Mission, History, & Future

The Girls’ Middle School was founded by educator Kathleen Bennett in 1998 to provide a school that would nurture and empower a diverse group of girls during their critical adolescent years. Today we are still guided by the vision she articulated in her original prospectus for GMS, and it remains at the heart of our mission:

The Girls’ Middle School educates girls at a crucial time in life. We create an inclusive environment where academic growth is nourished. A GMS girl discovers her strengths and expresses her voice while respecting the contributions of others.

The founding faculty and staff first taught classes in September 1998 in our original location in Mountain View, California, to a pioneering sixth grade class of 35 girls. In 2011, GMS moved to our new home in Palo Alto. Today we enroll approximately 200 girls from more than 45 elementary schools around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Strategic Plan

In 2015, GMS adopted a five-year strategic plan. Our Strategic Plan calls for us to remain true to our founding mission, embracing a progressive approach to teaching middle school girls with renewed creativity, dedication, and innovation. We continue to aim to:

  • sustain and strengthen our core values and culture,
  • maintain and increase our commitment to diversity and educational equity,
  • invest further in current facilities and infrastructure, and
  • ensure sustainable finances and build a foundation for GMS’s long-term dreams.


Girls in our country have more options available to them today than at any time in history. However, the pressure for girls to find their own voices, articulate and pursue their dreams, and navigate healthy adolescent transitions continues to call upon us to ensure that GMS remains a sustainable and viable option for future generations of girls from diverse backgrounds.

Jennifer Ayer, Former Head of School