Founded in 1893, Saint Elizabeth Elementary School, in partnership with parents, is a caring Catholic community committed to the education of children. In this safe environment we prepare our students to become spiritually aware, socially conscious and lifelong learners who respond to the Gospel message.
Founded in 1893, Saint Elizabeth Elementary School is a Catholic faith community committed to teaching the Gospel message in a safe, challenging and loving environment and grounded in the Dominican and Franciscan educational tradition of truth and peace. Parents as primary educators and staff in support of their role, strive to educate the individual with dignity by challenging each to reach full potential, stimulating intellectual curiosity and fostering service.
Founded by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose in 1893, St. Elizabeth Elementary School has served the children of the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland for more than 120 years. In the 2011-2012 school year, St. Elizabeth was double-graded from 6th to 8th grades, with single grades from preschool to 5th grade; the total student body was 345 students. St. Elizabeth has provided quality education for children from kindergarten through 8th grade for several generations.
By 1924, a new two-story school building was completed, which provided for a grammar school on the first floor and a high school on the second floor, with a gymnasium included. Both schools prospered over the next several decades; by the mid-1950s, the schools were educating a combined total of more than 1,300 students.
On October 18, 1959, a new building for the exclusive use of the elementary school was dedicated and St. Elizabeth enrollment rose to more than 750 students in the following years.
From 1920 to 1960, the area around St. Elizabeth—the Fruitvale District of Oakland—prospered, consisting of modest middle and working class family homes, and small family businesses. Before World War I, St. Elizabeth had a distinctively German flavor, with German composition a regular part of the curriculum; however, even in this early era, the school was multicultural as the student body included Irish, Portuguese, and Italian students. By the mid-1960s, the area had changed dramatically. Increasing numbers of Latinos from Mexico and Central America, African Americans, and Filipino and other Asian groups began settling in the Fruitvale area.
By the 1990s, the school was largely Latino, mostly from Mexico, but with a sprinkling of students from Central America. St. Elizabeth continues to show a great deal of sensitivity to its Spanish-speaking parents by publishing weekly Que Pasa newsletters in both English and Spanish, holding bilingual parent meetings, and making sure that a translator is present during parent-teacher conferences for those who are more comfortable with the Spanish language. Additionally, several staff members are bilingual, including the Principal, School Counselor, and all of the Instructional Assistants.
The centennial of St. Elizabeth was celebrated in 1993. In the same year, the growing number of students with special needs became a concern. To better support learning for all students, the school created the Mother Pia Special Needs Program (Mother Pia).
Initially, one teacher taught in this program, but now it has grown into the largest special needs program in the Diocese of Oakland. In addition to supporting students with learning challenges, the Mother Pia Program added an accelerated math class in the fall of 2012.
In 2007, the school completed the process for the licensing of a preschool of up to 15 children. Because of the guidelines, two adults—one full-time Director and a part-time aide—were hired. After five years of operating in a deficit situation, the preschool has
been deactivated for the 2012-2013 school year. The enrollment was not large enough to finish the year without again having a deficit.
Throughout the history of St. Elizabeth, a Dominican presence still endures. In the 2012-2013 school year, four Dominican sisters are on staff. One sister serves as the Principal; one is the Development Director; another is the Technology Coordinator; and one teaches 5th grade.
Despite all the current financial and social challenges, St. Elizabeth has continued to provide a solid education to the children of the East Bay. St. Elizabeth, along with the Parish, has served as an anchor in a neighborhood with a high rate of mobility. We continue to offer a hope-filled community of faith to children in an area that too many
others have already abandoned.