Westside School was founded 30 years ago by a group of West Seattle co-op educators and parents who wanted a positive, self-esteem building school experience and age-appropriate curriculum for their children.
Eleven kindergartners signed up for what was then “Westside School for Young Children” fall 1981 in rented church space.
After several moves, in 1993, Westside negotiated a lease with Highline School District for the North Shorewood School building on 28th Avenue SW, in the south end of West Seattle. The school shared the space with several non-profits, and then eventually with co-tenant Explorer West Middle School.
In spring of the 1995-1996 School year, Westside was accepted as a member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) officially becoming an accredited independent school. The following year, Westside graduated its first class of five fifth grade students. In 1998-1999, Westside established the Early Childhood Education Center.
In July 2003, Jo Ann Yockey was hired as Head of School. Westside had grown to 130 students. In 2005, the Board of Trustees adopted a strategic plan and a strategic financial plan, which outlined a course for growing the student body to two classes per grade and creating an emphasis on global perspective and world languages – Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. The school went through a self-study and renewed its accreditation with PNAIS.
To accommodate the growth called for in the new strategic plan, Westside added a second modular building to house a library and the school's art and music programs. The school remodeled a house (purchased previously) adjoining campus for administrative and meeting room space.
In 2006-2007, demand was such that Westside offered a second kindergarten section. Additional modular buildings were installed to accommodate the continued growth called for in the strategic plan. In 2008, a second adjacent property was purchased with a future eye on expanding the campus. Enrollment had increased to 218 students, and the goals of the 2005 strategic plan had been accomplished. However, even with the purchased modular buildings and adjacent real estate owned by the school, space options for the growing program, short term, were limited.
In January 2010, Seattle Public Schools announced plans to lease vacant school properties, including three West Seattle schools. One property, the E.C. Hughes building on 34th Avenue SW, met the immediate space needs of the school, and included ample classroom space, a large gymnasium, a multi-purpose room with a stage, two outdoor covered play areas, and abundant parking. In May 2010, the Board of Trustees signed a ten year lease with the Seattle School District. In September 2010, Westside School began the year in its new home.
The PNAIS self-study process for re-accreditation began again, and the Board crafted a new strategic plan. Reaching the goal of two classes per grade, the Board approved continuing the mission of Westside into middle school.
Westside began a new chapter in fall 2011 with over 265 students from preschool through 6th grade enrolled – officially beginning the expansion into Middle School. Head of School Jo Ann Yockey announced her departure effective June 30, 2012. The Board of Trustees began a national head search. In January 2012, the Board of Trustees appointed Kate Mulligan as the new Head of Westside School, effective July 1, 2012.