Aurora School’s mission is to nurture students' love of learning by cultivating academic excellence, emotional intelligence, and social engagement.


Aurora is a K-8 independent school in Oakland’s Upper Rockridge neighborhood.

We understand the importance of educating the hearts and minds of our students. We believe that academic excellence is most effectively achieved in an environment where students feel safe and supported. For that reason we implement social-emotional learning throughout our curriculum. For thirty-five years, we have seen the value of this approach in cultivating self-awareness, relationship skills, problem-solving, and responsible decision-making.

Academic excellence, joy of learning, inclusivity, and a commitment to social justice are at the heart of our school culture.

Aurora School has been a progressive education trailblazer in the Bay Area since 1988.
These are our key values:


Attending to the whole child

Helping them to become not only good learners, but good people.



Children learn with and from one another in a caring community.



Teaching with, not at, students; and emphasizing collaborative problem-solving.


Social Justice

Helping students see themselves as integral parts of larger communities, from the classroom to the planet.


Intrinsic motivation

Making education relevant and exciting for students, to increase their desire to continue learning, thinking, and questioning.


Deep Understanding

Teaching not just facts and skills, but how those skills apply in the real world and the ramifications of their practices.


Active Learning

Making it participatory, so it becomes a process of constructing ideas rather than absorbing information.


Taking kids seriously

Every child is a unique human with their own needs to feel comfortable and safe, and we always take the time to ensure they know we are here to listen.

Why choose Aurora?

Academic Excellence

Critical thinking, project-based and experiential learning, collaboration, and problem solving are embedded in our challenging K-8 curriculum. Aurora empowers students by providing a learning environment that attends to the whole child, and a faculty committed to paying equal attention to educating both the hearts and minds of our students, encouraging their curiosity and joy for learning.

Our learning environment supports and affirms, a respect for diversity and intersectionality which emphasizes multiple perspectives and approaches, and a curriculum offering project based and experiential learning that brings classroom learning to life. Learning at Aurora is integrated across subjects, so that lessons learned in social studies are integrated into reading, writing, science, art, and music. 

Collaboration between families and staff are important to our community and as research shows, is key to student success.

Our multi-grade classrooms provide many benefits to our students including confidence, fostered by a looping structure, Students return to the same classroom for two years and have the same teachers for two years. Multi grade classrooms coupled with a strong commitment to social-emotional learning and social justice strengthen our academic program preparing our students for life. Aurora graduates are heart-smart and head-smart smart leaders.  


Multi-Grade Classrooms

Aurora’s multi-grade classrooms were developed more than 35 years ago based on research that demonstrates how students develop better confidence and leadership skills because their learning environments provide social flexibility, academic differentiation, and stronger relationships with teachers and peers. Each of our Lower School classrooms combines two grades: K/1, 2/3, and 4/5 students share learning spaces and have the same teacher for two years. In Middle School they share the same team of guides. At both levels some subjects are taught by grade level, and curricula are rotated so that no lessons are repeated.
The benefits of looping with the same teacher for more than one year have been praised by The New York Times, US News & World Report, and The Institute of Education Sciences.

  • Studies have shown looping with the same teacher for more than one year results in stronger relationships and better learning outcomes. Teachers know their students as learners in a much deeper way when having them for more than one year.
  • Older students serve as mentors for their younger peers, who have a chance to model leadership and empathy when they become mentors the next year.
  •  When students return for the second year, teachers do not have to start from the beginning. They know who they are as learners and can challenge and support them from day one.
  • When students return for their second year in a familiar classroom, they return with a sense of confidence that leads to building strong leadership skills.
  • Younger students are welcomed and mentored by older students, and in turn become mentors themselves the next year. This fosters empathy, confidence, and appreciation in our students.
  • Combined grades widen the learning span, allowing greater opportunities for all learning levels.
  • Because age and developmental levels do not always coincide, there are opportunities for students to establish friendships with older and younger peers.

Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has emerged as a major buzzword in recent years. SEL is  the process of developing the self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills needed to succeed in school and in life. Research shows these skills are key to being a successful adult in the work world and in personal relationships.

At Aurora our educational model has always been grounded in SEL and our staff are experts in teaching SEL skills to our students well beyond what is done at most schools.

While some schools use an SEL toolkit, Aurora integrates it throughout our curriculum so that students are empowered to practice empathy, kindness, and inclusivity as they move through the world with positive intention and engage with life and learning. Our teachers and curricula foster a collaborative learning environment in which learning is active rather than passive. Students are at the center of the learning process so that they may develop the intrinsic motivation that leads to deep understanding.

We have long seen the benefits of SEL reflected in our students’ confidence and academic achievement, but the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath has shown it to be an even more critical tool. By empowering students to identify and understand their emotions, SEL can help them become more resilient and help them build stronger relationships with peers and adults and provide them with a greater sense of belonging. Our graduates take these skills with them and become empathetic, social justice and academic leaders in their high schools, colleges, and adult lives.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As an independent school with deep roots in Oakland, we focus on being inclusive, diverse, and anti-racist, as we move to create the change we want to see in our communities. Social justice objectives are woven into our curriculum because we believe they should be taught all year long. Our students leave Aurora self-aware and equipped to communicate with confidence, think critically, and take on leadership roles in high school and beyond.

We believe that effective learning can only take place in an engaging, inclusive, and respectful environment where everyone feels safe, and included. We work to give students and families alike the opportunity to get to know themselves and each other as learners, members of the community, and empowered and authentic human beings.

Aurora’s families are actively involved in this effort, and our Justice, Equity Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee, works with families to provide resources and support. Our JEDI Committee leads our affinity group gatherings for our families.

To help build a school community that is economically diverse, Aurora regularly commits approximately 20% of our revenue to provide Flexible Tuition to families. 30% of Aurora families receive Flexible Tuition.

Rolling admissions are open for the 2024-25 school year! Learn More
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