My daughter went to Saklan for middle school. She was a smart but very reserved 5th grader and we wanted a middle school environment where she could comfortably speak up in class and thrive in the process of learning. Going in I was concerned about just how small the middle school was, but in the end I can say the school exceeded my expectations largely because of its small size and also because of the amazing teachers. I think it takes a special kind of enthusiasm to be a good match for middle school kids and those Saklan teachers have it. As for the small class size, an amazing benefit that I hadn’t expected actually came from having to go through all three years with the same students: the kids had to work things out. And the teachers are great at actively making this a positive growth experience for all. I’d guess that Saklan kids do very well in environments where collaboration and cooperation are needed.
The school itself is a warm community, but there is no pressure to participate. I felt they structured things from a position of respect and community. For example, I really appreciated how at Saklan, unlike the other schools I looked at, the cost of trips was included in the tuition so all kids could participate and parents didn’t get the surprise of having to keep writing checks all year long. And the middle school took some really amazing trips full of real world education. What wasn’t included was the cost to get back and forth to Moraga every day, but they offered bus service and that worked well for us.
As a final note, my daughter went on to a large public high school. She’s followed the honors/AP route in math and science and has gotten As. She feels Saklan prepared her well and says several of her high school teachers have commented on what a good writer she is. I remember it was a little hard for me to send her to such a small school. Now looking back I can see what an amazing gift those 3 years were for her.
It appears well run, but we didn't have any difficult issues that required direct interaction with the head of the school. We had lots of interaction with the middle school dean, who really knew the kids well and typically addressed issues quickly and effectively.
Their enthusiasm and energy gets kids really engaged. One teacher seems to work very hard at personal accountability, which isn't comfortable to all students. I'd say the spanish program was weak when my daughter was there, but I have heard the new teacher is great.
It depends upon which teacher. I only have experience with the middle school. When I look at the CORE teachers (4) I must agree with a previous parent's comments that 50% are effective. In particular, one middle school teacher can be demeaning and so hurtful to a middle school aged child's fragile sense of self.
My child spent 3 years at Saklan in middle school. There were positive and negative aspects to the school. Unfortunately, the one negative aspect had a profound impact on my child's self-esteem. One teacher in particular was especially rude and demeaning to my child. My student was not a trouble maker, just a student who was not favored. To him I give a one star rating.
My overall score of the school was raised to average because of the science teacher. A truly amazing teacher who is both a dedicated educator and supporter of children. She is the one who genuinely makes an effort to understand each child, raise their confidence and go above and beyond to look out for them both educationally and emotionally. An A+ for her.
My child was picked on in middle school by some classmates. I will applaud the middle school dean for managing it immediately and effectively. However, I will not forgive the negative tactics one of the middle school teachers uses in his style of teaching. He is rude and embarrasses children in front of classmates commenting on their work. Its hard to respect or learn from an adult/teacher who makes fun of you.
Regretfully, our overall experience is that this was not the case for our child. After repeatedly asking for additional help for our child we were promised some accommodations. Some were put in place but a week later, overlooked by some of the CORE teachers.
Leadership is lacking. Saklan has a lot of potential when it's finally under more professional management. Small class size, unique travel opportunities to enrich learning are all positives, but ultimately, it's falling short of what it could be.