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Interview with Beechwood Principal David Laurance
David Laurance, Principal of Beechwood School, was interviewed in February of 2010 by Kathy Connolly, Graduate Coordinator. Listen by clicking the play button below (approx. 11 minutes).

Beechwood School

Beechwood is a non-profit school community of 170 students, 30 staff members, and over 100 families. The school includes one class per grade from Kinder Prep through Eighth Grade. Beechwood offers its young learners a safe, nurturing environment that addresses the academic and social needs of each child.


We believe that all our students have within them the power to succeed.

The mission of Beechwood School is to teach students to take personal responsibility to:

  • Find their strength and build upon it.
  • Prepare to establish strong families.
  • Serve in their communities.


As a scoutmaster of some boys from East Palo Alto, Dick Jacobsen discovered that some of the middle school boys in his troop could barely read at a first grade level. This experience planted a seed in his mind that someday he would do something about the educational need that he saw.

In 1984 the partners of WSJ Properties and their wives formed the California Family Foundation to assist families with education, housing, and jobs. The founders were Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley, Boyd and Jill Smith, and Richard and Sue Jacobsen. Marilyn Anderson was hired as director of the California Family Foundation.

Beechwood School opened its doors in 1986 to 15 kindergarteners and 15 first graders. The two classes met in a portable building on a site next to the railroad tracks near the Onetta Harris Community Center.

California Family Foundation formed


California Family Foundation opens Beechwood School with kindergarten and 1st grade


Summer school begins
2nd grade added


First parent education classes offered
3rd grade added


School site doubled
Music and fine arts program introduced
4th grade added


Stanford student volunteer program starts
Library collection and program begin
5th grade added


Kinder Prep program begins in new Beechwood Annex
After-school special interest clubs begin
Program for assistance to students with learning difficulties begins
6th grade added


Reading buddies community volunteer program starts
School site expanded and 7th grade added


School garden and science programs begin
8th grade added


First 8th grade class graduates
Outdoor education program begins


Beechwood Weekly newsletter begins


Music program incorporates drama - each class presents a play
First Beechwood alumni barbecue held


First Beechwood graduates finish high school and start college
Beginning of year-round program for grades K through 4


New science and computer labs added


First performance of school-wide musical (The Music Man)
Construction of new kindergarten classroom building


Middle school Extended Day program begins for grades 6 through 8


Beechwood School celebrates its 20th Anniversary


Beechwood enters into negotiations with City of Menlo Park to purchase the school site