Joaquin Miller has a new principal (Mrs. Green) this year, who is reinvigorating the school. Mrs. Green was a teacher here for many years and has the respect of her peers and the parents. Parent participation, fundraising and volunteerism have always been strong, but, even so, appear to be on an uptick. There is an active PTA and dad's club. The teachers are enthusiastic and the kids seem to be in a nurturing environment. Afterschool care, provided by the JCC, is also a positive. Our daughter is enjoying her time at JM and learning new things every day.
Joaquin Miller Elementary School is thriving this year! Under the leadership of Ms. Smith, the school has a strong reading culture, and a STEAM focus. Students just completed a 10,000 Book Principal Reading Challenge in a month. Our students attend the library, technology class, and engineering course each week. The teachers are facilitators of student academic discussions, project based learning, and rigorous lessons in math, science, and balanced literacy. We are proud of our entry into robotics and computer science. We have a new comprehensive after-school program, which offers both internal and external enrichment opportunities.
When I compare this school to the schools we come from, it could easily be considered "above average" maybe even "excellent". The school itself is located in a safe neighborhood, the parents are involved, the kids look happy to be there, the administration and teachers are reasonable and care about all the children. There are several ways to stay informed (yahoo groups, newsletters, emails, and the school website). This school is "seemly" a gem in a struggling school district. A HUGE downside is the rumor spreading, gossipy parents. This school has so much to offer, if you want to send your child here please do this community a big favor by staying away from the parents that want to engage in non-productive communication. The the sake of the all the children at the school, focus on leaving a positive legacy. One that will continue to grow for years to come.
This poor, downtrodden school. It used to be great. The teachers are fantastic, and the PTA was wonderful. Unfortunately, as a few other reviewers have already described, our school has basically fallen apart. The Principal is extremely passive-aggressive with parents, and downright abusive to teachers. I have spoken with several of my kids' current and past teachers, and they all told me that they are looking for other positions within the district. They just can't take the abuse anymore. Also, the fantastic after-school program was ousted due to a very petty personal issue the principal had with the director of the program. Now, quite a few parents have said that they will no longer participate with the PTA while Paulette Smith is still principal, and many are worried that our teachers are looking to leave. I think our family will start looking at charter schools very soon. I don't want my kids to be in this toxic environment any longer. If the school had a competent, sane leader, then maybe our school could get back up to where it used to be.
We've had kids at Joaquin Miller for several years, and we've been very happy overall. Unfortunately, this year has seen a sharp decline. The environment is toxic. There is no transparency with decision-making. The principal s leadership style has become autocratic and bullying. Class size is off the charts-the school is overstuffed. The fantastic computer program (new Macs, dedicated lab space, wonderful instructor) has been decimated. After the computers were stolen, decisions were made (convert the lab space to a tiny classroom, fire the wonderful instructor) with no input from the committee of parents and teachers that came together in the wake of the burglary. The after-school childcare provider, an integral part of the JM community for decades, was treated so badly this year that they've refused to return next year. The committee of parents and teachers that invested countless hours on the aftercare issue was ignored. And the lack of sufficient after-care space to accommodate the influx of new families is still not solved. Families are choosing not to return; others are disillusioned and cutting back on their involvement. It's such a shame. Our kids deserve better.
This used to be a very good school but it has fallen on very hard times. We are currently in our seventh calendar year here and 12th kid year as we have three - one who finished up last year. The classroom instruction continues to be quite good. With almost every teacher performing at a very high level in the classroom. But anything that the current principal has touched has turned to mud. She has fostered a culture that is so divided and so distrustful, that the school is just a hollow shell of its old self. Where we used to smile and be happy every time we walked onto campus and were almost universally greeted with the same level of happiness and contentment from parents, student and teachers, now everybody we talk to seems to hate coming onto the campus. It seems like every moment between parents and teachers turns into a gripe session about how bad the principal is. It is so bad right now that a fund raising party hosted by a group of parents and having a 25 year tradition on campus, which has always extended a free invite to the principal, did not do so this year. Most of the people hosting the party didn't even want to be in the same room with her.
Pros: Outstanding teachers from K to 5, very involved community, great living history program for each grade, PTA-funded library and teachers aides. Cons: Principal lacks communication skills, disregards community input via forums and committees, attempts to squelch open dialogue on concerns about her executive decisions. Subsequent very poor morale and high burn-out rate among parent volunteers.
Joaquin Miller is an exceptionally strong school with a highly engaged Principal, an active teaching staff and committed parent community. While some teachers are stronger than others (as at any school), at the high end, Joaquin Miller's teachers are truly exceptional. Indeed, on teacher both our children were lucky enough to have is the best teacher we've seen anywhere, including at private schools. The community is inclusive and generally quite nurturing. While some high achieving kids aren't as challenged as they could be in class, there is an effort underway to address this and good progress is being made. The facilities are reasonable though they lack a grass yard which would be a nice improvement. Overall, we are very grateful to be at JM and have decided to keep our children there rather than explore private school options, largely because of the commitment of the Principal and teachers and the energy of the parent body.
Tucked in the affluent Oakland Hills, Joaquin Miler Elementary is a gem. What makes Joaquin Miller Elementary a special place with some of the most impassioned teachers, a dedicated and caring principal, an active parent community, challenging academics and a culture of inclusion, quite rare for a modern-day public school--especially in Oakland, California! Families who can afford to send their children to expensive private schools choose to send them children here because of the culture and community. This is a very special place. I feel privileged to be a part of this community.