The Saklan School


Private School
120 students
Email: admissions [at] saklan.orgPhone: 925.376.7900
1678 School Street Moraga, CA 94556
Editors' Notes: 

The Saklan School has served Lamorinda and the surrounding Oakland Hills and Walnut Creek communities for more than 60 years. Saklan lives its mission to teach students to think creatively, act compassionately and live courageously. Saklan offers small class sizes and a safe and nurturing community.

Parent Q&A

  • Dear Parents,

    My family just relocated to the Bay Area. We are looking for a private middle school for our son for next Fall. I'm going to visit Saklan's Open House next week. Are there any current or alumni parents who can share their experiences there? Both pros and cons would be helpful. If you have knowledge of other small middle schools to consider that would be appreciated, too.


    Black Pine Circle's middle school has been a fantastic experience for our daughter.  Highly recommend it.  We came to the school in sixth grade, and we liked that the sixth grade cohort had 2/3 new kids and 1/3 kids moving up from 5th grade, so our child wasn't the only one new to the school.  Great academics, with an emphasis on kindness to each other.  The head of the school (John Carlstroem), and head of the upper school (Patrick Nelligan) are thoughtful, smart, accomplished, and approachable leaders.  Amazing teachers here who really love teaching middle school.   There is a great new science building (the Q Lab), which was completed on time and within budget.  Strong math and science here.  The student culture is centered around kids who love to learn and who are nice to each other.  Also, there is a nice parent community (and a lot of very accomplished folks in the parent body).  I can't say enough good things about BPC.  Check it out for yourself!

    Glad you are doing your homework and asking current and alumni parents for their experiences.

    Pros for the school,

    Small class sizes and great travel opportunities.

    The math program is good and worked for our child, but definitely teaching and approach method could be reevaluated by the teacher and people in charge as all students did not benefit.

    Science program is real hands on and creative.

    Cons for the school,

    Number of girls vs boys is out of balance…at our time girls outnumbered in significant way, which over all is a unhealthy dynamic for both genders. Keep in mind this is a delicate phase for both boys and girls and parents who chose to send their children to smaller schools is, that small details are given close attention.

    Due to the size of the school the same teachers teach for the 3 years, which does not give a child to experience the different styles and methods of different teachers. Example of this is that, same teachers teaches 11 periods / blocks per week in 8th grade.

    Not all teachers are up to par especially in middle school, it is wise to interview teachers and see if they would be a fit for your child as well as how well qualified they are.

    High school admission process a nightmare.

    There is more that can be said but I would say that one visit to an open house might not be enough, multiple visits and Q and A or interviews with the teachers especially core subjects would be great.

    Also, to get better insight for this and other schools check “yelp”, “Great”, and “Rate my teachers”.


    Saklan has many fine qualities such as small class size, enriching opportunities to travel (Yosemite, Hawaii and Washington DC) and strong parent involvement. My child attended the middle school and overall it was a positive experience except for one factor, which really effects developing self-esteem. There is one teacher who was especially hard emotionally on my child. The subject matter taught was not my student's strong point. However, this teacher's comments had my child in tears on multiple occasions.  My child became scared to enter this teacher's classroom fearing sarcastic comments.  I really encourage any parent considering Saklan to decide if their child can succeed in this type of learning environment. While it was only one class, it had a profound impact on my child. 

Parent Reviews

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Our son graduated from the Saklan School (private PK-8) last year. He would have been easily been sidetracked by tech free reign. They have an amazing academic program, loved his language arts/history studies and teachers. They have laptops but the teachers keep a very close eye (only one class per grade helps), and even in HW Club to keep them focused and on track. Incredibly nurturing and kind environment with advisory and family group programs that help them develop into self reflective and engaged learners. Believe there are openings in 7th for next year. In Moraga, but they offer bus/van from various locations depending on where parents are coming from, and only 15 minutes from Oakland. Happy to answer more questions!


We moved to the Bay Area 10 years ago, and did the independent school rounds. Our three kids have thrived at The Saklan School in Moraga Kids come from Oakland, Orinda, Lafayette, WC, PH, Alamo. Amazing academics and social emotional program, less competitive environment and easier to get into at K than some of the bigger independent schools. Our son in now at an independent HS, but girls are still there and we love the teachers,  environment and community. Let me know if you want more info!

Our three kids have thrived at Saklan. It is truly a warm, connected, and diverse community. Students come from all over the East Bay. Our oldest is off to an independent high school and is incredibly well prepared. Not just academically, but is a confident, creative, and self reflective student and person. The connections that the kids build with their teachers, including the specialists and each other is very powerful in helping them to become compassionate people and learners. We have found that the beauty of independent education is allowing them to have many more impactful experiences- contributing in class, performing arts, leadership experiences, experiential field trips and learning projects. Saklan has encouraged our kids to be themselves, to be excited about learning and the world, and has been a special community for our kids and family.

My kids attend The Saklan School in Moraga, CA - it's a small, progressive, Pre-K through 8th independent school. Your daughter sounds like she might be a great fit for Saklan. Please check out the website for more information. The mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously - and they have a well-rounded curriculum of art, music, P.E., theater, and also have a great emphasis on social/emotional learning, which I love. The academics are high too. We've been very happy! Good luck on your search from so far away!

We've been at Saklan a long time and have more than one kid there.  This is a very special school with superb teachers at every grade.  Because it is a private secular school in a very wealthy area, it tends to attract students and families who don't want to deal with the well-funded but still overcrowded schools in the area.  Saklan is academically very strong.  Since it is also a progressive school, it takes a whole-child approach instead of loading on the academics.  There is a great non-bullying culture at Saklan and Saklan seems to not have to work very hard and keeping it going because it is so much a part of the general culture.  We will be sending our kids to Saklan for many years to come even though we have Lamorinda public schools available to us.  We feel that they will get a better education at Saklan, and we feel that our kids will continue to deeply benefit from Saklan's whole-child approach, great teachers and very small classes.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2013

What a difference a teacher makes! My son began is his school career at Saklan last year as a Kindergartner. The Kindergarten teacher was absolutely wonderful and exactly what any parent would want for their child. I loved that she recognized that the children were all at different levels when they began and that she taught to the strongest child setting high standards for the other children. Since the children still needed to be nurtured, she gave each child individual attention but encouraged them to be independent and by the end of the year, all of the Kindergarten parents noticed the confidence that she had instilled in them. If there is one thing I'd like parents to know it's that you can't go wrong having your child begin his/her school career at The Saklan School. So if you are looking for a school for your Kindergartner, I encourage you to strongly consider The Saklan School! kirsten

Jan 2013

Looking for the best kindergarten experience? Please look into the Saklan School in Moraga. It is, hands down, the best possible school and community imaginable. Saklan's mission is to Think creatively, Act compassionately, and Live courageously. The children are proud to repeat it and more importantly are given the tools both socially and intellectually to act on them. The school has a jewel in their Kindergarten teacher Amy Burnett. She imparts a passion for learning, a dedication to communication and kindness, and flare for fun and enchantment. She is the kindergarten teacher all parents hope their children get to have. I watch as she helps our son, and every child in her class, blossom into the best students and people they can be and are. It has inspired us to be better teaching parents and has given us more tools to help our kids. The class size allows for amazing individual attention and under Amy's tutelage, the class thrives. It's exciting to watch our son become so enthusiastic about learning! Their curriculum includes Spanish, Science, Music, PE with expert teachers on staff, and public speaking experience (as all kids are given the opportunity to present material at weekly student assemblies). Saklan strives to challenge their students academically without teaching toward testing. Instead, they have the advantage of teaching to inspire investigation and discovery. Our family moved to the Lamorinda area and discovered Saklan at their kindergarten readiness meeting last year. Not a day passes that I don't feel grateful for that introduction and feel lucky to be enrolled there. Heather

Dec 2012

What makes Saklan special is first and foremost, a faculty that really cares about the kids as unique individuals. With small class sizes, the teachers really can get to know each child and can target his/her needs. We've had both of our kids there for 6 years (and have experienced K through 7th grade). Our kids could not be more different from each other, but both have been appropriately challenged and engaged at every level. Second, Saklan has given my kids the confidence to be who they are and to stand up for what they believe, in and out of school. Part of this comes from the fact that they have to stand up to speak in front of the school assembly starting in Pre-K. If you are looking at Middle Schools, definitely take a tour. You'll find an extremely supportive environment (at that age, kids really need that) and students who are excited to learn. One of my son's teachers even inspired him to give up video games during the school week in order to have more time for other activities and to improve his sleep. Finally, Saklan's parent community is welcoming and fun. We live east of Heather Farms Park in Walnut Creek. We could walk to other private schools, but Saklan is well worth the drive! Kay

Dec 2012

The Saklan School has been a wonderful experience for our daughter. She is currently in the 8th grade and started at the beginning of 6th grade. The middle school at Saklan is a welcoming and nurturing environment, where the teachers take a real interest in their students. We wanted a school where our daughter could pursue her love of academics without getting ostracized or squashing her own love of learning in order to belong. I feel that she could go to a public high school now and be very sure of who she is and what she wants to do. One of the big draws to Saklan was their excellent music program led by Grace Chaffey. The middle school puts on a yearly musical that is phenomenal, especially given the small class sizes (and therefore limited talent pool). Everyone must participate in the musical, and there is a sense of camaraderie among the students as they prepare and perform. Our daughter has found a passion and has grown comfortable with performing in front of her peers and adults. The middle school is small enough that all of the teachers keep a close eye on social issues that might come up, and I can't think of a better place for pre-teens/teens to experiment with middle school social drama and behaviors. It is a safe place to learn how one's behavior affects others. As a result, there is feeling of respect and comfort between the kids. They are free to express their authentic selves without social ramifications. The school offers top notch field trip experiences which are included in the tuition, so no hidden fees. I feel our daughter is receiving a well-rounded, whole child experience. We are thrilled with the faculty, and the community atmosphere is terrific. Interaction between lower school kids and middle school kids is fostered, and new students are made to feel immediately welcome by their classmates. I like knowing that while my daughter is at school all day, there are teacher role models who care about her almost as much as I do. Tiz

Jan 2011

Re: Private schools in Contra Costa County

To the mom seeking a good private school in Contra Costa County: Give The Saklan School in Moraga a call and schedule a visit. The school may be listed as Saklan Valley School but has recently updated its name.  Both of my children had an amazing learning experience at Saklan. My son is now in 9th grade at Bentley and my daughter is currently in 7th grade at Saklan. We have been at Saklan since 2001 so I feel comfortable in giving my assessment of the program, the community and the teachers.

This is a school that has the rare ability to provide excellent academic learning while fostering a sense of belonging to a community, self-confidence, personal responsibility and learning as fun.The teachers are exceptional and provide the kind of education that is all too rare in schools today. The class size is small and the school and parent community are both open and accepting. I have witnessed the arrival of new students and I have seen them quickly become a full part of Saklan. Take a look! kd

May 2009

Re: Which Middle Schools do you reccomend?
My son is currently in 7th grade at Saklan Valley School in Moraga. We live in Montclair and it is a 15 minute drive door to door over the Pinehurst route. In addition, my daughter will be in 6th grade next year.

If you are interested in a small and supportive middle school program that is also very strong academically, then I would suggest looking into Saklan. My son has excellent grades but more importantly, he has learned to be self-motivated and actually loves learning.

The middle school teachers are absolutely amazing. They are talented, dedicated and accessible to the students and to the parents. We have watched the program encourage the very best in our son both academically and socially. He is a strong student and a good person.

Our daughter had several options to move elsewhere for her upcoming middle school years but we chose to remain at Saklan so that she could also experience the strong community and top notch education. She also wanted to stay to become an 8th grade family group leader and to work with the teachers she has been waiting years to have.

Saklan is a pre-school-8th grade independent school. The mix of ages in the school (not in the classroom) has been nothing but positive for our children. When they were younger, our children had role models and they were always so amazed when the ''big kids'' knew their names and sang happy birthday to them. Now, as older students in the program,, they have the opportunity to be the role models.

This is a school with small class sizes where learning is ''cool'' and being a good person is rewarded. This is a place where your child can focus on what is important and not be teased or treated badly for being smart. In addition, the setting is quiet and safe and the families are open and inviting. Kate

Oct 2008

We are considering Saklan Valley's kindergarten program for our daughter. Based on previous BPN postings, there appear to be mixed reviews about the program. We would love to hear from current parents of the school, especially regarding teacher training and turnover, class size, and attention to individual student needs. Thank you so much!

I am a parent of two children at Saklan Valley School- one currently in kindergarten, the other in the pre-school. We have been at Saklan for three years now, and I could not recommend it more highly.

Saklan provides an incredibly rich learning atmosphere that strikes a great balance between being academically challenging while still encouraging creativity, individuality and joy in the students. Because you have asked specifically about the Kindergarten, I will focus on that:

The kindergarten teacher is Amy Burnett- she is fantastic. She teaches with an art-based philosophy that encourages creativity and imagination, and while the kids think they are having fun, they are learning math and language skills. The kids have science class with the school's science teacher, they have PE four times a week, they are learning both French and Mandarin, and they are doing all of this in a wonderful atmosphere.

In addition to academics, Miss Amy is teaching the children to respect themselves and each other (and adults), to work together, and be responsible for their own actions.

If you are at all considering Saklan, I would really encourage you to visit the school on a Friday morning (8:30)- every Friday the school comes together for Flag. A lot of parents stay for Flag every week and there is a real sense of community among the Saklan Families. You will get a taste for what kind of kids and families we have. You will get to see various grades do short presentations in front of the school, and there are tours right after Flag so you can take a more formal tour and get all your questions answered. There really is nothing like seeing it for yourself.

One final note as a response to the negative review of Saklan which appears on this network and which focuses on the pre- school. Please take that review with a grain of salt- my son is currently in the pre-school. We have a permanent head teacher now who is doing a fantastic job (last year's head teacher left on maternity leave half way through the year). In just the first two months of school, my son has learned SO much and he is begging me to let him go 5 days a week (he goes 3 days currently). To anyone thinking about the pre-school, again, I urge you to come and visit the school and get a sense for what it can offer to your child particularly. As for the experience of the previous parent in the pre-school, I can only say that I have never witnessed any teacher saying anything that wasn't encouraging and supportive to any of the children. Nicole

March 2006

On the topic of Camps and preschools, my kid goes to Saklan Valley School in Moraga and he will attend the Camp Saklan there again this summer. It is a loving, kind, environment with gentle discipline and a great play area, plus field trips, water activities and educational programs all summer long. Kim Carlock runs the Extended Day Program and the Camp Saklan and she is great.
Happy Saklan Parent