Beacon had a terrific reputation for many years. Sadly, after the mass exodus of long-time faculty, teachers, and students (announced after contracts were signed) who made this school such a wonderful place, Beacon now (2015) finds itself in complete disarray. What is left is a skeleton and mediocre faculty, administration, and staff along with questionable curriculum. Questions and concerns on various topics were raised by some parents and brought to the school for discussion. It took over 5 weeks for a response. If you are looking for a community and a well run, stimulating learning environment, definitely look elsewhere. If you have heard good things about Beacon, this is old news.
The main reason we left Beacon Day School is because of its administration and school board. Over the past year, drastic cuts were made to the teaching staff and curriculum and then these changes were communicated to the school community, after the fact. It concerned us that board meeting dates were not announced and board meeting minutes were not published. We did not feel that the board wanted community input or involvement in these important decisions. Another critical area we felt the board did not adequately address is a recruitment strategy which is vital to the survival of any private institution. For a school this size-now down to approximately 100 students-we found it unacceptable not to have a voice or input in any meetings. We did our homework,researched other private schools and discovered there are much better choices out there.
Beacon has been great for out son. He entered Beacon for middle school and he has loved it. He was a cautious and quiet child upon entering and has since opened up and is developing a strong and confident sense of self. Beacon has been a safe environment for him to develop his academic, social, and athletic talents. Staff, teachers and leadership at Beacon are all dedicated and responsive to students and parents. We feel fortunate to have our son attend Beacon.
We are 2014-2015 new parents @ BEACON DAY and it's the new Head of School, Suzanne Abbey's CV that impressed us. She joined Beacon this summer having been Head-Royce's Head of Lower School 2005-2014. Before Head-Royce she devoted fifteen years at St. Paul s as Director of the Lower School. She developed the school-wide curriculum,administered the teacher internship program with San Francisco State, and led the school s accreditation process. She is very much the advocate for the child. Her approach to education is exciting and we are looking forward to the new classes she has put into place especially computer coding. She is strong on academics yet believes in a whole mind-body approach. A child needs to feel safe, secure and cared for to reach for the stars and achieve great things. Our second grader has already begun to realize her dreams under the tutelage of Suzanne Abbey and her amazing staff.
Our child attended Beacon for several years. Our decision to leave Beacon like other former Beacon families was based upon falling enrollment (the number of students grades K-8 is approximately 100), reduction in teaching staff, lack of accreditation, class sizes that do not promote healthy social interaction, and finally the board's announcement at the end of the 2013-2014 school year that the school is in "start-up mode." Our child is now enrolled in a school with a very active parent community, strong fundraising committee, and transparent school board. The dedicated teachers at the new school provide monthly feedback on academic progress measured against benchmarks.
This is our first year at Beacon Day School and I can't say enough about the community. My child has special needs and I was at a loss of where they would go and be successful in public school (and other private schools for that matter!). From the moment we entered Beacon the entire community welcomed us. The teachers are wonderful, they all know my name, and they treat children with the respect and rights that they deserve. As an educator, the small class sizes and no homework are a plus. I love the extended year and the vast amount of field trips. So far, Beacon has shown my family their dedication to developmentally appropriate practices and the ability to work with children of all needs.
The addition of the new Head of School, Suzanne Abbey, has brought back the leadership, excitement and energy we have been missing over the last few years. The school was administratively adrift but no more and the future is looking bright. In the short time Suzanne has been here, welcome and positive changes have been made. Head Royce's loss is our gain! My daughter has been attending for the last 5 years and we have felt the quality of the teachers to be outstanding throughout. She is getting a top notch education that is preparing her to be confident learner and thinker. The year round program is something we feel very fortunate to have found. No homework until fifth grade is one of the benefits of having year round school. If I were looking for a school for my child I would definitely visit Beacon.
From its beginning Beacon has emphasized the school's support for students with learning differences. However, in our experience the school not only does not excel in this area, it actually does a poor job of helping students learn, grow and develop self-confidence. By the time our child was in 3rd grade, it became clear that she and many of her peers were truly being harmed by Beacon's educational approach and lack of community. Like many former Beacon families, we regret drinking the kool aid of smaller class sizes and no homework as beneficial. Sure, small class sizes matter, but a great school is more than a glorified day care center. At AUSD our child entered a school with strong leadership, a coherent academic pedagogy and good facilities. On every level the public school was a step-up from Beacon. In terms of homework, sure it's not always fun to deal with. But, it is a way to ensure you know what your child is learning. Unless your child's only school option is a really bad public school do your child a favor and choose another school. Good Luck!
Our niece and nephew (who we raise) were enrolled in a less than ideal public school while living with their grandmother in San Jose, and we jumped at the chance to take them into our home and have them begin attending Beacon up here in Oakland. Our niece has a fairly severe documented learning disability, but makes fast friends and loves social interaction. Beacon served her well in getting her the academic support she needed while giving her a wonderful and diverse group of friends. Her challenges were enough that Beacon worked with us to find an even better fit for her for middle school (Raskob), but we are very happy she was a part of the Beacon community for 2nd-5th grade. Our nephew is a bit of his sister's opposite, excelling in most academic areas but struggling sometimes with social interaction amongst his peers - he is blossoming on both fronts as a 6th grader now! It is a credit to Beacon that they were able to provide the academic support for our niece, while providing the needed social support for our nephew - while challenging them both in the areas that they excelled. The staff are skilled and caring, and we are so happy we were able to find this school.
This has been my first year with Beacon. The staff is friendly and very good at what they do. I have seen how the kids learn great manners and are so smart! I do hope that Beacon stays around for many years to come because so many families benefit from it.