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Northern Light School

Private | PK-8 | 142 students

Our School is Best Known for a Comprehensive Education of the Whole Child.
 
 

 
 

Living in Oakland

Situated in an urban neighborhood. The median home value is $191,000. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,340.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
 
Last modified
Community Rating

4 stars

Community Rating by Year
2014:
No new ratings
2013:
Based on 10 ratings
2012:
Based on 3 ratings
2011:
Based on 3 ratings

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34 reviews of this school


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Posted October 16, 2013

I have one son that attends Northern Light School and so far we are off to a great start. While it was very challenging to find a safe learning enviornment for my son, I was greatful to be referred to the Northen Light Family. After attending the summer program I realized that what this school had to offer was exactly what I needed for my son and that was structure and dedicated/compassionate staff members that believe in student success.So far we are very excited and my son loves learning at NLS, so for that I''m a proud parent of the NLS!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 27, 2013

I have one son that currently attends Northern Light School and one son that has graduated from NLS. I have been a NLS parent for over 7 years. My oldest was accepted to all 3 private high schools that he applied to. Then 8 out of 10 Universities that he recently applied to and is now attending a Private University for his freshman year. My youngest son is not only attending Northern Light School because of the success of his older brother but because he loves his school. This is very important to me. All schools are required to teach a specific curriculum, but what make s Northern Light School special is the children like going to school and love their teachers. It is an open learning environment where the kids are able to be who they are. A safe and loving school environment creates a student who loves to learn. Current NLS Parent
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 25, 2013

We enrolled our children at Northern Light last spring, and they began school this fall. Before school started, we were accosted by former parents and employees who tried to convince us that the School was "bad", and that we shouldn't pursue enrolling. To say the least, we were concerned. The things shared with us were so scathing, that we seriously considered saying "no". But the summer slipped away. It was time for school. We said we'd "try" it for the first few weeks and make a final decision for our family. Boy, are we glad that we did! Whatever those former parents and employees said was wrong, and (to be frank!) pretty cruel. We've got nothing but glowing reviews for Northern Light. Our kids are so happy. The education and programs offered are fantastic. We were told that the school wasn't making an effort to put its best foot forward, but it is. Our son is LOVING PE classes, and our daughter is thrilled that there is Drama Club. Every morning there's a whole-school assembly that offers students the chance to come together. Clearly, they're making an effort to prove they're committed to positive turn-around in light of whatever slander was spread. It really is a GREAT SCHOOL!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 28, 2013

I would NOT recommend this school to anyone. The students face hard reality when they go to High School, my son is one of them. He is so far behind in math. There is not consistency on anything. The change the curriculum almost every year since the new principal came to NLS and when things started to go down hill, she doesn't know how to handle discipline at all. Some teachers have their boyfriends working there and they hang in the classrooms all day. NLS is not what it used to be. Not a good school at all.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 27, 2013

Two years ago, we moved our oldest daughter out of a top pre-school in Piedmont to attend Northern Light School's pre-kindergarten program, and have since entered her younger sister into the school. Now in our second year at Northern Light -- our kindergartner has a passion for learning, is excelling in her studies, has made good friends, and loves her teacher. Our pre-schooler is engaged and having fun, building a strong set of foundational skills, and performing at an academic level that is beyond her years. The administration and faculty are caring and constantly looking for new ways to enhance the curriculum and community at Northern Light School. The student experience is made more dynamic through exposure to community leaders, coaches, and speakers from top businesses, professional teams, and philanthropic organizations from around the bay. We are happy to have found Northern Light School two years ago, and look forward to the years to come. Our children are experiencing something special, and are growing as students and citizens of the broader community. What more could we ask for?
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 25, 2013

We are a veteran family of Northern Light School. Our children have attended, their cousins, my nieces, nephews, and several grandchildren. We've been with Northern Light for the long haul. With the recent challenges the school has faced, we are making an important decision for our family--WE ARE STAYING WITH NORTHERN LIGHT SCHOOL. We believe in Northern Light, everything it stands for, everything it has been, and everything it will become. We aren't going to give up on what the school has to offer. Families choosing to leave Northern Light have fallen victim to virulent, poisonous gossip, and a cancer-like rumor mill. The families, like ours, who stay true and dedicated to Northern Light, know what it is worth. It truly is one-of-a-kind, and we will continue to embrace it and defend it. We're staying put--for the other generations of our children and grandchildren to come.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 23, 2013

This school used to be a wonderful school. But the last 3 years have been bad. Classroom sizes increased from 10-15 average to now 20+. There has been no disciplinary structure. The staff has a high rate of overturn. There is no leadership or direction for the school. Test scores are down. Not all the teachers are accredited. But tuition is steady going up. They need to revise their academic and discipline programs. Keep staff there longer. They need to get back to Northern Light 3 years ago.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 21, 2013

Many of the families who leave the community at Northern Light School are quick to give it a "bad rap". The truth is that Northern Light is a very special, one-of-a-kind place. Yes, there have been changes in the administration. But that kind of change is inevitable and bound to happen at every school. Leaving Northern Light won't make a difference. If you go somewhere else, you will encounter the same changes. Being a parent it's difficult to read through "scathing" reviews and recognize any semblance of what frustrated parents are talking about. My family loves Northern Light School. My children receive a top-notch education. They love going to school. As a parent, that's the most important thing I could ask for. I wouldn't save my money and send my kids to public school. I know that they wouldn't get what Northern Light offers. The families that love Northern Light the way our family does have pride for this village, and a village it is. I think the unhappy parents on here had an unfortunate, one-time experience and take their aggression out on this community. That aggression is underserved. Northern Light is filled with genuine love and has children's best interests at heart.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 21, 2013

We love Northern Light! Don't listen to anything that other disconcerted former parents are writing and saying. Now, there have been some changes. The newer principal has had to adjust to the Northern Light environment. It was challenging at first, but in the last year, we've noticed that the new principal has taken a more active role in the student's and families lives. She's still got a ways to go, but she has made a tremendous effort, and we are happy to stick by the Northern Light School community and mission. It is a beautiful place, with beautiful families, caring teachers, and dedicated administration. We aren't giving up on Northern Light. There's good stuff there.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 21, 2013

I am a VOLUNTEER teacher and fundraiser at Northern Light. If it was OK or good, I'd quit tomorrow. i stay because I think it's HANDS DOWN, the #1 PRE K-8 school in America. Everyone's entitled to their opinions but the facts remain the facts. our student body is hardly affluent or well connected. Yet 99% of the graduates get HS degrees and 95% get through college. Just this year are kids (all on scholarship, by the way) going to Duke, Barnard, USC, Wellesley, University of the Redlands. If ALL you care about is your child having the best opportunity in life possible.... than Northern Light would be the easiest decision you ever make. It's more Disneyland than a school...a place where crazy and unlikely dreams come true!


Posted October 8, 2012

We left NLS in pre-k primarily because we felt one of the directors was bent on emasculating the boys. Our son is now in 4th grade and we are pleased with the new leadership, his teacher and the small class size. They offer enough sports to keep him busy and he is well challenged academically. The school is affordable and offers a reasonable alternative to charter schools and the failings of OUSD. Their record for graduating students to be accepted into good high schools and then college, is exceptional! We are happy with our decision.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted April 19, 2012

My daughter has been attending this school for two years and it has truly been a pleasure seeing her grow and develop in an environment that provides her with the greatest opportunity to excel academically, socially, and in her character. My daughter chose this school over the fluffier schools with the new playground and facility because of the warm and nurturing environment that she felt when she visited the school. In the two years I have seen her blossom into a dynamic individual.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted February 16, 2012

My daughter has been going to this school since pre school and is now in 1st grade. I agree that the school has been going downhill since the new administration. A lot of the GOOD teachers left the school. The policies aren't clear and procedures aren't always followed. This school has been living of the name its once had. I'm currently looking for another school for my daughter.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted November 22, 2011

The new principal and administrators are horrible this year. Since the original founders of the school have left , the school has gone down hill. Over crowding in the classrooms. Students who don't belong. Very few activities for the kids to do... Save your money and try a high performing public school


Posted August 26, 2011

My daughter went to this school and I would not recommend this school to anyone. I have a son who is entering first grade and he is better off going to public school. The principal used foul language to describe how my daughter was acting. Due to her strong personality they treated her horrible. I am scared if i sent my son there they would treat him horrible because of who his sister is.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 28, 2011

This is my son's 3rd year at this school. He just finished the 2nd grade and will NOT be returning unfortunately. In addition to strong academic program we wanted a nurturing environment, especially for the you ger classes. Not for our child to be babied or anything like but it just seems like the environment was more into the robot approach. It was all about them being as smart as they could force them to be not focusing on the children as individuals. Education is a top priority which is why we chose private school but we also don't need our child worrying about that in the first grade. Basically it was too much pressure on the children and several other have had the same concern. We gave the school another year and we didn't see a difference so unfortunately we had to switch schools. We decided on Mills College Children's School until the 5th grade. I happen to know we are aren't the only family to switch to Mills. Mills is a lot more than Northern Lights... I heard it's worth it.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 10, 2010

I am very thankful that for the staff and faculty of Northern Light. The classroom environments are warm and welcoming and filled with teachers and administrators who CARE. It's also great because of the teacher to student ratio. The teachers provide many hands on learning opportunities that enhances their curriculum. Northern Light encourages parent participation and offers a multitude of opportunities for volunteering. Northern Light is a family school where the teachers are not just teaching but facilitating learning as well. My son is extremely happy again. He is excited about school again. Thanks Northern Light!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted July 21, 2010

As an alumni/ graduate of Northern Light, I have grown into a loving and respectful young man. Northern Light has taught me skills and preparation for high school. In 8th grade, I was learning Algebra 1!!! I learned pre- algebra in 7th grade!!! Normally, in public schools you would learn pre- algebra in 8th grade. Learning algebra 1 in 8th grade was such an advantage because in my freshman year, they start you of in algebra 1!!!! I really struggled in math So I went to my teacher and I told her my dilemma. She OFFERED HER LUNCH BREAK to HELP ME!!!! No other teacher wouldve done that for me. Thinking about this right now really makes me feel special. And I am proud to go to high school. Next year, I will be at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School. I LOVE NLS. Thanks. I will never forget you.


Posted February 2, 2010

As a current student of Northern Light School, i have learned many amazing qualities. In this school, the directors dont just help you academically, but morally and orally. Coming from a public school, things are amazingly different! Students are just so nice and comppasionate towards others, its hard even to comprehend! This is an amazing school. Also the comment about hypocritical stuff , this is a joke! Yes, the directors are strict on discipline but it affects them in a good way. As a student and participating in the Theater Arts, my sel-esteem has boosted amazingly.This school was a perfect match for me! I feel that this school teaches amazingly and its a school to visit! You will definetely get a sense of love and caring if you visit. Enroll your child for a better future for your child! This school is outstanding!
—Submitted by a student


Posted November 11, 2008

this school is a wonderful school .if you moving to oakland please check this school.
—Submitted by a student


Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school
Black 67%
Hispanic 16%
Asian 12%
White 5%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 0%
Source: NCES, 2009-2010

Teacher resources

Special staff resources available to students Art teacher(s)
College counselor(s)
Computer specialist(s)
Gardening teacher(s)
Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
Math specialist(s)
Music teacher(s)
PE instructor(s)
Poetry/Creative writing teacher(s)
Reading specialist(s)
School social worker/counselors(s)
Teacher aid/assistant teacher
Tutor(s)
Foreign languages spoken by school staff Chinese (Mandarin)
French
Spanish
Tagalog
Read more about programs at this school
Source: Provided by a school official.

Special education / special needs

Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Extra learning resources offered
  • Differentiated learning programs

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

Specific academic themes or areas of focus
  • Mathematics
Staff resources available to students
  • Computer specialist(s)
  • Gardening teacher(s)
  • Math specialist(s)
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Computer lab
  • Garden/Greenhouse
  • Science lab
Clubs
  • Gardening
  • Math club
  • Recycling club

Arts & music

Specific academic themes or areas of focus
  • Arts (all)
Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • Music teacher(s)
  • Poetry/Creative writing teacher(s)
Visual arts
  • Ceramics
  • Design
  • Drawing / sketching
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Textile design
Music
  • Choir / Chorus
  • Vocal lessons / coaching
Performing and written arts
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
Clubs
  • Student newspaper
  • Yearbook

Language learning

Foreign languages taught
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Spanish
Level of ESL/ELL programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Foreign languages spoken by staff
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog

Health & athletics

Staff resources available to students
  • Gardening teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
  • PE instructor(s)
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Access to sports fields
  • Garden/Greenhouse
  • Gym
  • Kitchen
  • Multi-purpose room ("cafegymatorium")
Clubs
  • Gardening

Gifted & talented

Instructional and/or curriculum models used
  • Gifted / high performing
Extra learning resources offered
  • Acceleration
School leaders can update this information here.

School basics

School start time
  • 8:30 am
School end time
  • 4:00 pm
Before school or after school care / program onsite
  • Before school: starts at 7:00 a.m.
  • After school: ends at 6:00 p.m.
School Leader's name
  • Michelle Lewis, Kaamil Isles--Principals
Best ways for parents to contact the school
  • Phone
Age at which early childhood or Pre-K program begins
  • 2 years old
Gender
  • Coed
Boarding options
  • Day school
Is there an application process?
  • Yes
Affiliation
  • Nonsectarian
Fax number
  • (510) 957-0559

Programs

Instructional and/or curriculum models used

Don't understand these terms?
  • College prep
  • Core knowledge
  • Gifted / high performing
  • Montessori
  • Multi-aged
  • Project-based
Specific academic themes or areas of focus

Don't understand these terms?
  • Arts (all)
  • Global
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Service learning
  • Social justice
Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Foreign languages taught
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Spanish
Level of ESL/ELL programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students

Resources

Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • College counselor(s)
  • Computer specialist(s)
  • Gardening teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
  • Math specialist(s)
  • Music teacher(s)
  • PE instructor(s)
  • Poetry/Creative writing teacher(s)
  • Reading specialist(s)
  • School social worker/counselors(s)
  • Teacher aid/assistant teacher
  • Tutor(s)
Foreign languages spoken by staff
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
Extra learning resources offered
  • Acceleration
  • Career/college counseling
  • Counseling
  • Differentiated learning programs
  • Mentoring
  • Tutoring
Transportation options
  • None
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Access to sports fields
  • Audiovisual aids
  • Chapel/spiritual reflection center
  • Computer lab
  • Garden/Greenhouse
  • Gym
  • Internet access
  • Kitchen
  • Learning lab
  • Library
  • Multi-purpose room ("cafegymatorium")
  • Playground
  • Science lab
Partnerships with local resources and organizations

AfterCare (after school program)

About the program
  • Provides homework help, art classes, sports, movement, cooking
Types of activities
  • Academic
  • Arts
  • Athletic
  • Life skills
Days offered
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
Is enrollment limited to students who attend the school?
  • Yes
What grades can participate?
  • K-8
Is there a fee for the program?
  • Yes
Is financial aid available?
  • Yes
How can parents find out more about fees?
  • Call
Website
Phone number
  • (510) 957-0570

Northern Light School Summer Program (summer program)

About the program
  • Provides academic, artistic, athletic, and life skills enrichment.
Types of activities
  • Academic
  • Arts
  • Athletic
  • Life skills
  • Science nature
  • Technology
Dates offered
  • July 8, 2013 - August 2, 2013
Days offered
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
Start time
  • 8:30 am
End time
  • 3:30 pm
Is enrollment limited to students who attend the school?
  • Yes
What grades can participate?
  • K-8
Is there a fee for the program?
  • Yes
Is financial aid available?
  • Yes
How can parents find out more about fees?
  • Call
Before / after care
  • After
  • Before
Website
Phone number
  • (510) 957-0570
School leaders can update this information here.

Sports

Boys sports
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
Girls sports
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Softball

Arts & music

Visual arts
  • Ceramics
  • Design
  • Drawing / sketching
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Textile design
Music
  • Choir / Chorus
  • Vocal lessons / coaching
Performing arts
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
Media arts
  • None

Student clubs

Clubs (distinct from courses)
  • Community service
  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
  • Gardening
  • Homework help/study buddy club
  • Math club
  • Model UN
  • Recycling club
  • Roots & Shoots
  • Student newspaper
  • Tools for Peace
  • Yearbook
School leaders can update this information here.

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events found for this school
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School culture

Dress Code
  • Uniforms
Bullying policy
  • This school has a bullying and/or cyber bullying policy in place.
Parent involvement
  • Attend parent nights
  • Chaperone school trips
  • Coach sports teams or extracurricular activities
  • Join PTO/PTA
  • Organize cultural events
  • Organize fundraising events (school auction, bake sales, etc.)
  • Present special topics during curricular units
  • Volunteer time after school
School leaders can update this information here.

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What are your chances?

Students typically come from these schools
Public
Parochial
Private

What does it cost?

Vouchers accepted
No
Financial aid offered
Yes.
School-based aid
Outside scholarships

Planning ahead

Students typically attend these schools after graduating
Boarding Schools (Robert Louis Stevenson, Saint George's Rhode Island, Eastside College Preparatory)
Private Independent (San Francisco Waldorf School, Bay School, Marin Academy, College Preparatory)
Parochial (Holy Names High School, Saint Mary's College High School, Bishop O'Dowd)
Notice an inaccuracy? Let us know!

3710 Dorisa Avenue
Oakland, CA 94605
Website: Click here
Phone: (510) 957-0570

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