Tilden Prep & Berkeley High - concurrent enrollment?

Is there anyone out there who can speak to the experience of having a kid concurrently enrolled at Berkeley High School and Tilden Preparatory School in Albany?

Some background: Our daughter is about to finish middle school at an independent school in Berkeley. She has ADHD, which shows up particularly as difficulty with executive function and attention (esp. in classes that do not interest her), and a degree of slow processing. Her social skills are good, she is both self-reflective and thoughtful about the needs of others, and is creative and fun to be with. During the pandemic, she found it impossible to learn much of anything on zoom, and so we arranged to have her take two of her most essential classes--English and Math--at Tilden Prep, while maintaining her enrollment at her current school. It was a game-changer, and to this day, she is still being tutored twice a week by a most beloved teacher at Tilden (who has also become a very important all-around mentor in her life).

Looking at our high school options, one idea (and the one that she is leaning towards) is to have her enroll at BHS, but take 2-3 of her core classes at Tilden. We've been told that this is something that people do, and so we would love to know more about that experience. Does attending two schools mean the best of both worlds? Or does it mean never fully belonging in either school? How do you get your child from one school to the other during the school day (when both parents work)? Does it make more sense to have her enroll full time at Tilden for 9th grade, and then transfer her to BHS beginning in 10th grade, when she can take advantage of the "small schools" there?

Other options we are considering: Latitude HS (a new charter in Oakland, emphasizing the connection between classroom and real-world learning--very appealing for a kid who likes to experience what it feels like to do things with what they have learned, and to learn by doing) and Bayhill HS, a small and highly respected high school designed for kids with learning differences.

Would be grateful to hear from parents (or students) who would be willing to share their thoughts and experiences.

Parent Replies

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I cannot speak to Tilden Prep or BHS, but I know quite a bit about Latitude HS (from personal experience and insider knowledge) and can give you some insight on that. Feel free to contact me directly.


Regarding your question about getting your child from/to Tilden Prep and BHS when both parents work: Your child is more than old enough to do this on their own. AC Transit’s 18 bus stops one or two blocks from each campus (Albany campus for Tilden). BART stops close to BHS, and about a mile from Tilden, with a pleasant walk along the greenway between them. I believe Tilden’s WC campus is also BARTable. This is an opportunity for your teen to learn how to get herself around via public transit. The Albany campus can also be reached via a 15 minute bike ride from BHS. 
Our kid is now 25, but started taking themself from our S.F. home to school on MUNI in fourth or fifth grade, and by late middle school rode BART to their grandparents’ home in Berkeley every Friday afternoon. 

One of the many benefits of raising children in an urban environment is that you don’t need to chauffeur them everywhere. Your daughter will appreciate that you trust her to get herself to school, and will learn how to navigate their community independently. Win-win!

We tried for months to have concurrent enrollment in Tilden Prep approved by BHS and were unsuccessful, despite BHS not being able to provide the educational supports our daughter needs (and has an IEP documenting those needs). My understanding from a special ed advocate is that other school districts are much more flexible about concurrent enrollment.  After a lot of frustration and circular meetings, we've pulled her from BHS and she's finishing this semester at TIlden while we figure out what to do.  The folks at Tilden have been fantastic and supportive in every way (similar to your experience).  Happy to share more about our experience if that would be helpful.

Reading your post, the one thing I would be concerned about is her college plans. While private colleges might give more leeway in terms of where and how coursework was met, I wonder how the UC"s, for example, would look at a student who had dual enrollment at a public and private and wonder why not one or the other, since the classes you are looking at are not specialized (like a language or specialized science course not offered at a public) and are offered by either school. I know this is not what you are specifically looking to answer, but I would just caution you to investigate this topic as well before you consider this kind of dual enrollment.

Strongly recommend Bayhill over trying to piece together two different school situations, not to mention the time spent commuting between the two.

Bayhill has executive functioning support built into its pedagogy and curriculum in ways we never were able to achieve when our kid was in public school.  It also has very small class sizes, which results in more personal attention.  Plus no one stands out as the kid with an IEP or the kid with support, or even the kid with ADHD.  Instead, they learn to identify and talk about their learning differences and their strengths, and advocate for themselves to access the supports they need.