What a sweet, small, neighborhood school located in the heart of the Mission. Marshall is:
- full immersion Spanish (versus a school with both a GE track and immersion)
- 8:40 AM - 2:30 PM
- 75% native Spanish speakers
- 75% neighborhood families
- two classes per grade
- ~20 children per class in K, 1, 2 and the decreases to about 18 per class
- the majority of teachers are native Spanish speakers
- Everett is the middle school Marshall feeds into
The actual facility has an open middle space (think Melrose Place) with a lovely tiled area for school gatherings. The school is in their third (of three) year of a $150,000 greening grant. As a result of this grant they have done some greening to their blacktop and have set up a lovely garden along the side of the school. There is half-time outdoor ed staff person there.
The children have once a week art, library, computer lab and PE. There is not an actual art room so its done in their classes and come to think of it I did not see a gym. Music is third grade and up (although the principal said the K/1/2 get some through the Berkeley rep).
This was the first school that I've seen that does not partner with PlayWorks. According to a PTA mom, its a priority but its about funding. Also, interesting because at BV-HM I was told that all Mission schools partner with PlayWorks. PTA is in its seventh year and raised about $52,000 last year.
A limited number of children can be dropped off as early as 7AM for supervised play and games. Aftercare is available until 6PM (5PM for Kinder) through the excel program (which wont work for us since I need four days and for Excel you must do five days). There are off-site options with partners through the Boys & Girls Club and Arriba Juntos.
The school touts themselves as placing an emphasis on science. Oddly, when given the opportunity to talk this up, the principal responded that 'yes, we emphasize science but there is a lot more we need to do". They have an 'Oceans Month' which is a school-wide month long focus on the ocean that includes field trips, on-site marine life exhibits and culminating in a marine habitat fair.They partner with Mission Science for K-2 field trips and their science curriculum is from Lawrence Hall of Science.
I really liked the principal, Peter Avila. As I was waiting for the tour to begin the principal overhead two kids talking and one said that he didn't have breakfast. I watched the principal take him into the cafeteria and get him fed. He seemed laid back and approachable. Principal said there are little to no discipline issues at school. Peter's wish list is for more monolingual English speakers to attend so that the native Spanish speaking children would have those models and peers. He also recognized that one issue the huge number of siblings. He also recognized the gap in test scores between the two native language speakers.
I saw two kindergartens in action - one teacher was a young male who was energized and full of life (and so were the kids he was teaching). The other teacher was much older (thinking grandma/abuela) and did not so much as crack a grin or offer and excited intonation patters. It was a class of 18 children (both had 18 children) and SILENT! Both kinders were working on the calendar and I felt that the only way my daughter would not be bored with this was the fact that it was Spanish. The first grade was just starting to learn about patterns - something my daughter has been doing for the past two years.
I love this school for me. I feel like we/I could make a real difference here in terms of a white monolingual English speaking kid with a family who could donate a good amount of time. But, is this the right school for my daughter? The lack of arts is HUGE for us. We also need aftercare.
I also wonder who my daughter's peers will be. We are monolingual English and over 75% of the current families are monolingual Spanish there are going to be barriers. Given the school's location and the percentage of Spanish speakers this certainly seems to be the school to get an intensive Spanish speaking education.
I asked how the teachers handle it when there are 1-2 English only kinder speakers in a class of 18 Spanish only speakers? The recognized this is an issue but that the Spanish is definitely not dummed down and this is mostly addressed in small group instruction.
I just keep thinking about how sweet this school is! Funny, as I re-read this I thought WHY would I want this school. I guess its just a great feeling and that I cant stop thinking about.