Our Story

The Katherine Michiels School has been a Bay Area education innovator since 1976. Our founder, Katherine Michiels, met David Giveans soon after earning her degree in biology from San Francisco State University, and was profoundly influenced by his teachings on progressive early-childhood education. At his suggestion, Michiels traveled to London to study the British Infant Schools, and later visited more than 50 educational facilities in 15 cities and countries, from Europe to the Far East. For Michiels and those who joined her, education would become the passion of a lifetime.

A KMS Timeline

1976: Katherine Michiels opens a preschool on Irving Street, serving 13 families with programs for infants and young children. It is the start of what will become a celebrated multiethnic community of students, teachers, parents and staff. The school’s focus on active, child-centered learning stimulates independent thinking, ignites creativity, strengthens environmental awareness and sensitivity, and empowers children as valuable and responsible citizens of our global society.

1978 to 1980: KMS expands to 2nd grade, adding one grade per year.

1985: Invited to visit a child-care center in Japan, Michiels is interviewed extensively about the KMS approach. Returning to Japan in 1989, she discovers that the teachers have “devoured” her tenets and practices and realizes that KMS could become a model for other child-care centers in the United States and around the world.

1990: KMS parents initiate the multilingual program expansion that will evolve over the next decade. The school responds to a changing economic climate and community demography with a scholarship program and teacher-retention plan.

1993: The Hundred Languages of Children exhibit brings the Reggio Emilia approach to the school’s attention. Recognizing its compatibility with the existing KMS approach, the school begins incorporating Reggio Emilia materials into its curriculum.

1995: A group of current and alumni KMS parents establish Open Mind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to:

  • promoting the KMS child-centered, experiential approach to education
  • assisting middle- and low-income families to obtain quality child care
  • improving and enriching educational opportunities for infants and young children in the San Francisco area
  • sponsoring outreach programs to help other schools become models of educational innovation and excellence

2000: With an eye to growth and funding flexibility, Michiels transfers ownership of the school to Open Mind. KMS officially becomes a project of Open Mind and establishes the Open Mind Educational Lecture Series with Naama Zoran as lead educator.

2002: KMS begins expanding its elementary program to fifth grade adding a grade per year. KMS is awarded a grant from the American Horticultural Therapy Association for its garden program through the efforts of teacher Gaydean Valdez.

2004: – Randall Johnson presents with Naama Zoran at the annual NAEYC Conference in Los Angeles.

2006: Our kitchen is remodeled and expanded to be converted into a fully equipped teaching kitchen. Apron Strings Cooking School moves to our building and begins a partnership with Open Mind and KMS.

  • First Annual Arts Festival and Raffle The event is such a success that it is now an annual event. This event occurs early in May and is open to the public.
  • KMS adds De Colores Spanish Summercamp Spanish Language and Latino Immersion Program to it’s list of community offerings.