Our Story

In 1966, a spirited group of preschool teachers and preschool parents conceived of a new school.

They imagined a community where parents/guardians and teachers could share in school leadership, and where preschool children could thrive in a program guided by the principles of Maria Montessori, who believed in every child’s ability to learn.

Shortly after, in March 1966, five parents and four teachers signed the original Articles of Incorporation for The San Francisco Montessori School, which opened the following September.

Tucked away in a church basement in the quiet working class Portola District neighborhood, the school had just seven preschool students its first day and fees were $100 per student.

In 1969, the school purchased the present property at 300 Gaven Street. The school added a First Grade and then grew organically in the 1970’s up through the Fifth Grade to an enrollment of 145 students. The elementary curriculum shifted away from the traditional Montessori method to a progressive approach incorporating Montessori ideals of self-reliance, responsibility, and learning through experience, but also embracing the best of current teaching practices.

In the 1980s, the school added an innovative Middle School program and changed its name to The San Francisco School. With enrollment at 225, an endowment was established, additional land was acquired, and new classrooms were constructed.

The 1990’s were years of consolidation, fundraising, and more construction for SFS. The school joined the California Association of Independent Schools, constructed a signature Middle School building on Gaven Street, launched an innovative professional development program, and became known for its enthusiastic and well-prepared graduates.

In the 2000’s the Middle School expanded to two classes per grade level, total enrollment grew to 275, and the endowment surpassed the two million dollar mark. The school also helped launch a new teacher training program called the Bay Area Teacher Training Program.

In 2013, the school community successfully funded and completed the Steve Morris Community Center project after raising more than five million dollars. For the first time, SFS students have a home court for sports and a 350-seat theater on campus for plays and concerts.

In 2016, we proudly celebrated our 50th Anniversary!

Under the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Living Our Humanitarian Promise, the School undertook initiatives for enhancement for its people, place, and program. With Forge Our Future: The Campaign for SFS, nearly $7M were raised to fund the expansion of our STEAM staff, facilities, and curriculum and to more than double the School’s endowment. 

In 2023, we bade farewell to Head of School Steve Morris after 19 years at SFS. We welcome Juna McDaid and are excited and optimistic about her leadership and partnership of The San Francisco School!