Park Side School

Five years ago, facing declining enrollment and its concurrent funding issues, Sebastopol Union School District decided to reconfigure its three school district. With reconfiguration, Park Side, the K-2 school, and Pine Crest, the 3-5 school, became two K-5 schools. Pine Crest became the multi-age school, housing our two multi-age programs: the Open Alternative Program and PCMAP. These programs have historically been highly sought after, and have attracted involved, resourced, highly educated families. There was concern that there would be an imbalance in resources, volunteers and morale between the two schools.

Many area schools have specific identities as Waldorf, environmental, academically rigorous, creative arts, magnet and charter schools. The Park Side staff became involved in discussions about an identity that would build on and showcase our known qualities:

  • A culturally diverse student population
  • Veteran teachers dedicated to teaching and attending to the whole child, including their emotional well being
  • Sebastopol's open minded and activist culture and population

A chance conversation between a Kindergarten teacher and one of her parents, brought up the International Baccalaureate program. Her impression from the conversation was that IB might be worth looking into. That summer one teacher and our principal traveled to participate in a two day introductory IB workshop. They came back enthused about IB and felt it might be a good fit for Park Side.

Over the last four years, our entire staff has received Level 1 Primary Years Program training. With each new training, understanding of this rich and multi-layered program increases. Teachers have shouldered a great amount of extra work going through trainings, classroom implementation and the application process.

Our school population includes approximately 20% English Learners, with 40% of our students on the Free and Reduced lunch program. Through IB's Primary Years Program, we are bringing an inquiry based, higher level thinking teaching methodology to our entire student body. We are providing gifted programming to a school population which almost certainly would not otherwise have access to such teaching.

IB requires teaching a second language. In selecting Spanish as our second language, we honor and empower our English learners. These students, and their families by extension, are gradually seeing their role change. Finding ways to learn about and celebrate our different cultures is helping us create a more inclusive learning environment for Park Side students and families.

Sebastopol Union School District's funding formula is lower than surrounding districts, which has created a financially challenging situation for decades. With the economic impacts schools currently face, funding is even more difficult. With these facts in mind, the ability of Park Side School to continue providing IB education to our students is a tremendous testimonial to the dedication and hard work of our staff, administration and families. It is the International Baccalaureate program which has inspired such effort.

Jude Kreissman, PYP Coordinator

Park Side School
7450 Bodega Avenue
Sebastopol California 95472

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