we are considering moving to either albany or piedmont for the schools. we can probably afford half a run-down shack in each but we are tired of paying the privat school fees and not knowing anyone in our community. As a working mom, i am as interested in the after school options for the young elementary school kids as I am in the academics. My kids are shy and dont do well with large, loud, full rooms (especiallly after their charming, small private school lives). The after school choice might actually drive our decision so any advice or suggestion or experience you can give me to help guide us, I would really appreciate. My kids are between 4-9. Also if you think I am nutz, that is good to hear too. we maybe overlooking something obvious here. thanks so much. albany or piedmont wannabe
This is our first year in the Piedmont schools. We moved here from Oakland, with public schools primary in our decision making process. We (and our 6 year old twins) have been very pleased with the Schoolmates program, which is the on-site after school program in the Piedmont elementary schools. There is plenty for the kids to do, but it is not overly structured. And, if the kids participate in any of the ''classes'' offered by the Recreation Dept, Schoolmates takes them and brings them back. The staff is a great mix of experienced professionals and younger college-age folks. Why don't you ask to drop by and observe? Debbie
I've had three boys in the after school program (7:30am-6 pm, though we only used after school care) at Havens. It's called Schoolmates; my youngest is now in 6th grade. I can't say enough about it. The staff at all three sites have been there for quite a while (many started in the summer program or at Havens as aides and then took over one of the other sites). Michael Murphy and David have been at Havens Schoolmates for the 10 years we've been here. I've always felt like the staff ''get'' my kids, two of whom are rather shy. They definitely get to know the families, and are flexible about plans and so on. If Corey's friend Scott invites him over for a playdate on Friday, a staffer will call me to check in, and hand Corey over to Liz, Scott's caregiver for the afternoon. They also ''get'' more complicated parental and permission situations.
There's also a lot of articulation between the schoolmates programs, run on the school playgrounds in separate buildings, and the Rec. Department's offerings (click on the catalog button at the bottom of the page at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us), and outside programs. For instance, my 6th grader used to walk down to the Rec (one diagonal block past the tennis courts and town pool) for his ceramics class, and then walk back to Schoolmates until I picked him up. There's van service from Beach Schoolmates to the multi-age Tae Kwon Do class at Piedmont Middle School. And when I ran the (progressive) cub scout program in town, we picked up kids at the unified summer Schoolmates site (it rotates annually) at 12:30 and with a Boy Scout escort walked them over to Dracena Park for lunch and afternoon Cub Scout Day Camp (for boys entering 1st thru 5th grades one week right after school finishes).
Schoolmates is such an institution that any operation involving kids will think ''how do I link up with Schoolmates on this?'' Schoolmates is technically run by the Rec Dept, though the relationships between the sites and the schools/principals are great. In the summer, there's Schoolmates, but why would you do straight Schoolmates when you could do a week of Rec Dept science camp, and a week of sports camp, and a week of half day ceramics, or whatever, with Schoolmates to provide the backbone between the electives and half-day classes? Schoolmates in the summer includes two afternoons of Piedmont Swim Club swimming as well.
Sorry to gush. I know nothing about Albany, but with two parents working full time when we moved to town, Schoolmates made it super easy (and we still occasionally drop into the end- of-year barbeque for families, which is really congenial). PS--At the middle school level, there's still Rec-sponsored care, but given that Piedmont is as comfortable and safe as it is, families often double up on private after-school supervision, have their kids walk down to Piedmont Avenue for Games Workshop at Dr. Comics/Mr. Games once a week, take Spanish class after school at the middle school with the Piedmont Language School, and so on. Maureen
Editor Note: reviews also received for Albany Afterschool Programs