Sterne's mission is to build on the foundation of individual strengths to discover and nurture each student’s version of greatness.

Our Values

  • Start with strengths
  • Bring joy to learning
  • Learn from everyone’s uniqueness
  • Honor the educator
  • Never give up

Our Story

In 1976, San Francisco-based educator Valerie Anthony set out to create a new kind of school for students she knew had enormous talents and strengths, but who were not being served by traditional classrooms or curricula. Today, these kinds of learners identify as neurodiverse, atypical, or having learning differences. With the help of her husband Xen, Val followed her vision, and Sterne School was born as a literal one-room schoolhouse, in the Sunset District, for students aged 7-14.

Over the following several decades, stewarded by a new generation of similarly innovative and inclusive teachers and administrators, Anthony’s original dream gained enormous traction, and evolved to meet the educational needs of a new generation of learners: not just kids who identify as neurodiverse, but also students who benefit from our strengths-based philosophy and best-in-class embedded support.

Sterne serves nearly 200 students in grades 4-12 in a vibrant, urban campus. Small and mighty by design, we offer a personalized learning experience, with small class sizes and integrated learning support, creating an environment that amplifies strengths and gives every student the space to unlock their potential. Our Lower, Middle, and High School programs are designed as a seamless progression from foundational literacy and math skills to a comprehensive college preparatory program. Strong arts, athletics, and experiential education round out our students' experience.

In Lower and Middle School, skills-based class placement allows students to access grade level content, balancing integrated support and academic enrichment. Our standards-based academic program inspires critical thinking, collaboration, and the development of strong study and organizational skills. Abundant enrichment opportunities from experiential travel to community service foster meaningful social emotional learning and build community.

Sterne’s High School program provides students with a comprehensive and challenging college preparatory curriculum through instruction that is designed and led by expertly-trained faculty. Self-reflection, self-advocacy, and leadership opportunities are at the core of this program, as each student’s understanding of their own learning profiles fosters autonomy and critical thinking. Our college counseling team works with students and their families throughout high school so that our graduates find the best-fit schools. Sterne graduates pursue their passions as creators, leaders, problem-solvers, and thinkers.

Celebrating Uniqueness
Every Sterne education starts with a unique individual. In many ways, an appreciation for diversity and belonging has been at the heart of our mission since our founding. But we know that cultivating an environment where every person feels seen, heard, and safe is an ongoing process that requires both reflection and action.

Sterne School Diversity Statement

A Sterne School community member is, first, an individual with a distinctive life experience, perspective, lens and learning profile. Sterne School welcomes and celebrates students of all races, ethnicities, belief systems, religions, sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities, family structures and socio-economic backgrounds. The Sterne School community does not tolerate behaviors or actions that infringe upon one's ability to be seen, heard and understood. The Sterne community is centered in learning from everyone’s uniqueness, creating self-advocates who strive to develop awareness, empathy, cultural competency and allyship in the Sterne community and beyond. 

The Sterne Experience