Marin Country Day School

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Marin Country Day School
Corte Madera, California, USA
Type Independent
Motto respect, responsibility, compassion
Religious affiliation(s) none
Established 1956
Faculty 70
Enrollment approx. 560
Average class size approx. 18
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Campus K-8,
Athletics 4 varsity sports, 3 club sports
Tuition $500-$24,095

Marin Country Day School is an independent coeducational day school serving grades K-8 located in Corte Madera, California. The student body is made up of 540 students who are expected to follow the school's core values of "Respect, Responsibility, and Compassion".


Founded in 1956 by Barbara Mendenhall, the school originally consisted of circus tents located on a thirty-four-acre hillside overlooking the San Francisco Bay, which were given to the school by an anonymous donor. Eventually, money was found to build temporary classrooms, followed by the construction of permanent classrooms and related facilities. The purpose of the school was to develop not only the minds, but the character of students. There was an emphasis on the importance of the arts and an appreciation of nature. Those goals remain a part of the school's philosophy.

The first teachers came from all over the United States. During the 1950s and 1960s, the student body was small—under 300 students. The school was divided into an "upper school" and a "lower school". Facilities used by all students included an Assembly Room, Library, blacktop, playing field, riding ring and the Art and Music buildings. For sports purposes, each grade was divided into two teams, the "Blues" and the "Greens". Seventh graders spend a week camping in Joshua Tree. Eighth graders spend a week doing service learning in January each year. Eighth graders graduated on "Step-Up" day by moving up one tier on a set of wooden pilings built into a hillside between the Art and Music buildings. Two other long-standing traditions are the fall Book Fair to raise money for the school, and "Kite Day", which takes place in the spring. Students, parents and friends of the school picnic and fly kites on the hillsides overlooking the main campus.

In the late 1960s, a large gymnasium and additional classrooms were constructed in the vicinity of the "upper field". The student body was enlarged, and a ninth grade class was added for several years. Then it was decided to go back to educating students only through the eighth grade.

In 1970, a bizarre incident occurred where a boulder on an adjacent hillside had to be removed because of a crack that, during an earthquake, might have caused a large piece to fall on a building. The rock was six to eight feet across and was estimated to weigh in excess of two tons.

In 2007 MCDS began its most recent project of rebuilding the admissions office and creating more classrooms. This project was meant to give the staff more much-needed office space, and the children more working room and comfortable classrooms.

In 2012, MCDS started a funded project to create a P.E. Pavilion. It was completed in the end of April 2012

As more money continued to flow into the school's system, they were able to establish more and more connections with which to aid their students. In the early 1990s, they began programs such as Beyond Borders and a science and technology initiative, securing their place as a large and influential member of the area's community for years to come.

Mission statement[edit]

MCDS Mission Statement (Adopted 1997) In 1956 an adventurous group of parents and educators from Marin County and San Francisco joined together to found MCDS. They believed that children should love coming to school, that learning is a lifelong process and that each child’s unique gifts should be nurtured. They believed that boys and girls have much to learn from each other. They valued equally the development of mind, body and spirit. It was no accident that they decided to start a “country day school,” closely linked to nature, which would allow room for study and laughter, noise and quiet, thought and action.

With scarce financial resources available the founders chose to invest heavily in people, seeking teachers whose passion for their craft, life experiences and deep commitment to children would help kids grow up healthy. They believed that members of a diverse school community could contribute immeasurably to the well-being of one another and established a scholarship fund in the very first year. They understood the importance of the family/school partnership, and encouraged all families to participate as fully in the life of the school as individual circumstances permitted. This participatory tradition and the very special spirit which it engenders are alive and well today.


35 acres (140,000 m2); 34 Classrooms, Science Laboratories, Computer Laboratory, Music and Art Buildings, Library, Performing Arts Auditorium, Marine Science Dock, Gymnasium, P.E. Pavilion, Multipurpose Room, MCDS/PM and ASAP Headquarters


545 in Grades K-8 59% from Marin County, 39% from San Francisco, 2% from East Bay & Sonoma


Tuition Ranges for 2007-08:

Kindergarten – Second Grade $20,805

Third – Fifth Grade $21,530

Sixth – Eighth Grade $24,095


In later years, the school upgraded its music facilities and added a theater program. Every eighth grade class was required to present a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. The tradition was later expanded to include musicals such as "Oklahoma". Bay front property was purchased to expand the campus eastward across Paradise Drive. Today, Marin Country Day School has a larger student body of 540 students, but it remains focused on its core mission of educating both the hearts and minds of its students.

The year 2006 was MCDS' 50th anniversary and the school had planned a year long celebration of this milestone.

Creek Restoration[edit]

In 2009 MCDS completed the first phase of the restoration of a creek that runs along the eastern border of the campus. The ephemeral creek was lined with a concrete channel in areas and flooded during heavy rain events. The restoration focused on removing the concrete lining, dropping the elevation of the channel to hold the 100-year flood volume, and planting native riparian and wetland vegetation in the creek and along its banks.

WRA environmental consultants obtained the regulatory agency permits, prepared the creek restoration and monitoring plan, and the landscape planting plans, Clearwater Hydrology prepared the new creek engineering design, and Native Sons Nursery planted the creek.

WRA is now working with the science department to integrate the required 5-year restoration monitoring into the 7th grade science curriculum so the students can assist with the restoration process and learn more about the sensitive creek habitats.

Coordinates: 37°55′10″N 122°29′28″W / 37.91944°N 122.49111°W / 37.91944; -122.49111[1]