The sessions, set for 9am and 6:30pm, will feature a presentation, Q&A and tours of the school, which has been the home of the private Ring Mountain Day School for the past 14 years in the building adjacent to the campus of Edna Maguire Elementary School.
As Xa and her team move towards building a new school at the location, they’re promoting a curriculum that embraces small class sizes, project-based learning, band scheduling, an on-site learning specialist, homeschooler support, outdoor education and collaborative learning.
Xa, a former vice president at Goldman Sachs and a mother of two who founded the Mandarin immersion Presidio Knolls School in San Francisco in 2008 as a preschool before expanding it to a K-8 program, and her team say they’ve already accepted the school’s first batch of applicants with rolling admissions continuing.
Pacific Discovery is taking over Ring Mountain’s lease with the district, an agreement that runs through 2024. With the success of Presidio Knolls behind it, Xa’s Pacific Discovery School hopes to step into that void with “a focus on embracing and empowering the individual child to feel confident in who he is versus what others think he should be,” says Christina Forté, the school’s community outreach director. “That’s really the foundation on which this school has been built. Creating, self-aware, happy, empathetic and confident kids…that’s going to be the school’s measure of success.”
Xa feels the school building at 70 Lomita lends itself well to the outdoor education component, particularly its proximity to places like Muir Woods and Mount Tam. “Learning differences will also be embraced – there will be real support,” says Christina Forté, the school’s community outreach director, noting that Pacific Discovery will have a learning specialist on site.
Forté says the school is recruiting students from Novato to San Francisco and plans to run a bus from San Francisco to accommodate those students.
She notes that “there were many things that were happening at Ring Mountain that were pretty special, and we’ll be retaining some of those things.” That includes the Harkness table, a teaching method by which students sit at a table to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment with minimal teacher intervention.
“It’s an amazing to watch these kids engage in a richer and more robust discussion in which everyone feels heard and there’s a confidence level in every kid,” she says.
Xa and her team plan to renovate parts of the Ring Mountain building, including the front facade, Forté says. They’ll take over the building in June.