I appreciate having alternative education available within the public schools of Alameda. Nea has provided leadership opportunities and self-directed problem based learning for both of my daughters. The teachers are supportive and committed to the model with projects that hold their interest and give context to the material. The K-5 has a full time art teacher and music twice a week. The K-5 "no homework" policy is fantastic, placing importance on home family/play time. The model of self-directed learning prepared my 12 year old to succeed when she entered middle school and had homework. The district has broken the charter and separated the K-12 school into two campuses. I would love to see the schools rejoined to support the community aspect of the charter (peer tutoring and group projects) and better facilities for play and sport.
Nea is a great option for our family for a ton of reasons. My kids have gardening chores, they help with cooking, they have art they need to do, and family reading time is pretty much every day from 6-8pm. Who needs homework? Well, they will, but not yet. Nea fits in with our philosophy and lives. Also, as the parent of a future president of the United States, I appreciate Nea's emphasis on learner empowerment (and responsibility). This is accomplished through projects and democratic processes in the classroom. Nea has a strong culture, and like all strong cultures it's not a universal fit. YMMV. It really works for our family and for our learners, and we couldn't be happier. Go, Ninjas!
Nea's K-5 school has an all-day kindergarten, a dedicated K-5 art facilitator, music K-5, technology starting in Kindergarten, electives K-5, where learners are empowered to make their own elective choices, 3-5 grade learners changing classes during core curriculum instruction, no homework policy K-2, small community with two classes per grade, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) 3-5, LEGO Robotics 4-5, community service requirements K-5, and more. There are no textbooks, so the facilitators have to be creative and develop their own project-based curriculum. Nea's a great alternative to other local public elementary school offerings. My children are HAPPY and THRIVING.
There is a 90% chance that NEA is better than your school. (as of May 2013)
Very excited about what is happening here at the school! My daughters are thriving and we absolutely love the teachers in the lower village. K teacher Miss Charlotte is a GEM! my kindergartener had strong comprehension of steletal system (right before halloween!), and has a fabulous understanding of tidepool biology (in addition to having moved quickly forward on her reading, her writing and her math skills). Ms B, the 2nd grade teacher has a fabulous energy, and has given our 2nd grader a number of opportunities to build her knowledge at her own (accelerated) pace. The model at the school and the governing staff continually bring in enthusiastic teachers eager to add to this great community. We love the parent community that continues to develop, and the way my girls are taking responsibility for their education is AWESOME!
We have two kids at Nea and both are very happy there. The kindergarten teacher is a true gem, and we have always been happy with the teachers, who are motivated and engaged. The small size of the school is a real plus. It is less than ideal that they have to share space with a middle school and the facility is lacking, but that it where the district put them. We are very happy with our choice of Nea. The administration has done a great job of responding to community feedback and the atmosphere is very positive. There were several unhappy (and vocal) families from the 2011-2012 school year who seemed to create some trouble for Nea's reputation, but this year has been smooth.
The nation is moving to new core standards for evaluating school effectiveness. This initiative is being undertaken because of the inflated "progress" schools have been reporting nationally. Charters in Kentucky are already reporting under the new core standards, and some former "stellar" schools are now...Let's see where Nea's first graduating class is next year, and how the school ranks with API in three years, after CA takes on the new core standards. Then, AUSD should make the appropriate fiscal decisions.
The strength of NEA is their teachers & their flexibility to build curriculum around their passions. Their small class sizes & the ability to really know the students (over many years too) allows for more in depth learning. I'm impressed by the workload & dedication of NEA teachers. If your student needs more structure, there are better places. Free periods can be great for group work & homework, but also for goofing off. Kids learn responsibility by the freedom to make these choices. If they choose wisely, most kids finish all their homework in school! While NEA is community based, it is not a customizable private school. NEA must still adhere to required regs & testing (you're looking at API scores too right?). Therefore the curriculum is more structured in younger years although they still get electives. Our daughter loved swing dance last year. Lack of communication has been an issue & I believe the source of the bad reviews here. Facilities are also controlled by the district, not NEA. The principal is a strong presence. To us that means the school is safe & issues are dealt with swiftly. But not everyone likes admin's approach. Check it out for yourself.
This place is a hot mess. They're drowning under their own poorly thought out metaphors. The kids are expected to find their own place and their own order in a very disordered environment. Our son went to Nea last year and fell completely behind. We've moved to a new town and now, 3 weeks into the school year, our kid is doing SO MUCH BETTER. But if we had stayed in Alameda we still would have returned to the public school. Nea was teaching him to hate school. Now he's learning to enjoy learning again. I'm sad that Alameda has so woofully neglected their public schools to the point that a place like Nea seemed like a good alternative.
Every school has its issues, and Nea's main issue is disorganization. If that makes you insane, look elsewhere. If you do consider Nea, you'll find a school with engaged students, energized faculty, new ways of weaving subjects and learning together, and families that are largely thrilled with their children's learning experience. I wish the facilities had worked out better this past year, as I was looking forward to my son, a middle schooler, having more contact (tutoring in math or English, perhaps?) with the lower grades. It's unfortunate that the district allocated classrooms to WCDC instead of keeping Nea upper & lower villages together. The administration has done an admirable job of keeping the feel of a 'village' even with split campuses. We're looking forward to my son's second year at Nea.
This school is in shambles due to the inept and immoveable administration Students are not even learning state standards. So-called project-based learning is a joke. Parents are ostracized if they question the problems. We are leaving and going back to public school before my children get further behind. Sad, as the school started with so much promise. Do NOT send your children there. If i could rate it lower, i would.
My child is in the upper village of Nea and has done well. Good grades, made friends, enjoys the school day. I have found the facilitators to be helpful and very responsive, and I've have no trouble with the administration. I am puzzled, however, by the strong negative comments that some departing parents feel necessary to make about the school. Yes, it is a very unique model that doesn't fit every child, but it doesn't mean that if it doesn't fit your child, it is a failure. There are many, many happy parents and kids at Nea!
I think that choice is good and sometimes schools are not the right fit for everyone. Glad you are happy elsewhere...that is what is important. I love Nea for it innovation and what they are trying to do. I look to see how they will be in the next years, a they are still young, and some of the issues with the facilities are our of their control. By the way, the school provides spring water for every learner, and bringing a water bottle is a great idea.
We were so excited to be a part of Nea at the beginning of the year. After seeing the new facilities for the K-5 campus I began to have some concerns. My concerns were quickly validated when my kindergartener began holding her bladder all day because the bathrooms are designed for middle school sized students and the school wouldn't allow a step stool in the stalls. Recess was a nightmare because Nea doesn't have a play structure and all the older kids get the few balls available. My daughter spent her playtime placidly walking around a sun-baked black top. Nea promised that the children would be taken to the adjoining park, but this happened only once in the two weeks we attended. There is no drinking fountain, so don't forget your water bottle - ever. The lead facilitator is impossible to approach, and be ready to be labeled a "problem-family" if you even think of making some suggestions for improvement. I think the teachers care very much, but they are intimidated by the administration. As soon as we moved our daughter to AUSD we were all so much happier.
The shared site with The Academy has its own set of problems that did not exist last year.The site was not intended for elementary school kids.My learner complains every day that she hates recess because there is nothing to do on the blacktop since there is no playground.The big kids always take what few balls there are away from the little kids.She forgot her water bottle a few times this year & since there is no drinking fountain, she was dehydrated.The water cooler is dirty.I doubt we will keep her here next year since she needs to play at recess(motor skills practice!)& they only gets to go to the park to play a couple times a week.There was a parent volunteer to help in the class but midyear she was told she could not help out anymore without any explanation except that it was due to the school's policy.What kind of school doesn't allow parents in the classroom?There seems to be a huge gap in the communication.Teachers don't know the policies or the policies change so suddenly that no one is aware of these changes & parental notification is lacking.Wish we had stayed on the wait list because we are not happy here.We had no idea it was going to be this bad.Hugely regret it here
Nea is like a start-up school: underfunded, greatly understaffed leading to burnt out,inexperienced teachers, under-resourced (there are no drinking fountains or playground structure on campus for the elementary kids to play on daily), underachieving (academics are not strong) and likely to go under with the lack of proper implementation of policies and procedures.The leadership is lacking and the communication is indescribably inadequate causing nightmares for many families.Parent volunteers are not allowed in the classroom to help with academics like reading, writing, math.They are allowed to volunteer for recess duty and free time supervision or special projects sometimes.School dance got rescheduled 3 times this year because of poor events management and double bookings.How hard is it not to double book a date for an event?Why do people announce they are going to attend and supervise and then pull out the day of the event and flake out?Where is the dedication to the students?The kids were devastated to have gotten dance dresses and then not being able to wear them until months later.Why do so many kids have two free periods back to back?Too much free time, not enough learning!
The wait list is used as a marketing tool to make people think Nea is in high demand and a great school.You'll buy into the hype because all the info is propaganda. The truth-in 2008 AUSD/Board of Education unanimously denied Nea's charter petition because of insufficient details about how they'd implement K-5 (they have no experience). 3 years later,Nea can't hide the fact that they don't know how to run a k-5 school &our kids are being left behind.Kids are not academically on pace w/ AUSD peers.Project based learning translates into unstructured, chaotic,loud classrooms.Kids babysat in the chaotic Nest so often instead of being taught academics. FYI,3rd grade kids to switch classes for different subjects not developmentally appropriate(6th graders have a hard time w/this).K-5 kids shouldn't be in a middle school environment with no playground or water fountain.Ironically, Nea moved k-5, from Longfellow that has a playground,h2o fountains &kept upper grades there instead.Principal yells at kids/parents & has a hostile if you don't like it leave approach.It's true, parents are 2nd class citizens here. Info is tightly controlled by principal so communication is beyond bad.
I do not recommend this school. AUSD schools have stronger academics and superior leadership. The jr. high and high school programs at Nea are really questionable. I am not convinced that my child will be ready for college after attending Nea.
I really love working at Nea. it's got the feel of a small start-up tech firm: we're a super-committed, high-energy staff with tons of ideas and a mission to grow the school into a smashing success. Our model is based on the idea that students can learn how to guide their own education and succeed in a world that requires people to think for themselves, be self-starters, and pursue their talents. Sure, we don't always get it right, but we're constantly asking ourselves how to do it better. My principal is happy as long as I'm figuring out creative new ways to tackle the content standards and engage all sorts of brains in the material. This year we conceived and executed a major end-of-semester school-wide exhibition of student projects that was pretty awesome. Next year will be even better.
Nea is in its third year of operation. It currently has 465 learners in grades K-11 and will expand to grade 12 next year. Nea has received 341 applications for approximately 73 openings next year. Nea still has opening for grades 9-12. Apply online at neaclc.net
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