Alta Vista School
450 Somerset Street
San Francisco, CA 94134
After rsvping for a group parent tour we were contacted by head of school (Ed Walters) offering a personal tour. Sure, why not! Ed spent well over an hour with us showing us around and answering all of our questions.
Taken from the school’s website, “Alta Vista describes themselves as an independent elementary school in San Francisco dedicated to hands-on, experience-based learning for nourishing creative and curious young minds the wonders of science, math and technology cradled in the hands of the written and spoken word united in the beauty and creativity of art”.
As inconvenient as the school is for a lot of people, its hugely convenient for us. Plus, its new location is in a quiet neighborhood so I envision a calm drop-off/pick up? It’s the little things for me.
This new, private school is in its third year of operation. The school offers a junior kindergarten (similar to what might be called a transitional kindergarten elsewhere) and will eventually run through eighth grade. The junior kindergarten students will either go to first grade, if ready, or to kindergarten next year. Sibling admission is guaranteed.
There are two classrooms per grade with a maximum of 16 children per classroom. Every classroom is equipped with supersonic, razzle-dazzle state of the art tech equipment.
I was concerned that the arts would be pushed wayside given the heavy emphasis on math and science. On the contrary, we met with the drama/music teacher and were shown the music/drama room, tinkering area, dance room (in process) and garden beds about to put down. There is also a full-time reading specialist.
We poked into every classroom and each activity appeared to be dynamic and engaging. It was only the second week of school so there was not a ton of artwork on the walls yet. We saw kindergartners doing fractions and multiplication and first graders learning the differences between ants and bees. Ed commented on more than one occasion that children in the older grades are not taught curriculum based on their grade but rather where that specific child is in terms of his/her learning. Tests are not given and its only in the third grade where children will learn about how to take a test.
When my husband asked Ed what he looked for in teacher when hiring he replied the following:
“They (teachers) are here 10+ hour days, it has to be passion not a job”.
My husband loved the fact that students walked by and greeted the head of school with a “hey Ed”.
Cost for 2012-2013 year is $20,000 per year.
This tour was done pre-SF K Files Blogger. Moving forward I will take pictures and take better notes.
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