Sponsor Spotlight: Black Pine Circle School

Sponsor Spotlight: Black Pine Circle School

Today we are visiting (virtually) a beloved sponsor of 510Families.com, Black Pine Circle School, an independent school in Berkeley.

kindergarten children with a cardboard arcade
These curious kindergartners are learning Physics and building a cardboard arcade | Photo: Black Pine Circle

Black Pine Circle nurtures curiosity

Black Pine Circle School, BPC, an award-winning K-8 private school in Berkeley, is the daytime home to students who enjoy a diversity of inquiry-based learning experiences, all designed to support their journey towards independent thought and a lifelong love of learning.

From the maker lab to “The Oasis”, a magical play area, Black Pine Circle has thoughtfully designed a campus that inspires experimentation.

All Black Pine Circle students benefit from the music program, with access to Orff-based instrumental literacy beginning in Kindergarten. Beginning in first grade, all students have the opportunity to learn a stringed instrument, either violin or cello twice a week during the school day.

young musicians
Music Class for young cellists begins in first grade | Photo: Black Pine Circle

Science comes to life in the garden (lunch scraps turns to compost that the students use!) and in the Q Lab: A Space for Science & Inquiry, a workshop outfitted with a laser cutter, gene amplifiers, 3D printers, and a variety of tools in an open space that supports and inspires. Designed for ages 5-14, every BPC student uses the Q Lab.

Black Pine Circle 2nd grade science
Second grade science class | Photo: Black Pine Circle School

Do you want to see inside? Family Maker Fridays are one opportunity to do that, held on December 6 and February 7, 6 pm – 8:30 pm. For more school tour and admission events, read on.

Black Pine Circle School was voted “The Best” in four categories in Parents’ Press 2018 and 2019 awards:

  • Best Independent Elementary School
  • Best Progressive Elementary School
  • Best Independent Middle School
  • Best Progressive Middle School

I’ve been inside the school many times, and am always inspired by the projects on the wall. Not only is the students’ work impressive, but the assignments themselves are so thoughtful.

Dia de Los Muertos art
In 3rd grade, the Spanish and art specialists integrated lessons to familiarize the students with the art and life of Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada, whose skeleton prints are connected to the holiday, Día de los Muertos. | Photo: Black Pine Circle School

The principles of the school, articulated in their motto “CURIOSITY, COMMUNITY, INQUIRY, & VOICE”, are actualized through both strong academics and incorporation of visual and performing arts.

Every classroom uses the Socratic method to encourage tons of question-asking and to rally the students around the idea that there is always more to know. Differentiated learning, Responsive Classroom practices, and two full-time teachers in each K-5 classroom create an environment that nurtures critical thinking, the willingness to take risks, and the understanding that failing and learning from mistakes are essential to the learning process.

Black Pine Circle kids thrive in community

Teachers at Black Pine Circle School are committed to coaching children’s social-emotional development and fostering a community where students feel safe in their stages of development and individual differences.

Building community happens in so many ways. Students collaborate on performances and plays at every grade level. K-8 houses (think Harry Potter) foster cross-grade relationships, as do the lower school buddy class activities.

“We have two kids at BPC. We love the academics, the teachers, and the community. BPC has expanded their learning services so that kids who need extra help get it, and kids that need to be challenged more, are. The things my kids have learned at BPC are remarkable, and they come home every day and tell me about something fascinating–Antarctica, the layers of the earth, Greek mythology, extracting DNA, etc. The administration is very open to hearing suggestions from parents. I’ve never seen a school where the administration is so approachable. It’s an all around inclusive environment–everyone has a voice. We couldn’t love BPC more!” ~ 3rd & 7th grade parent

Soccer pyramid
Kids can play an after-school sport; join the band program or orchestra; and be part of a club like maker club, math club, cooking club, robotics, or drama club. | Photo: Black Pine Circle School

Visit Black Pine Circle School

Black Pine Circle School is located on 7th Street, near Berkeley’s Fourth Street shops and the cafe mecca of University and San Pablo Avenues.


For upcoming weekend information events, please RSVP through the school’s website at blackpinecircle.org.


  • Kindergarten: Saturday, November 16, 10 am – 12 pm
  • Grades 6–8: Saturday, November 16, 1 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Grades K–5: Saturday, December 14, 10 am – 12 pm
  • Grades 6–8: Saturday, December 14, 1 pm – 3:30 pm


To visit BPC while it’s in session, RSVP for a tour on the school’s website, blackpinecircle.org. Tours run from 10/29 through 1/15.

  • K–5: Tuesday & Thursday mornings, October 29 through January 9.
  • 6–8: Wednesday & Friday mornings, October 30 through January 15.

Thanks so much to Black Pine Circle School for sponsoring 510Families.com. To schedule a tour, request an admissions packet, and to learn more about the school, please call Greta B. Wong, Director of Admissions, at (510) 529-2719 or email gwong@blackpinecircle.org. 

To keep up with new happenings at Black Pine Circle School, such as upcoming Parent Education Events, follow BPC on Facebook and Instagram.

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