Mission & Philosophy

Our Mission

To empower children to fulfill their unlimited, God-given potential as fearless scholars and conscientious citizens.
  
You Are Loved mural
At Berkeley Hall we view all children as inherently intelligent, good, and uniquely talented. Our curriculum challenges students to think and act according to their own highest ability in an environment in which the God-given potential of each child is valued. This perspective has consistently enabled our students to achieve both academic and personal success throughout our more than 100-year history. The founders of Berkeley Hall, Mabel and Leila Cooper, wanted to ensure that this unique view of children be maintained and stipulated in the founding charter that all Berkeley Hall teachers be students of Christian Science.
 
Balance is the guiding principle of our school. Challenging academics are coupled with a love of learning, leadership with social responsibility, creativity with moral integrity, and self-esteem with compassion for others. Students are inspired to excel in academics, to be active thinkers, and to be conscientious stewards of the world around them.

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Does Berkeley Hall promote a Growth Mindset?

    Berkeley Hall has been promoting a growth mindset for over a century. What does that mean? It means that every opportunity is taken at Berkeley Hall to teach students that their ability to learn is not a static nor a fixed thing. That learning can change and improve with persistent effort over time. Therefore, failure is temporary and is something that can be learned from – and is not a permanent condition that defines a student, but rather an opportunity for that student to expend more effort and to advocate for him or herself to learn something new.

    We have a rigorous academic program, so students are challenged at Berkeley Hall, but they are also made to feel comfortable enough to take intellectual risks and are taught to persist in the face of challenge [not to give up and say, “oh, I guess I’m not a math person.”) (We always interject the word “yet.” – A child says, “I’m not good at fractions.” We say, “yet!”]. Developing a growth mindset –along with a helping of good old-fashioned grit –is a cornerstone of a Berkeley Hall education.

    When I first came to visit the campus and met the students and saw the classrooms, I was impressed with the presence of this growth mindset – students seemed simultaneously intellectually active and yet comfortable making mistakes and going through the learning process. In all my years as an educator, I’d never seen this occur in such an all-encompassing way within one school; I’d seen active thinking and learning, but with a certain level of stress over possible failure, and I’d been in schools with very little stress, but not a lot of active learning on the parts of students. I’d rarely seen active learning with little stress throughout a whole school until I came to Berkeley Hall.

    Now, the presence of this growth mindset is at least partially due to Berkeley Hall’s history, which is both long and unique. Two sisters started BHS 104 years ago, which makes us (by the way) the oldest co-ed independent elementary school in Los Angeles.

    Now, one of these sisters had been a much-beloved teacher at what was then Westlake School for Girls and a large group of the parents there asked her to start her own school. So, she and her sister decided to start Berkeley Hall. They happened to be Christian Scientists (Christian Science is a Christian protestant religion started in the 1800’s in the US and is not at all like Scientology). Because these two founders were Christian Scientists, it meant that their educational approach was grounded in their belief that every child has unlimited God-given potential to learn anything that child needs to learn, so they founded Berkeley Hall with the motto “No limits. No labels. Lots of Love.” The two founders wanted to work with people who also believed in a growth mindset. So, to this day, Berkeley Hall’s faculty and Administrators are all Christian Scientists, who uniformly work from the standpoint that each child comes with unlimited God-given potential to learn. What’s interesting is that Berkeley Hall is a non-sectarian school. So, we don't teach religion to our students and our extended community represents a wide range of religions. However, we also are a community that honors each individual student's spiritual nature and we see each student as inherently good and unique.
  • Why does Berkeley Hall follow a Pre-K through 8th grade model?

    Berkeley Hall is committed to a Pre-K through 8th grade model to prepare students for high school. The younger students are benefited by having the older students on campus as “buddies” and our 6th, 7th and 8th graders are encouraged to take on leadership roles at school. These middle school years are a key time for students to deeply understand who they are and to learn to make mindful, good choices rather than looking to other kids – including the 15-18 year olds that they will find on a high school campus – to do it for them. When they leave us they are fully baked and they have a strong enough sense of who they are to select their high school friends rather than falling in with whatever crowd approaches them first.

    Our Junior High students are role models for the younger students here and work with their younger “buddies” on a regular basis as mentors. And, because the 7th and 8th graders are the oldest on campus, they are protected for a few more precious years from the social pressures typically found on a high school campus. In addition, we get to know our students very well and we do a lot of hand-holding and individual prep work to get each of our 8th graders placed in the very best high school for that student.
  • Academically speaking, how is Berkeley Hall different?

    Well, one key difference is that we have a more cohesive educational plan than do most independent schools. We are in our fifth year of an initiative that we call “Depth of Study” in which our teachers meet regularly in teams to come to a clear and common understanding of exactly what a student being at “grade level” looks like from 8th grade all the way down to Nursery.

    This work has resulted in a clear, commonly shared professional understanding of what each of our students should understand and be able to do both academically and as conscientious citizens in order to be at, or above, grade level. Our classroom doors are, figuratively, open at Berkeley Hall, which means that every teacher of a particular subject matter or within a department, regular sees student work from other classes and grade levels and is collaborating with other teachers to continuously improve classroom lessons to increase student learning – across our entire system. (No longer necessary to “pass the baton.”)

    This professional collaboration among the teachers and administrators means that there is a clear articulation throughout the whole school – from 8th grade all the way down to Nursery – of where each child needs to be academically and as a citizen at each point in his or her school experience in order to be fully prepared when he or she leaves us.

    This professional clarity also means that your child’s educational experience here is relatively seamless, since teachers across disciplines work together to create projects and to approach core concepts in a more unified way. So, if a child is studying the Westward Expansion in his or her homeroom and then goes off to art, these are not totally different experiences. The vocabulary and the core concepts intertwine and the art projects integrate with the social studies curriculum.
  • What are the advantages of a Christian Science- based school?

    You get all the character building and moral goodness of a religious school without the teaching of religion. It's a wonderfully supportive, diverse community in which all religious backgrounds are welcome. The benefit of having Christian Science as part of the school's foundation is that every teacher at Berkeley Hall is a student of Christian Science. That means every teacher embraces a spiritual way of thinking - a discipline of thought - an approach - to see the God-given inherent goodness of each individual, including your child. That's why Berkeley Hall's mission includes, "Empowering children to fulfill their unlimited God-given potential..." The teachers here have been educated to know how to see that God-given potential and are in the practice of challenging themselves to look beyond first impressions or negative labels - to look deeper and see each individuals full goodness and potential - the way a parent sees a child. This outlook or approach is powerful and the results are proof. In this atmosphere, Berkeley Hall students grow their goodness and abilities to become fearless scholars, conscientious citizens, and what we hear over and over - good people.

  • Is Berkeley Hall diverse?

    BHS is one of the most diverse independent schools in Los Angeles by far at 47%. We are diverse ethnically, religiously, culturally, socio-economically, even internationally (about 8% of our students are international students). Yet, Berkeley Hall families share the same fundamental values. The parents who have brought their children here did so because there is a shared vision throughout our whole school community of the importance of the core values taught at BHS – respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion. There is a specific teaching of and integration of these core values here at school. For grades 1-8, we have weekly assemblies to talk about how it looks to express these core values in one’s daily life.
  • Who are Berkeley Hall graduates?

    The education at each grade level culminates in producing well-rounded BHS graduates. When our graduates leave for high school they are well prepared academically, but they are also well grounded morally and socially. We consistently hear from our receiving independent high schools that our graduates are academically well prepared, are strong contributors to their school communities, and are truly kind, well-spoken individuals.

A Current BHS Dad

The culture and the nurturing environment which you, your faculty and staff have created for our children is so safe and kind and free of the type of fear of ridicule that is a regular part of most kids lives, that these two girls never thought twice about standing up in front of an audience full of parents, teachers and peers and performing something that was entirely their own. Whether you realize it or not, the gift you have given all of these kids — the freedom to fail without fear or embarrassment — is an extraordinary and powerful thing. It is something I wish that I had taken notice of before, and it is something for which I as a BHS parent, am enormously grateful.
    
So thank you, to you and to every member of your faculty and staff for empowering my daughter and if I might, all of our children, to achieve their God given potential. BHS is a blessing and we could not be more proud to be a member of this community.

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Does Berkeley Hall teach religion?

    No. Berkeley Hall is a nonsectarian school. Our commitment to education is rooted in the vision of the school's founders, Leila and Mabel Cooper, who as educators and Christian Scientists, were dedicated to developing the God-given potential in all children. Religion is not taught at Berkeley Hall, but a foundation of fellowship, respect, and love of good strengthens and supports all aspects of school life.

    Every week, we hold a brief school assembly for students in grades 1 through 8 called Bobcat Assembly. It is a forum for Berkeley Hall's character education and focuses on our shared core values — honesty, compassion, respect, and responsibility. If any religious writings are referenced, it is with the goal of being inclusive and respectful of all religions. (A recent Bobcat Assembly was given by those on campus of Indian decent to explain the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.) Bobcat Assembly is not a religious service, nor is it held in a chapel building. Parents often attend Bobcat Assembly.

    Though we don't teach religion, the foundation, richness, and atmosphere of Berkeley Hall School is firmly secured through our employees' study of Christian Science - the law of God, the law of good. If you are interested in finding out more about Christian Science, please visit ChristianScience.com
  • What are the advantages of a Christian Science-based school?

    You get all the character building and moral goodness of a religious school without the teaching of religion. It's a wonderfully supportive, diverse community in which all religious backgrounds are welcome.

    The benefit of having Christian Science as part of the school's foundation is that every teacher and administrator at Berkeley Hall is a student of Christian Science. That means each of them embraces a discipline of thought that is spiritually based. Each has been educated to see the God-given potential of each child. Berkeley Hall educators are in the practice of challenging themselves to look beyond first impressions or negative labels - to look deeper and see each individual's full goodness and potential - the way a parent sees a child. This outlook or approach is powerful and the results are proof. In this atmosphere, Berkeley Hall students grow their goodness and abilities to become fearless scholars, conscientious citizens, and... good people.
  • What is Christian Science?

    Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, defined it as "the law of God, the law of good..." (Rudimental Divine Science). This deeper understanding of God as infinite Love and unchanging goodness leads to prayer that can heal, redeem, and restore anyone.

    In 1866, a life-threatening injury compelled Mary Baker Eddy to turn wholeheartedly to God. She opened her Bible to an account of Jesus healing a man quickly and completely. A new sense of God, Spirit, as the only reality flooded her thought, and she was healed spontaneously. But she yearned to know how and why. For the next several years, she continued to search and find in the Bible the underlying laws of God that would form the basis of her teaching and practice of Christian Science.

    Since then, many have found that when they better understand their relationship with God through this Science of Christianity, their health is restored and character transformed. And each healing inspires a heartfelt desire to help others know and experience how loved we all are by God.

    If you are interested in finding out more about Christian Science, please visit ChristianScience.com
  • What are the origins of Christian Science?

    The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the foundation for the theology and practice of Christian Science.In particular, Jesus' ministry illustrates that healing and regeneration are experienced as we recognize our true nature as spiritual and made in the image and likeness of God. Examples of this can be seen in the biblical accounts of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and his immediate disciples and followers.

    Mary Baker Eddy's lifelong spiritual search led to what she later characterized as a discovery.  She saw that God's laws are powerful spiritual mandates, always present and operating to heal, to redeem, and to bless humanity. To her, it was the practical Christianity that Jesus taught.

    Of her developing practice of Christian healing, Mary Baker Eddy wrote that she was called to a patient whom a well0known attending physician had pronounced dying of pneumonia."On seeing her immediately restored by me without material aid, he asked earnestly if I had a work describing my system of healing. ...he urged me immediately to write a book which should explain to the world my curative system of metaphysics" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany).

    At the time, she was already writing notes that would develop into her primary work, Science and Health with Key the the Scriptures, which contains the full explanation of Christian Science and its practice of spiritual regeneration and healing.
Located in Los Angeles, CA, Berkeley Hall School is a private, coeducational school for students in preschool through grade 8. Rigorous academics in a supportive atmosphere and grounded character development allow students to become fearless scholars and conscientious citizens - gain a love of learning, leadership with social responsibility, creativity with moral integrity, and self-esteem with compassion for others and the environment.