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Well trained, committed teachers provide a warm, respectful, and highly enriched bi-lingual environment for children from age 3 through the upper elementary years. Parents choose between Spanish and French classrooms for the preschool years, and elementary students are instructed in both languages. The art and music instruction is world class and the head of school, Leslie HItes, keeps the school running like a Swiss train. You can't do better!!"


"This school is the best kept secret in the Bay Area." I have looked at many schools and no other offers such a passionate music program, thoughtful bi-lingual program (French and Spanish), and true Montessori program. It's small and in a diverse urban neighborhood, which adds another dimension. A great school for those who believe in Montessori and want their children to grow up to be interesting people."

The school is a big fan of Alfie Kohn. When he spoke in the Bay Area last year the school encouraged parents to go hear him speak.

TRS provides a warm and nurturing environment. The children have a great deal of freedom of choice. At the same time, they are taught to respect their environment and the people around them.

To top it off, TRS has an amazing music and art program, and the most culturally diverse community of families, teachers, and staff that you can imagine. The best part is that the school doesn't seem to need to try to be diverse... it just has naturally grown that way.

Now the downside of this seemingly perfect school... it is expensive. But, the school has a financial aid program, so I encourage you to check it out. Here is a link to their website: A Very Happy TRS Parent


I was curious to know of any past graduates as well as current students who go to The Rennaisance School. I am thinking of sending my daughter 2.y.o next fall. Most of the posts are old and I was curious to know of both the old and the new families at the various grade levels. For the graduates or past students how well did they thrive in the environment and how well prepared were they for the next step? For current students anything you can say I would greatly appreciate. anon

Love, love, love The Renaissance School! Our kids started there when they were 2. I was apprehensive before they started because I thought that attending pre-school five days a week would be too much. But, that couldn't be further from the truth. They have truly thrived there and if I had more children I would start them there as soon as I could. It is a very special Montessori school with amazing music and art programs and it is a naturally very multi-cultural environment. The teachers and staff are very warm and thoughtful. It's a nice, calm environment where children learn to respect each other and the environment around them. And, most importantly, the children are inspired and enjoy learning for learning sake, not just to pass a standardized test. Happy TRS Parent

Our nearly 5-year-old daughter entered the pre-primary program at TRS when she was 2.5 and she has thrived at this school. We soon will be sending our younger daughter as well. TRS is an extraordinary school, and we feel extremely fortunate to have found it. The school's philosophy is Montessori, and it offers very rich arts, music and language programs that are tightly integrated into everything the children do. As importantly for us, however, has been school's culture and deep respect the teachers and administrators show for all children. This is a place where the teachers and administrators really do value who the children are, their innate capabilities and their potential. The program fosters internal motivation - rather than motivation through external rewards - a strong sense of community, respect, independence and imagination. The parent community is very strong as well. We really do feel like the school is a ''partner'' with us and is concerned about all aspects of our child's development. I would be happy to answer questions or give you more specifics offline. Susan

My kids are at The Renaissance School and we have had a great experience there. All of the teachers have been wonderful -- very devoted to the children and helping develop confident, creative, independent thinkers. The school is really unique in that it provides a Montessori curriculum through Upper Elementary, in a multi-lingual environment with a very strong art and music program.

One of the great qualities of TRS is its emphasis on the study of world cultures. The children learn all subjects in two (or three, at the Elementary level) languages. Each classroom at the Primary level studies a different continent in-depth each year. They learn about the physical and cultural geography of the continent, hear presentations from people who are knowledgable about a country, take field trips, and prepare a meal every week from a different country or region.

Another great thing about TRS is its commitment to the arts and creativity. Each child participates in studio art sessions (even the 2 year olds!), with individual instruction from wonderful art teachers -- the children learn art technique in a way that allows them to develop and express their individual creativity and imagination. The school has an art show that is open to the public in late spring (May or June, I think), and this is a great way to come learn about the art program. Also, children at all levels participate in chorus and have regular performances, which really helps develop confidence and composure in addition to developing their musical abilities.

And most importantly, our kids love TRS and are excited about going to school. They have built strong relationships with teachers and friends, and have learned how to peacefully and respectfully resolve conflict (an ongoing process, of course!) The school also does a great job of teaching the parent community about the curriculum and the Montessori method -- this week the school had a interactive presentation on the math curriculum, which was really impressive.

Good luck! Happy TRS parent



We have been at TRS for more than 2 years, and have found it a place where all types of children - social, quiet etc. - can and do thrive. This school is exceptional at truly meeting children where they are at - socially, emotionally, ''academically'' - embracing children for who they are, and at the same time challenging them to grow. While we were initially concerned that a Montessori environment may not address the social and emotional needs as well as other types of schools, I can say unequivocally that TRS specifically does a tremendous job on these accounts. There are multiple opportunities inside and outside of the classroom for children to work and play together in a very natural way. I see this when I drop my daughter off and watch a friend eagerly ask her if she would like to ''work'' with her. At the end of the day, she will often be sitting with another child or in a small group of other children doing ''work'' together. Small groups of children also cook meals together for the class each week, learning to work together and to contribute to their classroom ''communities''.

The classes are mixed ages, so my daughter has had the opportunity to learn from and teach other children, which I believe has helped develop her confidence, self-esteem and social skills. TRS also places a strong emphasis on conflict resolution, and I see this in very real ways in my child's interactions with others. Just recently, she was playing with two other children who disagreed over where to have a tea party. One girl in particular was very adamant about having it in a specific place and she was at the point of screaming and crying. I watched with great pride as my daughter said several times ''I have an idea'' or ''Here's one solution,'' trying to help the group come to agreement. On another occasion, my daughter was helping me unload the dishwasher and she suggested that we do it ''as teamwork, like in school.''

TRS is not a place where 15 children sit in a circle and are told to make papier mache elephants and asked to share scissors, paper etc. It's a very special environment, and in some ways it's hard to explain. Teaching children social and emotional skills does not occur through orchestrated, contrived activities. Instead, the school has created an environment where children learn to be social, make friends, share and resolve conflicts in a very natural way that ultimately comes from within.

I will say also that while I believe that all types of children can and do thrive at TRS, the families who benefit the most and are the happiest are the ones who believe in the Montessori approach and philosophy. Anonymous


Nov 2008

Re: Piedmont Preschools
If you're looking for Montessori type schools in the Piedmont area, I encourage you to look at the Renaissance School on Dimond Ave in Oakland, which is very close to Piedmont. It is a Montessori school and has the balance you describe you are looking for. There is a big focus on music, art and languages but at the same time the children are challenged academically and move at their own pace. The parent/teacher community is very diverse and welcoming. There is a small 2-year old class and following that a 3yr-5yr old classroom setting (there are 4 of those). There is also an elementary program for children ages 6-12 that continues to expand as more families desire to keep their kids at the school. My daughter started in the 2 year old class and is now in the Elementary program. My son just recently started in the 2 year old class. My kids couldn't be any more different in terms of personality and temperment, yet both are very happy and are thriving academically and socially at the school. Big fan of the Renaissance School

Regarding the question about whether the Renaissance School encourages imagination, I would say that the school more importantly encourages creativity. While there is a focus on the Montessori activities cited (cleaning, cooking and so forth), there is equally a focus on developing one's creative self. The art program there is superb and relies on the child to develop and execute his/her own ideas, while not relying on copying the ideas of others. In fact, the school has an art show every year that is the testament to the amazing work of children from ages 2 and up. This year's show is called A Celebration of Children's Creativity, and it will be held June 10-24 at 5900 Hollis St. in Emeryville. I urge anyone considering the school to attend the show, meet other parents and see for themselves the joy and creativity of the children. My daughter has attended the school for 4 years, and I like not only that aspect of the school but also its philosophy of non- consumerism and the discouragement of television. I think this has done as much for my daughter's creativity and imagination than anything else. TRS parentMaddox with blocks


I wanted to respond to the post requesting recent feedback regarding The Renaissance School. My three year old has been at the school for over a year and is now in the French primary classroom. We are very happy with the school. The teachers are wonderful -- they are very caring and attentive to the individual needs of each child. There is a very positive energy at the school, and my daughter is excited to go to school every day. In addition to the very high quality of teaching in the classrooms, the school's music and art programs are terrific -- the children participate in vocal and instrumental performances and art shows throughout the year.

The original poster asked specifically about communication at the school. I have found the teachers and the administration, including the Head of School, to be very accessible to parents. I have daily interaction with the teachers in my daughter's class, and if parents need additional time to discuss anything, teachers will make the time to talk over the phone or in person. Parent-teacher conferences, class parent meetings, open houses, and other gatherings provide additional opportunities for parents to communicate with teachers, the administration, and each other. Parents are definitely encouraged to be an active and involved part of the school community. We are very happy that we decided to send our daughter to TRS! Kerry