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San Rafael, CA

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39 Trellis Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

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(415) 472-8000
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Map of Mark Day School address.
March 22, 2015
I have two kids at Mark Day School, and we have had a fantastic experience there. My kids’ classmates are diverse, ethnically and socio-economically. The global education is remarkable – my kids have been able to meet and engage with kids and teachers from South Africa, China and Costa Rica. The curriculum is thoughtful and engaging from K to 8th grade. My kids look forward to school everyday. It is a fun, engaging and wonderful community. What I love best is the energy and vibe of the school – it is a place where students, teachers and administrators want to be. It is a happy and joyous place to learn.

- submitted by a parent
March 17, 2015
Every parent wants to give his child the best environment in which she can grow with opportunities, persevere through difficulty, and blossom with confidence. We love MDS because my child loves MDS. Some examples from both our perspectives: + classroom curriculum that uses evidence-based assessment, not just testing + interdisciplinary projects + social/emotional and service learning curriculum + amazing friends + motivated and loving teachers + foreign language instruction beginning in Kindergarten + music, drama, art each every week + public speaking + meaningful, daily interaction with students in other grades + student-driven leadership There are as many reasons for investigating a private school option as there are children, and I find it both surprising and irresponsible that any parent would caution another parent away without knowing anything about that family's reasons for considering the school. No one school is the right environment for everyone. I strongly encourage any prospective parent to investigate the school for himself and make up his own mind. Take these ANONYMOUS reviews with a grain of salt, mine included!

- submitted by a parent
March 13, 2015
I agree with the parent review from February...the new Mark Day School's school ethos is odd and peculiar, gone are the sweet days of Saint Mark's School. Students are happy but if you are a parent with stringent behavior expectations, you will be disappointed. If you wanted a highly academic curriculum, look elsewhere. Many parents have tried to meet with administration but to no avail. Trustees don't want to hear feedback which leaves parents questioning who is running the show and are the decisions for the greater good of the school? Conditional contracts will eventually push some kids out but leave other disruptive kids to disrupt the more serious learners. There is a lot of attention on the new $10 million dollar building but if the walls could talk, they would say tighten up the classrooms where kids can learn in an uninterrupted atmosphere. People are tired of kids outbursts and bad behavior! Students are aware that there are no serious punishments.

- submitted by a parent
March 12, 2015
I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about this school. As a recent college graduate moving back to the Bay Area, I think often of the school that gave me roots. Academically, it prepared me extremely well for both high school and college as we learned foundational study skills starting in Kindergarten and built on them through graduation. Moreover, I learned how to be a productive part of a learning community unlike many schools, at Mark Day, it is cool to be smart. This environment fostered a group of students who were openly enthusiastic to learn and took pride in doing so. But what really stands out in my memory, and still makes me feel the pull of home, is the school community itself. As students, we grew up here, and the teachers nurtured us as we did. Amidst this caring group of people, we felt safe to test our mental limits as students and grew confident in ourselves as individuals. -Alum

- submitted by a community member
February 16, 2015
Mark Day School has an odd and peculiar culture. Ultimately we don't feel it meets our expectations due to leadership mindset and executional challenges. It has terrific intentions and uses all the correct "buzz" words in education today. It actually has programs in place but really dig deep on how/when they will impact your child. I think if you look closely you will see executional challenges left and right. They tout a global edu program but my child was not directly impacted in a meaningful way during the several years we have been at the school. The challenge is two-fold for us. #1. If you are not an extreme liberal, you will find approach and head of school frustrating. They will not admit but deeply believe that "differentiation" in education is a show of elitism. It was even said outloud at a parent meeting by administration. This being true, you can count on little to no upward differentiation but they will help those struggling to the extent possible. Please note, small school = lack of resources so you may be better off elsewhere. If your child is on the other end of the spectrum and bored with grade level curriculum- DO NOT GO TO THIS SCHOOL.

- submitted by a parent
September 13, 2014
Mark Day School fell short of our academic expectations and we left. The school is not the "academic school of Marin." It is however a very sweet school with a lovely community of people. It just was not what we were looking for as a family. If you have an advanced student there are better options out there for the academically inclined.

- submitted by a parent
May 31, 2014
The school has had some horrific behavioral issues that are not addressed like they are at public schools. They do not discipline the kids from large donor families, fearing that they will leave and so will their huge donations. Very bad behavior is tolerated and the message being sent is, it's OK. They need to get their priorities in order. Kids first, then finances, in my opinion.

- submitted by a parent
April 07, 2014
Great community of families, mediocre curriculum, defensive faculty. Admission team actually asked parents to write strong reviews after reading a negative review recently about the school. How about listening to your bright, well-educated parents and reacting to the needs of their children instead of asking parents to write positive reviews? Headmaster seems interested in protecting his team, discounting any constructive feedback and building his resume. Think SEVERAL times before passing your cute public schools.

- submitted by a parent
February 05, 2014
The decision to send our children to Saint Mark's has been the best one we have ever made as parents. This is a place that values and celebrates the individuality of each student and the teachers really know and care for them. The students are engaged and confident; they learn to think critically, globally and collaboratively. Saint Mark's students lead very happy and balanced lives.

- submitted by a parent
January 21, 2014
I m a SM parent and by chance decided to look up the school on GS today. Everything mentioned in the previous reviews is true - both the pros and cons. The pros - SM is unpretentiousness and internationalism and community service are emphasized. The cons a handful of mediocre teachers, badly behaved students, and an unnecessarily rigorous curriculum. Saint Marks tries to be warm and nurturing but unfortunately, they fall short. There are a lot of self-congratulations, but when real issues are raised, the school doesn t know what to do. I d say that SM has all of the same issues as a good public school, the difference being you expect more from SM because you re paying a premium. Really do your homework and think about what is right for your child(ren), if you re considering sending them here.

- submitted by a parent
January 16, 2014
Academically, we found that St. Marks provided a more rigorous experience than what we had experienced in the public elementary school. However, the social dynamics were negative despite the administration's attempt to integrate social/emotional learning. Our child described many instances of kids treating their classmates in mean, condescending ways. We learned that many parents and students had attempted to address these problems with the administration and/or just assumed that this behavior is typical. Sadly, many of the parents had never experienced school environments outside of St. Marks so they don't realize that there should be a zero tolerance policy on bullying.

- submitted by a parent
September 23, 2013
I went here, it was awful. Here are some more words. 12 13 14 15

- submitted by a community member
April 17, 2013
I have three boys all of whom started as Kindergartners at Saint Mark's, and I have been part of the school's community for 11 years. I recommend Saint Mark's to all of our friends without hesitation. It is a kind and nurturing community; it has a thoughtfully innovative, challenging and well-balanced program; and it prepares our kids to be responsible global citizens. Most importantly, the administrative team and faculty genuinely work hard to put the needs of the students and what is in their best interest first. I would encourage any family considering Saint Mark's to make the effort to meet any 8th grader. You will be impressed by each and everyone, not just for their academic preparedness, but for who they are as people. That is the measure of a great school.

- submitted by a parent
April 16, 2013
I have three children(both sexes) who spent all their K-8 years at Saint Mark's School and I can't say enough good things about it. The excellent teachers, challenging curriculum and caring community helped shape these most important years so that they could excel in high school and beyond. Each of them was excellently prepared for success at one of the most academically challenging independent high schools in the bay area. My oldest is ready to move on to college and the top kids and leaders in her high school class are all Saint Mark's graduates and are all matriculating to top colleges. Although my children are no longer at SMS,I have many friends at the school and the general feeling in the community is that the best days of Saint Mark's are still to come. The new Head of School and Lower Division Head have incredible energy and will thoughtfully take the school soaring into the next 10 years. Saint Mark's is a wonderful place to raise a family. It will always be an important part of our lives.

- submitted by a parent
April 10, 2013
Any parent considering this academically mediocre, social-climbing parent population school would do well to ask the Admissions Director just how many students who still live in the area have left the school. The school has a reputation for being "bad for boys." As well, the parent population is very, very aware of any child who excells and subtle marginalization of that child is tacitly encouraged by the teaching staff. Just ask parents whose children bear the bad memories of bullying disguised as normal reaction by classmates. Example: in 2002, an entire class of 3rd graders humming the "Jeopardy!" time-out music to shame a child struggling to answer a question. Outraged parents have taken it upon themselves to air their grievances by writing letters outlining the issues then sending copies to every parent of each child enrolled. It demonstrates the level of frustration and of not being heard that parents of maligned students feel. There is a very dark side indeed to the Saint Mark's School shiny happy people reputation. Run, don't walk. Take the tuition money you'll have saved by NOT sending your child here, anddonate 1/2 of it to your local public school.

- submitted by a parent
April 04, 2011
We have been with Saint Marks for 14 years - one 8th grader off to high school (University) and two older children now in college (Stanford)! Over the year's we have seen the school grow from a "community generated" school to one of the top schools in the Bay Area and one of the things we appreciate most about the school is their constant attention to evolving their curriculum in a well planned manner. This is not a school that changes teachers, administrators or character every year, but is a solid and consistent school that is always thoughtfully considering how to do better. Children thrive in this stable atmosphere. We absolutely love the "block curriculum" of the upper school (our son has excelled under it) and, despite the "rumors", the homework load is more than manageable....no more than an hour a night for a reasonably focused kid and there is plenty of time to do most of it during the day. We also love the global focus of the curriculum - Saint Mark's truly integrates and appreciates the global lens in how they teach the kids to think. This is a very grounded school with a great parent community to support the teachers and administrators in their work.

- submitted by a parent
March 19, 2011
I applied my son here this year 2011, we went through all the application process and today I receive a letter saying my son was accepted but they cannot assist us with financial assistance because their financial assistance has dried up and they will prioritize currents students. Well, for me you are just scamming me for fees that are needed to apply in your school total of $60. An ethical organization would inform me prior to applying that I will no longer quality for financial aid but instead they still took my money and let me know at the end we cannot get financial assistance. Good job St Mark!!!

- submitted by a parent
May 26, 2010
I am an 8th grader who is graduating Saint Mark's in less than a month. I've attended Saint Mark's since kindergarten and it had been the best experiences of my life. The teachers nurture their students into respectable children and allow us to have some fun doing it. K-3rd grade was extremely enjoyable and I loved coming to school every day. We didn't have that much homework in 4th-6th grade. 6th grade was my favorite year every. 7th-8th grade wasn't bad with homework either with a maximum of maybe 3 hours a night but almost always around 1. Every kid got into a private school-19 kids got into Branson, 15 to MA, and 6 to UHS. I got into every school I applied: Branson, MA, and UHS and will be attending Branson next year. Saint Mark's is the best thing my parents could have done for me. I loved it.

- submitted by a community member
February 12, 2010
My son came to Saint Mark's at the upper school level, and it's been a really excellent environment. Saint Mark's was welcoming from the very beginning, there is a really great group of kids here, and the faculty and administration are superb. Saint Mark's definitely knows how to attract and keep amazing teachers -- my son found them all extremely inspiring. They're dedicated, hard-working and energetic, and extraordinarily talented educators. The schoolwork is engaging, and interspersed with interesting challenges. There is a strong arts, electives and cultural program, and the p.e. program is top-notch. We're relocating, and the comments on greatschools.org have been really useful in our search for a new school. For anyone coming to Marin County, I strongly recommend Saint Mark's School without any reservation whatsoever.

- submitted by a parent
no rating November 06, 2009
Saint Mark's is a phenomenal school. The kids are happy, engaged and challenged. The teachers care so much about each child. It is a very progressive school that constantly strives to innovate its programs and approaches to teaching, but makes sure that children have a strong grounding in the fundamentals. There is a wonderful emphasis on partnerships with schools in the Canal in San Rafael, South Africa and Beijing. This emphasis on partnership is very different from the way most schools do community service - the ties with each of these schools are deep and respectful and equal. The school is run so well, the community is very welcoming and inclusive...it is such a special and vibrant place. We have not experienced nor have we heard about the heavy load of homework - I think the folks complaining are the exception. We feel so lucky that our children are at SaintMark's!

- submitted by a parent
October 28, 2009
Unfortunately, we have experienced a disappointing decline in Saint Marks. The quality of instruction is high, and many of the teachers are extraordinarily earnest. However, the demands they place upon students are crushing: children learn much more about time management at Saint Marks than anything else. It fosters a simply get-it-done attitude and forget about understanding. We've also seen an increasing economically and intellectually pretentious atmosphere over the years. A perfect example of this is a claim the school is not pretentious yet children from Saint Marks play in so much more a high quality fashion.

- submitted by a parent
October 13, 2009
I have 3 kids at Saint Mark's & we have been a part of the community for many years now. There are several things about the school that stand out. First & foremost, it is an environment and culture that celebrates intellect and creativity. It's cool to be smart and to think 'outside the box'. I am often amazed at the creative play my kids engage in with their friends from Saint Mark's as opposed to our neighborhood friends (who are smart & lovely, but it's just different). The teachers & curriculum asks the kids to think, and to apply what they've learned broadly. Second, the school truly fosters independence & personal accountability. By 4th grade, parents are asked to be fully hands-off, & the child is in charge of their homework. They are taught time management & organization. Third, the community is warm & accepting & unpretentious. We love it!

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 15, 2009
Don't let concerns about homework get in the way of a kid's success. Saint Marks is a great school: it delivers an excellent education and its students move on to the best independent high schools. Look at it this way: You send your kid to S.M. so that he can get into Branson or M.A. You send your kid to Branson so he can get into Stanford or an Ivy. He goes to Stanford so he can fast track at a first-rate enterprise. When he's a corporate officer he'll thank you.

- submitted by a parent
September 15, 2009
Saint Mark's School has been such a great experience for our son who has been there since Kindergarten and is now in 8th grade. Saint Mark's has a strong commitment to providing not only an outstanding education but also instills strong character and citizenship through their Seven Pillars of Character program. The Administration, teachers and friends that we have found there have been wonderfully supportive. Our son has always enjoyed school and even now as a teenager looks forward to his days at Saint Mark's. I certainly would highly recommend this school to a prospective parent. I know when we started looking at schools it was overwhelming but when we visited Saint Mark's I knew we had found a home.

- submitted by a parent
September 14, 2009
Saint Marks is the 'Home Work School' of Marin. I am astounded by the student reviews below who do not acknowledge this. Yes, it has many lovely programs to give children a broad education, and yes it has some wonderful teachers, and yes it is a very well run school, but the curriculum expects hours and hours of homework from about grade 3 on, particuarly, in grade 7. I would not recomend it because of that reason. There is no famiy time if you have a child at this school. All-nighters in the 7th grade to prepare for tests and get homework done is quite normal.

- submitted by a parent
September 14, 2009
We also feel that homework is much, much too high. The teachers are good, and they do try to hold to the policy of no short-term homework on the weekends. But the daily weekday homework is so great that it makes it really difficult, impossible really, for kids to be involved in team sports or any other activity or just hang with us. Seventh grade is a meatgrinder, and pointlessly so. Worse than pointless, really: kids in puberty need their sleep and down time, and Saint Mark's doesn't give it to them.

- submitted by a parent
August 31, 2009
I have attended Saint Mark's for nine years and am quite baffled by some of the previous homework-related reviews. I have never struggled with too much homework. Much of the homework was challenging and forced me to think, but I never had trouble managing my time. I am early-to-bed kind of person and I like to read before I go to sleep, and I was able to be in bed by 9:30 every night. I do believe that students may struggle with homework if they do not pay attention in class or manage their time well. People should send their children to Saint Mark's expecting a challenging education that will completely prepare students for what lies ahead.

- submitted by a student
August 22, 2009
I'm surprised at the last person who posted on excess homework. We have not found that at all. It has been my experience that my child and his friends embrace the homework assignments, and get the work done with little parental pressure necessary - thanks to the school's ability to promote individual responsibility. My son and his friends are all involved in sports year round (at least one)......and they are all very happy kids. This school has made childhood (and parenting) a very happy and rewarding experience for our family.

- submitted by a parent
August 21, 2009
I totally agree with everyone who says there is far too much homework at Saint Marks. My girls have had to drop out of basketball and piano because they have too much work to do. Saint Marks has diminished them as persons.

- submitted by a parent
August 19, 2009
Saint Marks offers just about everything I'm looking for in a school--strong leadership, PE everyday, art and drama, diversity, the world's languages, strong academics, sportsmanship, a values-based education, independent thinking and the opportunity for parents to be involved (or not). I LOVE this school!

- submitted by a parent
no rating August 19, 2009
We have been parents at Saint Mark's for the past nine years, with both of our children starting in kindergarten. One child has graduated, and the other is now in the upper division. Saint Mark's has challenged our children in a nurturing environment that lets them grow and learn fully. The teachers are excellent. The administration sets the tone of respect for self, others, and learning. My children and their peers found/find the academics rigorous yet not overwhelming -- they had/have plenty of time for sports, music and friends.

- submitted by a parent
no rating August 15, 2009
We chose Saint Mark's three years ago for its strong academic reputation and have found SO much more. It is a warm and inclusive community that values diversity, character education and academic excellence. The school has cutting edge programs in social emotional learning, media literacy, environmental sustainability and Mandarin language. We especially love the global awareness that comes from the sister school relationships in South Africa and China. The headmaster leads the school with great warmth of character. His dedication to quality education and his ability to lead collaboratively have made Saint Mark's a hidden treasure that we are very glad we found!

- submitted by a parent
July 21, 2009
We have three children at Saint Mark's and couldn't recommend it more highly. There is such a strong sense of community and caring among the administration, teachers and parents. The curriculum is relevant and forward thinking (e.g. social /emotional learning program, Spanish and Mandarin offerings, nationally acclaimed media literacy program, etc.) I have asked numerous high school teachers and administrators about Saint Mark's kids and every one has responded that not only are Saint Mark's kids well prepared academically, but they are also just really good kids. That's what we want for our children.

- submitted by a parent
July 21, 2009
Very academic, structured and inflexible environment. Way too much homework!!! If your child thrives in this type of environment then invest in this education. If your child has ADHD or ADD and is gifted.. do not.. do not enroll them at this school.. they'll start having problems in 4rth and 5th grade and their self image will suffer as well as their school performance. Unfortunatley, ADHD And ADD don't show up until then for many a student. You will not receive support or modifications from the educators or the school administration. Our experience was mixed. The early years were good.. 4rth, 5th and 6th grade were some of the worst years for our family due to the demands of St. Marks and the damage it did to our sons self esteem. There is also a great deal of secrecy between the school and parents discussing what isn't working...choose carefully.

- submitted by a parent
July 08, 2009
We struggled with the choice of private over public school, but having spent six year at the school with our two children, we feel our investment has been well worth the compromises. The school admin and teachers seem to be very reflective and constantly enhance the programs to reflect the needs of the community and incorporate best practices. We particularly love the emphasis on global experiences and social emotional learning. The intellectual rigor is interesting and compelling for our entire family.

- submitted by a parent
April 20, 2009
We are very happy with Saint Mark's. Every day is a fun learning adventure for our child. They somehow sneak in the (very superb) academics between celebrating events and holidays from all cultural and traditions, incredible field trips and long stretches in the garden, art studio, on stage or the music room. They have an incredible social emotional learning program just started this year and they take social issues seriously. Parental concerns are always respected and the children are taught about respecting each other and all differences as well. In short it is a fun, down-to-earth and academically challenging environment.

- submitted by a parent
March 19, 2009
Saint Mark's is the school for you if you want your child to spend her every waking moment doing homework. We can no longer recommend it.

- submitted by a parent
no rating December 28, 2008
Our two children have attended Saint Marks for the past two years. They have thrived in an environment that is academic and supportive. The teachers are amazing. Our gifted child, who did not do well in public school because of a poor gifted program, has been challenged here. One of the most amazing things about this school is its global outlook. The kids learn about the world and how to care for it and its inhabitants in a loving, educated way. The school always seems one step ahead about where the world is going and how to best prepare our kids for changing world dynamics. The headmaster, Damon Kerby, is a wonderful dynamic, engaging leader. My only concern is that the tuition goes up a fair amount every year and it is very expensive. It is going up this year as well, despite the recession.

- submitted by a parent
November 11, 2008
This is a warm and welcoming community. A couple of aspects that make the school so special are the 7 Pillars of Character and the global community partnerships in South Africa and China. As an educator for over 10 years, I do not know many K-8 schools that are committed to character development of the individual and collective school; and outreach to communities within and beyond Marin.

- submitted by a community member
August 26, 2008
We have been very happy with Saint Marks. Like any school, it depends upon your child's needs. All of my child's teachers have been excellent. Gifted program could improve, and they have been working on it, however it offers a more well rounded education and social experience.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 06, 2008
Saint Mark's has changed over the past few years and not for the better. Due to some very aggressive parent's who connive, push, lie and use various other methods to promote their own agenda and child; the school has become a very unpleasant place. Due to the changing economy, the administration has lost the ability or the will to enforce standards. We left after 4 years and do not regret it for a minute.

- submitted by a parent
February 05, 2006
This is a highly academic, very structured school where academics are cool, values truly count, and they simply put out well prepared, nice kids.

- submitted by a parent
November 17, 2004
Excellent school. Provides a nurturing environment and very broad exposure to many different and interesting subjects. Tuition increases need to moderate to avoid becomming too elist, but we love it; our child loves it and the teachers are very capable, involved and approachable.

- submitted by a parent
August 25, 2003
This review submitted without content.

- submitted by a former student

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January 21, 2015


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Mark Day School
39 Trellis Drive, San Rafael, CA  94903
(415) 472-8000
Last modified Mark Day School is a Private school that serves grades K-8
Mark Day School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 44 reviews. Top