John Muir Elementary School

Situated in the Lower Haight near the center of the city, John Muir is a vibrant example of how engaging the community in a local school can have palpable benefits for the kids and the neighborhood at large.

John Muir serves 258 students; 91.5% are socioeconomically disadvantaged, 41.4% are English language learners, 13.2% are students with disabilities and 1 in 4 students are homeless. Muir does not have a PTA. Their parent leadership group raised a total of $300 the year before PEPS began working there. The median home price in the neighborhood $1.2 million and the median rent is $4500.

In 2015 PEPS proposed a collaboration with then-new principal Shawn Mansager. He immediately accepted, believing that his school would blossom and thrive with neighborhood support.

Today the school has a complement of volunteers who do everything from one-on-one mentoring of individual students, to tutoring students in literacy and math, to working as classroom assistants. The nearby Café International features the children’s art on its walls; the nearby Zen Center has featured the students’ art as well as provided baked goods to the teachers. The Haight Street Art Center teaches students screen printing and has screen printed collaborative art pieces to share with students and raise money for the school. A local wine bar treated the teachers to an end-of-school-year party. A local appliance store donated a clothes dryer to replace the one used by families in the school’s parent room..

John Muir’s Community Liaison was driven to match neighborhood and school resources so Muir students had the very best chance to succeed. In the first few months at John Muir, PEPS raised almost $4,000 for everything from serving dinner to families at literacy night, to providing snacks so students weren’t hungry before an important statewide test.

We know this model works. The entire community benefits when we treat all of our children like they are all our children. In a socioeconomically stratified city like San Francisco, that can bridge some profound divides.