St. Joseph Elementary School, Alameda
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: Alameda elementary school options
We moved to Alameda from Boston six years ago and enrolled our four children in St. Joseph Elementary School. It has been a wonderful experience -- our kids have flourished and we have made many friends with St. Joe's families. We still have one son at St. Joe's, and our older kids go to Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School, the college prep school next door. Our kids are getting a great education and are part of a happy, diverse community. St. Joe's Parent
St Joseph Elementary School hosted an Open House this past Sunday and I was able to visit all of the classrooms, view art, 4th grade Mission reports, and the Science Fair. Our daughter chose this school over the local school (we'd purchased our home with intent of enrolling her in Franklin) when she was just five, and surprised us again at Thanksgiving with her appreciation for allowing her to attend this school. I appreciate the full breadth of activities, music, Spanish, art, the special focus on building community within the school, parish, and so on. You might come on a Thursday evening during Lent for soup and bread. The kids love it - running and playing outside. The principal is wonderfully fierce - the students have caught her smiling and chatting with teachers or parents; she participates in the music ministry with students and teachers during Friday morning Mass. Afterward, they all crowd into the common room for announcements and a public celebration of at least one child from each grade. The first time I witnessed this - it was right before the El Rancho festival in October- the energy and enthusiasm of the children brought tears to my eyes.
The kindergarten, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers and assistants are the same - (talented each in their own way) and my daughter is now a 4th grader. I've enjoyed visiting the newish 1st grade teacher's classroom and find her students happy and fully engaged.
There are opportunities I hadn't expected - free guitar lessons after school with the 5th grade teacher, knitting with the science teacher, etc. The school library is well organized and the students seem to take their borrowing privileges seriously. Testing takes place in the fall in order to reveal what students have retained over the summer break and identify areas for support - I've come to prefer this model.
It's a Catholic school ~and~ students from other faiths and or non-religious backgrounds are respected. Everyone goes up for a blessing during mass, but some keep their arms crossed over their chest as a sign that they will not receive communion. This is true for practicing catholics as well as those who don't follow a particular religion.
The film Road to Nowhere had a strong impact on many of its viewers, and I know that some SJES parents pursued school placements with less of an emphasis on homework as a result. Our experience has been that homework and regular tests on the subject matter have helped our daughter understand and retain the information; we are still close to the families who made different choices.
Some joke that catholic school is private schooling on the cheap. I've found that it has provided a focal point for our family that neither I nor my husband had experienced at this age. We are involved in the school and parish, and sometimes make it to mass on Sunday. We're glad to have invested in this way, and are supportive of our friends and neighbors' efforts to pass Measure A for public schools on the island. Hope this helps all the best, Deirdre
Have one child in the middle school of St. Joseph Elementary and can report having been pleased with the school as a whole. We chose the school for the spiritual and social justice emphases, the involved parental and staff community and the education, in that order. We liked the size of the school as a whole with one class per grade (K-8) as our child prefers a smaller environment. The children are very safe, exposed to many extra curricular offerings, are fairly insulated and seem to do well. The class size of 34 to 36 per class is too large for my preferences, though. The staff has been attentive, aprroachable, helpful, concerned and committed. The community is all that we hoped for, and more. The more one gets involved, the more satisfying the entire experience is for both child and parents.
If a child who is NOT Catholic is going to transfer IN, I would encorage looking at the religious focus of the 2nd grade where the emphasis is on First Holy Communion in the Spring each year. If a child was not Catholic, I would suggest joining AFTER 2nd grade.
St Joes is a good school and one of the best parochial schools in the area. I would not send your child there if you are only interested in the academics. With my kids in high school, I think they could have gotten a better academic foundation at Lincoln or another private school. People choose St Joes for the religion, safety, and closeness of the community. People who go there thinking it is top notch academics will be disappointed with outdated text books, 35 in a classroom, teachers who stay two to five years max, and poor writing program. There are opportunities for finishing Spanish1 and Algebra 1 in the eighth grade but this is not the norm or the standard.
Chose it for the religion