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24 The Noe Valley Voice • October 2013

SCHOOL BEAT It’s Touring Season By Heather World


ow that September has passed, Noe Valley schools are settling down to the ABCs of teaching students. But they’re also showing the ropes to prospective parents. From October to December, local schools host regular tours of their sites. And this year, four Noe schools are introducing new principals as well. For parents, the adventure begins with learning the odds of getting into a neighborhood school. In the public school arena, Noe Valley is divided among three priority areas. Residents living on the north side of 22nd Street (and north of that) have priority at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, 4235 19th St., where state test scores now rival some of the best schools in the city. Drop-in tours at Harvey Milk happen Oct. 10 and 24, Nov. 7 and 21, and Dec. 5 and 19, at 10 a.m. For more details, visit

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The bulk of the neighborhood has priority at Alvarado Elementary School’s general education program. (The school also has a Spanish-immersion program, but immersion programs do not prioritize neighborhood children for admission.) Tours for both programs happen on most Tuesdays through December with one evening tour Dec. 12, but you must register at first. Reading Is Robertson’s Forté Neighbors living on the south side of 29th Street, and to the south of that line, have priority at Glen Park Elementary School, 151 Lippard St. Principal Jean Robertson joined the school last year, following 10 years at Grattan Elementary in Cole Valley, which she was credited with helping improve. Robertson’s focus is on literacy—10 teachers attended a weeklong reading and writing workshop over the summer and a literacy specialist has been hired—on integrating special education students into the classroom, and on ensuring afterschool care is available for those who need it. Tours happen at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays Nov. 5 through April 15. For specific days, visit, and call 415-469-4713 to let them know you’re coming. Spanish a Specialty Those interested in having their children learn in Spanish should also check out the Spanish-immersion program at Fairmount Elementary School, 65 Chenery St., Mondays at 8:30 a.m. from Oct. 21 to Dec. 9. The Oct. 28, Nov. 18, and Dec. 2 tours will be conducted in Spanish. Call 415-695-5669 to reserve a spot. An evening tour is expected to be scheduled, too. Children at Thomas Edison Charter

Academy, 3531 22nd St., spend half their day learning in Spanish. TECA tours happen Oct. 1 and 18, Nov. 8 and 12, Dec. 3 and 13, Jan. 17, and Jan. 21. Visit for more details. TECA Head a School Reformer TECA’s new principal Olivia Lynch helped redesign the New York City school district and was later the director of professional learning at Stanford University’s School Redesign Network, which helped redesign school districts in California. Her research has focused on school reform and innovation, urban education, and students learning English. Why is she back at an elementary school? “At the end of the day, I’m a teacher,” she said. “My heart is always in schools and teaching—it doesn’t get any better than that.” Lick Principal Hails from Arizona James Lick Middle School, which has both immersion and general education programs, will host tours on Mondays at 9 a.m. Call 415-695-5675 to reserve a spot. The school’s new principal, Apolinar Quesada—call him Paul, please—comes most recently from Phoenix, Ariz., where he was the principal of a K to 8 school with 900 students. Quesada has been involved in education for more than 10 years, but he began his career in public service as a police officer in New Mexico and Arizona. “I have been a patrol officer, member of the gang squad, motorcycle traffic officer, and served as an undercover narcotics detective,” he said. Being a police officer and a principal are not so different, he said. “A lot of it is listening to people, hear-

ing out their concerns, and giving everyone a voice,” said Quesada, who is joined by a new assistant principal coming from Hoover Middle School. St. Paul’s Welcomes Sister Camacho St. Paul’s Elementary School, 1690 Church St., will host tours from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 2, 9, 16, and 30, and on Nov. 13 and 20. Please call the school at 415-648-2055 to reserve a space. In addition to a tour, families may have a prospective student shadow another student for a day. The school will also host three open houses on Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m., and March 26 at 6:30 p.m. See for more details. The school’s new principal, Sister Kathy Camacho, has been a member of the Catholic order Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for 27 years, working with women interested in joining the order by helping them design their theology curriculum. In 2005, Camacho was the first principal of the newly opened Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento, designed for lowincome students. Now she comes to St. Paul’s, which is nearly 100 years old. “I’m really excited to be here,” Camacho said. “I love the students and the families, and the faculty and staff are great to work with.” Meanwhile, St. Philip’s Elementary School, 725 Diamond St., hosts ongoing tours Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 and 10 a.m. You must call the school at 415824-8467 to reserve a spot.  Parents for Public Schools offers enrollment workshops that help clarify the mystifying public school district assignment system. See dates on their calendar at

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