Sequoia Elementary School
Sequoia is super LGBTQ friendly and an awesome school!
I encourage you to give Oakland schools a chance. We have been extremely happy with our local public school (Sequoia in the Dimond District)--I believe it is one of the most (if not the most) diverse school in the district in terms of both ethnicity and economics. Oakland schools vary widely in terms of size, educational quality, ethnic diversity, etc. If you explore the schools you are likely to find one that fits your needs. While there are many neighborhood kids at our school there are also kids from all over the city. And the teachers at our school are really amazing--they have done a great job of keeping our gifted child academically challenged and loving school. I would imagine that at grades 4 & 5, it shouldn't be too hard to find a placement in a school you and your kids will be happy with.
A happy Oakland public school Mama
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Kindergarten in OUSD
Our daughter will be starting kindergarten in Oakland in the Fall of 2016 and we are exploring the many ''Options.'' Although our neighborhood school is pretty good, because we rent and will likely move in the next few years, we are exploring a variety of options. We are looking for a school that represents Oakland's racial and socioeconomic diversity, teaches to the whole child and not just the tests, and has a strong sense of community that is welcoming to all and not just the families with lots of time and money. We also want a school that will be a good home for a kid who is very bright but also very sensitive and prone to anxiety. Finally, we are a family with two full-time working parents, so good afterschool options are a must. Schools that we are strongly considering and that we would love to hear about recent experiences with are Kaiser, Glenview, Cleveland, Manzanita SEED, and possibly Thornhill. OUSD here we come
Hello, I we had very similar school criteria to what you describe so I am surprised that you don't have Sequoia on your list. It is the most economically and ethnically diverse elementary school in Oakland. We have a strong community with a combo of families from in and out of the neighborhood. We have found the school very supportive for our kid who has some behavior challenges. We also utilize the onsite after school program, and other than some staff turnover, have been happy with them as well. Happy Sequoia mama
Sequoia Elementary - New Principal
I live in the Dimond in Oakland and Sequoia is our neighborhood school. We are planning on sending our child their next year for Kindergarten. I just noticed that they got a new principal,Donald Bertolo, this school year. I know the school year just started but just wondered what people's thoughts/interactions were on the new administration. JC
Hi there, I'm glad you're planning to come to Sequoia next year. It's a great school.
We've been getting to know Mr. Bertolo for a few weeks now. So far, I think he's awesome! He is smart, accessible, energetic, has lots of ideas, cares a lot about education and kids and teachers, and seems like a great fit for Sequoia. I'm thinking he is an extra plus for our school. Stacie
RE: What elementary school do you love for ADHD?
Our child has ADHD and Sequoia elementary school has been wonderful. It has totally changed his and our lives. Their inclusion teacher, Sonia Thatcher, is absolutely wonderful. She definitely sees the positives in our child and has worked to nurture and expand upon them. Just in general we have found sequoia to be a very welcoming school. Our son fits in and has friends, something that was definitely not the case during the horrible preschool years. Anonymous
Seeking ideas for before school care at Sequoia
Hi, my daughter starts kindergarten next fall. We are interested in attending Sequoia but a potential problem is that Sequoia doesn't have a before school program. Both my husband have to be at work by 8am. Sequoia starts at 8:30. It didn't even occur to me that a school wouldn't have a before school program. My daughter's current pre-school starts at 7:30. Sequoia seems pretty great and we are fine for the afterschool program. What do BPN parents do in this situation? We don't have a grandparent to lean on. Looking for ideas...Thanks! Early risers and early house departers
Soana Lauti has a Sequoia aftercare program on Hearst & Laguna, but also takes children in the morning. My daughter has been in her aftercare for the last 3 year & my son has been with her for the past year and we love love love her and her family. I highly recommend contacting her. Melissa
Hi future Sequoia parent! (Assuming you mean Oakland Sequoia this info will be relevant) Not too worry - there is care available close by. I am sorry that I do not have a current list, but this info will be circulated when it is time to do orientation and the like. I use Soana Lauti. She can be reached at smlauti [at] yahoo.com or 510-967-3558. Her normal drop off is 7:30 but she has accommodated special circumstances. Stephanie
There are two providers I know of who provide before care for Sequoia students. They are small family daycares in the neighborhood. Here is a link, they are listed at the bottom: http://sequoiaschool.net/parent-resources/after-school-programs/off-site-childcare/ Bananas also has other folks in the neighborhood who would probably provide this service as well. I definitely feel you on this one. Both my kids go to sequoia and we absolutely love the school, but this was an issue for us as well. I wish Sequoia's after school program, Healthy Start, would do before care since their program is great and it is on campus. Anonymous
Reviews of Sequoia Elem.'s Transitional Kinder Program
Can anyone let me know about their experience in the Transitional Kindergarten program at Sequia Elementary? Our child would qualify, age wise. She is enrolled in a preschool program, and seems somewhat happy there, but her older sister had a harder time transitioning from preschool to the rigors of ousd kinder and I don't want my youngest to go through the same process. Did you feel your child was getting a balance of academic and playtime? What was the group size? How was the teacher(s)? Was your child bored or overly advanced in kindergarten compared to the younger peers? Any other insights would be appreciated! To transition, or not!
Hello, My son did not do TK but he did have the current TK instructor (Tontra Love) for regular kinder. I think the instructor will stay the same and if she continues to teach TK you couldn't find a more experienced, warmer, talented, professional teacher if you dreamed her up. Truly! I cannot sing her praises loudly enough. I was so impressed by how well she seemed to ''get'' each kid and manage an Oakland classroom in all its diversity. My son is on the younger side for his grade and I image that she is a perfect teacher for TK. happy Sequoia mom
My son is in 1st at Sequoia and was in regular K last year with the teacher who is currently teaching TK (Tontra Love). Last I heard she would be teaching TK again next year but I can't say that with 100% certainty as I am not in a position to know. I can't speak to TK since I didn't experience it, but I can say that any child would be lucky to be in Ms. Love's class. I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about her as a teacher and a person. She is warm and loving yet sets good boundaries. She strives to meet each kid where they are at, provides differentiated instruction, and was unbelievably helpful with behavioral challenges my child had both when in her class and also this year -- never blaming or labeling and always seeing his strengths and wanting to help him succeed. Based on my experience, I really can't imagine a person more suited to teaching TK. She truly surpassed all my hopes and dreams for what his first teacher would be like. I'd also like to give a plug for Sequoia as a school. We have been very happy there and have found the teachers and administrators to be very welcoming to the diverse community served by the school. It is really a very sweet place. A Sequoia Mom
Feelings on Sequoia?
We are considering purchasing a home in Upper Diamond in the Sequoia Elementary District. I'm hoping to hear from a few parents on their overall experience with the school, both academic and social. Specifically, I'd like to hear how supportive you feel the teachers are of kids with different learning styles and temperaments. We have two daughters who will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall of 2014. They are both very sweet but are spirited and sometimes need help managing their emotions. They've done wonderfully at preschool but there were a few months where the teachers had to really work hard to help them through a difficult period (during a major growth spurt). Like all kids, they have their moments but when they have them, they can be quite intense. We want to feel comfortable that our kids will be supported so they will continue to develop positive self image and confidence in order to perform well academically and make friends! Any overall feedback is most welcome and comments specific to temperament appreciated.
I can not say enough good things about Sequoia. It is an incredibly accepting and diverse school. My son had a number of behavioral issues and was kicked out of three preschools, a daycare, and a camp within the span of about 18 months (prior to coming to Sequoia). His kindergarten teacher was amazing and basically made a functioning citizen out of my son. I really feel like the teacher and the overall feel of the campus made a world of difference for my son who was made to feel like the worst child ever while in preschool. At Sequoia it is a warm and accommodating campus. The teacher never hesitated to implement some of our suggestions (including at one point doing these emotional check ins every half hour in the day) and once our son started having some successes he really blossomed. He is now at a summer camp and we haven't heard a peep of concern the entire summer. When I see my son he seems so happy, with none of the worry and stress that he used to carry with him from the dark days of preschool. I can not recommend this school enough. It is a wonderful mix of structure (so kids know what to expect) with flexibility (so they are able to accommodate behavior & learning differences), plus it has such a sweet and accepting vibe to it. I feel if the Sequoia teachers could turn my son around they can work with anyone Seriously, my child is happier now than he has ever been. Academically I have also been pleased. The assignments are interesting and my son has been eager to learn. Due to behavioral issues already mentioned, he went to Kindergarten not even recognizing the letters in his own name consistently and by the end of the year he could read. So we have been beyond thrilled with out experience. My only other recommendation would be to pursue the IEP process if needed at whatever school your child is at. That also made a world of difference for us, but that is a another topic. Anonymous
After school options for Sequoia kindergartner
My son will be entering Kindergarten at Sequoia in the fall. While we're very happy with our school assignment I'm a little torn about how to handle the after-school time. I'm home with baby #2 through the winter so theoretically I could pick him up but a) I'm not sure how baby #2 will be napping then (she'll be 7 mos in September) and b) I'm concerned with keeping my very energetic son busy not not overly structured and over-scheduled during the 2+ hours between school and dinner/evening/etc. I'm looking for the following advice:
1. If your kid goes to Sequoia what after care option do you use and how do you like it? I'd consider signing him up for Healthy Start but I'd prefer his afternoons be filled with outdoor/active and/or unstructured free play time, at least through this first year of ''real school''.
2. If you have been in a similar situation - home with a baby who might be napping at 1:20/3 pm, how did you handle this for an extended length of time? What do folks do with an active kiddo do for that chunk of time especially while juggling a for now at least fairly unpredictable infant?
Thanks so much for your advice and input!
sahm juggling an incoming kinder and an infant
There are several kids at Sequoia who get picked up by the Oakland JCC and spend their afternoon in their fabulous program. Different options for activities, classes, sweet teachers and a warm community feeling. My daughter goes there from another school but has good friends who are at Sequoia. Easy pick up right off Hwy 24. Great program! Happy to put you in touch with the Sequoia families we know if you have the moderator give you my email address. Also, not all the kids at the JCC are Jewish and it works out fine. Susan
My younger daughter turned one a month after my older daughter started kindy. I also did not want to put her in after-care, because I already knew how absolutely exhausting kindergarten is for the first several weeks. So, really my only option was to smoosh the baby's nap into the 12-2ish timeframe. So that's exactly what I did. Errands done before noon, then pretty strictly enforced naptime. I had to leave the house at 2:30 to pick up the big kids, so that's the latest her nap could go. But it worked well. My youngest did give up her nap very early though, around 21 months old, so after that kindergarten year it was not an issue. But I do think that unstructured time after school is important for little kids and if you can make it work, do it! Mom of 3
Need some info about Sequoia Elementary
We are moving to the East Bay from the city and we are considering buying a home in the Sequoia elementary area. While it is important, I'm not that interested in hearing about test scores/APIs. I'd like to know about your son or daughter's experience, the principal, opportunities for music and art, the parent community, and anything else that you think is important. Thanks in advance! Daniel
Hello there potential Sequoia parent!
I am a current Sequoia parent, with a son in the 1st grade. Check out the reviews on greatschools.net also, as I know several Sequoia parents have posted there in the past few months.
I love it at Sequoia. First, the community is a real community. The parents groups, both FOSS (Friends of Sequoia School) and the Dad's Club are amazing and very involved. The parents have work days at the school, and the fathers have transformed the grounds over the last couple years, putting in planter boxes/benches, etc. The children get to garden. Last year, my son in kindergarten got to eat a salad made entirely of vegetables the students had grown. He loved it.
Additionally, I find that when problems do arise, the teachers and principal are good communicators, and care that the children learn, are safe, and feel welcome and heard.
I don't live in the neighborhood, but 3 of my colleagues and my law school roommate live in a 3 block radius around the school. Some parents have time and give time to the school. Some parents don't have time but give money. It certainly feels like everyone contributes in whatever way they can.
They have parenting workshops about once a month, with child care!
There are also many aftercare options - on campus and off. There are 2 aftercare programs, through the East Bay JCC and Studio One Art, that even pick up at Sequoia.
The kids have science and art. In the upper grades they fund raise to go to science camp. They have a wonderful music instructor and once a month the kids all get together and sing at Sequoia Sings.
Diversity is also great here. Racial, familial and economic diversity abound, which is important to me.
Overall, I love it and I hope you end up there. Stephanie
Our kids are in 2nd and 3rd grades at Sequoia. We love the community of families, the dedicated teaching staff and the committed and smart principal. Sequoia is a place where families really pitch in and make things happen. Because of our fundraising efforts we can offer garden, art, science, library and music to the kids of Sequoia during the regular school day. Some of these programs also serve the purpose of taking one half of the students out of the class at a time, allowing the teacher to work with smaller groups and do some necessary differentiation. If you want your children exposed to the true diversity of Oakland (social, racial and economic), Sequoia is one of the few Oakland school that can offer that. Like any public school that is struggling with making ends meet financially, things are not perfect. Class sizes are big (as they are all over) and we could always use more staff for yard supervision and helping kids who are struggling. We have found ourselves surrounded by lovely families and innovative and caring teachers. I hope you find the same for your kids. Good luck!
Our son is in Kindergarten at Sequoia and we live in the neighborhood. We moved from another part of Oakland when our son was four. We have been very happy with the warmth of the school and the neighborhood. The families at Sequoia are diverse and welcoming. We are a two-mom family and we've felt nothing but included. Our son had some behavioral bumps in the fall and we have found his teacher and the principal to be great partners with us. We can't say enough good things about our son's teacher who is a dynamic, caring, creative and dedicated professional who works hard to engage all of the kids while striving to provide differentiated instruction (for example, our son is good in math and he helps other kids which benefits them all). There is an active and dedicated parent group that fundraises and a dads club (open to all genders) that sponsors movie nights and other events. Our son is engaged and excited about school. He is getting some music, art and science education--though as an inner city public school resources are an issue. When we were looking for a school/neighborhood one thing that we heard over and over was how ''sweet'' Sequoia students are and we completely agree with that assessment. Happy sequoia parent
I am a mom at Sequoia Elementary in the Dimond District. I love our school, and we have a lot of diversity in terms of LGBT parents, racial diversity, and economic diversity. It is also a school where parents are involved and supportive.
In terms of safety, I think here in the Bay Area especially we are very aware of bullying and it is not tolerated. I encourage you to check out Sequoia. Fellow mom
Sequoia Elementary, in the Dimond district (on Lincoln Ave between 580 & 13) has a lot of two mommy families. I don't have kids there, but my neighbors who do love the school. Sequoia neighbor
I wanted to give another shout-out for Sequoia as there are a number of happy queer families among us, within a LGBT friendly community. Not only that, it's a wonderful school with a fun, down-to-earth, active parent community, with great kids and teachers. I highly recommend checking us out! You can take a tour by calling the office at 510-531-6696. Happy Sequoia Parent
After School Programs for Sequoia Kindergartners?
We've just started Healthy Start at Sequoia, and after years of play-based preschool,I'm starting to wonder if a less-structured program might be better for my child. I'd love to find out about other options (& hope there is openings at this point)! Thanks! In need of free play
My daughter goes to the Oakland JCC with some kids that attend Sequoia. The JCC picks them up at school and brings them to the afterschool program. They seem to have a program that suits different kinds of kids and there are opportunities to be more active or more quiet, etc. We chose it because we thought the program at our daughter's school wasn't that great and she's been very happy there. And you don't have to be Jewish to feel welcome. JCC Mom
Re: Sequoia, Glenview or Laurel for kid w/LGBT parents
One of the reasons my family (mom, dad, two kids) likes Sequoia is because we get to meet all kinds of families, and so do our kids, and I know that many other Sequoia families value Sequoia's diversity, in all its forms. I don't know much about Glenview or Laurel so I can't tell you about that. I do know that we have several families with two moms or two dads. We have openly gay employees who are well-loved and respected at the school. It might be worth coming to visit to find out more; you can schedule observations through the office, take a tour, or come to any of the community events, which are a great way to get a feel for the school. Many who do are struck by its warmth. It's a sweet place. Families there love their kids and are down-to-earth so it's an easy place to be if those things are important to you. Happy at Sequoia
Our child is not school age yet, but we are hoping our local Oakland school, Sequoia Elementary, will work out for us. I know there is a new principal, and I just noticed their greatschools rating has dropped (from an 8 to a 5, which seems significant). I'm hoping some current parents could give some insight about this change in rating and what is going on there? Looking Ahead
Hi, I'm a Sequoia parent of two as well as a teacher with many years of experience in different schools. I looked at Great Schools to try and answer your question about the Great Schools rating. The first thing I noticed was that the ''Community Rating'' is 5 out of 5 stars. This is based on reviews by people who write in. The lowered rating you reference is based entirely on test scores. I'm not sure how Great Schools gets their data but I would caution against letting a for-profit website or test scores weight too heavily in your decision. So, I invite you to come check out Sequoia for yourself. All of our events are open to the community and are listed on our website (www.sequoiaschool.net). You can also take tours of the school and visit classrooms if you call the office and sign up first. It is a great child-centered school with the most caring and professional group of teachers I've ever found. There is an involved and supportive parent community and I'm sure many of them would be willing to talk to you; email our parent group if you want some contacts! Last year we had an interim principal who was placed at the last minute. Our community decided to open up the search process to find the best leader for Sequoia and now we have a new principal, selected by a committee of teachers, parents, and community members. Although it is too soon to really tell (school starts on Monday) so far everyone I've talked to (teachers and parents) is really excited about the changes at Sequoia. I went to the kinder orientation yesterday and the energy was great. I am extremely grateful to be a part of the Sequoia community. Sequoia Mom
We are a very happy Sequoia family. We have a new principal this year and all signs point to her being wonderful. Last year was a tough year for the school as we had an interim principal who was not a good fit for the school. The principal before was well loved and it was hard on everyone to loose great leadership. I'm not sure if the rating you refer to had something to do with this but that would be my guess. I would encourage you to come hang out on the school yard after school one day, talk to current parents you meet and get a feel for the school. There is a warm community spirit there. Also, check the school's website for the dates of the prospective parent nights and window for classroom observations. This is the best way to tell if the school is the right fit for your family. Best wishes! mom to two happy Sequoians
Hello, I'm a teacher at Sequoia and wanted to share my perspective. The GreatSchools rating drop, as far as I can tell, is ENTIRELY connected to one standardized assessment, which showed a dip in performance relative to last year.
Like many if not all of my colleagues, I am committed to using multiple measures of student performance to drive my instructional strategies. During our staff development before the beginning of this year, we all took a critical look at the data and had robust and necessary conversations on next steps.
This data, however, is not a stand-alone metric of school quality, or any kind of statement on the direction of the school. It was impacted, I believe, by many factors, including a group of students who had performed exceptionally high in previous years aging out of the test population and the loss, last year, of a targeted afterschool intervention for students approaching benchmark in the months before the test. Finally, there are always changes in the test itself, including issues around compatibility with district curricula and pacing guides.
Last year was a year of challenge and transition for Sequoia, as our previous administrator was promoted to a district wide position and an interim principal filled in the gap.
We are blessed, this year, with far greater stability, and a staff that remains committed to our school vision of truly providing all children with an education that impacts and enriches them in meaningful ways. I encourage all parents to give Sequoia a close look! --One Teacher's Two Cents
I had to respond to correct a previous response. While it is true the GreatSchools.org focuses on test scores only for it's ranking, it is a NONPROFIT. Hence the .org URL. They provide good honest basic info and parent reviews of a given school but it is not the end of the story. Understanding the population served such as a lot of English Learners, kids who had little access to preschool or parents with limited educations all affect overall test scores but are not necessarily relevant to your individual child. Looking at scores over time, extracurriculars, teacher longevity and school community are all very important factors. So use GreatSchools ratings but don't base your views on them entirely. Parent
I'd be interested in hearing from Sequoia families about the new principle. How has this changing of the guard affected the school? What about the school's arts anchor status? Any info is greatly appreciated. Thinking about Sequoia
You asked about the new principle at Sequoia. First, I want to say that my older child attends Sequoia now, and my younger will be starting in the fall. We have found it to be a terrific school, with a marvelous staff of teachers and strongly committed parent group, and a wonderfully diverse student body. Our daughter has gotten a great education there, and truly feels like part of a community. I don't yet have a concrete sense of the new principal (she is interim, and will be reviewed in the coming months), but with all the assets this school has going for it, I am confident its going to remain on its amazing upward trajectory. Sequoia parent
Sequoia Elementary does have a new principal, but this has not affected our Arts Anchor status or our enrichment programs (art, garden, music, library, PE). The state budget is negatively affecting all public schools right now, but we've maintained all of our enrichment programs. I have many good things to say about my child's experience at the school. We have more neighborhood attendance and involvement than ever, our test scores have improved greatly, and our volunteering and fundraising efforts have grown hugely in recent years. Also, from what I understand, our principal has been placed on an interim status, and every OUSD school with an interim principal has the opportunity for community input on their leadership (the process is posted online). While I'm not sure how this will play out, I am confident that our committed families and professional staff will use this as an opportunity to do what is best for our students. Sequoia Parent
Re: Kids of LGBT families experience: Oakland schools
My child currently attends Sequoia and I have another who will begin next year. Sequoia is the most diverse school I can imagine (I'm a teacher myself), and I am glad that the appreciation of diversity at Sequoia includes LGBT families as well. One of the very first things I noticed at the school were gay-positive posters in several classrooms. I know of several kids with two moms or two dads at the school. Last year there was a diversity night where a movie about different kinds of families (adoptive, gay, grandparents raising grandkids) was shown, and a panel of parents spoke afterwards. There are a couple of openly gay members on staff. Recently there has been discussion about bullying around kids' ideas about how girls and boys ''should'' act and I've been grateful for that. Not everyone at Sequoia feels the same way or agrees all the time but there is a respectful and caring culture that many, many different kinds of families fit into at our little school. Sequoia Mom
COVA or Sequoia elementary school? I am lucky enough to have a choice between two free schools for my son to go to in the fall - COVA and Sequoia. My son is naturally talented with music so I think that he could really benefit from all of the training that he would get at COVA, but I haven't heard many recommendations for it. While I have had people I know say that Sequoia is a good school. I went to visit COVA but they did not let me sit in the kindergarten and just observe. We were led through different class rooms and the classes had prepared for our visit. Anybody have any advice? Heather
I don't have personal experience with COVA but just wanted to let you know what you can expect at Sequoia. My son started Kindergarten this year and my daughter will start there next year. We are so happy with the community of students, teachers and parents at Sequoia. It is a truly welcoming place with lots and lots of lovely people! It is a place where as a parent you can jump right in. The parent group is organized and well run but not intimidating. We don't make the huge sums of fundraising dollars that other schools do but what we do make goes towards amazing enrichment for the students. Right now my son enjoys an art class, African drumming and choir! And that's in addition to a stimulating ''regular'' school day. Sequoia is one of the few school that really makes it their goal to educate the whole child. The teachers are a dedicated and talented bunch, the principal is smart and committed and I have met so many parents with a can-do attitude. I would definitely recommend Sequoia! melissa
Editor note: a reply was also received for COVA
I would like some more information from current Sequoia families (at all grade levels) regarding your experience at the school. We are beginning to look at Oakland Public schools for our child and I know that Sequoia has a good reputation and we hopefully could still get our child in from out of the attendance area. We are interested in a school that is diverse and has more going on than academics (educates the whole child). How does the community feel at Sequoia? Do the teachers know how to teach kids at all ability levels? I've heard great things about the administration there. What have your experiences been? We plan to go to the info night and visit classrooms but I'd also love to hear your opinions as current families there. Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond! curious about sequoia
I am a very satisfied parent of a Sequoia 2nd grader. My child has had exceptional teachers thus far, and she is engaged and excited everyday. The school community is wonderful - friendly, diverse, active, supportive of teachers and public education. The school is fortunate to have a seasoned teaching staff who understand how to teach to different kinds of kids at varying levels, and they are not teaching to achieve high test scores, but to engage the students. There is wonderful enrichment - art, music, garden, library, and more, and a fair amount of community activities. Oh, and did I mention the dynamic principal? She is fantastic - well liked by teachers, parents, and students. While not perfect (no school is), Sequoia has so much going for it. Check it out! Amy
My family loves Sequoia. We live in the neighborhood but are friends with many families both in and out of the attendance area. Sequoia is incredibly diverse, which we greatly appreciate. There are people from all over the world who bring with them all kinds of experiences and backgrounds. My child is learning so much just from being in such a vibrant and interesting community! Sequoia is down-to-earth, low- key, friendly, and many parents there care deeply about equity and social justice. And the kids are really, really sweet! My child's classes have always had a wide range of ability levels and the teachers so far have handled this well, which is not easy to do. Sequoia has a highly experienced and stable teaching staff, and I am always amazed at how engaged the kids are in lessons, but core subject learning is not all that happens at Sequoia. Our fantastic principal values the whole child and cares about social and emotional development. Kids learn conflict resolution skills and bullying is taken very seriously. There is a cross-grade buddy program that is very popular with the students. All grade levels have amazing art classes taught by real live artists. There are after-school choirs available to all interested kids. There is a lovely garden and most grade levels have weekly garden class. The PE teacher is a hero on campus, and he runs lunchtime track meets. Lots of classes go on great field trips, and older kids go to science camp. The on-site afterschool programs are run by committed, caring people. And the events--Harvest Festival, Winter Concert, Multicultural Potluck and Program, Variety Show, Walkathon (I'm sure I'm forgetting some)--are really fun and kid-centered. Sequoia is not perfect--we can't raise as much money as some other schools, and we can always use more volunteers--but I don't think any school is perfect. You can find out more about our school by visiting www.sequoiaschool.net. Good luck with your search! Fan of Sequoia
Re: Best schools to target for Oakland Lottery system
We have been Sequoia parents for 9 years now (older child in middle school and younger one still at Sequoia), and we have been extremely happy with the school. The teachers are excellent and are very experienced at dealing with a wide range of situations. We have always felt they have been very helpful and eager to work with us to help our children. The current principal is excellent and very helpful. I highly recommend Sequoia. long term Sequoia parent
My child will not start kindergarten until next fall, but I have been involved with my neighborhood school, Sequoia, for several years now. Through volunteering and attending school events, I have found a wonderfully diverse and interesting family population, a very talented, stable staff, and an accessible, intelligent, energetic principal. The school has been designated an Alameda County Arts Anchor School, and you can see new art going up inside and out. There is a thriving garden program and an active Dads' Club, among other things. And two brand-new play structures were installed over the summer, which are getting a lot of use!
Sequoia does not have test scores as high as the other schools you mentioned, nor does it raise as much money as those schools. This may work in your favor as far as the lottery goes, as those seem to be the determining factors as far as which schools parents most frequently request. As a teacher myself, I believe there is more to a good school than test scores, and I like much of what I have found at Sequoia. I think Sequoia is one of the best-kept secrets in OUSD and feel lucky to have access to the school without having to try and get in via the lottery.
To find out more, you could check out www.sequoiaschool.net, or attend the Prospective Parents' Night at 7pm on Tuesday, November 13th. There are also very current posts from parents at www.greatschools.net.
Good luck with your search!
If you find yourself agonizing, trying to decide where your child should go for kindergarten this Fall, I urge you to join my wife and me in sending our child to Sequoia Elementary. As a 3rd grade teacher at Sequoia for 5 years, I have gotten to know the staff, the principal, the kids and the families very well. The staff is excellent, bringing years of experience, dedication, kindness and humor to the classroom. Our young principal, Kyla Trammell, is a dynamo in her 2nd year and a wonderful fit for Sequoia: extremely popular with all. As for the students and families of Sequoia, they are, like Oakland itself, a truly wonderful mix of race and class (rare these days), from many backgrounds & corners of the world. Plus, an artist-in-residence, a wonderful choir, a new garden science program, and much more!
As a parent of a five year old girl, I know how difficult this decision can be. I feel it in my gut. Sequoia is not a perfect universe. It is an excellent school, but it is still the public domain in all its ragged glory. So what do we do with this anxiety? What if it made us get involved, like a parent this year who helped get grant money for the kindergarten to build garden beds? Suddenly not only one child has benefited but 60 and 60 next year and the next. If you believe in public education and want to play an active role in shaping your community, join us at Sequoia. It is a wonderful neighborhood school where your child will thrive. Evan
I'm a 3rd grade teacher at Sequoia Elementary. Our 2 children will be attending Sequoia in a few years. Here's why. Sequoia has the unique combination of an excellent staff & a truly diverse student body. Sequoia has many experienced teachers who have not lost their passion for teaching and their love for students. Teachers routinely stop in the hallways to discuss instructional techniques rather than gripe. We have a wonderful new principal: young, smart, energetic and very sensitive to her role in the community. Students, teachers and parents all like her. At Back to School Night she received a standing ovation. Sequoia offers excellent after-school programs, an artist-in-residence, a wonderful choir, teachers active in the Bay Area Writing Project, a PTO & Dad's Club, a new computer lab, a Website Club & more! I know this is a decision you feel in your gut. It's easy to be blinded by the myth of test scores. It's natural to want to insulate your child. However, Sequoia is a wonderful public school where your child can thrive & you, as a thoughtful, active parent, can make a tremendous contribution. Evan
Our son has now been at Sequoia for 4 years. We have been very happy with the school. All of the individual teachers our son has had have been excellent. I have been really impressed with their level of caring and concern for their students, and willingness to work with parents. The school has a great art program and PE program. There also is a more developed music program for the older classes. The school has a fair number of the younger students learning English, but by 1st and 2nd grade, most of these students were very fluent in the language. I do think the language barrier plays some role in the smaller number of parents active in the parents groups, but I also think the variety of backgrounds makes the school even more interesting for parents and children. Just wait til you experience the grade level potluck dinners- talk about a diverse meal. F.
Sequoia is a small school with amazing staff, enrichment, music and art programs, and a richly diverse population of students. The teachers are incredibly dedicated and the Principal, Kathy Maloney, provides strong leadership with a loving heart. There are before and after school programs as well as a stellar summer program. The school garden flourishes just like the kids who go there. Check it out! Jan
I have consulted the website... We attended an informational meeting at Sequioa Elementary school as we begin to consider where our almost 5 year old daughter will start Kindergarten next year. Private school is a remote possibility for us for financial reasons. Is there really a difference in the experience my child will have at Sequoia as opposed to Redwood, or one of the ''hills'' schools? If so, what exactly is the difference? I'm particularly interested in the experience of people who have children now in K-2 at Sequoia. I'm also interested in connecting with anyone who is considering Sequoia for Kindergarten next year. Susan
I have a daughter in kindergarten at Sequoia Elementary School. There is a group of parents created to discuss exactly such concerns. We maintain an email list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sequoianeighbors. Once you've ''joined'' the list, you can post all of your questions, and I'm sure you'll get a variety of opinion. David
Our son is in the third grade at Sequoia, and we have been very happy with the school. All of the teachers our son has had have been excellent. The school has a great art program and a fun physical ed. program. I do not know specifics about Redwood, so it would be hard for me to compare, but we have been very happy with Sequoia. FOSCtrails