Our School » Principal's Message

Principal's Message

Independent Elementary School, located in Castro Valley, serves students from diverse backgrounds, demonstrating an array of races, religions, languages, and socioeconomic statuses. Students come from families that range from multi-generational Castro Valley residents to recently arrived immigrants. This diversity is met by teachers, staff, and administrators with flexibility and grace, creating a warm and welcoming environment where parents/guardians feel comfortable providing input and donating time. The Independent community strives to create an environment that fosters the development of all students, allowing them to grow into their own unique and inspirational selves. Students leave school as emotionally literate, intellectually curious, academically capable, and socially conscious problem-solvers who have an appreciation and curiosity for difference and the skills necessary to create positive and long-lasting change in their community.

With collaboration as the backbone of Independent, same grade level classrooms mirror each other with high expectations in all content areas based on relevant standards, including the arts, health, social/emotional, and behavior education. The unique personalities of each classroom shine through with the focus on creating opportunities for student agency and a highlight of student strengths. This universal level of instruction is done with high quality curriculum of both hard and digital formats, and is supported by the expertise of teachers on the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT). The ILT plays an active and important role on all key school decisions through data review and action planning.  The ILT also leads the professional learning work of their respective grade levels during and outside of their dedicated six hours of professional development each month.

In addition to the robust curriculum and instruction provided during the school day, Independent offers a number of after school supports and experiences for students. Families can choose from activities ranging from language, drama, and meditation classes to intensive academic tutoring and extensions. These programs are due to the strong community partnerships that the Independent staff create and their creative solutions to barriers including transportation and finance.

We thank you for your support of our school and our mission.


Patrick J. Hansen-Schmitt