by George J Elbaum
Founded in 2004, The Bay School (Bay) is an independent, coeducational college preparatory high school in the Presidio of San Francisco. With more than 350 students in grades 9 through 12, Bay balances challenging academics and innovative thinking with a mindful approach to learning and life – its goal is to see students unlock their individual and collective potential so they begin to realize their roles in a dynamic world. Emphasizing depth of content, the school’s curriculum focuses on problem solving, promotes critical thinking and encourages students to connect academic study with their extracurricular lives. Bay’s 9th and 10th grade courses build a broad foundation of basic skills, focusing on the relationships among traditional academic disciplines. Students’ interests and talents increasingly drive the academic program in 11th and 12th grade.
Bay believes that a broad range of perspectives and experiences play a crucial role in achieving its educational mission, thus it intentionally recruits students and teachers from diverse cultural, racial, economic and geographic backgrounds. Students of color represent approximately 30 percent of the student body. Bay students come from more than 84 middle schools: 77% from independent schools, 19% from public schools, and 4% from parochial schools and homeschooling. Bay’s student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 74% of its teaching faculty have advanced degrees.
Students attend classes in a beautifully renovated, national historic landmark building. The 62,000-square-foot campus features 30 classrooms, three state-of-the-art science laboratories, a 3,000-square-foot library, an art studio, a media lab and a spacious student commons and dining room. The Project Center, established in 2011, boasts dedicated facilities for engineering, design and robotics, as well as additional fine arts studio space for sculpture and printmaking. The Project Center also serves as the home of Bay’s distinctive Senior Signature Projects program.
This was my 2nd visit to The Bay School, and my presentation to 10th grade Humanities class was organized by teacher Caitlin King, who concluded the Q&A session by asking me a question that I’ve never been asked in my previous 180+ talks: “What is the meaning of life?” Thank you, Caitlin, for the focus that your question gave me, and in re-thinking it afterwards made me review how I’m using the most precious of our resources: time!
My talk was again arranged by Nikki Bambauer of Jewish Family and Children’s Services and attending it also were Bay teachers Colin Williams and Waleed Abdelrahman.