Our students live in a world where the challenges are complex and multidimensional and which requires them to be talented problem solvers, clear and articulate thinkers, caring and skillful in engaging with people different from themselves, and capable of resisting conformity and self-interest.
These foundations of Bush School education are taught intentionally from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade in all areas of the school program. Education based on these foundations prepares our students and graduates to make a meaningful difference in the world.
The quality of our educational program is founded on a culture of trust and respect between the adults and the students in the school community. The quality of our students’ educational experience depends upon the development of meaningful relationships with caring, talented, and skillful teachers and staff. These relationships nurture our student’s desire and ability to take responsibility for their learning. Faculty respect individual differences between students, and they engage students in a joyful curiosity about the world and how it works. They address all aspects of student development — intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical.
We hold students to high expectations. We believe the process of education is as important as the products of it; we teach students how to think and how to learn. This prepares them for college, and more importantly, for a lifetime of learning.
Experiential education is a distinguishing element of the school’s educational philosophy. It promotes a complex, integrated understanding of the world, develops leadership, builds self-confidence, and empowers students. Students learn from direct experience with real issues and problems, taking risks and engaging actively in and holding authentic responsibility for their learning. Experiential learning takes place on campus, in the city and the outdoors, across the country, and internationally.
We emphasize collaborative learning to teach leadership and followership and to take advantage of the different backgrounds and talents of our students. We believe multiple perspectives and a range of world views enliven and promote learning, educating students to be empathetic, curious, and open-minded about others and the world.
All members of The Bush School are joined by the common purpose of the school’s mission and educational foundations. The best learning happens in an environment that
motivates students, faculty, and staff to take risks;
encourages compassion and kindness, respectful discussion and disagreement; and
values different perspectives and backgrounds.
In order to create and maintain this kind of learning environment — one that encourages all members of the school community, especially students, to be their best selves — each of us must feel treated with respect and encouraged to actively and fully participate in the life of the school. Each member of the school community — students, faculty, staff, parents, guardians, alumnae/i, and trustees — shares responsibility for building and sustaining this environment.
The Board of Trustees and the faculty and staff recognize their central role in fostering a welcoming and engaged community that reflects the key elements of the successful learning environment described above.
The Bush School mission makes clear the importance of contribution to multiple communities. Accordingly, the school should be a positive and contributing member of the larger communities of which it is a part, including the Seattle region, the Pacific Northwest, the nation, and the world.
Therefore, we commit to helping ensure the School:
values and respects the diversity brought to the school by every member of the community;
welcomes and includes all members of our community by offering a range of activities and opportunities to create connections and relationships with each other; and
engages constructively and collaboratively with the communities of which it is a part.
Helen Taylor Bush, a supporter of John Dewey's philosophy of progressive education, opens a preschool and kindergarten in her home on Dorffel Drive. Six students enroll.
The school, having grown to six grades, formally organizes as a nonprofit corporation with a board of trustees.
The Helen Bush School for Girls formally begins. While Mrs. Bush prefered coeducational schools, the condition of the facility rental stipulated that any grade levels added by the school could only enroll girls. The coeducational Lower School was given its own name — Parkside — and was coeducational through the sixth grade. Seventh and eighth grades were added and were girls only. The combined school was called the Helen Bush–Parkside School.
Marjorie Livengood, an accomplished musician who played in the Seattle Symphony, joins the full-time faculty. Livengood went on to become the second head of school, serving from 1948 to 1967.
Liz Gall ’38, along with a handful of friends, designs and creates a terra cotta statue of three cherubs, representing the three ideals of the school: truth, beauty, and purpose. The statue remains a fixture on campus.
Mrs. Bush helps to organize the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools, now called NWAIS.
Gracemont becomes part of The Bush School campus through the generosity of Grace Heffernan Arnold. The house itself, plus the carriage house and the grounds, were offered to Mrs. Bush at a bargain price. Gracemont continues to serve as a classroom and administrative hub for the Upper School.
Three months after resigning from the school, Helen Taylor Bush passes away.
Construction begins on an academic building in place of the former Lower School boarding hall.
The Marjorie Livengood Learning Center is constructed.
Marjorie Livengood retires and is honored with the Seattle Times’ Woman of Achievement award. John Grant is hired as the first headmaster of the Helen Bush–Parkside School. Grant came to Bush with a background in art history and school administration.
The boarding program begins to be phased out.
Midge Bowman ’51 becomes the full-time director of the Lower School. Bowman would ultimately serve a year as interim head of school in 1996–1997.
The school is formally renamed The Bush School and begins enrolling boys in the Upper School, making it Seattle's only K–12 coeducational independent school.
Grades six through eight are organized into a formal Middle School. The Wilderness Program begins.
Les Larsen becomes the head of school. Convocation, a tradition that marks the start of the school year, is instituted. Mohamed Souaiaia ’72 becomes the first male graduate of the Upper School.
The Bush Bicycle Club sets off on a bicycle trip around the world. The group returned in 1976 having covered 15,000 miles and 22 countries in 15 months.
The Action Module Program (AMP), a staple of experiential education in the Upper School, is introduced.
Completion of two capital campaigns since 1972 results in a faculty endowment, renovations to Gracemont, and construction of the Commons, a new gym, an art building, administrative offices, Benaroya, and the urban courtyard.
Fred Dust becomes the head of school.
Sis Pease ’41 retires after a career as a Bush teacher, college counselor, administrator, parent, and alumna. Pease has worked with every head of The Bush School and remains involved as a life trustee.
Dr. Timothy Burns becomes head of school. He is charged with the funding and design for a science and technology center in the Upper School, which becomes Wissner Hall.
Frank Magusin becomes the eighth head of school.
Construction of the Lower Campus including the Lower School classrooms, Community Room, library, Mag Gym, turf field, play structure, and the parking structure is completed.
Percy L. Abram, Ph.D., becomes the ninth head of The Bush School.
The Bush School acquires a second campus in Mazama, WA. The twenty-acre campus and educational facility, formerly known as the North Cascades Basecamp, opportunity to engage place-based education and integrate wilderness, cultural, and academic experiential learning.