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 about one time each month during non-covid restrictions. 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 August 1)
- T/Th mornings 8:20 am – 11:50 am (1 class)
- M/W/F mornings 8:20 am – 11:50 am (1 class)
- M/T/W/TH/F mornings 8:30-12:00 AM (1 class)
3-4 year-old classes (age 3 by August 1)
- M/T/W/Th/F mornings 8:30 am – 12:00 am (2 classes)
4-5-year old classes (age 4 by August 1)
- M/T/W/TH/F 9:00 am – 4:00 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 12:00 pm to 12:50pm during non-covid restrictions. 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 8:30am during non-covid restrictions. 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 4:00-5:00 PM for students ages 4-5 old classrooms during non-covid restrictions. 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 during non-covid restrictions. 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) during non-covid restrictions. 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. For any questions, please email [email protected]
Two/Three’s 2-day/week program $9,568.00
Two/Three’s 3-day/week program $14,352.00
Two/Three’s 5-day/week program $19,656.00
Three/Four’s 5-day/week program $19,656.00
Four/Five’s 5-day/week full day program $26,520.00
Cow Hollow School uses the services of FACTS Tuition Management Company to offer different payment options. We offer three payment options: 1) pay in full, 2) semi annually or 3) nine payments. All initial tuition payments are due at the start of July. At the time of enrollment, a non-refundable deposit is due (which is credited towards your tuition) along with the signed membership agreement. Your enrollment spot is secured once both are received and processed.
Community Fund Program
Cow Hollow School is committed to honoring economic diversity and is dedicated to making our school accessible to all families. Through The Community Tuition Fund, our robust tuition assistance program, we are able to provide financial assistance to a broad range of families. – 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.
For more information about the Community Fund application process, see the Admissions page.
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.
Christina Chin ([email protected])
Christina joined Cow Hollow School in 2021. Christina was born and raised in San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State University with Bachelors in Child and Adolescent Development. Christina has worked with preschool-aged children for the past 13 years and holds a Program Director permit. As an early childhood educator, Christina sees the importance of supporting the children in developing their social-emotional skills and confidence. She really enjoys listening to the children and asking them questions to provoke their thoughts to see where their ideas lead.
Sam Estrada ([email protected])
Sam joined Cow Hollow in October 2020. She graduated from San Francisco State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development. In the midst of her studies two recurring questions would pop up in her head, “Why do I want to work with children? What draws me to this field?” It is these key questions that require her to reflect on her time in the field, studies, and deep within. Sam’s answers rarely varied. They were always embedded with love and understanding; the two driving forces that push her to work with youth . Sam is interested in children’s self-development, self-awareness, and self-identity. In every situation, lesson, or moment that she finds herself engaged with children, she strives to support them through love and understanding; the two pillars that guide her work with youth. Sam is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology and next year hopes to obtain a MA in School Counseling. She has worked with children of all ages through employment and various volunteer programs, such as the San Francisco Education Fund’s mentor program and Mission Graduates.
Cassie joined Cow Hollow School in 2022. She began working with children when she was a teenager and her passion for working with the early childhood age group has only grown! Cassie’s always been interested in how the mind of a young child works and how to enhance their curiosity of the world. Cassie’s education has focused on early childhood education with an emphasis on social and behavioral psychology. She graduated from CSU Long Beach with a BA in Human Development and a minor in Child and Family Studies. While in college she worked at a Reggio Emilia inspired school where she was able to practice her naturalistic and learner-centered teaching style. Cassie has also worked as a Registered Behavioral Technician supporting children with behavioral challenges to reach their goals. In the ABA field she taught children to use effective coping skills and mindfulness to benefit their everyday life. She believes the best teaching approach comes from love, understanding, and patience.
Cindy Grynkiewicz ([email protected])
Cindy began teaching at Cow Hollow School in May 2021 and moved from Texas to the Bay area this spring. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education, with a concentration in Middle School Mathematics, from the University of Delaware. Cindy has been working with children ranging in ages 1-13 for 7 years. She loves building confidence in children at an early age to prepare them for a successful future. Cindy is excited to develop new relationships with the families and children.
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.
Natalie Kleefeld ([email protected])
Sienna Nobleza ([email protected])
Sienna began teaching at Cow Hollow School in October, 2020. She 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.
Simone Radliff ([email protected])
Simone began working at Cow Hollow School in 2021. Simone is honored to be a new member of the Cow Hollow community. She comes from a family of educators and spent her childhood “playing school.” This childhood obsession quickly turned into a lifelong passion when she came to the Bay Area to study Political Science at San Francisco State University. There she worked on various research projects in conjunction with the Early Childhood Education Department and Head Start Program that motivated Simone to become an educator and advocate for young children. She strives to create a warm and inspiring environment where all children are empowered to create their own learning, form lasting friendships and have an impact on their world. Simone has continued her education at City College of San Francisco and enjoys attending various professional development workshops and conferences where she learns about topics ranging from arts and activism to supporting children’s play. She now has a Site Supervisor Permit from the California Department of Teacher Credentialing and plans to receive her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Educational Leadership at Mills College.
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.
Gray Stewart ([email protected])
Gray joined Cow Hollow School in 2021. She first fell in love with early childhood education when she worked as a teaching and learning coordinator at the International Friends School, a dual-language Reggio Emilia inspired preschool, in Bellevue, Washington. She quickly became enamored with the science behind biliteracy in the critical development preschool years, early curriculum construction, and the long-standing successful elements of Reggio Emilia philosophy. Upon leaving Washington, she began graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University. In April of 2021, she graduated from Teachers College with an Ed.M. in School Counseling and M.A. in Psychological Counseling. Her ambition is driven by her hope that she can be an advocate for all children by generously listening to, sitting in companionship with, and holistically supporting the unique development of all students at Cow Hollow School. Her pursuit to become a teacher at Cow Hollow School is grounded in her belief that great social, emotional, and academic change can happen in the school setting and can flourish even further when partnered with the home environment.
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.
2020-2021 Cow Hollow School Demographic Survey Data
- 67% Dual–Working Parent Families
- 3% Multi--Generational Caregivers
- 3% Same--Sex Parents
- 1% Adoptive Families
- 43% of families spoke a language other than English in the home
- 97% Dual-‐Parent Home
- 3% Separated and Co-‐Parenting
- 1% Single Parents
Children’s Racial Identities:
- 70% Caucasian/White
- 24% Multi-racial (see below)
- 3% South Asian/Indian
- 1% Asian
- 1% Latino/Hispanin
- 24% of families identified their children as multi-racial. Within that pool of respondents,
- 90% Caucasian/White
- 62% Asian
- 24% South Asian
- 10% African American/Black
- 5% Native American
- 5% Asian Pacific Islander
- 24% of families identified their children as multi-racial. Within that pool of respondents,