Students enrolled 286
Hours no info
School leader Nora Houseman
Transportation options no info
District San Francisco Unified School District
Before school no info
After school Yes
Summer program Yes

Resources:Looking for after school and summer programs? We can help »


Contact this school

125 Excelsior Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112

School website
(415) 469-4739
(415) 337-6879
Nearby homes for sale
Map of San Francisco Community Alternative School address.

4 stars
Based on 49 ratings

Let others know what you
think about this school

October 31, 2013
SFC is a small school where children can really be known and it s K-8, which means my child will be able to develop deep friendships and, as a Middle schooler, will hopefully be able to be a mentor to a younger student at school. My daughter s teacher is fantastic calm, knowledgeable, and so insightful in helping kids talk through social conflicts when they arise. Because the grades are looped she will be in this classroom for 2 years. The class is also undertaking their first big hands-on science project for the year, to be showcased in Dec. (Project Open House events happen twice a year). The overall feeling I have about SFC is that the staff is trying to make it work for everyone who is involved in the school. From what I have seen, they are very respectful of differences and do their best to make each child feel safe and recognized. They are very open to feedback, welcome new ideas and appreciate volunteering efforts. SFC feels like a really unique, special place. I feel lucky to be involved with it. p.s. I just heard that the play structure will be renovated during summer 2014.

- submitted by a parent
October 22, 2013
My kids are in 2nd and 4th and are new to SFC this year. I was REALLY anxious about the transition from their old public school, which they'd both attended from kinder -- but SFC has been fantastic. Within a few weeks all the teachers & specialists (garden, PE, Playworks, library, dance, art, music, counselor) knew my kids, their quirks, and best how to work with them. My kids are both strong academically, and I was pleased to see the speed with which their teachers identified their strengths and found ways to engage them in lessons that covered material they already knew. For the first time neither of them say that school is boring. When asked what he likes about SFC my son says " I liked my old school, when I was there I rated it about a 7, but SFC is SO much better, I think my old school is really a 4 & SFC is a 9, I need to go a bit more and see if its a 10." When I asked what he liked best he said " the kids are really friendly & all the teachers really like teaching" And don't we all want our kids in schools where the teachers really want to be there? I know the focus on small classes, project based learning & community will serve my kids well through 8th grade.

- submitted by a parent
October 21, 2013
My son is a new Kindergartner at this school. Going to kindergarten is a tough transition, but I've been surprised at how quickly my son made it through with the support of his teacher, great kids, and great parents. There's room for everyone to help and give back at this school and every year, there are more and more involved parents - making this school better every year. For a boy who wasn't interested in reading, I've been shocked at how much he's learned and how many words he can read now. We're excited our kid will get to experience project-based learning at its best, growing and thriving through eighth grade with his friends.

- submitted by a parent
October 17, 2013
My son is in kindergarten at SFC, so we're about two months in. Before he started, he couldn't read or write anything except for his own name; now when we read together, he's reading about half of the words. He gets super excited about learning a new "sight word" each Monday, and he really likes his teacher. His favorite part of the day is the after school program, which has a new, really energetic director this year. I've appreciated how involved other parents are with the school, and how willing everyone is (including teachers and the principal) to talk openly about solutions when problems arise.

- submitted by a parent
October 16, 2013
Sad to say this school is not good! We wanted it to be and we can tell a few teachers and parents are really trying... But overall this school doesn't have the means or support it needs to educate the students and its just not safe. The "justice" thats referred to at this school sounds good but isn't practiced, and honestly my priority is to get my kid to read & write!; Compared to another public school my older child went to, we're shocked how poor this is. Hoping to transfer by spring.... :(

- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2013
Wonderful small school! Caring and dedicated staff and parents. My children have been there since kindergarten-now in 5th and 3rd grade. We feel blessed that we can stay through 8th! There are many wonderful extra-curricular activities-garden, sports, arts, choir. My family and I love Project Based Learning, restorative practices, balanced literacy initiative. The principal is so dedicated to the school, I swear she does not sleep! She addresses any issues that come up professionally and with aplomb. She is also incredibly approachable to both students and parents. I know that the school has gotten some "bad press" but we have only had positive experiences there.

- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2013
I have two children at San Francisco Community one in 7th and one in 3rd. SFC is a small school that truly nurtures its students. In all of these years, my kids have only had the most dedicated teachers the types that pour everything into their classes. The project-based learning is the reason we chose the school and the reason we stay. It encourages the kids to truly think, instead of learn in a rote manner. In line with this thinking, test scores are not overly valued at SFC, which I also appreciate. SFC might not have the bells and whistles of other schools, but it's got heart, soul, and a fantastically talented staff. My kids have thrived here.

- submitted by a parent
August 21, 2013
SFC is so great for kids on every level. The kids are encouraged to have/be Strong Minds, Strong Hearts, Strong Individuals and Strong Community. They are a project based learning school and a small school by design. Kids have the same teacher for 2 years in a row so there is a lot of personalized attention. My son thrives at this school and I'm excited for his future because of this school.

- submitted by a parent
March 20, 2013
I have two children at SFC and our family has been at the school for four years. I won't deny that SFC has had problems, but I firmly believe that those problems are in the past. While I cannot speak to every family's experience, I can say that our family's experience has been excellent here. My children's teachers have been exemplary, focusing not only on academic achievement but also social development and conflict resolution. As a parent, I feel that my opinions and contributions are valued. On top of that, some of the things that make SFC special are: 1) Project- based learning allows for integrated and in-depth learning (One-third of our graduating class last year went to Lowell), 2) mixed grades and looping means students will have the same teacher for 2 years, 3) Garden program gives students hands-on experience (we recently received an Education Outside grant to extend our garden program even further), 4) K-8 structure means that students and families can form long-term relationships with staff.

- submitted by a parent
November 27, 2012
The teachers at this school care about each child. I have a child who graduated from this school and is now attending a private school with a high GPA. If it wasn't for SFC helping her develop her study habits and encouraging her to be involved with the community, she would not be as successful as she is now in school. I also have another child who currently attends this school and she really enjoys going to school every day. She comes home every evening showing us what she has learned. This school has proven to be a great public school. Last year so many graduating students went on to private and high ranking public schools that speaks for itself.

- submitted by a parent
October 13, 2012
Our middle schooler has been at SFC since kinder and we love this small, warm, special school. Because the school is teacher-run, it has many extraordinarily talented teachers; sometimes, teachers don't work out with the extra demands. Sometimes SFC is not a good fit for every family either, take a tour to get a sense of this. My son has thrived with the projects, the small community, the individual attention, and the outdoor education. The free after school has been a life saver for us. As he has gotten older he switched to the adjacent Boys and Girls Club, and now like other older kids walks across Mission St to the library to do homework after school. He is well grounded in academics and has high test scores - but what he has gained from his SFC education goes far beyond what is measured on a standardized test. The school places an emphasis on critical thinking and community values, and views each student as gifted, talented, and valuable.

- submitted by a parent
October 12, 2012
All these sudden 5 ratings have to make you wonder! The same small group of parents (almost clique-ish) strive so hard to make this school "look good" but let's get real...this school in an area where most true locals barely even have an email address!! Please don't be fooled by a fancy internet presence! My peeves with this school - 1) little supervision after school and some kids repeatedly flock to Mission Street when they should be at afterschool care. Safety risk! 2) "project based" learning= less "homework" lacking reinforcement of lessons learned everyday. Kids need consistency some form of good old pencil pushing at home! The vision is good, but needs a little fine tuning.

- submitted by a parent
October 12, 2012
I have two kids at SFC, one in the sixth grade and one in second grade and I have never had a bad not even a mediocre teacher. They've all been truly amazing, devoted, big-thinking educators. We were drawn to this school because of its project-based learning philosophy and it hasn't let me down. I've witnessed my children learn in the most engaging ways, from projects on roller coasters and how they work to baking and the science and math of it. I don't believe in rote learning and I feel like my children have been challenged to apply the basic tenants of education to real life experiences. Also, anyone who has fear of their kids having to transfer in the tender tween years to big middle schools can take solace that their children will be able to stay here through 8th grade in a nurturing setting with a small group of students.

- submitted by a parent
September 19, 2012
We have been part of the SFC community for the last 5 years and are big supporters of the school. We like the small school approach, the K-8 system, project based learning and the support we receive from the very dedicated staff. All the teachers so far have been excellent and very experienced. Yes, unfortunately the active parent group is small, but all involved parents are very dedicated and committed to the school. Parents of 5th grader

- submitted by a parent
September 12, 2012
We're loving SFC. My daughter is in K and we feel so very lucky that we landed here. Because the school was founded as a Small School by Design, they have some curricular freedom to teach through projects, which was very attractive to us. Go to the school on a Project Night and you'll see very proud and engaged students showing off their impressive, multi-disciplinary work. The school has so many of the things we were looking for--strong, experienced, kind teachers who know how to set personalized goals, engage students, and who make it a priority to nurture and sustain children's innate curiosity, as well as a diverse student body and staff. We also really liked the practice of "looping" grades--each child has the same teacher for 2 years. We love the small size of the school, as well as the K-8 model, which creates opportunities for older students to be mentors and reading buddies and eases or eliminates the transition to middle school. Homework for K/1 consists of reading only, which fits in well with our priorities. Most importantly, though, our daughter adores her K teacher and loves P.E., library day, and the garden class. Come visit SFC and see for yourself!

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
Our son has been here for 4 years, and we love it. The school is very focused on academics and our son has excelled. Teachers are first rate. Like all public schools, it has faced funding challenges lately, but with the help of involved parents the school has continued to provide music and PE classes, and a free after-school program. There is a great sense of community between parents and staff. Communication is facilitated by the school's small size. The student body is friendly and diverse, which makes for a very enriching learning environment. All students are treated equitably and are appropriately challenged academically. When problems have arisen, staff have been very quick to address issues in an open and effective way. Many students come from the local neighborhood, but a number of parents actively seek out the school because of the project-based learning program, mixed-grade class options and community ethos. Because of its location, the school is less competitively subscribed to than some. I believe it would be a lot more popular if it had more of a central location. However, it is a great asset to the neighborhood. I'm very glad we have it on our doorstep.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
our two older kids are navigating large high schools with aplomb after their time in the small, nurturing SFC environment. our youngest is thriving with the extra transition to middle school SFC provides in grades 5 and 6. our kids have received an extraordinary amount of individual attention and love at SFC. some of the things we particularly appreciate are project based learning, outdoor education, free after school program, and the school's emphasis on equity, social values and restorative practices.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
Our family has been at this school since our son began kindergarten and he is now finishing up 5th grade, ready for middle school at SFC. We pulled our son out of a preschool-8th private school after we visited SFC and found it to a wonderful learning environment, especially for bright, curious, and compassionate children and families. The teachers and students create a lovingly supportive place in which kids can learn and the expectation that all kids can thrive with support and guidance keeps the school focused on equity and genunie learning (not just focusing on raising test scores). Parent involvement is appropriate not overbearing (I want professionals teaching my kid and running his school not parents, but parents are an important, supportive part of the community). We hope many other students have the benefit of attending this small school by design where all children are seen as gifted, talented, and teachable. I encourage folks to visit and see if it is a good fit for them.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
SFC has an excellent teaching staff and they are willing to go above and beyond to help the children succeed. Due to increasing costs, I took my daughter out of private and I selected this school because of it's small size and great location. The school is located next door to a Boys and Girls Club which is great for homework help and after school help. My daughter and I have not regretted our decision. It is a K-8 school and my only regret is that my daughter didn't go there from the beginning of elementary school. There is a diverse student population which is always a plus and a majority of their eigth grade graduation class will be going to some of San Francisco's top public and private schools.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
My son has thrived here. He is in 2nd grade and wants to get to school early and doesn't want to come home. He's developed great conflict resolution skills, and is reading far above grade level (Harry Potter in one week, Lemony Snicket the next). He likes to learn, which is a hard thing to teach. Projects on the human body, birds, health, etc. have enabled him to learn a lot more than would be taught from a textbook. It suffers from lack of resources like any other PS, but it has committed teachers, and an overall positive vibe. Some parents have not found it to be a good match for their kids, but this even happens at well-reputed schools like Clarendon and Rooftop b/c everyone has different values. Make your own decision. Check it out for your self.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2012
There are amazing social ideals and great academic theories behind the model of SFC, but because the staff is quite busy achieving and enforcing a lofty and undefined goal of "equity", the factors that make for safe and joyful, learning are often overlooked. The result is chaotic classrooms, a revolving door of teachers, disengaged families and, most serious of all, an uncurbed culture of rampant bullying among the students. Sadly, this is not a safe nor appropriate learning environment, do not send your children here, there is always an alternative.

- submitted by a parent
May 29, 2011
Very disappointed! Was told this school was a hidden gem. More like a lump of coal! No discipline, no structure, no consistency and just plain chaos in the K/1 class that my dtr was in. She was bullied by other kids, she became more upset about going to school, "didn't like learning", didn't want to go to school, her behavior deteriorated in school and home. The teacher was inexperienced and didn't have enough support. Kids w/ "behavior" problems were given different rules, which confused my dtr who didn't understand why soandso didn't have to sit still, but she would get in trouble. When she had a problem, the teacher would ignore her or not follow up...she couldn't trust her teacher to help her. She'd be left crying b/c the teacher "had 20 other kids to worry about". She was becoming one the the problem kids! The head teacher didn't show up at the parent/tchr mtg to discuss this and never returned my emails/messages. I took her out and put her into a small private school. She's now happy, likes learning and loves/trusts her teacher. I do too. I called and left 3 messages w/ SFC to let them know I took her out. They called me 2 WKS later to find out why she was absent!

- submitted by a parent
May 21, 2011
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed my child's first two years at SFC despite the shrinking resource problem plaguing ALL the public schools. The project-based learning has been a highlight, as has the garden program and elementary P.E., both of which we hope will be funded again next year. The school has many long-term, committed staff and wonderful families who contribute their time and money. It is not a perfect place; no school is! But our child loves to go and has done a lot of learning there.

- submitted by a parent
May 21, 2011
After 4 years with SF Community, our family is very pleased with the school. The teachers and staff are excellent. Besides being very skilled as teachers and child-mentors, they truly love the children. They also seem to love what makes the school special, like project-based learning, fairly small class sizes and a democratic, "Head-teacher-led" model of running the school instead of a "Principal-led" model. They do a lot of interesting field trips and integrate them with learning projects about things like animals, science and music. The after-school program is free, it goes until 6:30pm, and its teachers are amazing. Given the socio-economic (and ethnic) diversity of the students, SF Community has achieved very good test scores. When I researched public schools a few years ago, they also had one of the most physically healthy student bodies in San Francisco. Like most SF public schools, this school is way underfunded. But it accomplishes a lot with a little. Our two daughters (3rd grade and kindergarten) are very different, and both are thriving at SF Community. My wife and I feel very fortunate to have our children in school here.

- submitted by a parent
April 17, 2011
i question the previous review as i have had children at this school for 9 years, have been around quite a bit during the day and have never seen the police summoned. my oldest is graduating this year as well prepared for high school as any of his private school friends; and with a broader view of the world.

- submitted by a parent
February 20, 2011
On more than one occasion I have seen the police at this school to resolve issues with some students. Some of the kids that go to school here are foul-mouthed and show absolutely NO manners or respect to anyone (even other parents - I have seen this first-hand when picking up my own kid after school). I know there are bad apples in every school, but you cannot ignore the fact that some of the kids at this school are just too much. I'm always worried about my kid picking up negative influences from some of the kids here, especially from the older grades. As for academics, I am not at all impressed with the quality of education here. Yes, it's SLIGHTLY better than the nearby public schools, but not by much. Lesser of two evils, I guess. Bottom line: try to get your kids into private school, or move to a better public school district.

- submitted by a parent
April 29, 2010
I have a Kindergartner at this school, and would highlight its strengths: project based learning, commitment to equity, dedicated teachers and parents, garden and outdoor ed (camping) program. Challenges: small school so not a lot of 'extra' resources, teacher-run governance model can lead to delays in decision-making and responding to issues,

- submitted by a parent
April 06, 2010
Excellent staff who attain high standards despite the best efforts of the State and City to deny them the resources they need. The project-based learning has really inspired our son to learn and experiment outside of school.

- submitted by a parent
February 23, 2010
My experience at this school has not been positive.It feels to me that you must agree with !00% of the staff politics or your arent' welcome.To me the enviornment has felt like intimidation into agreeing with political agendas.That has been my experience.

- submitted by a parent
December 18, 2009
My daughter started kindergarten here this year and she loves school. She's already learned to read and the project-based programs keep her engaged and interested. The staff is devoted and friendly. Yes there could be more PE & art, but this place is free, diverse, small, and nurturing.

- submitted by a parent
June 05, 2009
The worst school ever. No safty, not secured, do not recommend to any parent.

- submitted by a parent
December 15, 2008
This school is mediocre at best, don't get me wrong, there are some great caring teachers here, but when legitimate mature students are treated with little respect and rights I really can't recommend this school. If they can call this a 'community' then I say I can justly call it 'communist'. I'm an 8th grade student who has been here since kindergarten and have watched the school go downhill.

- submitted by a student
May 24, 2008
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
December 17, 2007
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a student
November 06, 2006
Math education has really turned around in response to the criticisms referred to in some of the earlier reviews. It is a top priority to give students a solid foundation in math, including getting all middle schoolers through algebra. SFC has a very special bunch of teachers who strive to impart both the state standards and a richer curriculum to develop creative and critical thinking and love of learning, in part through multi-disciplinary hands on projects. My 3 kids have had great teachers each year. There isn't as much fundraising as at larger more affluent schools, but we do have a library teacher, PE teacher, camping, garden, and some arts (this year, elem. art teacher part of the year plus special arts program for 4th-5th including claymation, sound production and more). There's a free onsite after school program with academic support and sports, plus adjacent Boys and Girls club.

- submitted by a parent
September 20, 2006
While SFC struggles with the same issues affecting all SF public schools, we have been very impressed with its staff and programs. Our daughter is thriving, learning a ton, and we feel validated in choosing not only this school but public education in general.

- submitted by a parent
September 05, 2006
My family has been at SFC for 5 years. Certainly, there has been bumps in the road as far as the math curriculum goes. However, as soon as it obvious that math instruction was not attaining the necessary results our motivated and dedicated teachers made the switch and fast. Now math is of the highest priority, specially trained math teachers are now in the middle school and 4-5 grades and there is more basic math emphasis in the lower grades. SFC project based learning is amazing. Practical applications of everyday school work motivate and challange the students. It allows for creative and lateral thinking, enhances verbal and social skills, and increases academic confidence. I can't say enough about this schools positive impact on my son this school has had. It has been the perfect learning environment for him.

- submitted by a parent
August 01, 2006
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a former student
March 15, 2006
Academics at the school are great. Project-based learning opens up the opportunity for depth and focus. Funding for 'extras' is erratic so these activities are bare bones (PE, art, music). Teachers are miracle workers!

- submitted by a parent
December 30, 2005
My daughter got an A in algebra at SFC; after testing, her high school had her repeat the class. Critical thinking is encouraged only if it leads to conclusions consistent with the politics of the staff. My daughter and I both felt that expectations were lower for African-American students, both behaviorally and academically. They have some fine theory, but their practices don't seem to be working. There were some good staff members, but overall our experience with the middle school was not positive. (My child had gone elsewhere for K-5)

- submitted by a parent
December 29, 2005
This school has a lot of positives, and some very serious negatives. For my daughter, things began to go seriously wrong in her third grade year (2002-2003). The school had developed a math curriculum which wasted time on ineffectual activities and left out important topics. Her teacher decided that math wasn t important so often skipped math instruction, sometimes for weeks at a time. The STAR test results at http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2003/viewreport.asp give some indication of the scale of the disaster. As the math team coach (2003-2004), I found all middle-school classes fell behind covering material from earlier grades. The algebra class does not cover enough material to allow students to avoid repeating Algebra I in high school. There are problems with other academic subjects too.

- submitted by a parent
November 27, 2005
Diverse school with dedicated teachers. Curriculum includes learning beyond textbooks and promotes critical thinking.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 17, 2005
I forgot to add about the academics. I am puzzled by the reading program in K. The words my child is suppose to learn are all connecting words (the, in,) which seemed to me be words you don't actually learn as absorb.

- submitted by a parent
August 30, 2005
Our daughter is starting 4th grade at SF Community. We have been very pleased with this school and look forward to her going through to 8th grade. The community of teachers and families is amazing - it certainly lives up to its name! Academically speaking, our daughter has done great. She was reading by Dec. of kindergarten year. Her STAR test scores are highly proficient and she ranks in the top 95% compared to students all over the country. The teachers spend a lot of time with each child and respond to each individual child's needs and concerns. The quality of teaching is excellent. The curriculum is a project based learning. They learn a lot and are proud to show off their projects. Weakness: In a district that is strapped for cash, the lower socio-economic level of many of families makes it hard to have 'extras'.

- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2005
My daughter attended SF Community from K to 5th grade. She started as a very shy child and Community was wonderful at giving her the love and security that enabled her to blossom. I love the project based curriculum and the fact that the teachers put in so many extra hours to work together on the curriculum. We decided to move our daughter to a larger middle school that would have more offerings (such as band every day) and a seperate Gate strand. I am completely happy with my daughter's K - 5 education at Community.

- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2005
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2005
SF Community School is the healthiest, most authentically democratic, collaborative environment in which to be a teacher. Our staff is united in our efforts to provide high quality instruction to all students and to ensure equitable achievement. This is place where adults know students and families well, where people can feel like they belong. It is a great honor and privilege to work at SF Community School.

- submitted by a teacher
July 15, 2005
Wonderful staff, students. caring community

- submitted by a former student
February 24, 2005
My daughter attends this SF Community Alt. School. She loves her school and is now on the honor roll. The academic cirriculum at this school is wonderful. The classes are small, there are only 20-22 students per class. They offer classes in musical insturments. My daughter has learned to play the violin. I also like how diverse the school is. My daughter loves going to this school as they also do extracurricular activities. They also have parent teacher conferences more often than other schools I've seen. The teachers care about the childrens learning. Also, this is the only school that is run by teachers. They do not have a principal.

- submitted by a parent
September 14, 2004
I think this is one of the best schools in the district. It has a garden, PE, and art. It also has two 9 week project sections in which the kids do amazing work. The teachers are great too. The middle school need some improvement.

- submitted by a parent
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San Francisco Community Alternative School
125 Excelsior Avenue, San Francisco, CA  94112
(415) 469-4739
Last modified San Francisco Community Alternative School is a Public school that serves grades K-8. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 4 out of 10 based on academic quality.
San Francisco Community Alternative School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 50 reviews.