"Visual and Performing Arts"
Students enrolled 600
Hours 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
School leader Brian Kohn
Transportation options None
District San Francisco Unified School District

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Contact this school

555 Portola Drive
San Francisco, CA 94131

School website
(415) 695-5700
(415) 695-5326
Nearby homes for sale
Map of Asawa (Ruth) San Francisco School Of The Arts, A Public School. address.

4 stars
Based on 57 ratings

Let others know what you
think about this school

September 24, 2014
SOTA is a fabulous school! My child has been studying here for the past two years and each year I ve noticed staff making improvements. We are so pleased that several advanced placement courses were added to the curriculum this year. Adding challenging subjects allows our teenagers to be more engaged, and it shows that SOTA admin are paying attention to parent feedback! Additionally, the quality of the artists-in-residence program is remarkable. If you have a talented kid who is academically motivated, you should absolutely put SOTA on your list!

- submitted by a parent
March 28, 2014
SOTA is a great school! When my son was in middle school, every morning was a struggle just to get him out of bed for school. Now that he is at SOTA, he eagerly looks forward to joining his teachers and friends each day. The talent of the teachers and students is incredible. Some of the academic classes are still quite a challenge for my son but most of his teachers try to help as much as they can. We haven t heard of any drug problems within our department because our son's vocal teacher has a strict policy that drugs are an absolute no. FoSOTA is the nonprofit group that raises money for the school. They help keep the art programs in operation. My son went on the vocal trip to NY this January and FoSOTA was instrumental in making the trip a reality for all the kids in the department. The campus facilities are worn but most of the spaces work well enough for the classes. The performances are amazing! If your child is interested in auditioning, you should definitely go see a few shows. Our overall experience has been wonderful!

- submitted by a parent
March 26, 2014
This is a free public arts high school with lots of talented kids applying. They don't all get in, it's not that you're kid isn't good or anything, there's just a lot of talent out. For every one spot, I think about 4 - 8 students apply depending on the department. So the school has a reputation for drugs, it doesn't have a bigger problem than any other school, but here, they talk about it to the parents and students. Their test scores are the 2nd best in the district, right after Lowell. Think about it, Lowell only takes the best, we take the most talented and they push for education here, not just the arts. Some of the teachers are awesome and go above and beyond to help their students, some just suck. It happens in every school. The PTSA is great here, they try to keep families involved by bringing programs such as how apply for college, talks on drugs, internet use, it's all good stuff. They also do a lot of school activities like staff cookie boxes for the holidays. As always there's tons of school politics and it's sad but it mainly falls under on group FOSOTA which is basically do it's their way or no way. I think with the politics parents don't get as involved.

- submitted by a parent
October 05, 2013
Excellent school for students art, music or theater talent. We live an hour from the school and could not imagined any other school for him, Highly recommend it!

- submitted by a parent
September 10, 2013
Amazing team! Motivated and engaged PTSA. Kids are happy! what more could a parent ask for?

- submitted by a parent
September 06, 2013
This school is a jewel of San Francisco. Everything about it - the size, the care and understanding of teachers, the spirit of the student, the incredible artwork and student projects.....this school is very special. My son is very proud to be going here and I am grateful for this opportunity for him.

- submitted by a parent
October 15, 2012
My child is thriving at SOTA. While not every academic teacher has been a perfect fit for her, the great majority are engaging, encouraging and excellent overall. The heads of her artistic discipline (Theatre Design and Technology) are wholly dedicated to the students. They demand the very best from each child, and get it. Staff and administrators are responsive to any issues that come up. In addition, the culture of the school is unique. Frequent performances and exhibitions in all disciplines make up the core of social life at SOTA. The best aspect of the school is the young men and women in action, expressing themselves and supporting one another. There are no stars on GreatSchools to measure that important area, but I'd give SOTA an "11".

- submitted by a parent
April 27, 2012
I am sure that the previous comment is posted by a prankster of some sort. It just doesn't read like an actual comment by a teacher. A teacher would probably spell "Principal" correctly at least. I find Carmelo to be an excellent administrator. Easy to talk to, low drama, intelligent and a straight shooter. I guess this site can't do any fact checking or prevent anonymous posters from posting falsehoods.

- submitted by a parent
June 12, 2011
Best school in San Francisco! I love going there! All the teachers are great, most are like personal mentors! I have friends at other schools in SF, most hate them, but I love going to school! Also, the classes are really not as easy that people say. The academics are very challenging.

- submitted by a student
June 01, 2011
SOTA has great positives and some negatives. The academics are excellent - only if you are in Honors and AP. You can get a great education here if you take that track. If you don't, expect to get into the California State University system or City College. My son did great, but some did not. Parent participation is key. Some teachers are fantastic, but some really do not teach well. Be a pro-active parent. My child was in theater and the teachers were negative and arbitrary in some ways. They seemed to bear grudges in a manner inappropriate and unprofessional. Perhaps they are burned out. There was still much that was terrific, unique, stirring, exceptional. You will be stunned by the sheer talent in these programs. No school is perfect. All in all, I would do it again.

- submitted by a parent
February 28, 2011
Both my teenagers love attending this school. Although there are not as many choices in terms of clubs or classes that you would find in a larger school - the fact that these young artists can immerse themselves in their field is a fantastic opportunity. The academics are certainly strong - the most exciting humanites faculty you could wish for and the leadership of a great Principal. If your student is serious about the arts - this school is the top choice - we have had growth on the API, our students get accepted into top colleges and do well on the SATs.

- submitted by a parent
February 28, 2011
My kids are a SOTA graduate and a SOTA junior. I'm so glad they chose and had access to an arts school; their high school life has been far, far richer than I could ever have imagined. Both have top standardized test scores and SATs, so the unbiased data confirms that their education has been fine. They are both quirky kids -- and a school full of artistic kids and artistic teachers can be like herding cats; it's not a desks-in-a-row-rigid-schedule atmosphere -- but we've been very happy with SOTA. My son was totally focused on his music and attends Oberlin College, getting a dual music-liberal arts degree. My daughter is very involved with her music but is also deeply engaged with SOTA's championship Mock Trial team, which was No. 2 in California last year and is going to the state finals for the fourth year in a row this year. SOTA is probably not for a kid who needs total structure at all times, but for a kid who's passionate about his or her art and thrives in a creative atmosphere, check it out!

- submitted by a parent
January 13, 2011
Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, A Public School is good for your child who has art talent.

- submitted by a parent
January 07, 2011
SOTA is a druggy school. It also doesn't have a very good academic program. Not one of the schools I'd want my kids attending.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 12, 2010
My adult children are both graduates. They received a consummate music education and the academics were strong, too. The performing opportunities helped them develop confidence, discipline and creativity that carried over to all their work. They are both productive graduate students now (daughter, law school; son, getting his masters in piano in Germany), and part of the credit goes to the strong foundation and love for learning they developed at SOTA.

- submitted by a parent
May 26, 2010
SOTA is a great school if your child has a particular art they want to pursue and is strongly self motivated academically (or with parent support). The staff and administration are doing a lot with very little. Unfortunately, SOTA's culture is influenced greatly by the lack of resources for public schools and especially with lack of professional development for the teachers. The teachers and directors have a wide variety of experience and skills, from excellent to sorely lacking. Due to class size and lack of resources and support, there seems to be an inability to follow through with promises of communication with the parents and natural consequences for positive student participation or behavior problems. I've personally witnessed directors being unprofessional in their interactions with students, with little or no indication that this would be corrected. I would not recommend this school if your child isn't self-motivated or has learning differences.

- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2010
the Ruth Asawa San Francisco SOTA does a fabulous job of integrating the arts into a rigorous academic regimen. Intense parent involvement and support where each student is valued and supported. The students are friendly, open and accepting in a vibrant arts community. A very high percentage of SOTA students are accepted to the most prestigious universities and arts schools in the nation.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 04, 2009
A special place for young artists to grow and for them to define themselves. The creativity encouraged in the arts classes and the confidence gained through the teachers' respect for the individual, shows in the academic classes. I wish there was a school like SOTA when I was in high school.

- submitted by a parent
September 23, 2009
The students here are so accepting and open minded bunch o findividuals, who care about each other and their arts

- submitted by a student
no rating September 21, 2009
Our school is a place of creativity and inovation. It is filled with kids who want to be there, who want to learn, and who want to share their art with the world. We have great teachers and faculty who are dedicated, careing, and energetic, though grosley underfunded. The kids are accepting and all get along. If someone felt like it they could come to school in anything from a buissness suit to full drag and not get laughed at or made fun of. We already know that our school is great, and we hope that you will recognize its greatness as well.

- submitted by a parent
September 21, 2009
the teachers and the great atmosphere/enviroment at the school.

- submitted by a student
September 21, 2009
I love this school. Everyday is full of energy and the students are incredibly interesting. It is like one of those places where you will never be bored.

- submitted by a student
September 21, 2009
I am an alumni of S.O.T.A. and I loved this school for all its worth, despite having little funding. The experiences I had at S.O.T.A. brought the happiest memories. They provide an art education that meets college levels, I would say it even topped it. This school deserves more.

- submitted by a community member
no rating September 21, 2009
Our school is basically 'Fame' in a nutshell. We are breeding the next 'up-and-coming' artists. It's pretty awesome.

- submitted by a student
no rating September 21, 2009
It allows students to funnel their creativity into their art disciplines. It is an excellent opportunity for young adults to better their skills in their art form and ready them for a future in the arts.

- submitted by a student
no rating September 21, 2009
My child loves the atmosphere at her school. It has also allowed her to develop her artistic skills and merit.

- submitted by a parent
September 21, 2009
I love school of the arts because the students and teachers here are very social and unaffraid to let others know how they feel. You can find talented minds at any school, but at school of the arts, you can find some of the wisest minds.

- submitted by a student
September 21, 2009
School Of The Arts has an amazing arts program, with a diverse student body

- submitted by a student
September 21, 2009
I'm a former student, the school itself, is almost like every other highschool, great people, fun, friends, the usual cliche stuff, except, we had very few funding resulting in fewer classes available and higher standards to get into honors and ap sections (don't get me wrong, the average mark for SotA rose under all these circumstances proving we... err, they, are more than what meets the eye (totally stole that from Transformers, so sue me) As one of the first graduating class, i wish the other's experience won't run short like the one we had, just because the school is broke

- submitted by a student
September 20, 2009
SOTA has amazing arts and academics, with phenomenal student performances and a great school culture. As a teacher there, I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of such a dynamic school and love challenging my students to use their artistic discipline to express their learning.

- submitted by a teacher
no rating September 20, 2009
School of the arts lets me expand in my own art form while also allowing me to become better accustomed with all the other disiplines my fellow students take part in. It is an amazing thing to know that everyone in my math class has a specific art form they excel in and are passionate about.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 20, 2009
School of the Arts has a healthy environment for everyone and everyone, and has unparalleled arts programs and electives.

- submitted by a student
no rating September 20, 2009
Such an accepting, warmhearted environment. I wouldn't be as happy at any other school.

- submitted by a parent
September 20, 2009
Great arts program. Great tight-knit community. Hard working teachers. Good academics. All in San Francisco. Need I say more?

- submitted by a student
no rating September 20, 2009
School of the Arts is a great school that really inspires students to enrich their learning, but also to pursue their love of their art. It's a great learning environment, but we could definitely use a better campus. We love our teachers, our classes, and most importantly our art! We work hard and we'd love to be rewarded for it.

- submitted by a student
no rating September 20, 2009
It's a great environment where students have freedom but are also disciplined in learning an art they have a passion for. After attending SOTA, I couldn't possibly imagine myself at another school.

- submitted by a parent
September 20, 2009
One of my friends, paraphrasing Churchill, described SOTA as 'the worst high school, except for all the others.' At a traditional high school, the single-mindedness of a committed artist is discouraged: you may be a musician, but you still have to read this thousand-page novel! You may be a poet, but finish this calculus equation or you're not graduating! While academics are still mandatory and the AP/honors program is fairly strong, SOTA gives students the freedom to seriously pursue the arts if they so choose. Some students will just take this freedom and spend 4 years as a slacker or a stoner, so I don't send your kid here unless he/she is mature and self-motivated. But as a recent SOTA graduate who is now studying music at a renowned conservatory, I can say with confidence that 4 years at almost any other high school would have been hell for me.

- submitted by a student
no rating September 20, 2009
SOTA is a small school of only about 600 students -- unusual by today's standards with high schools typically enrolling several thousand kids. At SOTA, we have lots of parent involvement and it really feels like a community.....as parents, we share the common goal of wanting the best for our students and we share a deep admiration for the talents of this diverse group. Check it out yourself - you will be amazed by our performances!! I have seen my own student develop a real passion for the instrument she plays and that is a great thing!

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 20, 2009
its a very, very safe place to grow as an artist, individual, and thinker.

- submitted by a student
June 06, 2009
I am a parent of a soon to be senior at SOTA...she has had a wonderfully diverse, creative and challenging high school experience so far..she has been academically challenged (in honors and AP classes) and most importantly her performance and knowledge in her art focus has grown sooooo much! which was the MAIN reason she choose sota (over lowell actually) love this school

- submitted by a parent
June 03, 2009
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- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2009
My son is a freshman. We love SOTA. It is a privilege to be here. It is not a 'druggy' school. The school watches it's student body carefully. (Zero tolerance, no wandering about). The new principal is committed to bettering math and science and bringing cohesion to all departments. Freshman counseling is excellent. My son's teachers are responsive and engaged. Better communication with families vis a vis student's class choices and progress is needed. I wish there were some sort of parent-teacher conferences--but School Loop will be up this coming year. If your kid is self motivated and has a developed artistic talent, it will be nurtured at SOTA. Their academics will not suffer. (2008 API = 747). The atmosphere is exciting, mature, focused--unlike most other high school campuses. Kids are creating meaningful artwork, in many cases on par with adult art, not just passively absorbing information!

- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2009
School of the Arts has a mission that is specific....to create a school where children who want to focus on one specific art discipline will thrive. To that end I think it is highly successful. Where the school suffers is when it is expected to be all things to all people. There are schools in SF which are more rounded and a better fit for the student who wants a little bit of everything. What you get at SOTA is a lot of one thing.

- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2009
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- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2009
My son is in the Creative Writing program at SOTA which is nothing short of amazing. The math and science could be better. My son attended an independant middle school and had more enthusiastic teachers in these classes, and he misses that. He still is learning. If needed we will use some of the money that we are saving by sending him to this fabulous school over a fabulous independant school on a tutor so that he can ace his SATs and get into the college of his choice(and it will be a relatively small percentage of the $ saved). SOTA grads get into a wide variety of great colleges and universities.

- submitted by a parent
December 04, 2008
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- submitted by a parent
October 07, 2008
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- submitted by a student
April 29, 2008
Great arts programm, very good English and History and really poor Math and most of the Sciences. Not a lot of AP classes. No sports, arts consume all the time, but you do need to have your student go somewhere else for PA and bring the form. So you are paying extra for gym or some sport. Health and drivers ed often offered for an additional $$ in the summer, if you are not there then you go somewhere else and pay extra. Almost no teacher is using the web for grading, so you don't know how you kid is doing intill the report card comes, unless he tells you. In general, if your child is good organized and planes to go into arts for life, the school is good though you have to supplement math and science in the summer at CC or get some evening classes year around.

- submitted by a parent
no rating January 29, 2008
My daughter started off in an upper socioeconomic private independent school, then a for profit private school and a private Catholic school. For high school, she chose SOTA. With all of the high schools that she would have been able to attend, she only applied to SOTA. When I asked her why, she told me that she wanted to attend a school where the kids CHOOSE to be there, not a place where kids HAD to go. So, now she's a Junior and is so happy that she 1) was accepted out of over 700 kids, 2) is glad that her school is so diverse and 3) is surrounded by grounded, focused kids who represent the diversity of San Francisco.

- submitted by a parent
January 17, 2008
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- submitted by a parent
November 01, 2007
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- submitted by a former student
August 31, 2007
We moved to San Francisco because of SoTA - My daughter was attending a high scoring public school tbhat was great on academics but the music program was hopeless. SoTA has been wonderful for her - not just musically, but the atmosphere is so vibrant and encourages students to take responsibility for their time and real devotion to their artform. Every concert or performance I've attended at SoTA has been so far above the standard of most schools, the students are passionately engaged and focused and although it has taken some getting used to, the free flowing atmosphere actually produces real talent and co-ordination. I recommend this school for any student who has real talent and commitment and wants to pursue the fine arts.

- submitted by a parent
August 29, 2007
Great arts but so so academics poor math and science programs- great history and english-You only go here if you really are a musician or actor or writer and thats what you want to pursue. I would not send my child here again, I would have supplemented the arts education even though he plans to pursue the arts. I did not send my very musical younger child there although he was accepted. I just couldn't do it again. No extracurricular since the arts are so consuming.

- submitted by a parent
June 05, 2007
At SOTA, everything depends on the discipline the student is studying. Our student was theatre tech, and while the level of skill demonstrated was of a high quality, our student didn't learn anything new after 10th grade, so we moved on. The level of the academics range from average to very good, however, if your child has an IEP (learning disability) you will definitely need to be hands-on in following up - though the staff and principal were very accommodating, it not an ideal environment for anyone who needs extra support. Good parent involvement, good school, not ultimately the right choice for our family.

- submitted by a parent
July 11, 2006
Probably one of the most well rounded schools in the city and state, given that students receive a high quality arts program complemented with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. In spite of their overwhelming workload, sota students also prioritize their social time, in which together with their arts education (something unique to all sota students), and the academic rigor, and access to all kinds of bay area arts, academic, and extracurricular activities, means that sota students have a well established foundation to pursue anything they want, from arts to academics, to even science and math, and student leadership, you see it all. Many other schools of this caliber are highly pressurized environments, but not sota. Only at sota can there be a more loving, diverse, and communal environment, one of the best learning experiences ever! -sota student '06

- submitted by a former student
June 02, 2006
I am the parent of a dancer, class of 2006. SOTA is an amazing place for students to explore and develop their artistic talents. Parent involvement is high, but tends to be focused on whatever department their children are involved with. I think SOTA kids seem very confident, and comfortable talking to and working with adults. The school administration is very flexible. Basic academics are good, and the school has a good array of available courses and AP options, but the kids tend to prioritize their art, and for the most part the school allows or encourages that. Math & science offerings at the school are somewhat limited. College advising was excellent, as the PTA funds a college advisor to work with the kids, separate from the guidance counselors on staff. EC's focused mostly on arts; also a strong mock trial team sponsored & coached by lawyers from a local firm.

- submitted by a parent
May 14, 2006
As a special program public school, School of the Arts provide one of the best educational environment in San Francisco. Teachers are great and helpful. A school which you are proud of graduation.

- submitted by a parent
March 21, 2006
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- submitted by a parent
March 17, 2006
The school of the arts is a high school with a strong community. With a enrollment under 1000, the school utilizes it's small population to provide support for each of it's students from a variety of angles. Teachers seem to really care about the students and the work that they build together.

- submitted by a teacher
October 28, 2005
Went into sota for the arts disciplines, and not expecting much from the academics- boy, were we wrong! Teachers and classes are excellent, atmosphere outstanding. Our family loves sota.

- submitted by a parent
August 31, 2005
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- submitted by a former student
August 06, 2005
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- submitted by a student
July 05, 2005
The school seems to provide adequate artistic training in the student s respective fields. I am however more concerned about the schools academic integrity. My daughter-in-law who I am raising (with my wife) is attending the school and scored on the low end of the scale on the California standardized exam. In addition whenever I review her homework, the English is poorly written and there are always major problems with her math homework. Yet she is consistently getting A s and B s on her report card. She just got her SAT scores back and they seem to reflect the earlier assessment rather than the grades she is receiving from school. I am wondering if there is not grade inflation occurring to just move students along at this school.

- submitted by a parent
June 03, 2005
Never before have I seen such a diverse school.

- submitted by a parent
April 11, 2005
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- submitted by a parent
March 18, 2005
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- submitted by a student
March 16, 2005
Never before have I seen such a rich variety and diversity of highly creative, hardworking art students dedicated to what they do. The academic programs are taught by quality instructors who have personal relationships with the students, and they are constantly involved in the extracurricular activities. I highly recommend this program to students willing to dedicate themselves fully and passionately to the arts, and you will receive the highest quality opportunities and learning at SOTA. Your child will be surrounded by diverse, politically aware, passionate students who come from all over and are extremely mixed in race and background.

- submitted by a parent
March 14, 2005
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- submitted by a parent
August 10, 2004
I'm going to be a junior next school year and I am really excited about what's coming up. You know, personally I came into SOTA being shy and quiet but for the 2003 - 2004 school year I was the Student Delegate to the entire San Francisco Unified School District. I was able, through help and support from other students, teachers, staff, counselors and the administration (namely the principal) to come to terms and start thinking critically about the issues concerning me and my fellow students and because of my position, I was allowed to act. I helped with the 2004 - 2005 SFUSD budget, the San Francisco famous (and infamous) Nutrition Policy, the Police Dept. and School District MOU and a ton of other great things. I've learned a lot personally, artistically and academically. Not to say, you still need the drive and the motivation, but SOTA has the support and community needed for success.

- submitted by a student
no rating May 04, 2004
SOTA is the best thing that ever happened to my son. The school has opened up his artistic skills and has greatly raised his accademic standards. The amazing thing is that he loves to go to school and the teachers and they are so supportive of the student's academic growth. Keep up the great work to everone at SOTA, Teachers, Admiministrators and most of all the Students.

- submitted by a parent
February 11, 2004
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- submitted by a parent
no rating December 04, 2003
I'm a Junior and piano major at SOTA. SOTA is definitely on its way up, not just the Arts but even the academics. My freshman year was at the old Font campus, and I'd have to say things went really well after our move to the new campus. I love the teachers at SOTA, they really do care about us, not just their jobs. Our chemistry teacher is also our playwriting teacher, and that is quite impressive. The school halls and classrooms remain clean most of the time; students actually make use of the trash cans. Although I would like the school to have sports teams and more extra activities, our budget is limited and most of the students really don't have time because of their Arts. Overall and great school, I will never regret going to SOTA. It's the best of both worlds.

- submitted by a community member
September 09, 2003
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- submitted by a community member
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Asawa (Ruth) San Francisco School Of The Arts, A Public School.
555 Portola Drive, San Francisco, CA  94131
(415) 695-5700
Last modified Asawa (Ruth) San Francisco School Of The Arts, A Public School. is a Public school that serves grades 9-12. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 8 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Asawa (Ruth) San Francisco School Of The Arts, A Public School. Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 73 reviews. Top