Parker isn't just a school.
It's a home for students who test intellectual horizons, practice new abilities, and plug into the world around them.
It's a community that takes action and celebrates identities.
It's a place where high expectations fuel personal evolution, and failure is an opportunity to try again.
It's a launchpad for enduring friendships and lifelong passions. It's where confidence meets resilience, curiosity becomes discovery, and dreams fuel the journey as far as the mind can see.
AT PARKER, WE BELIEVE that when we ignite imaginations, challenge assumptions, and collaborate with diverse minds... magic happens.
Since 1912, Francis Parker School has been a community where generations of students have thrived, creating a legacy of excellence that continues to grow today.
At the core of a Parker education are six values: Students First, Academic Excellence, Inclusive Community, Strength of Character, Global Perspective, and No Limit to Better. These values prepare our students to become independent thinkers and compassionate contributors to our world, guide our faculty and staff as we provide the highest quality education for our students, and propel us all to pursue excellence.
As you read the pages that follow, you will learn how these values define Parker through our curricula, our culture, our achievements, and our lived experiences. I hold each of Parker's values close to my heart; I hope they resonate with you as well.
Undoubtedly, there is no greater gift we can give our children than the gift of education. And at Parker, we understand the significance of discovering the right school for your child.
We invite you to explore this viewbook and visit us on one of our two beautiful campuses to see if the true spirit and magic of the Parker community speaks to your family.
Warm regards,Kevin Yaley, Ph.D. Head of School
OUR CORE VALUES
These values guide our community as we evolve, take on new challenges, and continue to provide the highest quality education to our students:
STRENGTH OF CHARACTER
NO LIMIT TO BETTER
OUR MISSION & VISION
The mission of Francis Parker School is to create and inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective, and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.
Our vision is to create engaging learning environments that nurture curiosity and prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need to embrace purposeful opportunities and live joyful lives.
Our students are at the heart of every program and every decision. Parker provides the appropriate structure and guidance for each stage of the student experience with the end goal of graduating individuals who are self-reliant and lifelong learners.
What does our student-first learning environment look like?
SMALL CLASS SIZES: Students thrive when they are seen, known, and belong. This informs our commitment to small class sizes. With fewer children in each classroom, students have the space to take risks, try something new, and step into leadership roles. Our average class size is 16 students, and we have a 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Similarly, many of our Lower School classrooms include an associate teacher for added support.
STUDENT-DIRECTED LEARNING: We encourage our students to view the world through a critical lens framed by their own individual curiosity. This builds a sense of self-advocacy in each child so they can take ownership of their academic journey. As a result, our students become proactive, self-confident, and self-directed.
A FOCUS ON REFLECTION: Taking time to evaluate processes and outcomes is an integral part of the Parker curriculum. This reflection helps our students understand how to approach complex problems and navigate challenges as they move through Parker and beyond.
WHEN STUDENTS COME FIRST, EVERY CHILD FEELS VALUED, CARED FOR, AND PRIMED FOR GROWTH.
STUDENT SUCCESS & WELLNESS
When students have the confidence, energy, and support from their teachers and peers to take on the school week, they learn to successfully navigate adolescence and beyond. Behind every Parker student is an incredible team, comprised of classroom teachers, advisors, deans, learning specialists, and healthcare professionals, including a clinical counselor in each division, a school nurse, and a school psychologist. Our faculty and staff know students personally and are excited to see them grow and succeed.
ADVISORS (MIDDLE AND UPPER SCHOOL)
Every student belongs to a small faculty-led advisory group, which meet several days per week to foster community and ensure each student is known and valued. Faculty guide students through lessons on the core values of community, lifelong learning, whole-child education, collaboration, and global citizenship. If a student needs academic or social support, advisors also serve as the first resource for a student and their parents/guardians.
GRADE-LEVEL DEANS (MIDDLE AND UPPER SCHOOL)
Grade-level deans oversee the student experience for each grade level. Deans act as a central point of communication between students, teachers, school psychologists, and parents about academics and a student's social and emotional well-being.
Learning Specialists assist students with the formation and refinement of learning strategies. Support is tailored to students’ individual needs in small group sessions or one-on-one. Staff collaborates with classroom teachers to provide support strategies and accommodations for students with mild learning issues associated with diagnosed medical conditions.
Licensed counselors in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School divisions teach classroom lessons, provide short-term individual support, and consult with families and teachers.
LEARNING AT PARKER IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN OUR FACULTY AND STUDENTS.
Expert faculty develop courses that move students first through foundational knowledge and then forward "as far as the mind can see."
JK to Grade 5 foster the development and education of the whole child. We strive for our students to become not only independent thinkers but also creative dreamers, compassionate leaders, and brave doers.
NO BORING DAYS
The curriculum for Grades 6 to 8 supports adolescent development through learning approaches that build social, emotional, and meta-cognitive skills, so students joyfully and successfully enter young adulthood.
Students in Grades 9 to 12 thrive in a nurturing learning environment that promotes high academic standards and provides opportunities to identify and grow individual passions and strengths.
Parker's academic program provides a structured, caring community with small class sizes that allow teachers to cultivate students' individual strengths. The core curriculum balances academic pursuits with visual and performing arts, world language, and physical education courses taught by experts in these fields. Examples of our specialist, elective, and advanced classes include:
In addition to language arts, social studies, and math, students rotate through offerings of:
Intro to Programming
2D and 3D Art
Multivariate Calculus and Linear Algebra
Advanced Robotics Programming
Library Music P.E.
World Language (Spanish or Mandarin)
Think, Tinker, Make
Journalism (Scribe Magazine)
French Literature and Culture
AP Music Theory
Francis Parker School's academic and co-curricular programs are held accountable by an independently-governed board of trustees and are routinely accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Our rigorous academic program not only exceeds learning requirements set by CAIS, as well as state standards, but also maintains flexibility for students to explore a wide variety of interests and take deep dives into their areas of strength and curiosity.
60 AP AND HONORS COURSES OFFERED IN THE UPPER SCHOOL
68% OF PARKER FACULTY HOLD ADVANCED DEGREES
MASTERPIECES SHOULD BE PERFORMED IN INSPIRING SPACES
We believe students should have state-of-the-art learning environments that allow them to explore their passions and become masters of their craft. Here, Middle School students perform for their families in J. Crivello Hall during Spring Arts Night.
WE ARE A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY THAT CELEBRATES DIFFERENT IDENTITIES, BACKGROUNDS, AND EXPERIENCES.
Parker is deeply committed to building a school community that is global in perspective, diverse in composition, and reflective of our world. We are the first school in San Diego with a dedicated Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Our flagship framework Belonging at Parker expands our DEIB work across the entire school.
70 ZIP CODES ARE REPRESENTED IN PARKER'S STUDENT BODY
BELONGING AT PARKER
Belonging at Parker is a school-wide commitment to creating a community in which each person is given the opportunity to develop a healthy sense of self and empathy towards one another. We courageously lean into difficult conversations and continuously reflect on our practices to prioritize cultural competency in our curriculum, programs, policies, and strategic goals.
Belonging at Parker looks like...
ACADEMICS AND CO-CURRICULARS
JK to Grade 12 students can engage with DEIB through co-curricular student groups like Belonging Lab in the Lower School, Advocacy Room in the Middle School, and Equity Council in the Upper School. Upper School students can also select academic electives like Social Justice and Class, Race, and Gender in the United States and Ethnic Studies.
DAY OF UNDERSTANDING
A nine-year tradition, the Upper School Day of Understanding includes over 25 workshops run by Parker students, faculty, staff, and outside presenters; a keynote speaker; and film and documentary viewings.
LANGUAGE, CULTURE, AND IDENTITY WEEK
In the spring, the Lower School celebrates Language, Culture, and Identity Week (pictured on the left), where students, families, and friends share their globally diverse backgrounds through cultural performances, interactive lessons, and an international food festival.
On professional development days, the DEIB team leads trainings on topics like racial literacy and cultural linguistic responsiveness. These trainings provide faculty and staff with the tools and resources to cultivate joy and belonging, and to think critically about cultural frameworks, behaviors, and biases.
AFFINITY AND ALLIANCE GROUPS
Affinity and Alliance Groups at Parker provide support for students as they explore identity development and bolster a feeling of belonging in our community. These groups include:
NIA - Black, African, Multiracial, and Transracial Adoptee students
SPEAK - First-generation, college-bound Latino students
ASU - Asian Student Union
LIFE SKILLS CLASSES
The Life Skills program for Grades 4 to 9 makes space for students to explore how their individual identities and backgrounds are woven into the greater fabric of national and world history. Introductions to topics like identity, allyship, and self-advocacy help students begin to engage in current cultural and political discourse.
MECCA - Middle Eastern Culture Club & Association
LASO - Latin American Student Association
GSA - Gender Sexuality Alliance
JTEEN - Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Network
COLONEL FRANCIS PARKER SAID IT BEST: “THE END AND AIM OF ALL EDUCATION IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER.”
Our namesake, the pioneer of progressive education, believed that education should include the complete development of the student—mental, physical, and moral.
Social and emotional skills provide a foundation for student learning. Identity development and the understanding of self in relation to one's community are the cornerstone of character development.
Parker students learn to recognize how their actions impact the school community. To encourage positive contributions, the School teaches a character education program and uses the acronym STRIVE (right) to remind students to demonstrate kind and respectful behavior.
The seeds of self-responsibility and civic duty are planted at a young age with the emphasis on becoming good citizens and helping our youngest students learn to critically consider the world around them.
Parker's Lower School uses the Ways of Being model for its character education program. Ways of Being paints a picture of the whole social and emotional learner, describing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors that exist within a person who is socially and emotionally competent.
Seek always to do your best.
Treat people and property with respect.
Revere the truth.
Invest in your future.
Value School rules, your heritage, and personal responsibility.
Enrich the world for all.
GRADE LEVEL THEMES
JUNIOR KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE 1: IDENTITY
GRADES 2 TO 3: AWARENESS
GRADES 4 TO 5: ACTION
Middle School faculty and staff provide character education learning experiences during weekly advisory meetings, community gatherings, week-long life skills workshops and within content area classrooms. These learning experiences enable students to understand, internalize and act on Parker’s core values.
Each grade level is centered around a theme: SelfAwareness (Grade 6), Community Awareness (Grade 7), and Global Awareness (Grade 8).
SAMPLE OF LIFE SKILLS TOPICS
Wellness in a Digital World
Drug and Alcohol Awareness
Bus Evacuation / Campus Safety Drills
Sustainability at Parker (and at Home)
Stereotypes and Generalizations
Upper School students have the opportunity to continue their life skills studies through electives and extracurriculars. Similarly, community engagement is a hallmark of the Upper School experience. Each year, students volunteer with nonprofit organizations locally, nationally, and abroad.
Other elective courses encourage students to acquire a deeper understanding of complex social issues and develop the skill set needed to take an active role in promoting change within the School community and beyond. Social Justice, a popular social studies elective, includes opportunities throughout the Southern California/Baja California region to explore relevant social justice topics firsthand.
37 PARKER STUDENTS RECEIVED THE PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD IN 2022-2023
THE WORLD IS MORE INTERCONNECTED AND INTERDEPENDENT THAN EVER.
Global perspective opens our students' eyes to the complex interplay among cultures and societies and enables them to appreciate individuals and their unique qualities.
At Parker, we know that our students must develop global perspective to understand how their interactions affect those around them. Knowledge of the world and global competency promotes habits of critical thinking, effective collaboration, innovation, and empathy.
By building awareness of cultural influences on individual behavior and world events, students are better equipped to become good citizens of their local and broader communities.
GLOBALLY COMPETENT STUDENTS:
à Understand community
à Make connections between local and global communities
à Know geography (people and places)
à Are open to other cultures
à Can communicate in another language
à Have knowledge of current events
à Have the ability to problem solve
The opportunity to reach beyond borders and become global citizens starts in the Lower School during world language classes. Spanish is offered from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5, and Mandarin is offered from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 5.
Middle and Upper School students have the choice of learning Spanish, Mandarin, or French. By graduation, students should reach an advanced level of communication and cultural competence.
In addition to language cultivation, Parker promotes global literacy by introducing students to the histories and complex relationships between today's nations and societies, promoting awareness and appreciation of all cultures.
DIVERSITY OF HUMANITIES CURRICULUM
During Language, Culture, and Identity Week, Lower and Middle School students hear presentations, watch performances, and taste cuisine from around the globe. As a capstone project, all Grade 8 students spend their entire school year preparing for a week-long learning trip. Previous destinations have included China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, and New Zealand.
Upper School students deepen their global awareness through community engagement and on-campus programming throughout the year. Annually, students participate in Day of Understanding, a full day of interactive diversity workshops that broaden perspectives and enhance understanding of topics like race, class, origin, learning differences, and physical disability. Upper School students may also participate in two-week, experiential learning excursions in Europe, Asia, Africa, Central America, or South America.