Students enrolled 250
School leader Ms. Mary Ricks

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4000 Terman Drive
Palo Alto, CA 94306

School website
(650) 813-9131
(650) 813-9132
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Map of Bowman International School address.

4 stars
Based on 29 ratings

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think about this school

October 03, 2014
Bowman teaches the way all students are meant to learn! My current 8th grader joined in December of 7th grade and immediately fit right in! The teachers and students were beyond kind and welcoming to him. I love so many things about Bowman ... no homework, no grades, late start time (9am), school day ends at 4pm, small class size, individualized instruction, each student in middle school has a one on one check in teacher (no advisory with 20+ kids), it is also a year around school so when your child misses school - for any reason - there are no nasty e-mails or guilt trips. The teachers and administration at Bowman are good and kind people, they really know my son and they really care. My only disappointment with Bowman is that we didn't know about it when my son was starting Kindergarten and that it doesn't go up to 12th grade! We need more schools like Bowman!

- submitted by a parent
November 20, 2012
My daughter loves Bowman! She has made many friends and is very happy. The families are down-to-earth and are committed to their children, but not in a competitive way. The teachers are caring. The Halloween parade is awesome!

- submitted by a parent
July 19, 2012
Students thrive here and the environment is positive and welcoming. Bowman has a wonderful community and the administrators care deeply about the children and their unique skill set.

- submitted by a teacher
May 17, 2012
My Child has been at Bowman for two years and has accomplished so many things! One of the most important things to our family is that our child has continued to be and has been supported to be a kind, caring person who cares for others and his environment. The Bowman approach has been very successful for our family!

- submitted by a parent
May 02, 2012
Bowman is an excellent school with incredibly dedicated teachers and staff. The environment fosters a love of learning and independent study. It does require your child to be self motivated as kids are encouraged to pursue their own interests. Some parents are surprised that there is no homework, but you have to factor in that the school is open from 730a to 6p. If kids plan their day right they should be able to get it all done at school.

- submitted by a parent
November 21, 2011
Fantastic School for our gifted child!! We were in the much touted Palo Alto schools which were a nightmare for gifted kids. Bowman has been incredible. Great teachers, responsive administration and nice welcoming families. Finally!! This is what schools should be.

- submitted by a parent
August 22, 2011
We have two children at this school and are pleased with their progress. Subjects are taught in an integrated and concrete manner that sparks the child's own interest in delving further into the topics at hand. Children "learn how to learn" here, which forms a valuable foundation. The mostly "no homework" structure allows for time for outside interests and family responsibilities. In response to feedback, the school is also doing a better job of educating students in things like test taking skills, which are important in high school. Administration is open to parent feedback, as long as that feedback is based on fact -- share with them the issues and then let the administration and teachers recommend the right course of remediative action. Teachers by and large deeply care for students and often invest their own time for extra-curriculars. Students have the opportunity to explore their own strengths and teachers often use these as ways to springboard weaker areas of interest. Highly recommended.

- submitted by a parent
July 16, 2011
We have been at Bowman for 5 years and have 2 kids there. We are thrilled to have found such a safe, diverse school with fantastic values and innovative approaches to academics. Our kids love to go to school and their stories of their projects and what they are learning each week keep us appreciative and entertained. They love learning and not simply taught to the test. They are also taught to be global citizens and to respect people and their differences.

- submitted by a parent
July 16, 2011
We love Bowman, and it has been great for our family and our children. It is academically amazing and creative while teaching the kids so much more about the world, different cultures, music, art, languages and people. Its focus on the whole child makes a meaningful difference. Bowman kids are mature, responsible as well as academically prepared. They also important to us aren't forced to grow up too quickly. The community is balanced and grounded, we really enjoy the other families but in a low pressure way.

- submitted by a parent
January 18, 2011
If your child is average, this is probably an OK environment. It is safe, and there are small classes, and fun after-school programs (for additional fees.) If your child has any atypical needs (for example, your child is gifted), this will not be a good fit. It is a cookie-cutter program. Despite the small class sizes, there is zero room for individual instruction and literally no academic expectations at all. Our son was bored in the classroom, where there were few opportunities for him to do grade-level work. For example, we inquired as to why he wasn't doing any science, a subject he loves. We were told he would be afforded class time to do science, but he would have to come up with the science program himself. He was 8. For months, we waited to see some written work, but there never was any, and there were always explanations for the lack of written work. Sometimes, they just said that he wasn't doing it. So even though we had to forfeit several thousand dollars worth of advance-paid tuition, we withdrew him.

- submitted by a parent
July 23, 2010
The reviews that have few stars thus far don't seem to match my experience with Bowman. The test scores are off the charts high, the turnover isn't as great as many other schools, and the enrollment is increasing even in this tough economy. My children have been at Bowman for nearly 5 years, and are blossoming academically and socially. Most importantly, they're having a great time and some days it's hard to get them to come home with me. I advise anyone to visit the school and observe what's going on first hand!

- submitted by a parent
July 20, 2010
"Montessori" itself is great but the Bowman is questionable. Individual based learning seems make sense but kids are missing lots of knowledge that kids learn in other school. Yes, knowledge from books are not everything but they do need to know in order to survive with state-wide test in future.There're many reasons why so many students(and teachers) leave every year even though they are so popular and hard to get in Kinder.

- submitted by a parent
July 10, 2010
I am a former parent of three children, all of whom are now in public high school. Bowman was the best thing that ever happened to my children and my family. My children are true "Montessori kids" : compassionate, caring, creative young adults who still question everything - and I attribute that to the simply amazing work and leadership of Mary Beth Ricks who is an educator of the absolute highest caliber. If there has been teacher turnover at Bowman, I can tell you that this is because the standards are so high for teachers that those who don't cut it are asked to leave. Plus the enrichment at this school in terms of music, art, outdoor ed is outstanding. You cannot go wrong at Bowman.

- submitted by a community member
April 06, 2010
Bowman presents very well- but once you are in and start asking questions you will find that the school has very high teacher turnover, administration is not upfront, and they do not offer the education they claim to. I was very disappointed with this school, paricularly administration but also many of the teachers. It is run like a dictatorship. The talented teachers they do manage to get leave once they figure out how things work around there. They have no say in things and are often the teachers rewarded are those doing a poor job (the ones who just do what they are told). I would not recommend this school for your child.

- submitted by a teacher
March 29, 2010
I enrolled my child in the school due to the individualized education plan and thought it would be a great environment. I was wrong! The teachers come and go with no explanation from the administrators. I could not get get my child's teacher to motivate and challenge my child to do grade level work. The current public school where my child attends now is better than this private school and has improved my child's writing. I regret not moving my child out of this school sooner.

- submitted by a parent
March 10, 2010
I am currently a highschool student who graduated Bowman International School a few years ago. I think that the faculty members do care more than public school teachers. Regular public school teachers have just one goal and that is to get you to the next class, but these teachers, they care much more. They want you to go to college, and also do well after college. I had some troubles at the school, but it was a big part of my life and I always thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to do more then I could have at a public school. I continue to talk to my graduating class and many of us are doing very well. I really think this helped me and prepared me for highschool.

- submitted by a student
August 30, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a community member
December 29, 2008
I cannot say enough good things about Bowman. I would have LOVED this school as a child. No more wasted time sitting behind a desk doing busy work I already knew how to do. If your child is bored at public school, this is the place for them. Once they get their core curriculum 'musts' (which are individually taylored) done for the day , they are free to work on anything they'd like. Kids learn early on not to procrastinate & they are able to progress at their own speed instead of an average speed found in a standard classroom. Both of my kids also attended Montessori preschool and were reading at a first grade level at the age of 4. They aren't geniuses, either. They are regular kids that have blossomed in a Montessori environment. That said, not every kid blossoms in a self-directed environment.

- submitted by a parent
February 20, 2008
I've had 2 kids go through Bowman, and am very happy with the results. No school is perfect, but Bowman does a great job of preparing the 'whole child', and the flexibility means kids can go as far as they want. One recent graduate left 8th grade and went dire3ctly to college...

- submitted by a parent
September 04, 2007
We thought this school would be the best place for our child, who is very gifted but also has learning issues. Bowman's administrators and some teachers are sadly ignorant about modern education standards and techniques, and the education she received at Bowman was woefully below standard. We're sorry we choose this school at all; the only positive things were a few very good extracurricular teachers and the other wonderful kids who were stuck there too. Save your money and your child's precious time and find a school that does more than sells itself and then hides its shortcomings.

- submitted by a parent
August 17, 2007
I cannot agree with previous comment more. We enrolled our son at Bowman for several years. The convenience of scheduling seemed ideal for a working mother. We had a good relationship with his teachers, and were always told he was progressing beautifully. Years of lower than desired standardized test scores were explained away. Unfortunately, after our family relocated, his transition into a highly respected parochial school was not a smooth one. The academic rigors at his new school were a shock for him. We have struggled with our decision of keeping him at Bowman for so many years.

- submitted by a parent
August 15, 2007
Our child attended kindergarten and 1st grade at Bowman. She always received excellent progress reports from Bowman. However, after transferring to a well respected public school, her standardized test scores - while well above state averages - are worse than average for that school. If you are paying for the all-day-year-around aspect of the school, maybe it's a good value. If you are paying for academic excellence, you can do better.

- submitted by a parent
August 19, 2006
Bowman is a wonderful school for the a wide range of children -- although like any small private school it's not universal. Our profoundly gifted child (miserable in public schools) was happy at Bowman, and able to proceed at a natural pace (doing college level work in some subjects by middle school). The vast majority of the graduates do very well afterward, although there is typically a transition. However, they are usually much more poised, self-aware, and independent than their peers that went elsewhere. Parents who want to peer over the teachers' shoulders (and meddle) will not like this school. On the other hand, the 3-times-yearly conferences provide an enormous amount of feedback, board meetings are largely open, and I find the school's operation very transparent. And they really, really care about the kids.

- submitted by a parent
June 27, 2006
I have volunteered a few hundred hours at the school and constructive help is much more welcome than our experiences with public schools in the area. This school exemplifies how schools should be run. The year round program allows for students time to complete their work at school making homework infrequent. Although the school does not emphasize standardized testing the 6 - 8th graders are testing in the range of 10 - 12 equivalent grade level. It's just that because there is no 'teaching to the test' that early student testing starts at about average and then dramatically swings upward in the upper grades. This is mostly due to the strong language arts emphasis from the beginning of school. Reading and communication skills are the doorway to all subsequent learning.

- submitted by a parent
June 25, 2006
Hi, As a Bowman parent who has observed the details of the managing of classrooms and the school over the past 8 years, I can not say enough good things about 'Bowman', as we call it. The curriculum is based on a Montessori philosophy of respect for oneself, others, and the environment as well as building self-confidence through independent thinking and work. The teachers are incredible and Margaret and her staff communicative, smart, and efficient. You couldn't ask for a better learning environment for your child, be they 5 or 14 yrs old. This has to be one of the best schools in Northern California. On top of the attention, care, and intelligence that teachers bring to the classroom, the school is a twelve-month a year school with hours that match a professional families' needs (7:30 AM to 6:00 PM). Children learn Spanish and Japanese from kindergarten to eighth grade.

- submitted by a parent
March 07, 2006
Although a great school for kids who are self montivated in traditional schooling not a great school for kids who have learning diabilities like ADD or ADHD. Although facilty seems to care, they really are not equipped to handle spirited children. They are a Montasorie based school. My experience with this school with my son has been less then stellar. I was born with ADHD and look at as a gift, where at Bowman it feels like my son has a disability.

- submitted by a parent
September 21, 2005
The founder/director of the school, Margaret Ricks, is a highly trained and experienced Montessori educator who is passionate about delivering a quality program to the students. The school operates year-round, which can be especially desirable when both parents work. All children learn Spanish and Japanese, older students have opportunity to learn Latin. All students learn music and have PE. Montessori is a child-centered, self-paced learning style (with appropriate constraints). Children who need more time with a certain subject get it, children who absorb concepts more quickly aren't 'held back by the rest of the class'. There is an active association of parents, parental involvement is encouraged but not required. Check out www.montessori.org to learn more about the Montessori style of teaching. Wouldn't do it any other way!

- submitted by a parent
June 15, 2005
Bowman International is great. The class sizes are small, the teachers first rate, the teaching philosophy and techniques unique and effective. Our daughter is doing very well and loves it. I would highly recommend Bowman International school.

- submitted by a parent
October 16, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
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Bowman International School
4000 Terman Drive, Palo Alto, CA  94306
(650) 813-9131
Last modified Bowman International School is a Private school that serves grades K-8
Bowman International School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 29 reviews. Top