Open Window School

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Open Window School
Open Window School Bellevue, WA.JPG
Bellevue, Washington
United States
Type Independent (NWAIS Accredited)
Established 1983
Locale Suburban
Head of School Jeff Stroebel
Grades K-8
Number of students 310
School color(s) Cardinal and Black
Religious Affiliation None

Open Window School (OWS), established in 1983, is an independent school for students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade who have been formally identified as intellectually gifted. The middle school division of the school was previously known as "Vista Academy." It is located in Bellevue, Washington, United States.

The school offers a rich, dynamic academic program featuring exceptional depth and challenge, emphasizing innovation, communication, independence, as well as critical and creative thinking. Relevant leadership opportunities and real-life applications of classroom concepts ignite learning and connections to a global society. The school places equal emphasis on academic challenge and social and emotional support, promoting positive social skills, emotional resiliency, respect for others and collaboration.[1] It is located at 6128 168th Pl SE, Bellevue. Set atop Cougar Mountain, its site covers 6.7 acres and has expansive views of the Cascades and the Seattle area.

Open Window currently has 310 enrolled students.[2] The lower school student-teacher ratio is 9:1, with an average of 18 students and 2 teachers in each classroom. The middle school, covering grades 5-8, enrolls approximately 125 students. Prospective families may contact the school's Admissions Office for application and tour information. The school's website has extensive information on the school and is updated frequently.

In addition to the regular school program, Open Window hosts a popular summer program which runs for five weeks beginning in early July. The summer program is for students entering kindergarten through seventh grade and is open to students who do not attend during the school year. Information and registration is available through the school's website in early February.


Open Window School was founded in 1983 by Mary Ann Simpson and Jean Booker to serve gifted preschoolers. With a commitment of energy and money from parents and faculty, and a clear vision, the school was incorporated in 1985 and eventually expanded to include an elementary program. Since its inception, Open Window has been dedicated to nurturing children’s social and emotional needs, intellectual curiosity, creativity and capacity for critical thinking. At the heart of its philosophy is the conviction that students are “children first, gifted second.”

In September 2004, Open Window School moved to its current campus, a creative grouping of buildings nestled into the landscape of Cougar Mountain. The campus was designed by Bob Hull, an award-winning Seattle architect with the Miller/Hull Partnership. Hull is known nationally for his residential and institutional designs emphasizing sustainable architecture that is environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

After moving to the new campus, the student body grew to approximately 300 students and the school expanded from a Pre K-5 structure to K-8 with the development of a middle school. Open Window graduated its first eighth grade class in 2010 and is the only independent K-8 school on the Eastside designed to serve gifted students. In the summer of 2012, the school changed its colors to cardinal and black and a new logo was created. Also, the name Vista Academy was discontinued, reinforcing Open Window School's K-8 identity.

Guided by a single mission, the school is organized into lower and middle school divisions. Lower school consists of kindergarten through fourth grade in homeroom classes with a lead homeroom teacher and full-time instructional assistant. The middle school is organized by academic disciplines for grades five through eight. In addition to academic programs, students receive arts (visual, performance and music), athletics, technology and language instruction.

As the only independent school on Seattle's Eastside with a mission to serve intellectually gifted students, Open Window is viewed as one of the Pacific Northwest's leaders in the field of Gifted Education. The school features information and resources pertaining to Gifted Education on its website.

Open Window is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) and is approved by the State of Washington. The school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools as well as the Washington Federation of Independent Schools.


Open Window is a leader among independent schools in its use of technology. This extends from a state of the art Innovation and Technology Lab to the school's use of social media. In January 2015, a project by sixth grader Sydney Vernon won first prize in the Future Engineers 3D Printing Space Challenge. Sydney designed a Space Planter in the school's Innovation and Technology Lab.

Open Window School's students have won many awards in recent years. In 2013, 7th grader Owen Benda won the state geography bee. For the past two years, a graduating eighth grader has been recognized as "Bellevue's Outstanding Middle School Student" by the City of Bellevue's Youth Link Program. In early 2014, a group of five seventh graders won the highest honor, "Best in Nation" in the second Verizon Innovative App Challenge for the app they created. Their winning app is named HikeAbout, and it is available in the Google Play Store. Three students swept the top three places in the King County 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest. The school's robotics team has won several awards, including the regional championship in 2012, and both a project award, and a robot award in 2013.

Athletics & Extra-Curricular Programs[edit]

The school's athletic programs currently include cross country, golf, tennis, basketball, soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, track and field, and volleyball. The Girls Volleyball team completed an undefeated season in 2014. The school mascot is Rufus the Bobcat. Eighth graders have the opportunity to be the Bobcat at various school events. In addition to athletics, the school offers students the opportunity to compete in chess, debate, Model United Nations, and robotics.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°32′52″N 122°06′53″W / 47.5477°N 122.1146°W / 47.5477; -122.1146