Take a tour

About Us

AltSchool is a collaborative community of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research, and innovative tools to offer a personalized “whole child” learning experience for the next generation.
We believe that every child should have access to an exceptional, personalized education that enables them to be happy and successful in an ever-changing world.

Our Values

AltSchool is 100% focused on our students.

Our personalized learning approach puts each child at the center of everything we do. Smaller classroom student:teacher ratios, coupled with state-of-the-art classroom design and technology, enable a flexible learning environment that mixes individual, group and experiential learning.

AltSchool is dynamic.

Our analytical approach and core strengths in innovation combine educational best practices with the latest tools. Our teachers, as education architects, build learning experiences that are adaptive at their core and that keep our children engaged.

AltSchool is rigorous.

Students learn best when they are interested. By personalizing learning to student needs and passions, we can challenge them more. Students learn at a level that pushes them, but not so much that they disengage. We also provide frequent quantitative and qualitative feedback to ensure that students are prepared for success after their AltSchool years.

AltSchool is diverse.

We believe that children benefit from diversity and that all children deserve an excellent, child-centered education. You can help us bring AltSchool to more children by donating to our need-based tuition assistance fund.

AltSchool is engaged with the community.

Learning is not just about what happens inside the classroom. We connect students with experts and institutions in the community to enrich the learning experience and keep them wanting more.

AltSchool is a partnership.

We believe it is vital to have parents integrally involved in their child’s education. We measure parent satisfaction and offer tools so that parents can see and understand how their students are learning at any point in time - not just when report cards come out.

AltSchool is fun.

When students drive their own learning, they become motivated by passion and creativity -- and learn to be that way throughout their lives. They also simply love going to school. We love watching them show up early on Mondays, ready to dive right in.

Our Parents

Parents are AltSchool’s partners in their child’s education.

That said, parents have busy lives -- so AltSchool makes it easy for them to stay involved and informed. Through simple technology solutions for communication, registration, payments and permission slips, AltSchool helps families spend more time on the things that matter most -- and that most benefit their children.

AltSchool works with families on after-school care, lunch and transportation options to make school convenient. Scheduling constraints due to additional commitments can be accommodated and family travel is encouraged as an opportunity for children to learn outside the classroom.

AltSchool parents are integral to the reimagined school experience. AltSchool looks to them for feedback on what is going well and what can be improved. Aside from simply listening, AltSchool explicitly measures different dimensions of parent satisfaction, sharing the results in a transparent way and tracking progress over time.

AltSchool has an open door policy and welcomes parents to the classroom. However, volunteer hours are not requested or required. AltSchool has a full team working in the background so that parents don't have to worry about fundraising or mandatory volunteering.

Check out pictures of our family mixer events at AltSchool Headquarters and Y Combinator.

Our Team

AltSchool has assembled a world-class team of educators, entrepreneurs and technologists to create a high quality educational experience for our students.

Our Teachers

Carolyn wilson

Carolyn Wilson Director of Education

In addition to her experience as a parent, therapist, and classroom teacher, Carolyn has founded successful childhood programs and schools. Carolyn founded Chrysalis School, which served 140 California preschool students. With Accelerated Schools, a school reform project at Stanford University, she worked with teachers and administrators in struggling public schools in six states. Most recently, Carolyn served as the learning specialist at Synergy School in San Francisco and had a private practice in education therapy. Carolyn holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and an MA in Education Administration from the University of Tulsa. Read more about Carolyn in our Teacher Spotlight.

Sarah rothenberg

Sarah Rothenberg Teacher

After earning her Master’s Degree from the Furcolo School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Sarah moved to Boston to help launch the full-day Kindergarten program in Milton, Massachusetts. As a lead teacher, curriculum developer and technology specialist for the district, Sarah facilitated conferences and workshops for colleagues on current topics in education. As the Director of the Internal Drive Technology Camp and Academy at MIT in Cambridge, Sarah explored ways to launch technology as an integral classroom tool in an innovative and interactive learning community. Sarah is passionate about fostering a child-centered, creative learning environment that embraces the current progressive educational climate. Read more about Sarah in our Teacher Spotlight.

Lauren hancock

Lauren Hancock Teacher

Lauren has been teaching for over 12 years and most recently served as Lead Pre-K Educator for Google's Family Programs, where she led a teaching team and developed project based curriculum and content. Lauren has a BA from California State University, Northridge and received an AA in Child Development from Santa Monica College. She has developed programs to educate parents on children's social and emotional development and launched a program to take Pre-K students outside the classroom to local parks, plays and farms. She has been studying and integrating the Reggio philosophy in her practice for over 15 years. Read more about Lauren in our Teacher Spotlight.

Sophia espinoza

Sophia Espinoza Teacher & Operations Associate

Sophia has taught in Chicago Public Schools' bilingual education programs as a Chicago Teaching Fellows Corps Member. Sophia holds a BA in Psychology from Northwestern University, where she researched reading comprehension and behavioral interventions for children. At AltSchool, she teaches Spanish and coordinates field trips and community activities. Read more about Sophia in our Teacher Spotlight.

Siri scull

Siri Scull Art Specialist & Lead Afterschool Teacher

Siri has taught art and other subjects in the Bay Area for more than 12 years. She believes in designing an art curriculum that not only teaches fundamental visual skills and techniques, but also encourages creativity and self-expression. Siri specializes in integrating arts education with environmental education. Siri has a teaching credential in Art Education from Colorado College and a master’s degree from San Francisco State University in Education with an emphasis on Art.

Kristin uhlemeyer

Kristin Uhlemeyer Kristin Uhlemeyer

Kristin comes to AltSchool after working as an educator in museums across the country and internationally. Most recently, Kristin was the lead instructor at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, where she nurtured her students' curiosity in the natural world, occasionally dressing as a pirate, Wonder Woman, or wizard (depending on the lesson). Kristin loves encouraging creativity through imaginative, play-based collaborative learning. She has an MA in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and a BA from the University of Delaware in anthropology, education, and history. Read more about Kristin in our teacher spotlight.

Emma simmons

Emma Simmons Teacher

Emma got her start in education early. At the age of fourteen, she ran an after-school program for preschool and kindergarten children. She also taught on a Native American reservation in South Dakota. Since moving to SF eight years ago, Emma has taught preschool at Bumblebee Academy, first grade at the San Francisco Friends School, and kindergarten at Children's Day School. Emma received her Masters of Arts in Teaching and Multiple Subject Credential from the University of San Francisco. Read more about Emma in our Teacher Spotlight.

Emily dahm

Emily Dahm Teacher

Emily has been teaching in San Francisco public schools for 8 years. As a third and fifth grade teacher, she partnered with community organizations such as the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Opera, and UCSF Medical School to inspire and engage students with authentic learning experiences. Emily has also been a summer lead art instructor with Scholarkids, Camp Galileo, and the Los Altos School District. She holds a Masters Degree in Instructional Technologies, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design from San Francisco State University. Read more about Emily in our Teacher Spotlight.

James earle

James Earle Teacher

James, one of our middle school teachers, grew up on Long Island. He attended the University of London, where he studied Renaissance History. For the next seven years, James worked as a ninth grade cultural history teacher at the Ross School in East Hampton, New York. He coached soccer, helped start a boarding program, and served as the chair of the history department for much of his time at the Ross School. James was voted Teacher of the Year by faculty in 2010. In 2012, YouTube named James a YouTube EDU Guru for his interdisciplinary art history channel AmorSciendi. Most of the videos appearing on the channel are collaborations with students who designed the logo, wrote background music, and helped write the scripts. For James, education never ends. This past year, he earned an MS from the University of Gastronomical Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. Read more about James in our Teacher Spotlight.

Katie gibbons

Katie Gibbons Teacher

Katie approaches education with great purpose and passion. She has been teaching for the past thirteen years in a variety of educational settings - from an inner city charter school to a private lab school. Most recently, Katie was the Founding Teacher and Director of Programs at Synapse School. She also founded Dolphin Girls Camp, a leadership and friendship summer camp for girls. Katie earned her MA in Educational Leadership from Mills College and a BS in elementary education from Elizabethtown College. Read more about Katie in our teacher spotlight.

Our Supporting Team


Max's career has focused on creatively using technology to enrich daily life. He founded Krypteian Systems (acquired in 2001) and the social search company Aardvark (acquired by Google in 2010). At Google, he was part of the founding team of Google+ and then served as the Head of Personalization across Google products. Max earned a bachelor’s degree in Math and Physics and an MBA from Yale University. To learn more about Max and the vision for AltSchool, check out Thoughts from Our Founder.


Eve holds a JD from NYU School of Law and a BA from Swarthmore College. She was Acting Director of the Diane Abbey Law Center and, before that, an Associate at Hogan Lovells. Eve serves as Treasurer of the New York Civil Liberties Union and the NYCLU Foundation.


Sandy holds a BA from San Francisco State University. Previously she served as Program Assistant for the Clinical and Translational Research Fellowship Program at UCSF.


Ashley heads up AltSchool's HR and recruiting efforts. Previously, she worked as an Administrative Assistant for Google's Machine Intelligence and Translate teams. Prior to that, she was a Coordinator of International Relations in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Ashley holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Columbia University.

Classroom Operations


Anna holds a BA from Stanford and has led operations and strategy projects at Google, Ernst & Young, and Nextdoor.


Allen serves as AltSchool’s main point of contact for parents and prospective parents. He has a BA from Yale University and has worked in operations at Google and Aardvark.


Peter supports current parents, prospective parents and founding families in crafting a great AltSchool experience for their children. He has served in a variety of roles across operations and product at many startups, most recently at Vast.com. He has a BA in communications from UC Berkeley. Read more about Peter's role as Head of Parent Satisfaction.


Dan was most recently a leader at Singly focused on customer and employee development. Prior, he was an elementary school teacher at Clark County School District and a Teach For America Corps Member. He holds a MA in Education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a BA in Business from University of San Diego.


Sumeet holds a BA in biology and MA in Science Education from The University of Texas at Austin. She worked at Sidecar Technologies and was a middle school and high school educator before joining AltSchool.


Alice co-founded Support4Orgs and Baobab Alliance, a non-profit that donates recycled laptops to educational institutions in Kenya. She holds a B.F.A. from Miami University.


Will manages our real estate strategy, coordinates the creative design of our micro-schools, and oversees construction and maintenance. Will majored in English at Yale and has a background in finish carpentry.

Technology and Innovation


Komal served as CTO at Vast.com and was Co-Founder and VP of Software Development at Deersoft (acquired by Network Associates). He has BS and MS degrees from Stanford.


Saurabh was most recently a Staff Software Engineer at Google focused on Personalization and Distributed Systems Infrastructure. He holds a PhD from UCLA in Embedded Sensor Networks and a B.Tech degree from IIT Bombay.


Michael was most recently a Senior Software Engineer at Google focused on Personalization, Machine Learning and Algorithms. He holds a PhD from UCSF in Bioinformatics and a BS degree from Stanford.


Slade was most recently a Staff Software Engineer at Google focused on Machine Learning and Distributed Systems Infrastructure. He holds an MSEE from LSU and a BSCS from SLU. Read more about Slade in our Engineer Spotlight.


Raj was most recently a Studio GM and Director of Product at Zynga, where he led company-wide data-driven design and product management efforts. He holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and MS and BS degrees in Computer Engineering from UT Austin and UIUC, respectively.


Dave was Head of Kindle K-12 Education (Amazon) and worked in operations for Cisco’s global education initiative. He has also been a Strategy Consultant for Bain & Co. Dave holds a BA from Stanford and an MBA from Wharton.


Kimberly was most recently a User Experience Researcher at Google and holds a BS from Stanford in Symbolic Systems. She also has a decade of classroom experience, including teaching math and music in public schools, after-school programs, and summer camps.


Jeremy was most recently a Staff Software Engineer at Google focused on Machine Learning, Information Retrieval, and Distributed Systems Infrastructure. He holds a BSCS degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Pi-Chuan was most recently a Senior Software Engineer at Google focused on Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. She holds a PhD from Stanford University, MS and BS degrees from National Taiwan University. She has been a volunteer teacher for middle school and high school students since 2008. Read more about Pi-Chuan in our Engineer Spotlight.


Alex is a lead web engineer who has consulted for Apple Inc. and other Bay Area startups. He holds a BA in Physics and BFA in Photography from NYU.


Daniel was most recently a Researcher at UCSF. He holds a PhD from Stanford University and a BSE from Princeton University.

Our Investors

AltSchool is thrilled to partner with Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz, with follow-on funding from First Round Capital and Harrison Metal and participation from John Doerr, Jonathan Sackler, Learn Capital, and Omidyar Network. The experience, expertise and innovation in both business transformation and education that is represented by this group is unmatched, and AltSchool is honored to be working with all of them.


AltSchool is currently building a network of micro-schools throughout the Bay Area.

AltSchool Dogpatch

Our first micro-school is two blocks from Esprit Park and five blocks from UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. Our classroom is on the ground floor of Potrero Launch, a brand new facility. The space has been customized by AltSchool’s architects and designers, along with a design expert from the Stanford dschool.

View Larger Map

AltSchool Locations for 2014-2015

For the 2014-2015 school year, we are planning to have four San Francisco locations: Dogpatch (K-1), Hayes Valley (K-1 and Upper Elementary), SoMa (Middle School), and the Marina/Fort Mason (K-1 and Upper Elementary). We are also looking to open AltSchools in Palo Alto and the East Bay (K-1 and Upper Elementary).

San Francisco 2014 Locations

View Larger Map

We encourage you to contact us to provide your input on specific Bay Area and Peninsula neighborhoods where you would like to see an AltSchool.

AltSchool in Other Regions

AltSchool plans to expand to other cities. If you’d like to bring an AltSchool to your area or have an interest in starting your own AltSchool, please fill out our founding family application.


General Questions

What is AltSchool?

AltSchool is a collaborative network of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research and innovative tools to offer a personalized “whole child” learning experience for the next generation.

What makes AltSchool unique?

At each of our schools, we listen and adapt to the specific needs of our teachers, parents and students. We develop Personalized Learning Plans to cultivate each child academically, socially and emotionally. To that end, we work with partners in the community to offer a holistic experience that takes advantage of the best people and places that surrounding neighborhoods have to offer. All of this is made possible through the AltSchool supporting team, which works hard to drive true innovation in education.

What is a microschool?

AltSchool micro-schools are small learning communities that range from 20 to 80 students. Because of their small size, micro-schools are flexible in adapting to the needs of teachers, parents and students. Micro-schools foster a strong sense of community while benefiting from the resources and innovations of the larger AltSchool network.

Why build a network?

Our micro-school community model works because of the innovators and resources that are provided in the background to support rich educational experiences for all of our students, parents and teachers.

Who is AltSchool?

AltSchool’s founding team includes experienced educators and technology leaders, united around the mission of delivering personalized education to as many children as possible. Our educators have many years of experience in teaching and leading schools, with deep expertise in learning differences, gifted education and cross-cultural education. Our technologists have worked on personalization and education at leading companies including Google, Amazon, and Academic Earth.

You can read more about our team here.

What is your student:teacher ratio?

AltSchool is committed to maintaining a low student to teacher ratio in the classroom to ensure a customized and personal environment for each of our students. Our current ratio is 8 to 1.

How are you funded?

AltSchool is privately funded by venture and philanthropic sources. Our funding gives us the resources and flexibility to build an alternative school system that can quickly scale to serve increasing numbers of families.

What is tuition, and what is included in tuition?

Tuition is $19,100 and includes all activities, field trips, technology devices and classroom supplies. Lunch and afterschool care are available for an additional fee.

Is financial aid available?

Tuition assistance is available. We are happy to discuss tuition assistance options as part of the application process. We decide which students to admit independent of a family’s tuition assistance needs.

What food is served at AltSchool?

Depending on interest at each micro-school, families can subscribe to an AltSchool lunch plan, which is catered daily and offers nutritious meals that are locally sourced and sustainably raised when practical. We also have a variety of nutritious snacks available throughout the day.

What is the school calendar for 2014-2015?

August 25 - School begins
September 1 - Labor Day (no school)
September 19 - Professional development day for Middle School teachers (no school for middle school students)
October 13 - Professional development day for teachers (no school)
November 26-28 - Thanksgiving (no school)
December 22-January 2 - Winter Break (no school)
January 19th - Martin Luther King Day (no school)
February 16th - President's Day (no school)
February 17th - Professional development day for teachers (no school)
March 30-April 3rd - Spring Break (no school)
May 25th - Memorial Day (no school)
June 5th - last day of school


How do you develop a personalized curriculum?

Our teachers begin the personalization process from the first moment we meet your child in student interviews. During this time, we learn about your child’s strengths, styles, goals, and interests. Our teachers use this information to design a Learner Profile, which becomes the foundation for our tailored educational experience.

The next step involves creating a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP). The PLP is developed collaboratively with insights from teachers, family, and students. It includes a set of learning objectives and milestones that are informed by standards-based assessments. It also includes goals for academic, social, and emotional development. This PLP is reviewed quarterly with teachers, family, and students.

To meet PLP goals and milestones, each student has a tailored curriculum, or Playlist, of learning activities for the week. Playlists include individualized, small group, and whole class learning experiences. Teachers design weekly activities to help students build both basic skills and higher order skills, such as creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Students and teachers reflect upon Playlist activities each week to inform the selection of future experiences.

As our students progress along their educational journey, we update the Learner Profile, PLP, and Playlists to reflect advancements and interests.

Is there a foreign language program?

AltSchool students currently have regular instruction in Spanish. In 2014, students will have a choice of taking Mandarin or Spanish. In the future, some AltSchool locations may offer language immersion experiences, depending on parent and student interest. We also offer independent study if a student is already studying another language.

What role do standards play at AltSchool?

We use a variety of standards and metrics as a framework for instructional design. Our elementary and middle school instruction is informed by the Common Core, National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Next Generation Science Standards and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), among others.

Do you give grades?

AltSchool families receive weekly updates on their student’s progress. These updates include quantitative and qualitative feedback to improve student learning over time. Four times a year, families receive a detailed report that includes student self-reflection, teacher assessments, results of adaptive standardized tests and a portfolio of student work to demonstrate learning outcomes.

Classroom Dynamics

Why do you have mixed ages?

We believe that like adults, children benefit educationally and socially from being part of diverse communities with a range of ages and abilities. Grouping children of various ages together gives each child exposure to peers who are similar and different. Children learn from one another as they stretch to attain higher levels of understanding and as they serve as experts to those less far along.

Because each student has a personalized education plan and we have a low classroom student to teacher ratio, we serve children at multiple grade levels in the same homeroom environment.

How are grade levels organized at AltSchool?

In the current school year, AltSchool has one K-5 elementary classroom, with a group of younger children (K-1) and a group of upper elementary children (2-5).

For 2014-15, we will offer Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten & 1st grade, Upper Elementary (2nd - 5th grade), and Middle School (6th - 8th grade) classrooms. Each mixed age group will have its own classroom.

How old does my child need to be to enroll in the Transitional Kindergarten program?

We accept children who are at least four years and nine months old on a rolling basis to our T-K program throughout the year.

Physical Space

What is your criteria for deciding where to create a school?

We look for great Bay Area neighborhoods that are close to parks and playgrounds, are close to public transportation, and are within reasonable reach of where our families live. We also look for areas that are close to educational institutions (such as museums, science centers, and other spaces for community-based learning).

Parents and Teachers

How do teachers work with each other?

Teachers always work in co-teaching teams, drawing on each other’s strengths to ensure that the classroom runs smoothly and the program is rich and dynamic.

How do teachers work with parents?

Teachers and parents are a team at AltSchool. They work together to form a deep understanding of each child’s learning profile and to continually refine Personalized Learning Plans.

Parents are encouraged to speak with or email teachers on a regular basis to provide feedback and improve their child’s learning trajectory. Each week, parents also have the opportunity to review learning plans with their student and reflect upon their experiences with teachers.

Every seven weeks, parents, students, and teachers meet for in-person consultations to evaluate and improve the learning experience. AltSchool parents also have the opportunity to suggest experiences for inclusion in the curriculum on an ongoing basis and to contribute their own talents to the classroom.

Beyond working with teachers, what else is expected of families?

Families are a key part of the AltSchool community and are welcomed in the classroom. We also communicate openly and regularly with parents, using their feedback to refine our processes.

Parents are welcome to participate in AltSchool family events, such as BBQs and holiday parties. However, AltSchool does not require parents to participate in fundraising or volunteer activities.


What is the school calendar?

For the 2013-14 school year, school ends on Friday, June 20th. August 25th is the anticipated first day of the 2014-15 school year. We also work to accommodate family travel plans, religious observances or special occasions that may require your child to miss school.

What are school hours?

We understand that flexibility is important for families. At our current school in Dogpatch, families can drop off their children at school anytime between 8:20 and 9:00AM. Our school day ends at 3 pm. If your child has special scheduling needs beyond this flexibility, we’re happy to work with you to try to accommodate them.

Is after-school care available?

We believe that learning should extend beyond the traditional school day. We also understand the scheduling needs of our busy parents. At our Dogpatch location, we offer extended day activities from 3pm to 6pm daily. Our extended day program is available for an additional $8/hr. Students can attend on a drop-in basis.

Do you have recess?

AltSchool students have recess every day, and participate in daily outdoor activities. Our students also have sports and fitness classes three times per week and visit parks throughout the city.

The AltSchool Student

What kind of child does AltSchool look for?

There is no single perfect student for AltSchool. We look for children with a combination of skills, talents, interests and learning styles. We also look for children with a combination of curiosity, enthusiasm and optimism. We consider these elements when putting together our classrooms. We aim to attract students who complement one another and help each other grow.

What about siblings of those already enrolled?

We work with each family individually to accommodate sibling enrollment.

How many openings do you have?

Rather than ranking students and admitting our top choices to a limited number of spots, we craft ideally balanced classes through a careful understanding of students and families. We have the capacity to open new micro-schools where there is the greatest interest and demand amongst prospective families.

Watch and Learn

Parent Testimonial

Margaret discusses how her 6-year-old daughter fell in love with learning through AltSchool's personalized learning. Aided by frequent progress reports from teachers, Margaret has watched her daughter evolve into a confident child who loves reading.

Parent Testimonial

Patricia discusses how her 9-year-old son has grown his confidence and critical thinking skills in AltSchool's smaller-sized classrooms.

Parent Testimonial

Alice, AltSchool's Community Manager and mother of two students, discusses how her 9-year-old son has flourished in the classroom by keeping active and engaged through interdisciplinary activities in the AltSchool curriculum.

Parent Testimonial

Alice, AltSchool's Community Manager and mother of two students, discusses how her 6-year-old son has leapt ahead and continues to be challenged thanks to his weekly personalized education Playlists.

Applied Technology

Carolyn Wilson, Director of Education, explains how technology is used in AltSchool classrooms.

What is AltSchool

Founder Max Ventilla discusses why he decided to reimagine education with AltSchool.

Educational Approach

AltSchool's founder, Max Ventilla, discusses the AltSchool approach to personalized, interdisciplinary project-based learning.

Outside The Classroom

Carolyn Wilson, Director of Education, discusses AltSchool's extension of the classroom through field trips, excursions into the community, and local experts.

Jobs at AltSchool

All AltSchool employees share a passion for enabling children to reach their full potential. This passion informs what we do everyday, whether it’s building innovative tools for the classroom, designing a personalized curriculum for each child, or finding ideal locations for our micro-schools.

We are looking for outstanding talent to help us accomplish our mission. If you feel driven to create transformative educational experiences that will prepare children for 2030 and beyond, please take a look at our jobs page and apply today.