I have to disagree with the parent who posted about Aurora students not being prepared for middle school. That was not our experience at all. Our son, who is very academic, thrived at Aurora and is having a great experience in middle school (he is in 7th grade now at an independent school known for its science, math and arts curriculum). He was more than prepared for middle school academics and flew through his sixth grade year with all A's. The curriculum in the multiage 4th/5th grade classroom at Aurora was amazing in both its breadth and depth, but especially its depth. For example, whereas children I knew in other schools learned only the most cursory facts about the Gold Rush, our son was reading a variety of primary sources to understand the experiences of Chinese immigrants, Native Americans, women, and gold miners from the period. This was all within the context of deep learning about California history, geography, and geology. Students engage in critical thinking and inquiry and are encouraged to grapple with complex ideas and a variety of perspectives. I could go on and on about how engaging, relevant, and vibrant the learning environment is.
In addition to his academic preparation, I felt that my son was prepared to be an active participant in a learning community. The leadership skills he gained through a variety of opportunities (partnering with younger children at the school, student council, etc.), the emotional intelligence, and simply the sense of agency that children at Aurora develop were so important in his move to the new school. He hit the ground running and hasn't stopped. I encouraged anyone looking for a school that is steeped in progressive education and that helps children become both head smart and heart smart to take a look at Aurora School.
The school does well on social-emotional curriculum. But they struggle with academics. Over the years, various kids have complained that Aurora didn't prepare them sufficiently for middle school. Many reported needing at least 3 to 6 months to adjust. Kids in public were much better prepared. Parents have given this feedback to the administrators, who are generally exemplary individuals. But they didn't really accept the feedback as evidenced by the continued 'soft' academic environment.
The school is extremely welcoming of LGBTQ students, students with disabilities etc. If you want an accepting environment, come here. If you want academics, go elsewhere.
We love Aurora School! The teachers and staff are amazing, very knowledgeable and professional, and maintain a nurturing and welcoming environment for the students. Teachers give their full attention to each student, focusing on individual skill level and learning style. Our son is very happy to be attending school at Aurora. He is learning a lot in science, math, reading, writing, art, music, Spanish and even woodshop. He comes home every day enthusiastic to share what amazing things he's done in class. There is also a nice camaraderie that happens among all the students even between different grade levels--the older kids make sure to look out for the younger kids. Parents are also very active in the school, adding a wonderful feeling of community here. If you're looking for a top-notch school that is very positive and welcoming, also serious about your kid's academic development, I fully recommend Aurora School!
Every week something that happens that makes us so happy to be at Aurora. Our daughter attended local public school for kindergarten and had a very difficult year. We searched carefully to find a better fit for first grade and have never regretted switching to this warm, nurturing, creative, joyous, amazing, culturally competent school. Our daughter loves school so much she can't wait to go back after school breaks! She has the best teacher we've ever encountered. The administration is competent, responsive, ethical, and committed. The teachers obviously enjoy working at Aurora and love their jobs; they are dedicated and go above and beyond to provide extra services and support outside regular hours without complaint and with deep creativity and emotional sensitivity. Every week we get a detailed summary of what has happened in the classroom; it never fails to make us smile and wish we had been lucky enough to attend a school like this. There is no bureaucracy to navigate to communicate with teachers or administrators any time we've wanted or needed to. The parent community is very nurturing and supportive. We encourage you to come experience Aurora yourself!
Our daughter is in 2nd grade at Aurora School. She and her schoolmates appear to be well-rounded, caring, and curious learners, thanks to the dedicated and thoughtful teachers and staff. If you are interested in a challenging, yet progressive, education for your child, Aurora should be on your list. The litany of positives is long: blended classrooms (a terrific attribute), creative teachers, truly individual attention, world-class children's library (no joke, you have to see it to believe it), small-school environment, involved parents (who, for many, really do become great friends), varied learning environments (woodshop for K/1s-seriously!), and a thoughtful curriculum. So many have said they knew their family belonged at Aurora the minute they walked into the school. Once you visit, you will see why.
My daughter is entering 4th grade in the Fall at Aurora and has been there since kindergarten. She has thrived at Aurora, and although the regular social, emotional and academic challenges of early childhood inevitably come up, I have been impressed again and again at the staff's ability to respond with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. If there is one thing that Aurora does beautifully it is to get to know each child as an individual. I really suggest that you look at Aurora if you are looking for a school where your child will not only learn academics, but will become part of a wonderful community of lifelong learners.
Aurora is an amazing school, with very strong teaching staff and a wonderfully supportive parent community. We have a daughter still there and one that has graduated to middle school, we could not be more impressed with the academically strong and socially compassionate kids they have become, and we attribute a big part of that to their time at Aurora. The school's tag line - The Best of Both Worlds: Academic Rigor in a Progressive Setting - holds true. The school does an impressive job of blending academic achievement with a strong social and emotional curriculum. And the teachers are an impressive array of competent and caring individuals. Looking back at almost ten years at Aurora I can not imagine that there would have been a better academic experience for my two kids.
Aurora is a treasure. Our daughter has been there for four years, and we're delighted not only with the education she's receiving but also with the broader school community. We love the fact that it's truly an elementary school (K-5, instead of K-8 or K-12), because the entire education and culture can really cater to children of that age. The mixed grade classrooms have been invaluable because they've given our daughter the chance to cultivate meaningful relationships with a broad range of children, instead of confining her to six years with the same group. Academically, Aurora consistently fosters critical thinking and curiosity -- with teachers who are thoughtful and dedicated, and students who truly enjoy learning. Obviously this is a personal decision, and not every school works for every student or family. But Aurora children seem happy and inclusive, and develop interesting minds and empathetic hearts. We recommend it without reservation. -Current parent at Aurora
Aurora joins a rigorous academic K-5 model with a progressive approach to learning and education. The teachers are exemplary--leaders in the classroom, but also skilled at collaborative efforts with other classroom teachers and specialists in art, music, etc. We have been very happy with the academic challenge afforded our daughter, but also with the comprehensive focus on social emotional learning, collaboration and teamwork, and art, music, and theater.
My two children went to Aurora. Aurora academics has always been of concern to some Aurora parents. I'm here to tell you the Aurora kids do really well in middle school, high school, and attend very selective colleges. Our kids were just everyday kids at Aurora, nothing special, but both were accepted to every middle school where we applied. We chose St. Paul's where our kids thrived -- there was no catch up necessary. The Aurora kids were 8th grade presidents about half the time. Our son and 2 of his Aurora classmates attended College Prep.Other Aurora classmates attended Head Royce, Julia Morgan, Redwood Day, Lick Wilmerding, College Prep, Head Royce, Athenian, Oakland Tech engineering program, and Bishop O'Dowd. Our kids did well and had a great time, but they are not straight A students. They fall between B+ and A-. However, many of their Aurora classmates did become straight A students. Colleges attended include Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, Swarthmore, Sarah Lawrence, Cornell, Carleton, Cal Arts, Cal Poly, Columbia, and University of Pennsylvania. So be vigilant, prepare your kids to thrive as adults, but don't worry about Aurora's academics. Christopher Reesor