Washington is a relatively large school with 3-4 classes at each grade level. As student population has grown the school has struggled to keep up. For example, lunch has to be broken into three shifts and kids only have 15 minutes to stand in line for food, sit and eat amid loud chaos. The facilities are older. The pro of this is that the classrooms are bigger than some of the other Berkeley schools. The con is that some classes are held across the street in portables forcing kids to cross the street multiple times in a day and everything is a little worn. The teachers are good (with a couple exceptions) and care about teaching and mentoring. There are a number of teachers who are also parents. The principal has only been there a year but comes with a good reputation. Science, gardening and cooking, music, and art are taught by specialized teachers. The is a dedicated PE teacher who is also in the playground for recess. Parents are generally involved. The student body is very diverse drawing kids from throughout Berkeley.
Berkeley schools are great. My daughter was transferred into this school when the principal at John Muir refused to handle a bullying situation effectively (or at all... they stuck my kid in the same class as her bully from the previous year who tortured her regularly). The principal at Washington was very open, kind, and was a great communicator. The teachers and parents are very accessible. There was always someone available to talk to if needed. My daughter - who was in 2nd grade - had pretty sloppy handwriting, and her teacher Mr. Tubbs was very patient and helpful. I once walked in unannounced and saw him working with three kids helping them correct their spelling and clean up their handwriting. I wish we never left. I'm a single parent and was going to school full-time, waiting for financial aid. It was taking too long, and when I finally got it, no one would rent to me (I assume because I was a single parent and a student and not a "professional") and we ended homeless. We packed up and went to Florida to stay with my parents and it's been hellish ever since. Being in the schools here in Florida really put things into perspective (as if I needed a reminder).
Overall we've been very happy at Washington. Our child was in the Hi5 program this year and there were a few bumps but the teacher was outstanding, very responsive, open and available. The school overall is very nice, great location.
My son is in 1st grade, and thriving at Washington. The teachers do a terrific job of challenging and supporting students with a range of abilities. There are lots of great enrichment activities - music, art, p.e. gardening, library, cooking. The culture of the school is really nice - from the way the kids treat each other on the yard, to the way the parents interact, to the way that the principal and teachers care about the kids and families. Washington gets overlooked because the building is a bit old, but it's referred to as the "hidden gem" by people in the district, and with good reason.
We've been at Washington for two years, and I can report that our first grader loves school, is eager to get up and go every day, and is learning at a ferocious rate. He has a wonderfully diverse set of friends, has learned reading skills we couldn't imagine for him two years ago, and comes home with the most fantastic knowledge learned in his gardening, art, music, and many other enrichment classes. We love Washington!
I love Washington School so much because of it's diversity and caring children, parents, and caring & dedicated staff, and principal.
Our family has been at Washington School for several years. We are consistently impressed by the dedicated teaching staff and Principal Kimball. Our kids enjoy Wash.'s special programs: music, art, gardening, cooking, and more! The after school programs are equally impressive... the kids can choose from a variety of enrichments: leather crafts, dance, science, art, chess, and more. .. In the age of education spending cuts, Washington School is an Oasis. .. Keep up the great work!
If you really want to know how well any school functions, attend the school's School Site Council. That's where you get a much better picture of how effective the principal is, how collaborative teachers and parents are with each other, and how decisions get made.
Dedicated principal, engaged parents, amazing couch Don, garden, green yard, music, art, diversity.
Washington is a great school and a great community. The parents work hard to support the school and the teachers, to make the school a beautiful place to play and learn, and to raise funds for special programs to fill in in tight budgetary times!
Washington School is a diverse school that is somehow ale to take all kids, whether they are ahead or behind grade level, and give them what they need to improve their skills and character by huge leaps.
I'm a grandparent of a 4th grader. My husband and I have tutored his classmates since he was in kindergarten and so are well acquainted with the school. I taught and observed classes in about a dozen East Bay schools for 11 years. Washington definitely offers more than most of those in terms of quality of academics, excellent principal and teachers, extra programs during and after school. The atmosphere at the school is as organized, orderly, serene and productive as at any school I have known. I don't know how much most parents are involved, but the staff and teachers are great.
Most underappreciated school in the District. Great principal, model of diverse ethnic groups working together, orderly classrooms, virtually all good to great teachers. Had 2 sons attend and have received excellent education (oldest now an honor student at BHS and GATE youngest has been challenged to do personal best rather than be satisfied with easy good grades). Art and music is integrated within school, Sports 4 Kids as well as P.E., garden/cooking program, and wonderful after school care. Check Washington out in person, you will be impressed.
What we liked about Washington was that it was our feeling that the school had the most orderly classrooms and the most consistent discipline of all the elementary schools we looked at in Berkeley. This is not an accident - the principal, Rita Kimball, focuses on collaboration between teachers in every grade. Since she became principal six or seven years ago she has hired many young and energetic teachers and has emphasized a team-teaching approach. The kindergarten program there is truly wonderful. One thing Washington does is at the beginning of the school year they do not decide who is in what classroom until each of the teachers have had a chance to teach all the children for one day - then they sit down and try to create balance across the board. This minimizes discipline problems and spreads out the high-achieving kids as well, to the benefit of the class.
This is a school that is much better than the test scores seem to indicate. Prospective parents will need to visit the site to experience the positive school climate for themselves. My daughter, now a ninth grader, attended this school from kindergarten through fifth grade. While she was there, the school got a dynamic new principal and started several new programs to improve student achievement. The staff and many parents are energetic and dedicated. There are many caring teachers who stay in close contact with parents and integrate arts and drama into the curriculum. This multiracial school community gives kids the opportunity to get to know students from many cultures. The garden and afterschool programs add to the quality the environment.
After looking at all the schools in my zone, I chose Washington. We live three blocks away and I love the community feeling. I am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the education, extracurricular activities (gardening, cooking, Mocha Art, etc), great teachers, involved and caring principal, and wonderful down to earth kids and parents. Education is not only about books but also learning to live in a diverse community. Washington does this well. My child has alway felt safe. The Washington Kidz Club (afterschool care) is developing into a stronger program. They are listening to what parents need and finding ways to accommodate. I think Washington has unfairly gotten a bad reputation. Just come to the school and see for yourself! ...Mimi
Pretty large for an elementary school. Class size also large particuarly in the 4th and 5th grades. Teachers could use more support in the classroom. They have a weekly music program but not too much art. Computers can be found in every classroom. Many after school programs usually since the teachers are very committed and it has a great PTA that meets bi-weekly. Provides funding for after school enrichment programs and field trips. Security at this school has never been great.
I've been pretty pleased with Washington for the past 3 years. Our diversity and skill level of our younger teachers is excellent. Our principal was a little wishy-washy in the beginning, but I believe she is starting to get her footing and cover new ground as far as all the children's needs are concerned - not just the one's who's parents are available (or who are at the school the most!). As a single parent, I think we've had good success with Washington -a very family orientated school!
As probably with every school, there are good teachers and not so good teachers. I have been at Washington for 5 years between my 2 children and have been happy 3 out of the 5 years. The main problem that I see is that if your child is bright, there is no plan for accomodating him/her. Some teachers are better able to teach to a diverse audience of students but many are not. Many social/behavior problems make this situation more difficult. Washington has more than it's share of students in need and all the resources seem to go to try and correct that problem. The GATE program is esentially non-existant. In comparing the school to the private sector, I am amazed at how much they are able to do with what resouces they have, nevertheless it is hit or miss if you can get the education you want for your child.
Many good teachers,one absolutely outstanding. Involved parent teacher organization able to raise enough funds to provide many extra curricular activities. Also scholarships. Music weekly , sports I believe daily. Not so much art (technology focussed) Quite large for an elementary but both my kids have enjoyed it,
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