About Us » A Rich History

A Rich History

A distinctive educational philosophy and a bold, innovative streak have set Berkwood Hedge School apart from other East Bay independent schools since its earliest days. Berkwood Hedge School, a synthesis of Berkwood School and the Hedge School, has a long tradition and culture of preparing young children for success for 78 years.


Berkwood School, founded in 1946, was the first racially integrated school in Berkeley. The school emphasized small classes, academic proficiency, and the development of each student's full potential. Berkwood School led the way with its open classrooms, designed and equipped for small children, and in developing (pilot) programs, including a national demonstration project for primary school science education. Its reputation as an avant-garde school was enhanced when it became the first school in California to train Head Start teachers.


The Hedge School, established in the late 1960's by a small group of teachers and parents, was organized as a teacher collective. It brought art, music, drama, and dance to the forefront and reconceptualized the school as a community of students, teachers, and families.


Berkwood and Hedge merged and reopened on the current campus in 1975 as a teacher collective known as Berkwood Hedge School. In 2001, as part of a strategic planning process to chart the long-term direction of the school, the school transferred from a collective structure to its current administrative structure. The school is now administered by a Director and a Board of Directors. Despite this major shift in its structure, the core philosophy - a rich academic and arts program, close ties between families, and school and a strong sense of community - remains the hallmark of Berkwood Hedge School.

In 2020, we began a new chapter of our story—we opened our Middle School. The next evolution of the oldest progressive elementary school in the East Bay, Berkwood Hedge Middle School offers a student-centered, hands-on program designed to meet the needs of early adolescents and to spark their interest and enthusiastic engagement. Our middle school learning environment cultivates Courage, Community, Connection, and Confidence.