything you might be able to share).
I'm also interested in the perception of the Montclair schools (Montclair, Thornhill, Joaquin Miller, Hillcrest). Are they all equally as good?
I would really prefer my child going to public school, as my husband and I did, but it's such a hard decision. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
We've had children at Montclair Elementary for the last nine years. It's a great school, very diverse and parents are extremely involved. The major fundraiser, the Metrathon, brings in close to $80,000 to fund enrichment programs. Here's the PTA web site: montclair.ousd.ca.campusgrid.net/home/PTA Teachers are experienced and have been there many years and the principal seems to be doing fine, although there have been some mixed reviews.
All hill schools get great test scores. We think they are all equally good. Montclair has great access to the park and the kindergarten teachers take the kids there when they can. Also many events and picnics are held there. Montclair has Adventure Time before and after care on site which is great for parents who need the extra help. Everyone's different, but Montclair has been great for us.
Happy Montclair parent
Montclair has been a great overall experience for our daughter, now halfway through the 4th grade. There are some exceptional teachers, though they all have their ups and downs, and we've had some stress problems with what we feel is overly high expectations and excessive homework load. However, individual teachers have always been willing to work with us on these problems, and from talking with other parents I understand these ups and downs exist just about everywhere. With Montclair you get to be part of an extremely strong PTA and parent community that supports arts, science, physical education, computer education, a librarian, and an outstanding vocal and instrumental music program--that's a LOT for public school! Plus you can pay for an afterschool language class, which isn't particular well done but it's a nice introduction to a foreign language. The school functions as a real community, with several annual events that everyone looks forward to. They also have Adventure Time aftercare on site, which was reasonably priced and very well run during the time we used it. The school population is also more ethnically and socio- economically diverse than you might expect for its hills location.
I have a daughter in first grade at Montclair. She also attended kindergarten there. During the last 2 years, grades K-3 have all had 20 students per classroom. In all kindergarten classes, there have usually been 2 adults present. In one room, two of the teachers share it and so they co-teach. Both are men and are a great role model for our children to start off with. In the other room, the teacher is a veteran and has support from other former teacers in the community who volunteer a few days a week to assist in the class. All parents are welcome to assist in the classroom as well.
Montclair's strongest attribute I think is in the PTA. This organization raises enough additional funding to support a librarian, a computer lab and teacher, and a P.E. teacher. In addition, they have started a school garden which is being used by many of the teachers in the classroom curriculum. I don't think you can go wrong by sending your child to Montclair. Leslie