Mission & History

Mission

At Park Day School, dedicated teachers and engaged students collaborate to create a dynamic and joyful learning community for mastering academic and interpersonal skills. Students construct meaning and deep understanding through inquiry and discovery-based teaching. Our practices promote critical and creative thinking, artistic expression, and a commitment to diversity and social justice. In the spirit of partnership and service, students expand their perspectives through participation in the broader community. Continuing the legacy of the progressive education movement, Park Day School prepares students to be informed, courageous, and compassionate people who shape a more equitable and sustainable world.

Social Justice

Social Justice Statement

Park Day School is committed to social justice in our teaching practice, and throughout school life. We uphold the standard that everyone who is part of Park Day is part of this work, and pledge to continuously assess who we are and how we interact in order to embrace and welcome an evolving multitude of perspectives within our inclusive community.

School History

History of Progressive Education

Park Day School is located in the center of what was once a bustling Ohlone-Chochenyo village. Our community honors the Ohlone Peoples who cared for this land for so many generations before the arrival of European colonizers in 1776.

Our own history as a school began in 1976 when Park Day was founded as a progressive school in Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood. Founders included Park Day educators, Harriet Cohen and Susan Erb (now retired), and several parents. Longtime head of school and author of the celebrated book Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America’s Schools, Tom Little, joined the staff during the school’s first year.

The school opened with 28 students and four teachers. By 1982, the student body had grown to 90 students, and Park Day moved to the Temescal neighborhood of North Oakland and into the current Palm Building.

In 1998, Park Day and several other lower school programs formed the East Bay Community School for grades 6-8. The Community School incorporated fully with Park Day School in 2006  with an enrollment of just over 250 students.

In 2008, the school bought the adjacent Matilda Brown Home property (now re-named the Magnolia Building). After extensive renovations, the middle school moved from its nearby Ridgeway Avenue campus to the current four-acre campus, uniting the K-8 program on to one campus where approximately 60 staff teach and support more than 300 students.

After four decades of growth, the community maintains a close-knit, open-minded, and forward-thinking outlook, and a deep commitment to social justice. Over the years, Park Day School has become a leader at the forefront of progressive pedagogy and deep learning within a vibrant curriculum.