K-8 EXCELLENCE SINCE 1973
2027 7th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710 (map) • 510‑845‑0876

History & Mission

Balance Between Arts & Academics

Our Mission

To create a learning community that encourages humanity, empathy, moral depth, cultural understanding, and intellectual freedom.

Educational Goal

To create vibrant, independent thinkers who will never lose their passion for learning, their delight in research, and their involvement in cultural pursuits.

Teaching Philosophy

This student-centered method of learning, best described as Socratic, is based on inquiry, questioning, exploration, and discovery: it minimizes competitiveness and makes the curriculum personally relevant, motivating students to acquire knowledge and skills for their own sake.

The focus on mastery not tasks is reinforced by an interdisciplinary approach, which integrates rigorous academics with music, drama, and the visual arts.

Social Goal

To instill mutual respect, compassion, and an appreciation of differences among our students. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to fostering a warm and supportive environment in which children can safely address challenges and grow in their understanding of themselves and others.

Milestones in Our History

2018: Black Pine Circle School celebrates 45 years

2018: Black Pine Circle School celebrates 45 years

as a day school.

2017: “Oasis” play area added

2017: “Oasis” play area added

for K & 1st graders on the Lower School Campus.

2015: The Q Lab: A Space for Science & Inquiry breaks ground


2015: The Q Lab: A Space for Science & Inquiry breaks ground


(completed the following year)

2014: Green field developed on 7th street

2014: Green field developed on 7th street

2012: Administrative building at 843 Addison Street acquired


2012: Administrative building at 843 Addison Street acquired


This allowed for expansion of the upper school student body.

2011: Climbing wall added on the Upper School Campus

2011: Climbing wall added on the Upper School Campus

2005: John Carlstroem becomes head of Black Pine Circle School

2005: John Carlstroem becomes head of Black Pine Circle School

2005: Founders’ Building with classrooms and library completed

2005: Founders’ Building with classrooms and library completed

2001: Facility for Arts and Drama renovation completed

2001: Facility for Arts and Drama renovation completed

1993: Acquisition of the Berkeley Landmarked Workingman’s Hall


1993: Acquisition of the Berkeley Landmarked Workingman’s Hall


Now known as the Facility for Arts and Drama (The FAD)

1984: Acquisition of upper school building from Tehiyah Day School

1984: Acquisition of upper school building from Tehiyah Day School

1975: Acquisition of the former Nervo stained glass factory

(now part of the Lower School campus)

1973: Doors open for first Kindergarten class at Seventh Day Aventist Church

1973:  Doors open for first Kindergarten class at Seventh Day Aventist Church

From specialized workshops, Black Pine Circle Day School expanded into a full-scale elementary school, and then added a middle school as well.

1971: Arts & Sciences workshops first offered to elementary & middle school students only

These workshops offered enrichment in math, music, art, and language for children who were not being sufficiently challenged by the regular school curriculum.

1968: First Black Pine Circle College workshops offered

Set in the High Sierra, whose trees provided the inspiration for our name, these workshops for college undergraduates attracted renowned guest lecturers, including Allen Ginsberg, John Searle, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

1967: The idea for Black Pine Circle “College” conceived

Founders Oscar Pemantle, Frances Kandl, and Carmen Gonzalez were committed to creating a learning environment that married arts and academics in a way seldom seen in American schools.