There are more than half a dozen public and charter school options in this city: Academy of Alameda, ACLC, Bay Farm, Junior Jets, Lincoln Middle School (if you happen to live in that district), Nea Community Learning Center, and Wood Middle School. And that doesn’t even include private and parochial choices around the East Bay.
After a hallway conversation about their own challenges in picking the best school for their sons, Franklin fifth-grade parents Page Tomblin and Jill Gorman figured they weren’t the only ones grappling with this choice. So they organized a parent education night: Tips and Tools for Making the Middle School Decision.
The education night featured a panel of now-sixth-grade parents whose Franklin alumni children now attend various Alameda middle schools: Amy Garcia (ACLC), Margie Thomas (Wood Middle School), John Baum (Bay Farm Middle School), Christine Strena (Junior Jets), and Shay Phillips (Academy of Alameda).
Each parent’s criteria for choosing a middle school differed depending on the needs of their child. Some were looking for a sixth grade that offered a gentle transition to the rigors of middle school, while others felt their child was ready for more independence right away. Two parents were focused on the school’s support for learning disabilities, others on location. For one parent, supporting the local in-zone public school—for most Franklin students, Wood—was important.
Whatever their requirements, nearly all stressed the concept of a school’s “fit and feel” for their child.
Phillips said she had followed advice from Barry Arbreton, our own Dr. A., who told her that his kids went where they wanted to go, because their success was really about them buying into the school.
To that end, there are school tours and even “shadow” days, in which your child can follow a middle school student through the school day to get the full school experience. Strena suggested that with so many choices, it’s a good idea to visit all of the possibilities yourself, then narrow the field to just a few for your child to visit.
The panel had mostly good news: All of the tuition-free options here in Alameda are good choices, they said. Middle school kids today appear to be “more open, more decent, and more kind” than some of the intense cliques and bullying some of us remember, said John Baum. Best of all, they said, the Franklin fifth-grade teachers had prepared their students well for the expectations of junior high.
If you’re interested in visiting the Alameda middle school options, each school in the following list links to dates and times for that school’s tours and information sessions.
- Academy of Alameda (AoA)
- Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC)
- Bay Farm Middle School
- Jr. Jets
- Lincoln Middle School
(Most Franklin families do not live in the zone for Lincoln, check the AUSD website).
- Nea Community Learning Center
- Wood Middle School
For even MORE information, check out the following documents about choosing a middle school, after-school activities by school, and the buzz words you’ll hear at many an information night.