I am a FORMER teacher. While the school administration means well, and accepts many (if not most) students on scholarship, the school itself was not financially viable when I taught there 5 years ago. Based on my more recent conversations with current or other former faculty members, I believe the situation has not changed. I'm shocked that they earned WASC accreditation, since WASC is so focused on financial stability! If you're considering sending your child there, bear these observations in mind: 1) The school's first priority is Israel, in both positive (Judaic education) and negative (political) ways. 2) The teachers who stay more than a year or two are extremely dedicated (they're NOT being paid regularly, or in some cases at all--really!). 3) Classes are very small; in the lower grades, grade levels are combined. 4) Most of the student body is made up of Russian immigrants. 5) Half of each day is devoted to Judaic studies (at all grade levels) and half is dedicated to traditional academic studies. There are optional after-school drama classes.
This school has an excellent staff. Unlike most schools where teachers do not get familiar with their students this school does. Some teachers stay after school just to help their students. I have sat in on a few different teachers, and they have great teachers. The education is a dual curriculum. They have Judaic studies as well as secular. To teach about the Judaic studies they have people from Israel come to San Francisco, and teach. These people who come from Israel are volunteers. Not only does the school have an amazing curriculum, but also to get closer to the Israeli teachers who not only teach you, but they also help you with life decisions, and become close to you as friends. These Israelis host a shabath meal were you stay in their house have a meal prepared by them, and you talk and have a nice time. The Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy is a safe environment in which bullying, and other things are not tolerated. Most of the students in the school are on scholarship, and from what I have heard from the students themselves is that they love the school, and it is a second home for them. You can see that it is a good school from all the people getting into great colleges.
My wife and I are active in our synagogue and our son attends Hebrew school. So when it was time for him to go to kindergarten, we checked out the Hebrew Academy. Class sizes are small, which is great but the instructions seemed rigid. In conversation with the teacher who was giving me a tour I was told that 95% of the families are not practicing Jews. When I mentioned that my wife had converted at a Reformed synagogue she shook her head, tisked, and told us how our son would have to be re-circumcised! We don't believe in 'Poof you're a Jew'. Needless to say, I left. I found the intolerance inane and insufferable.
The negatives:The school has a lot of potential but due to continued money issues, the school is on the decline. Some of the classrooms are not in good shape. It often can not pay teacher on time and therefore, often can not retain teachers for more than a year. Although the school prizes on Judaic studies, the reality is that for the past four or so years, hebrew and judaic studies have been taught by young men and women from Israel who have no professional training in being teachers. There is also no PTA in the school and the Dean discourages parent participation. This is one of the biggest downfalls of the school. The positives: The class sizes are small and many kids feel very comfortable there. The school produces high school graduates that attend some of the top universities in the country. The school has a great English/drama teacher.