History of SF Day


In 1977, Sally and Toby Rosenblatt gathered a small group of friends in their living room to talk about Sally's dream--an independent, co-educational elementary school in San Francisco. This group of parents formed a steering committee, which later became the first board of trustees, and San Francisco Day School was incorporated in 1978. Two years later, Nancy Simon Boettiger accepted the position as Head of School.

The central purpose of the school, then as now, was to educate its students according to the highest standards of academic excellence. Aside from its co-educational structure, a number of other features distinguished SF Day: an academic program designed to take full advantage of the city’s resources, a desire to create a diverse and inclusive community, a commitment to attract and retain an outstanding faculty, discounted tuition for 10 to 25 percent of the students, and an extended day-care program.


San Francisco Day School welcomed its first students--63 kindergarten, first, and second graders--to rented space at Calvary Presbyterian Church in 1981. The school grew by adding one grade each year, and sought larger quarters at Temple Sherith Israel in 1983. By 1985, the school had two campuses, with students in grades 5-6 attending classes at the Japanese Language School on Bush Street.

After an exhaustive search, SF Day secured a permanent home in 1985 with the purchase of the Masonic Avenue site. Supported by a $9.2 million Campaign for San Francisco Day School, the former Carew and English Mortuary was renovated and became the new campus for the upper school. By 1989 the school reached full enrollment, the academic wing was completed, and the entire student body--396 students--united at Masonic Avenue.


In 1991, with much of the founding vision realized, Nancy Boettiger decided that the time was right for her to move on to new challenges. Jim Telander took over as the second Head of School in 1991. During Jim's tenure, the Breakthrough (formerly named Summerbridge) program came to SF Day in 1994. After 13 years as Head of School and many distinguished years in education, Jim Telander retired. In 2004, John Lin became our third Head of School. In 2006, A. Emerson Johnson III served as our interim Head of School. In 2007, Dr. David E. Jackson became our fourth Head of School.


San Francisco Day School is highly regarded and continues to advance the goals articulated by the founders: to educate its students in the fullest sense, within an atmosphere in which children enjoy learning and receive the best preparation for the future. In 2015, after 8 years at SF Day and over 40 years in education, Dr. Jackson retired and SF Day welcomed its new Head of School, Dr. Mike Walker. The school continues to excite students about learning, teaches them to question ideas and to make thoughtful judgments, imparts a sense of values and individual responsibility, and, above all, gives them confidence in their individual capabilities. Our students advance to secondary education with fully developed intellectual and creative abilities and a genuine love for learning.