School Testimonials


Why I love my public school

Amy Graff, writer, public school parent and PPS-SF Member, is sharing essays from parents about their San Francisco public school on the San Francisco Chronicle's ( Mommy Files blog

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Alamo has the curriculum and community of an "old-fashioned" school, focusing on the three Rs, respect and manners, high expectations, etc. Because it has such a long history of excellence and such a healthy Foundation, students have art, music, PE, drama, field trips, supplies, plenty of volunteers, etc. Perhaps the most salient feature of the school is the amount of parent involvement in the classrooms, on field trips, for fundraisers, on the playground, etc. The new principal is a true leader, who has re-done the library, cajoled the District to re-wire the school and improve e-mail and computer coverage in the classrooms, and cleaned up the facilities. For more information about the school and its extensive parent involvement, please go to .
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Alice Fong Yu Alternative School
I couldn't be more thrilled with the education my kindergartener is getting at Alice Fong Yu. She's learning Cantonese (Mandarin instruction starts in 6th grade), loves her teachers, is engaged by her coursework, and is making friends both in class and in the after school program. The school itself is safe, clean and well maintained. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum there's a teaching garden and enrichment encompassing arts, music, ceramics, poetry, etc. My daughter's teacher is energetic, dedicated, nurturing and accessible by phone or email after school hours. AFY's dynamic principal Liana Szeto keeps the school humming -- she knows all the kids by name and parents by sight. The school community is tight knit and active. There's a lot of homework, both Chinese and English, and parents/caregivers are expected to be actively involved in their child's education.
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has been a very good fit for my family (my 3 daughters are currently students). It is the only year-round school in the district, meaning there are 5 additional weeks of instruction during the summer. There is tremendous diversity in the teaching staff, families and children. The teachers are encouraged to use their own strengths and to teach in a way that honors the unique gifts and talents of each kid. There is a very active parent/family community and we actively recruit families that want to be part of their kid’s academic experience. It is a small school (less than 400 kids), K-5, and has decent test scores. Overall, Argonne is a great school.
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I LOVE ALVARADO...I have been a parent there for 11 years! I cannot think of a better place for my children to have spent their elementary school years. Whether it is the excellent, caring teaching staff, the large sunny yard with plenty of space for soccer games, free play or PE, the incredible diversity that allows my child to grow in a healthy diverse community, the amazing arts programming that is incorporated into the curriculum or the back bone of very well thought out California State standards....I could go on.

My eldest daughter, who is now at Lowell, went through the General Ed program and my next two have been through the Spanish Immersion program. Both are excellent. My son, now in fifth grade, has many friends in each program, all of whom are thriving. The cooperation and sharing between teachers makes the two programs feel very intertwined and not as separate as years ago. This is very positive. My older children have been incredibly well prepared for Middle School and on to High School, exceeding their private school 6th grade classmates in preparedness.
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Buena Vista / Horace Mann (K-8)
I have two children at the school and they are becoming bilingual and bicultural. The arts program includes capoera, trips to the symphony, music lessons, etc. We participate in Day of the Dead & Carnival. Mostly, I love the families. The community is diverse, opinionated and involved.

I walked into Buena Vista (Spanish immersion) 5 years ago and FELT the caring, warmth, and passion of the school. The principal, Sr. Alegre, greeted every person that passed by and was a constant presence in the school yard and classes. He even directed traffic! Five years, we have moved to Horace Mann, a much larger school and that same energy has transferred to our new K-8 school. EVERY SINGLE TEACHER my daughter has had has been high caliber and caring, and the school's social environment is top-notch. My daughter is learning different subjects and different cultures and loves going to school. And I am spending the $20,000 or more I save on vacations and other enrichment activities for her. We are very happy with our SF public school.
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Chinese Immersion School de Avila
There are hundreds of reasons why we love CIS. The most obvious is the warm and nuturing environment that you immediately feel when you step foot into the school. The hallways are always decorated with the latest artwork, poems and photos of the students. There's a sense of community and the smiling children are proof of that. The teachers are dedicated, accessible and make learning fun and engaging. Rosina Tong, the principal, is very hands-on and the progress that the school has made over the past few years is a reflection of her dedication. The GLO afterschool care program has a great team of people who keep our children safe while parents work. The PTA is phenomenal and gets things done. As incoming parents to a K student, we immediately felt at ease and have developed close friendships as a result. CIS has strong academics and its reflective in our high API scores; however, the school also values arts and strikes a good balance between focusing on academics and leting the kids have fun. From events such as math and art night, fall moon festive, halloween parade with pumpkin patch and winter gala, CIS continues to go above and beyond of what is expected in a public school. We couldn't be more happy that our daughter is attending CIS.
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Commodore Sloat

I have a First Grader and an incoming Kindergartener and I just love Sloat. Principal Jeanne Dowd is an energetic and warm leader, dedicated to building a strong and inclusive school community. We love that the whole school meets for a morning assembly on the yard every morning to hear announcements about the day, celebrate birthdays, say the Pledge, etc. My daughter's Kindergarten teacher was extremely warm and patient. Her First Grade teacher is an early literacy enthusiast who does an amazing job supporting and challenging students at every level. The parent community is active, down-to-earth, and committed to raising the funds to support ongoing programs like P.E., gardening, visual arts, drama, poetry, music, and more in every classroom. I've found it easy to get to know other parents by volunteering and hanging out on our big upper yard after school. The after-school program, run by the YMCA, is onsite and can accommodate all families who need care. We've found it to be affordable (and flexible!) for working families. In addition to the YMCA after school program, the PCO organizes after-school "enrichment" classes every term that currently include Spanish, Mandarin, Lego engineering, chess, Tree Frog Treks, art, and dance/movement. We have really appreciated the ability to have some foreign language exposure starting with Kindergarten because there is none in the regular SFUSD curriculum. We feel lucky to be at Sloat and to see it growing and thriving, even in this time of budget crisis.

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Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key is a K-5 school here in the West Sunset that has a dedicated staff, invested parents, and eager, joyful learners. The school's early start is ideal for working families. We have a great Librarian with Ms. Hefferanan who runs the annual read-a-thon, brings in authors and illustrators, and really connects with the kids.

The academics at FSKey soar with the leadership of a dedicated teaching staff. My daughter had a great kindergarten year and continues to thrive into her 5th grade at FSKey. We've especially enjoyed the special outings and projects that each class participates in. This includes museum and parks field trips, the Mission Projects, and the 5th grade overnight stay on the Balclutha.

Our After school program offers enrichment in Mandarin and Cantonese on a daily basis, as well as a variety of clubs and teams that the kids really enjoy.

Finally, our school is in the midst of getting renovated and its looking good! Come and check out Francis Scott Key!

Garfield Elementary
We are thrilled with the education our child receives at Garfield! Garfield is a small, warm, and happy school. It has a beautiful location at the base of Coit tower with views of the Golden Gate bridge. The school is small enough that the Principal knows everyone's name and the teachers know all of the students.

We have found the teachers to be very warm, caring, and very dedicated to their students. Learning started the very first day of kindergarten, I cannot believe how much my child has learned already. By week two she was sounding out words and excited about reading. The school has high test scores and a strong focus on academics.

The student body is very diverse, all kinds of children come to Garfield and that is one of the things we really love about this school. The school has a convenient start time for working parents (7:50am) and a very good after school program that is offered at no cost to all families. There is a new Cantonese immersion program. We have a brand new computer lab. For arts enrichment we have the SF Symphony AIM program, weekly piano lessons after school, and weekly art instruction. We have a regular PE coach and a great library with an awesome librarian.There is a large play yard for upper grade kids and the kindergarteners have their own playground. The PTA is very active and energetic and is working hard to support learning and enrichment programs at the school. The Principal is absolutely fantastic, we are thrilled with all she has done to make Garfield such a special school. We had hoped to find a school that we could walk to, where we could be involved in the school, where our child would receive a great education surrounded by good friends, excellent teachers, and a supportive school community. We got it with Garfield!

Grattan ES
Excellent teachers and principal, amazing diversity, quality parent participation, technology lab, library, dance, science, and Spanish enrichment, and all wrapped up in an attractive, small, nurturing, accepting A+ of a school. I would not switch to a private school even if they were free.

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Jefferson Elementary

I am thankful every day that my family is a part of the Jefferson community. The principal (Mary Lou Cranna) and faculty are committed to educating the whole child, so while Jefferson's test scores are excellent and the classrooms focused, there is much more to my son's days at school. There is a concentration on social, physical, and artistic exploration. A focus on healthy eating habits and environmental responsibility. Two beautiful gardens/outdoor classrooms. A public library next to the campus, and Golden Gate Park is a block away.

The PTA is active and enthusiastic - in 2010/11, we raised $150,000! I am constantly impressed with the level of parental support in the school - both financially and in the classrooms. It truly does feel as if we'd won the lottery with this school assignment!

We moved in the middle of the school year to San Francisco in January 2010 from the east coast with a pre-Kindergartener and a first grader. We applied to the SFUSD for a school and were assigned Jefferson Elementary. This year both my children attend Jefferson Elementary. We have been very happy with the school. These are the top four reasons that I would recommend Jefferson Elementary to any parent:

1) We have an amazing principal in Ms. Cranna. She is extremely capable, hard working and smart. It is evident that she is fond of her job from her enthusiasm she shows in all aspects of her interaction. I work closely with Ms. Cranna in the School Site Council and she has done a wonderful job of balancing the budget given the severe financial constraints the school district budget has placed. Ms. Cranna has started several new initiatives at school like a staggered lunch time, safety measures for drop off and pick up, educational motivators like the spelling bee, community meetings, Playworks etc.

2) The PTA is very active at Jefferson. We have very dedicated and committed parents that work tirelessly in consonance with the teachers to initiate several good programs in place and to bridge the gap in funds.

3) The teachers are very good. I have interacted with my daughters' teachers closely and know that they are experienced, supportive and competent.

4) Jefferson parents are always willing to pitch in. There is always an overwhelming response for any request for volunteers. The result is that It is not just the school (the principal, teachers, paraprofessionals and other staff) that is providing your child with care and education—it is the extended community that the parents add to. The parents at Jefferson are simply wonderful and add to the education of your child.
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Jose Ortega

When my daughter started kindergarten at Jose Ortega I wasn't so sure how we would like the school even though my nieces and nephew have gone to the same school. Now that my daughter is in second grade I cannot imaging transfering her to a different school. Jose Ortega is a small school located on top of a hill near the Ingleside neighborhood. On a sunny day from the school's yard you can see from Lake Merced to the Farallon Islands. Right next to the school is Brooks park which has a community garden where the children go to grow vegetables. The school serves the chinese community with their bilingual program. There is a great cultural diversity which gives our child the opportunity to learn from other cultures. My husband and I are so grateful to the dedicated staff who have always being there to help us and are so understanding of our daughter's individual needs. We really feel lucky to be at this school where so far our expierences with the teachers have always being the best. I am proud to say our daughter is the fifth member of our family to go to Jose Ortega. My husband's 14 year old brother and our 11 year old niece graduated from Jose Ortega and are currently doing great at Aptos Middle school. We also have our 8 year old nephew and our 7 year old niece performing at the top of their class at Jose Ortega.

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Junipero Serra

Junipero Serra is a really sweet little school. It is the kind of place where the kids are excited to be the flag monitor and excited to go water the plants at the front of school. With 14 classes the Principal Eve Cheung knows every kid and even the younger siblings. Plus with the science and math focus, an awesome computer lab, partnership with UCSF for cool experiments and a comprehensive garden program it has a lot to offer. Music, dance and soccer also play a big part in the rhythm of our school. The PTA is building momentum and growing fast sponsoring events such as a camping trip, a halloween festival, concerts at the Parkside, school beautification and grant writing. Test scores are going way up. Our middle school feeder is Hoover. Lots of good things are happening at J Serra.
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It's no wonder that Lakeshore attracts so many co-op families. We have great opportunities for continued involvement in so many different areas, as well as enjoying the community-building events that happen regularly. The PTA hosts the Multicultural Potluck, Math Night, Literacy Night, Welcome to Kindergarten,  the School Picnic, and many other events. Fundraising provides enrichments such as Dance Class, Architecture, Cooking, and Theatre. The library has well over 11,000 books (many donated by students on their birthdays). Involvement in the Motor Perception, Gardening, and Poetry programs are enrichments the children really look forward to. My kindergarten boy wakes up on Wednesdays saying, "it's motor perception day!" Being right across the street from Lake Merced offers a wonderful resource for nearby field trips. Having a separate play yard for kindergarteners and one for first graders helps ease the transition to going to "big kids' school". 

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Leonard R. Flynn

Flynn is a wonderful place to be for many reasons: We have a very dedicated Principal, Mr. Addcox, and also committed teachers who strongly believe in a great education for all. Each classroom has one library lesson and one P.E. lesson a week. There is a library media center staffed by a full-time technology expert. We also have dance, drumming and music. We received a $125K grant to greenify the school. There are two strands at Flynn - the two-way Spanish Immersion (now in its third year) and also the English Program. I am very impressed with the caring community at Flynn with all its involved parents. Come and see our great school - you may want to be one of those parents, too!
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 Lafayette ES
Boy! Did we luck out in being assigned to Lafayette Elementary! As with many parents, we did not know of Lafayette in the outer Richmond area. The top-notch group of teachers, PTA, and parent volunteers really provide a wonderful atmosphere for our children to learn. Even though we have moved to the Sunset area, we would never think of transferring to another school. Lafayette is the best!
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 Longfellow ES
Longfellow is a wonderful school and I really appreciate the cultural diversity and variety of programs, both academic and artistic, which address the needs of the whole child.
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 Marshall Elementary
Our family feels lucky to be part of the Marshall community - Marshall is a small neighborhood school with a growing Spanish Immersion program. The facility is warm, bright and inviting. There is strong family involvement at the school and dedicated teachers who know all the kids by name and interest. Our arts program includes capoeira for all grades, woodworking, music and enrichment from the SF Symphony and Ballet. The school community celebrates Day of the Dead and Carnival along with many Family nights devoted to science, math, literacy and health.

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McCoppin Elementary
My son started at McCoppin this year for Kindergarten and he loves it! We toured many schools since we knew from previously going through the lottery process with our oldest to look for the "little known gems". We chose McCoppin as one of out top picks for several reasons. The teachers and staff are very sweet, the classes were clean, organized and the students were engaged, the small size, the location, the true diversity of the general education classes (they also have cantonese classes), it feeds into Roosevelt MS which we love, and the principal. He has made it a point to try and bring all students up to current standards in their education regardless of native language and the scores have steadily gone up under his direction. He is always present seems to know everyone's name!

We know from experience that it only takes a dedicated staff, a good principal, and participation from parents to help a school grow and we are happy to be a part of that again!
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McKinley Elementary

McKinley Elementary School is a wonderful, diverse, small school. We have a fantastic group of talented teachers and staff, and an inspiring, committed principal. All of the children at McKinley are known by all of the staff, and are taught in a nurturing, educationally stimulating environment. Our school is a place where children from all backgrounds are thriving. The parent community is involved and welcoming of new families and new ideas. McKinley Elementary School invites you to check out our new website:

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Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
We looked at many schools last fall and fell in love with this one the moment we
walked through the gates. The warm, welcoming atmosphere, the wonderful "morning circle", the fantastic principal and staff, all add up to a great school. HMCRA truly reflects the diversity of the Bay Area in both the staff and student body.  With only around 250 students, K-5, the principal knew the names of most of the new students by the second day of school. Test scores went through the roof last year (the most improvement of any school in the district), but the principal and teachers understand that our children benefit as much from things that are not tested, like art and physical education. And that personal responsibility, integrity, and tolerance are also worthy subjects in which our children need to excel. Come take a look at this gem of a school!
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Miraloma Elementary is a welcoming community of students, parents, teachers and staff. The collaboration and support between the families and the staff is amazing! Parents are welcome and invited into the classrooms and to help in the office. Miraloma's active community supports outstanding enrichment opportunities in the arts - a weekly sing-a-long, music instruction, movement, performing arts, an on-site kiln and ceramics instructor and poetry. The teachers are bringing a focus on science and math with partnerships with the Lawrence Hall of Science and ongoing teacher development with the UC Berkeley Math Department. We have an on-site gardener to lead the gardening program, as well as a full-time coach who provides activities and exercise at all recess and PE time as well as afterschool. In addition to an afterschool enrichment program for K-5 children who need aftercare, Miraloma offers chess club, Mandarin and Spanish instruction, and tutoring for all children afterschool. Please call 469-4734 to schedule a tour. Our website is
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Monroe, located in the heart of the Excelsior, a safe and quiet neighborhood easily accessible by public transit. We have a wonderful tri-cultural atmosphere. In addition to the General Ed English strand, there is Spanish Immersion and Chinese Bi-lingual/Bi-cultural. Monroe is blessed with a very active PTA that fundraises and obtains grants for the Sports 4 Kids program, dance teachers and arts enrichment, books for the library, and many other special services & programs. We have a wonderful garden, too! Monroe offers two on-site afterschool programs, plus a walking group to the afterschool program at the nearby Excelsior Boys & Girls Club. Our test scores have been rising steadily with the multiple support programs that are in place.
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Moscone is a little gem of a school. From the first bell, when kids not only say the Pledge of Allegiance but a pledge to be "the best that I can, for myself, for my family and for my community," to the end of the day, when families, kids and teachers mingle in the courtyard, the children at Moscone are challenged, encouraged, and loved. The staff is top-notch--creative, experienced teachers, dedicated support staff, and an energetic, enthusiastic principal who knows every child by name.

Rather than bewailing standardized testing Moscone's teachers use the tests as a framework for the curriculum, and it pays off: last year's API was 821, even with a population of students who come from non-English-speaking homes. Despite budget cuts, the Moscone community has managed to keep its dance and art program going; the school has its own garden, and class time is enriched with field trips and parent visits. The building is new and beautifully kept up, and even the kids are proud of their school. Last year Moscone was cited by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and won a Title I Academic Achievement Award; the real payoff is in the bright, enthusiastic learners in every classroom.
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New Traditions

New Traditions is one of the smallest elementary schools in SFUSD with just two kindergarten classes, two first grade classes, etc. and full capacity of 266 expected students this year. Due, in part, to our small size New Traditions community remains a warm, welcoming nurturing environment. As the parent of an incoming kindergartener last year, I was delighted by how quickly my child learned not only the names of each of the students in his own kindergarten class, but also to master (1) each of the names of each of the students in the other kindergarten class, (2) the students in the first grade classes who attended recesses and lunches with the kindergarteners, as well as (3) many of the students in the other grades who were the kindergartener’s and first grader’s siblings.

New Traditions – with its school-wide API score of 853 – is one of the shining jewels in SFUSD’s gleaming crown. In 2013, New Traditions was recognized as a 2012 California Distinguished School. That important distinction is priceless for a smaller-sized school like ours: it demonstrates the strong commitment and innovative ways in which New Tradition’s principal, Maria Luz Agudelo, and the New Traditions teachers, students and parents have successfully worked to bring up test scores across the entire school population including the 41% of our current student population who come from low socio-economic status homes.

This fall, I was assisting in leading a tour of our school with the parents of potential New Traditions kindergarteners when one of the parents commented that New Traditions reminded her of the diverse urban school environment she envied when she was as a young child watching “Sesame Street.” In terms of our diversity, according to the most recent figures available, our school population identifies as 26% African-American/black, 9% Asian, 12% Hispanic/Latino and 37% White/Caucasian.

Additionally, New Traditions was an early adopter – and has fully implemented – SFUSD’s mandate for a “high quality model” of full inclusion for all students, which won’t be fully implemented in all SFUSD schools until 2015. That means our current special education students (26 students, or 10% of our student population) and English Language Learners (also 26 students, or 10% of our student population) are fully engaged in our classroom learning environments.

New Tradition’s small, nurturing environment coupled with its special statewide distinction as a “California Distinguished School” across such a varied and diverse demographic demonstrates how truly exceptional it is. Naturally, no school can be the perfect fit for every San Francisco student and family member. While we can agree there’s always more work to be done, New Traditions has clearly demonstrated it is a school that is on the right track. New Traditions Principal Agudelo, her terrific team of teachers, and the larger New Traditions community continue to develop and implement new ways for each and all New Traditions students to learn and thrive at their highest potential.

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George Peabody Elementary

I love telling people that my child is in public school and that he loves his teacher, knows his principal, because he visits his and all the classes everyday, and that he wakes up in the morning, without my having to tell him, because he can't wait to go and see his many co-ed friends and learn new things. Daily, he surprises me with something he has made or tests me on something he has learned. George Peabody is located in San Francisco's Richmond District close to Mountain Lake Park and the multi-cultural Clement Street. Every day you can see and hear children laughing, playing and engaged in active learning with their teachers, the staff, and parents and guardians who are involved in volunteer efforts. This little school's dedicated and motivated staff, along with parents and guardians who volunteer, are the core to the positive and productive atmosphere that makes this school a gem.

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Paul Revere PK-8

My son attends Paul Revere Elementary School. I appreciate his teacher, Mithril Cox, a great deal. We've been blessed to have her two years in a row. The Resource Specialist there, Mr. Wilson, is also a blessing!

Paul Revere is a Kindergarten thru eighth grade school located in Bernal Heights. We have 3 kindergarten classrooms—2 Spanish Immersion and 1 "GenEd" English--each with ~20 kids. Spanish Immersion kindergartners learn exclusively in Spanish for 90% of their school day, with 1 hour of English instruction. This ratio of Spanish to English levels out to 50/50 as they progress through elementary school. Immersion students are expected to be bilingual and biliterate by 5th grade (though this can happen as early as 3rd grade). Revere's test scores are on the rise, the school has just invested in a rigorous new curriculum and classroom materials with some of the funding from Revere's multimillion-dollar School Improvement Grant (SIG), and teachers are passionate about keeping kids engaged and learning. Our school climate focuses on responsibility and respect. We have big plans for greening: Revere's PTA hired landscape architects to craft a greening plan (it's quite cool) for all 5 of its school yards.

We have 2 school buildings and 5 yards: K–3rd graders are in the Annex Building with tiered yards, 4th–8th graders are in the Main Building (where the Cafeteria and large Library are) with tiered yards, and Pre-K kids are in the Annex Building but have their own yard. School hours for K–8th are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily except Thursdays (when the day ends at 1 p.m. to allow for teacher planning). Two on-site after-school programs are offered for K–5th graders: A free program through YMCA Urban Services, and a fee-based program run by SF Rec & Parks.
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Rosa Parks-JBBP

The JBBP program provides strong academics, Japanese language and cultural enrichment, community involvement, and a host of extras (music, art, P.E., movement, and more) in an inclusive, small school setting. Families are highly involved in all aspects of their children's education. Native speaking Sensei teach Japanese to the students each day, while the core curriculum is taught in English. If you are looking for a warm and committed community of educators and families, check out Rosa Parks Elementary School, look for us at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown (we're the huge, happy contingent in the red happi coats!).
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S.F. Public Montessori
We absolutely LOVE San Francisco Public Montessori. The teachers are so kind. The parent community is incredibly warm and welcoming. The principal, Sharon Richardson, is a strong leader with a passion for Montessori and an absolute love of children. The kids get to pick what they work on and for how long, so they are 100% engaged. It is amazing! As a public school teacher myself, I have never seen a teaching method that works as effectively as Montessori to maximize student engagement and foster in children an absolute love for learning. My son cannot race out the door fast enough each morning. He is so eager to get to school. And, he just bubbles over with excitement each afternoon, telling me about all of the exciting things he got to choose to work on. We cannot believe how lucky we were to have been assigned this school. Amazing. Please check out our school's website for more information at:

 S.F. Community K-8 School
My 2nd and 5th grade sons are not only learning all the academics they need, but developing into great human beings at SF Community. They have thrived with the individual attention, love, and gentle guidance they receive at this small school. SFC is a staff run school with no principal, and my kids have had unusually dedicated and talented teachers. They have enjoyed project based learning, and what they'd probably tell you they like most are the camping trips and the large outdoor space for recess, which includes a big garden and a sand and water play area. As working parents, we feel very lucky to have a free on site after school program and adjacent Boys and Girls Club. For more info, check out the parent created web site:
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Sherman ES
Sherman Elementary School has a cheerful student body, low staff turnover, high test scores, a great principal, a loud orchestra, a renovated library, dance classes, a special P.E. instructor -- all under one art deco roof in the Marina! See our website at
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Starr King

I love Starr King! I got everything I wanted at Starr King: small classrooms, music, art and physical "enrichment," and a free and convenient afterschool program. I feel welcome and comfortable being at the school and being involved. Having 4 program strands (general education, Mandarin Immersion, Spanish Bilingual and special education) means my child has an opportunity to learn and play with lots of kids with lots of other strengths and abilities. Feel free to contact me with questions: Mary Jue, parent and staff person, 823-3942.

My daughter is in the new Mandarin immersion program. I now can't imagine her attending any other school, public or private. Her teacher is exceptional. The class is small (12 kids). Her classmates are bright, well behaved and personable. And the other parents are involved and interesting. The principal, Chris Rosenberg, is highly regarded throughout the Bay Area and has been able to attract and retain some of the best teachers available. He has also raised considerable academic and enrichment resources. It's no wonder that parents from all over the city spend the effort to have their kids attend.

Watch a video about the school. Video courtesy of Starr King parent Seth Grant

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The Sun is Rising at Sunnyside! We have seen a huge influx of involved parents in the past few years and our new principal, Nancy Schlenke, is passionately committed to working with us to keep the positive changes coming. My son is now in 2nd grade and loves to see his parents volunteering at the school.

Sunnyside teachers and parents have worked together to completely renovate the library, from carpet to computers. We worked together to find funding for playground equipment, and a beautiful NEW Play Structure was built at Sunnyside this summer. We've found a second grant for even more playground improvements, and another new grant will provide a full P.E. program to all Sunnyside students for at least the next 3 years. All that PLUS continually improving test scores. It looks like the secret is out ---- if you want your child in a small, neighborhood school where parents are warmly welcomed to take part in the educational and social life of the school, then Sunnyside is the school for you.
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Sunset has many great qualities, the most obvious of which is its warm and inviting school environment. The children interact with each other and adults with respect and joy. They clearly like being at school. The teachers are professional, friendly and accessible. The Principal, Ms. Sophie Lee, is enthusiastic, experienced, and fun to be around. Sunset has a good mix of high academic achievement, good test scores and varied Arts programs. The spacious school grounds have been transformed into a series of theme gardens which are the basis for the Outdoor Science Program. The library has been recently renovated with new books and a laptop computer lab. As both a teacher and parent, I couldn't be more pleased to have my daughter at Sunset.
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Sutro Elementary is a small school in the Richmond District-not exactly Inner and not exactly Outer, as it is right at 12th Avenue. Everyone seems to know my son's name and I feel he is really looked after and that his individual needs (and maybe idiosyncrasies?) are recognized and addressed. He loves school!

So far, I have continued to be pleasantly surprised and impressed by how caring, involved, and wonderful the staff is at this school. There are so many ways kids learn and develop and I truly feel that the staff works hard at providing many opportunities for the kids to do so.

There is a core group of retirees and even a past mom who continue to come back to Sutro to help out with the events, making for a steady volunteer pool. If it were't for the sense of community at Sutro, I believe these volunteers would not otherwise continue coming back to lend a hand. This contibutes to the adult-child ratio at the school-more supervision, and the ability for the children to get more from their learning environment.

Sutro Elementary is a special school with a strong sense of community and caring. Our PTA site is: We also have a Kindergarten and 5th Grade blog:,
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I have a 3rd grade son at Ulloa and a son who graduated from Ulloa Elementary last year. In my opinion, the role that afterschool programs play in character building of children is just as important as their academics. My observation is that the children who have enrolled in quality childcare or afterschool program at their formative years tend to come out being flexible, resilient and know how to negotiate among peers and adults for what they want.

At Ulloa, we have a Ulloa Childcare Center as well as a free afterschool program funded through grants. Both Ulloa Childcare and Afterschool program offer a safe and challenging learning environment and complement each other well. There is a time for supervised homework, arts and crafts and music, literacy and outdoor sports. Ulloa Childcare is ran by Rebecca Cherny who has also run a very successful interactive summer learning program for past twenty years. Mrs. Cherny truly has a remarkable eye for spotting educators at heart. Afterschool Program is run by Beacon and staffed by Ulloa teachers as well as young adults who are working on their teaching credentials. These programs contribute to the Ulloa students' core academic strength. For a school like Ulloa in which over 60% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch program, a statewide API ranking of 9 is not bad.

Under the leadership of our principal, Carol Fong, for the last four years, Ulloa has completely turned around and has emerged as a true gem of Sunset. I can answer your specific questions on e-mail or phone at 664-2933.

In conclusion, as a parent who has experimented around with all types of enrichment and academic programs that San Francisco has to offer, it dawned on me to finally realized that I had it all at Ulloa. I am truly proud of this school and can recommend to anybody who is seeking the best educational foundation for their children. Come on board and be part of our PTA.
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West Portal
Having to go through 4 principals in the last 5 years should've been enough to shake things up a bit here. But if you were to tour West Portal, you would never know it. I know my child, now in third grade, loves school (though has a different opinion about homework). And I know that my involvement is welcome and needed.

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Yick Wo Alternative Elementary School

Yick Wo is a small, unknown gem of a school, the best of public education with amenities of private school.  My third grader has had outstanding, enthusiastic, nurturing teachers every step of the way. Yick Wo boasts high test scores, although teachers do not "teach to the tests."  Our PTO raises money for a superb YMCA P.E. program, art and Orff music classes.  The poetry program through Poets in the Schools, and movement classes by SF Ballet are exceptional.

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Aptos Middle School

At Aptos, my son is thriving in the honors program. There is an exceptional amount of personal attention due to smaller classes and he loves the band and all the clubs! Check out the Aptos school website to learn more about what's happening at the school!
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Everett Middle School

Bucking popular belief, seemingly, my family is having a swell middle school experience. Being a foreigner who did not go to middle school in the US, I've heard mostly horror stories, about the social as well as academic situation. All of it is proving wrong! Both my kids are loving school, the social environment is totally acceptable with some drama (of various sorts), the academics sufficiently rigorous and interesting enough to keep them both on their toes, the sports a major draw, and the clubs and events adding fun to the mix continuously. As I parent I'm also having a good time, enjoying how much more there is to sample in middle school vs. elementary school and very much looking forward to high school. I'm not sure where all the negativity is from. Having come through a 'up-and-coming' elementary school into an 'up-and-coming' middle school, I most certainly saw the woes of not being at perfection. I'm not sure, though, if perfection could have added that much more to either experience.
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Francisco Middle School

Francisco Middle School, located in North Beach, is the undiscovered gem of SF public middle schools. Francisco is a vibrant, exciting school with excellent teachers. A small middle school, with 675 students in 2007-8 and under 200 students in 6th grade, there are only three regular and one honors class for 6th grade, which means all teachers know all the kids. The remaining 6th grade students are enrolled in the Chinese-specific newcomer program, which serves newly-arrived English Language Learners (ELL) with separate teachers and classes. The school achieved very high test scores in math on the STAR test for 2006-7 (a 94!). This result is remarkable considering the test score includes the foreign-speaking newcomer students, who had to take the test in English. The school's English scores are low because the large number of newcomer student scores are also factored in (these are new arrivals to the USA). Since 2006 the school boasts a new Principal, Ms. Giampaoli, who used to run the District's GATE program, and a new Vice-Principal, Mr. Lee, who came from Presidio MS. These two have responded enthusiastically to teachers' needs, and have completely turned around former discipline issues at the school. Come take a look at Francisco! You'll like what you see!

I am posting this about my daughter's experience at Francisco Middle School; she is currently in 7th grade there. I think we are both enjoying her experiences there because she attends with a core group of her friends from elementary school and because 100% of the teachers are on school loop, i.e. I know what is going on. The school is small and the staff and teachers are engaged and caring.

Unfortunately, we have limited electives. We have a large population of English Language Learners who have to take added English classes instead of electives which limits elective availability to what science and math teachers are able to implement. In sixth grade, she did have creative writing as an elective (with the LA teacher) and wrote a novella! Who knew the 6th grade math/science teacher could teacher such an amazing chorus! One of my daughter's friends was so engaged by this elective that she begged her parents for more singing lessons. This year my daughter's science teacher is teaching art and seems to be doing a good job. I hear from other parents that the Prop H funded orchestra teacher is amazing.

The PE program is award winning and teaches students life-long exercise lessons like learning how to ride a bike!

There is a free after school program associated with the Beacon and she does knitting on Tuesdays and Student Council on Wednesdays. Even though there is no language program, since all her neighborhood friends go to the same school, we were able to organize a weekly Spanish class.

Our school also benefits greatly from grants, community organizations and Prop H funding. Currently, we have a pilot program salad bar that was in the SF Gate.
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Hoover Middle School

Hoover is a huge middle school with about 1300 kids! Because of the size there are so many clubs and activities. My child is a 6th grader in the Chinese Immersion Program and really enjoys school. We've had a very good experience with the teachers, staff and other parent volunteers. 

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James Lick

We toured many middle schools and felt that James Lick was a good fit for us. We like the fact that it is a very small school - the whole school is the size of the 6th grade at many other middle schools! All the staff know all the children and there is a low student - counselor ratio. An increasing number of Lick students are accepted to Lowell and SOTA. I encourage families to go and visit this school to see the vibrant and successful community in action. We have an excellent leadership team and the teachers are great! The GATE students are challenged yet the school is not segregated by ability throughout - students break out into study sessions - so if your child is GATE in Math but not in English - they get what they need! Two years ago we only had one visual arts program, now we have visual arts, dance, drama, rock guitar, music appreciation and peer resources as part of our newly revamped unified arts program. Last year we celebrated our 75th Anniversary with a visit from a famous Alum - Santana - and we have a beautiful Peace Garden at the front of the school that students and the community worked together on. Both my children attend James Lick and we would strongly recomend it to all.
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Balboa High School

Balboa is the only school in the city to have been designated a San Francisco Historical Landmark. Set in a quiet family-oriented neighborhood just east of City College, Balboa offers a college prep curriculum in a warm, caring small-school environment. Honors, regular ed, and special ed classes are provided for students, as well as afterschool clubs and a full range of sports. The campus is safe, and students who come from as far away as the Richmond and Sunset districts  may ride free yellow school buses provided by the district. Parents/guardians and students may tour the school at any time; call 469-4090 to make an appointment. 
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Galileo Academy of Science and Technology

Galileo Academy of Science and Technology is an outstanding academic high school in San Francisco’s lovely Marina neighborhood near Aquatic Park. It is housed in an architecturally distinguished building with a staff of over 100, serving over 2000 diverse students.

Galileo has programs in biological, environmental, computer, space science, and creative media fields, offering a Health Science Pathway, an Academy of Information Technology, Biotech Pathway, and a host of Honors and Advanced Placement courses.

Last year Principal Mrs. Margaret Chiu was selected Principal of the Year and Galileo's API rose 58 points. In 2004-2005 Galileo’s API rose 69 points. In 2005 Galileo Academy received the California Distinguished School Award; the Exemplary Career Technical Program Award (1 of 12 in the state); and was nominated by Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Schools, as one of ten California and one of 100 U.S. high schools to participate in the High School Reinvention Symposium supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Galileo Academy is the only Bay Area School with its own observatory; and Galileo is California’s first blogging school. See
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Mission HS
If I'm after school at my daughter's volleyball game, kids will hold the door open for me, & generally show me respect. There's a requirement in place for all kids to volunteer time each year, for any cause they choose including helping at parent meetings, so kids are making the coffee for principal chat, laying out the food for ssc meets, & listening in on what we say. And yes, Eric the principal is always ready to listen & help. Ii think having (only!) 930 kids makes it easier for him to give his time than at other bigger high schools.

I've been to all the School Site Council meetings so far. The parents & staff have very generous hearts & a feeling of responsibility in serving the incredible diversity of kids. One of the important topics of conversation recently has been, that as more upper-economic families, higher-educated families, & higher-achieving kids are attracted to the school, how do we embrace them (and add even more to the diversity!!!) and at the same time hold on to the community that's already developed. Keep outreaching to families not as connected to the internet, and keep doing what we're doing to serve traditionally-underserved kids (i.e. african-americans, latinos, other ethnicities, newcomer english learners, special education students...).
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Ruth Asawa SF School of Arts (formally SOTA)

I’m the parent of an alum who attended the theatre tech department and a son who will be a senior in theatre. This school is for the motivated student with a strong interest in a specific arts discipline. It was great for both my kids and I would definitely recommend the school. The academics are strong (this was not always the case) – and students get accepted to top colleges, universities and conservatories across the country.

For more info go to

My 9th-grade son says SOTA is everything he wanted high school to be. He plays trumpet and was well-trained enough to pass the demanding audition, but his horizons are being broadened daily by the various components of the music program. He likes all his academic classes as well, and after graduating from Aptos Middle School's rigorous honors program finds SOTA's academic classes interesting and challenging. He races out the door enthusiastically every morning, which is the best testimonial of all!
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Thurgood Marshall Academic High School - Bayard Fong

Thurgood Marshall Academic High School is an up-and-coming school in the district. Just two blocks off of Bayshore, near Silver Avenue. Over the past three years I have come to know the "Good Students, Good Teachers, and dedicated Staff". Our PTSA has grown to 40 members; we hope to make 150 this year. My daughter is a junior now, Thurgood offers wonderful opportunity to learn and work with kids of all ethnicities, opportunities to participate in clubs, sports, and leadership development. We are a small campus of about 800. Classes/hallways are not crowded. For the past 2 and 1/2 we have been working to "Lift the Phoenix" to raise Thurgood Back to a top school in the city. This year we are excited that Paul Cheng, principal of Lowell High School has volunteered to come to Thurgood to help with the "Lift". Paul has also brought together 18 new group of staff and teachers to help bring all the Students at Thurgood to the next level. Coupled with the Prop A renovations, Thurgood is getting a "make over" inside and out.

Come to our school for a tour, please contact Paul Cheng at 695-5612, 45 Conkling St. near Silver (this is very close to the 44, and 9 Muni Bus lines). Come by and visit Thurgood Marshall Academic High School - you will be pleasantly surprised.
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Creative Arts Charter School (K-8)
Creative Arts Charter school is a wonderful exciting place to be. Our kindergartner wakes up humming and excited to go to school. Teachers and families are dedicated. All 20 kindergartners returned to the first grade this year which speaks to a level of satisfaction even though it moved across town. The kids there are interested about learning because they have fabulous teachers. The project based constructivist learning approach keeps activities very hands on and keeps kids focused. Children attend art, music, and dance every week. The after school program is diverse including puppet, chess, and theater clubs, as well as various sports. Since it is a K-8 school, we get to see what the “big kids” are up to. The sixth graders did a fundraiser for the victims of Katrina. There is a nice sense of community and many ways to get involved. We couldn't be more thrilled with our new community.
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Gateway Charter School (6-12)
Gateway Middle School welcomed its first class of 6th graders in August, 2011, and this year currently has roughly 100 students. This will double next fall when a new 6th grade class enters and the current class becomes 7th graders. The school will be moving to a larger location for the 2012-13 school year. My daughter adores Gateway, and we her parents are every bit as enthusiastic as she is. The teachers here are very experienced, enthusiastic, and caring. There are 25 students in each core subject classroom, which is smaller than other public schools in SF. The administration has ensured everything has run smoothly despite being a new school, and has been very responsive to parents' input. Every student takes art, drama and P.E., and Spanish will be required for the 7th grade next year. The school emphasizes teaching the 6th grade curriculum, same as other public schools, but utilizing teaching methods that reach every kind of learner. It is a warm, welcoming, diverse community where all families share the desire that their children get an excellent education. I know our daughter is getting one!
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 KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy
At KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy, we provide students with the skills required to attend top-quality high schools and colleges, and ensure that they are prepared for the competitive world beyond our doors. KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy is an academically intensive, free public charter middle school located in the heart of the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. We opened our school to community in September, 2003, first accepting 5th grade students. Since then, we have grown to 257 students enrolled in grades 5 through 8.

Our excellent academic track record, backed by national test results, speaks to the no-shortcuts, no-excuses approach we take to education and our commitment to the children we serve. Our goal at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy is to provide our students with the knowledge, skills and character traits they will need to succeed in top-quality college preparatory high schools, colleges and in the competitive world beyond . We take our mission very seriously, and our students are among the hardest working in the state.

The KIPP acronym stands for Knowledge Is Power Program. This is a nationwide program whose effectiveness is due in part to the strong leaders the organization trains in its Fellows program and then puts into carefully-structured schools. We do not select or deny students on the basis of their prior academic or behavioral record, race, creed, class, physical abilities, or any other factor.
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Leadership High School

Here's my story as a parent with two boys in LHS as a junior and a freshman. We came from a large (1,200) student public middle school (Hoover) with both of my guys in Honors classes, taking Japanese and advance music classes (cello and trumpet). After looking into various public and private schools, we decided on Leadership even though my boys were accepted into some private schools and Lowell.

Our decision was based on the fact there was an excellent support system at LHS when my boys needed it, in case they have to miss school due to their chronic health condition. In addition, the small school atmosphere translated into a "private" school environment, encouraging teachers and challenging curriculum. The small class sizes enable the students to get to know the teachers better.

My junior is doing very well in his classes, participating in student government, and developing into a leader in his peer group. My freshman is adjusting to his freedom in high school, learning to manage his study time, and enjoying his community service. They switched to Spanish for their foreign language, continuing on their own for music, using initiative for PE credits and experiencing a school with a wide diversity of ethnic and life styles. All in all a good choice and fit for my guys.
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