ABOUT COW HOLLOW SCHOOL
Cow Hollow School a school for children 2-5 years old, supports the belief that children learn through play, exploration and discovery within the context of nurturing and reciprocal influences of children, parents and teachers. Our curriculum is based on the constructivist philosophy in which children construct knowledge and understanding from authentic experiences—they are encouraged to explore possibilities, invent solutions, collaborate with others, and try out ideas in the context of meaningful experiences. These real-life experiences make connections that inspire and provoke, and foster inquiry and critical thinking.
We hold an image of the child, the parent, and the teacher as competent and active participants in learning and creating the culture of our school. Parents act as partners in the classroom, working alongside the teachers about once a month in the 2/3 and 3/4 year old classes, and five times per year in the 4/5’s classes. Parents are given an opportunity within the low adult-child ratio to closely observe and learn from and with their children with support and guidance from experienced teachers. As a result of this unique setting, partnership and experiences, learning, teaching and parenting are enriched and transformed.
Early Days of Cow Hollow
Founded in 2000 by a group of remarkable San Francisco women, Cow Hollow School was born out of the need for a creative, play-based program for young two-year-olds. The overflowing enrollments of other local preschools with programs for young two-year-olds, and the appeal of a parent participation format for very young children, convinced the founders that there was enough need and interest in San Francisco to create a new school. After coming to an agreement with the Vestry of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, the Preschool was able to open for a one-year trial with 12 children. During that first year, the volunteer Board poured an enormous amount of time building a school, soup to nuts—defining and implementing a play-based program, developing a school philosophy, hiring the teaching team, working through the myriad of licensing issues, recruiting families, and raising their own families! Needless to say, it became apparent that the school had a future.
Move to the Presidio
In 2004, in order to actualize and make evident our belief in children as active participating members of a rich and diverse society, we started our search for a space that would reflect this within and outside of its walls. In 2005 we moved into a beautiful historic building in the Presidio. Our first location was small and only could house one class of children at a time (less than forty families total) and required that church parishioners make up a the majority of the school population. Our move to the Presidio meant that enrollment would double in size and become accessible to any and all Bay Area families.
Parents of children in the two-year-old and three-year-old classes work alongside expert teachers two to three times each month. There is one parent in each 2/3s and 3/4s AM class daily. Parents participate in the 4/5s PM classroom at least twice per semester.
2-3 year-old classes (age 2 by July 1)
- T/Th mornings 8:50 am – 11:50 am (1 class)
- MWF mornings 8:50 am – 11:50 am (1 class)
- MTTHF mornings 8:50-11:50 AM (1 class)
3-4 year-old classes (age 3 by July 1)
- M/T/Th/F mornings 8:45 am – 11:45 am (2 classes)
4-5-year old classes (age 4 by July 1)
- M-F afternoons 11:55 pm – 3:55 pm (2 classes)
As a service to CHS families, CHS offers a lunch option on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri for students ages 3-4 year old classes, from approximately 11:50am to 12:50pm. Families must apply for Extended Day, and there is an additional fee for attending. Preference is given to families with work schedule needs.
CHS offers a before care option on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri for all CHS students, from 8:00am to 8:50am. Families must apply for Morning Birds, and there is an additional fee for attending. Preference is given to families with work schedule needs.
Art in Action
Art in Action after care is offered after school from 3:55-5:00 PM for students ages 4-5 old classrooms. A variety of artistic mediums are explored. Families must apply for Art in Action, and there is an additional fee for attending.
Song Birds is an after school musical discovery class for Big Garden and Big Bay children. In Song Birds children will discover music through creation of sound, exploration of instruments, vocal expressions, and fun collaboration. Making music together will be the goal while also learning music fundamentals. Specifically, children will gain an understanding of beat, rhythm, melody and harmony while exploring music of many genres and cultures.
In collaboration with the Presidio YMCA, Cow Hollow School is able to offer after care for our afternoon classes (ages 4-5). Families must apply for After Owls, and there is an additional fee for attending. Preference is given to families with work schedule needs.
Baby Talk is a parent and baby 1 hour per week program which takes place in the summer. Baby Talk is designed to bring visibility to the subtle and copious ways babies communicate with the world around them and help parents take notice of the nuances of how their child communicates. Each week will have a topic for discussion and accompanying handout with resources. Click here to stay informed with this coming summers’ offerings.
Two/Three’s 2-day/week program $8,716.00
Two/Three’s 3-day/week program $13,073.00
Two/Three’s 4-day/week program $16,952.00
Three/Four’s 4-day/week program $15,272.00
Four/Five’s 5-day/week program $20,333.00 (four hour day)
(Tuition payments are due in July and December or monthly payments made over 10 months)
Tuition Assistance Program
Cow Hollow School offers tuition assistance, based on need (and availability of funds) to families who qualify. This program supports the school’s commitment to excellence and socioeconomic diversity among the student body – see our data on diversity and demographics. It is our goal that Cow Hollow School be accessible to any and all Bay Area families interested in applying and it is our hope that families will apply to Cow Hollow School regardless of financial circumstances.
Cow Hollow School thrives using a combination of professional educators and parent participation. Our strong administrative leadership determines, alongside the extremely qualified faculty (many holding graduate degrees in early childhood education) the curriculum of the school and oversees admissions and operations. Each family at Cow Hollow School shares talents, skills and enthusiasm in many ways—teaching in the classroom, helping with school activities, serving on committees, coordinating fund raising events, and so much more.
Darcy Campbell, School Director
Darcy has been directing at Cow Hollow School since 2002. Darcy has over 30 years of experience working with teachers, families and children in the Bay Area. She has more than 25 years of Site Administration experience and has taught and learned from children three months to twelve years old. She teaches early childhood and elementary education courses at San Francisco State University and conducts early childhood training and consultations with families, schools, and educational organizations throughout the Bay Area. She is a strong advocate for children and specializes in reflective, responsive, collaborative teaching and parenting practices. She is an active member of and presenter for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Darcy holds a graduate degree in early childhood development.
Trevor Valentino, Assistant Director
Trevor has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2007. Trevor received his B.A. in African American Studies and English at the University of California, Berkeley. He later received an M.A. in early child education from San Francisco State University where he wrote about his collaborative experience with teachers in Kenya. He comes from a strong constructivist perspective which endorses an emergent curriculum, child-centered approach to education. He is interested in inclusive early childhood programs and the effects such programs have on children’s social consciousness development. Trevor is also the Summer Program Coordinator which he has helped run for the last three years and part time Assistant Director during the school year.
Leslie Norris, Office Administrator and Director of Admissions
Leslie joined the Cow Hollow School community in 2004 as a parent. Since then, two of her children have graduated from Cow Hollow School with one interning during the CHS Summer Program. Leslie has served on the Parent Association and Cow Hollow School Board as Director of Community Enrichment and Visibility. Leslie began working as the school office administrator and admissions director in 2009. She received her Masters in Early Childhood Education and California Teaching credential from Mills College.
Mica Crittendon ([email protected])
Mica has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2015. She has worked with young children 4 months to 5 years old for more than 8 years. From a very young age, Mica knew that working with children was her calling. Mica received her M.A in Early Childhood Education and Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development, with an emphasis in the young child, at San Francisco State University. Mica is inspired by children’s authenticity, curiosity, and innate ability to construct their own knowledge and she uses this as a driving force in partnering children and families.
Katy Detrick ([email protected])
Katy has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2018. Katy earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from San Francisco State University in Fall 2017. She has worked with children of all ages within various settings for over 7 years. Katy has a genuine passion for early childhood education and for creating strong relationships with children and their families. She is constantly inspired by the innate curiosity children have and feels grateful to be in a position to encourage it.
Meghan Dyfoon ([email protected])
Meghan rejoined the Cow Hollow School team August 31, 2020.Meghan’s professional and educational background embraces reflective practice, social constructivism, and the process of inquiry. Her experiences as an international trainer, ACEI presenter and international lead teacher, bring critical perspectives on diversity and social equity issues. Meghan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from San Francisco State University and her M.A. in Early Childhood Education where she graduated at the top of her class. She conducted her master’s thesis in Chengdu, China where she examined her educational beliefs and teaching strategies in a culturally and linguistically diverse context.
Marissa Gray ([email protected])
Marissa has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2017. She has seven years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field working with children ages 6 months to 6 years. In 2015 she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Southern Indiana. As a dedicated lifelong learner she returned to school at the University of San Francisco where she graduated with a Master’s Degree in International and Multicultural Education in 2016. Her research focused on developing multicultural curricula for early childhood classrooms with the objective of teaching students peace building skills.
Kelsey Henning ([email protected])
Kelsey has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2017. Ever since she was a young girl, Kelsey knew that she wanted to work with children. She enjoys watching how young children use their imaginations to discover the world around them and is fascinated with the way children investigate the natural environment. Kelsey graduated from San Francisco State University with a M.A in Early Childhood Education and B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development with a concentration in Young Child and Family. Kelsey has worked with children ages 2 months to 8 years old for six years and continues to follow her passion of connecting children with nature.
Jamie Kelty, Teaching Artist ([email protected])
Jamie has been with Cow Hollow School since 2012 and has enjoyed the privilege of sharing art experiences with children since 1992. She works also as an assemblage/collage painter with a variety of mediums which translates well into exploring a multitude of materials with children. She received her B.F.A. in painting and her K-12 art teaching certificate from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Jamie taught art in schools in Kansas, Missouri, and New York City. She worked at the The Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York teaching in public programs and in schools, creating programming, and managing the Fine Arts Studio teaching artists. Jamie regularly presents studio workshops for parents and educators through The COLLABORATORY at Cow Hollow School and The Innovative Teacher Project in San Francisco.
Cheyenne Lopez ([email protected])
Cheyenne has been a teacher at Cow Hollow School since 2017. She received her Bachelor’s degree of Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University in 2017. Her focus is early childhood education and she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Early Childhood Education at San Francisco State University. She has been working with children ages 2-5 for the past 4 years both typical and special needs. She’s been passionate about entering this field since high school and has been able to grow in her curiosity, enthusiasm, and passion ever since joining the SF community. She believes that every child is capable and competent and deserves to be guided, nurtured, and encouraged to develop critical thinking as a way to understand the world around them.
Tessa Moore ([email protected])
Tessa has been teaching at Cow Hollow since 2019.Tessa has loved being around children for as long as she can remember. Through her various experiences as a big sister, children’s program volunteer, and music teacher, she discovered how wonderful it was to help children grow and achieve goals. Because of this, she chose to study Child Development at Sac State. Tessa earned her BA concentrating on Early Development, Care, and Education in 2017, and has been teaching in the ECE setting ever since. She believes that each child is capable of exploration and discovery, and deserves a supportive environment in which to foster that learning. She has recently been accepted to earn her graduate degree in Developmental Psychology at SFSU.
Sienna will begin teaching at Cow Hollow School on October 1, 2020 earned her BA in Child and Adolescent Development and her MA in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education, both from San Francisco State University. She has been an early childhood educator for the past 4 years working with children from four months to five years old. Sienna is eager to create strong relationships with children and their families, form connections with colleagues, and is motivated to grow in her passion for this field. She enjoys witnessing children making their own discoveries and is grateful to be a guide to them in their ever changing environment.
Patricia Phillips ([email protected])
Patricia began working at Cow Hollow School in the Spring of 2016. Patricia was born and raised in Mexico City where she had a terrific childhood. She grew up speaking Spanish and French and traveling. After three years in Paris where she prepared for the Beaux Arts entry competition, she returned to America and earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts with emphasis in painting from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Becoming a parent inspired Patricia to become an early childhood educator. She likes to think that when Victoria, her oldest daughter started preschool, she too started preschool and embarked on a lifelong learning journey. She returned to college to study Early Childhood Education and obtained her Child Development Site Supervisor permit. Patricia feels very fortunate to work everyday in a field where nothing is ever the same, where children and adults alike are open to each day’s experiences, and eager to share what they learn.
Melissa Rivers ([email protected])
Melissa has been teaching at Cow Hollow School since 2008. She has been an early childhood educator for over 13 years. Melissa has worked with children ranging in ages from 6 months to 6 years old, as well as with intern teachers and alongside parents in the classroom. She received her BA in Child Development from Sacramento State University, and her MA in Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education from San Francisco State University. Melissa has experience conducting workshops for educators and parents with organizations including CAEYC and The Innovative Teacher Project. She has worked in a variety of settings including a University lab school, a parent-participation program, and a Reggio-Emilia inspired school. Melissa is a dedicated advocate for forming strong partnerships with parents and families of young children.
Snow Smith ([email protected])
Snow began teaching at Cow hollow School on August 31, 2020. Snow first earned both her Preschool Teaching Certificate and her Infant and Toddler Teaching Certificate in 2011 and continues to study about the ways children learn and grow, so is currently enrolled in classes encompassing everything from Literacy to Art. She has been teaching since 2011and has worked with children ranging from 3 months to 5 years and relishes the opportunity to spend her days in discovery and exploration with the children. Snow loves reading and reading aloud, and is always looking for ways to weave stories into every aspect of the day. She is passionate about social emotional development and looks for the most beneficial way to support and nurture the children with whom she interacts. Snow is very proud of her two splendid sons, Shane age 22 and Chance age 17 who are still both here in San Francisco.
Molly Sosnaud ([email protected])
Molly began teaching at Cow Hollow School in 2012. She has been an early childhood educator for over ten years, and began teaching at Cow Hollow in 2012. Molly received her B.A. in psychology and education from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, her M.A in Early Childhood Education from Mills College, and holds a California Child Development Program Director Permit. While at Mills, Molly wrote her Master’s thesis on educators’ use of pedagogical documentation in a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool. Molly has presented at three Innovative Teachers Project Roundtables: “Global Citizenship and Social Justice as Values in Reggio Inspired Schools” and “Inviting Dialogue with Families,” and “The Image of the Child through the Lens of the Five Senses: Belonging, Influence, Competence, Usefulness and Respect.” She enjoys building relationships with other educators, families, and children and is thrilled to be at Cow Hollow.
Nina Saraceno, Movement Specialist
Nina has been teaching movement at Cow Hollow School since 2014. Nina began her dance training at age four with the Ana Roje School of Ballet. She also studied and performed as a fourth generation Isadora Duncan dancer with Sylvia Gold and Dicki Johnson Macy. She eventually went on to teach Duncan technique and repertory to children and adults. Nina received her bachelor’s degree in Dance and Psychology from Skidmore College in 2003. These degrees were put to use in the Boston area with Project Joy and Boston Children’s Foundation’s Rainbow Dance program. She co-developed and led therapeutic playgroups and dance classes in a number of Boston area preschools and Head Start centers. These programs used music, movement, yoga and imaginative play to promote self-esteem, self-expression, mind-body cohesion and social awareness. Nina loves to teach and is fascinated by the human body, its capabilities, intelligence and expressive nature.
Teaching Parents – Parents in the Cow Hollow School Community teach in their child’s classroom alongside the teachers and are an integral part of the classroom community. Families in the two’s and three’s classes are scheduled for parent participation days once per month. Families in the four/five’s classes are scheduled for parent participation days 2-3 days per semester.
Parent Association – The Parent Association is committed to developing and strengthening the family-school partnership, and building a strong community to enhance the experience of all children. All CHS parents are members of the Parents’ Association. The Parent Association is led by a dedicated Executive Committee.
Room Parents – Room Parents serve as the liaison between, and partner with, their child’s class, teachers, and Director.
Cow Hollow School is a community of families and teachers from a broad range of cultures, nationalities, family structures, languages, and economic backgrounds. We strive to be a community where each child and family is included, valued, and represented, and where each participant is actively invited to voice and contribute ideas, opinions, questions, and values.
Cow Hollow School supports the ever-growing diversity of our school population through outreach and admissions. This includes , but is not limited to: family structure, culture, race, religion, socio-economics, sexual orientation, gender, identity, and mental and social abilities. It is our goal that the children and families of our school reflect the rich diversity of the city in which we live.
Demographics of Cow Hollow School families:
As a component of knowing, making visible, and celebrating the diversity of our school population, we conduct a demographic survey of our school families on a tri-annual basis. Following is the data from our most recent survey.
2012-2013 Cow Hollow School Demographic Survey Data
- 46% Dual–Working Parent Families
- 5% Multi--Generational Caregivers
- 4% Same--Sex Parents
- 3% Adoptive Families
- 40% of families spoke a language other than English in the home
- 97% Dual-‐Parent Home
- 2% Separated and Co-‐Parenting
- 1% Single Parents
Families listed over 60 ethnicities when asked to describe their family.
- 50% of families identified as Multi-Ethnic
Children’s Racial Identities:
- 61.5% Caucasian/White
- 32.3% Multi-racial (see below)
- 3.1% Asian
- 2.1% African American/Black
- 1% Middle Eastern
- 32.3% of families identified their children as multi-racial. This was a notable statistic, making up nearly ⅓ of our student population. Within that pool of respondents, racial identity demographics were represented as follows:
- 77% Caucasian/White
- 48% Asian
- 29% Latina/o
- 13% South Asian
- 13% Other*
- 6% African American/Black
- 3% Native American
- 32.3% of families identified their children as multi-racial. This was a notable statistic, making up nearly ⅓ of our student population. Within that pool of respondents, racial identity demographics were represented as follows:
For comprehensive survey data, click HERE