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About Bayside STEM

The Bayside STEM Academy is a public middle school (grades 6-8) in the San Mateo Foster City School District.  The school uniquely combines the focus of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with the innovative practices of Design Thinking, and offers the district's middle school GATE cluster for qualifying students.  Here you can find information about:

School Philosophy and Focus

The Bayside STEM Academy’s dual focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines) and Design Thinking methodologies positions students and staff on an innovative academic path. 

  • Exposure in STEM subjects equips students for the world of tomorrow, giving them specific proficiencies in the methodologies in the various STEM fields.
  • Design Thinking provides a new perspective as well as supple structure to approaching problems and challenges. 
  • STEM Design Thinkers experience and relate to the world differently, and as a result, the Academy’s students and staff are energized as innovators and creative problem solvers.
  • While following state standards for each grade level and using state adopted texts, the Academy’s combination of STEM and Design Thinking offers methodology and disciplinary content to students and corresponding novel delivery of rigorous STEM coursework by staff.
  • The school also offers a grades 6-8 Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program with accelerated and advanced classes for children who qualify

The STEM Approach

Bayside STEM Academy prepares students for their roles as contributing participants in the global economy. The school, with its focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has its roots in a national quest to prepare competitive citizens for the high speed, wired, innovative, and global economy that 21st century students will inhabit as adults. STEM has its roots at MIT, the State of Ohio (STEM Learning Network), and Lockheed Martin. Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat (2006), The National Academy of Sciences (2006), and Science and Mathematics Education Policy Advisory Council Science and Mathematics, a formula for 21st Century Success (2007), serve as rationale for efforts to implement advanced and challenging science, technology, engineering and math classes.

Design Thinking

Design Thinkers prototype, focus on end users and test solutions. Design Thinking changes the way people approach work, studies, and everyday issues. Design Thinking is a much sought after approach in the business world, and is concurrently gaining traction across the nation in the K-12 schools and Institutes of Higher Education. It promotes innovation, collaboration, empathy, prototyping, and user-tested solutions.

The Bayside STEM program is based in some ways on the Design Thinking model developed at Stanford University’s  ("We moved from thinking of ourselves as designers to thinking of ourselves as design thinkers. We have a methodology that enables us to come up with a solution that nobody has before" (David Kelley).


Bayside STEM is the home of the district's designated middle school GATE Program. The GATE program provides special instruction, class placement, and extra curricular activities to support students’ development. (For more information on the Bayside STEM GATE program, see below and  For overall school district GATE information, see

GATE students are intentionally grouped together during their Core classes (English Language Arts and Social Studies), Science and STEM Foundations and participate with their full grade cohort in most other academic areas.GATE students are tested and placed into for math based on their demonstrated abilities  Most are placed in pre-Algebra. GATE students are fully integrated with the other students in the context of PE and electives. GATE Explorers Club, a series of monthly family-initiated field trips, as well as a variety of clubs  provide additional means of enrichment.

A Smaller Middle School Alternative

Bayside STEM is the smallest of the four middle schools in the San Mateo Foster City School District. With a student population of 500 and teaching staff of 26, students are given individual attention, guidance, and specialized grade level curriculum.  

The school is served by Dr. Jeanne Elliott, principal, Joseph Hadley, Assistant Principal, Noreen O’Donnell, academic dean, and Anita Yepez, counselor.

Year-Round Academic Calendar

Bayside STEM academic calendar is year round. The first day of school is generally at the end of July and the last day of school is near the end of June. Students attend the same number of school days as traditional calendar schools. However, there are three breaks of three weeks each: October, Winter, Spring. Specific calendars for a given year can be found at the district website as they are established and approved (

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“The teachers are really great. They’re interactive and know how to make the lessons fun. They’re not just teaching the textbook, but do demonstrations, show how it’s done and let us explore how it’s done so we can really learn it.” - 7th Grade Student

"I like Bayside STEM because it’s a smaller middle school, and it’s a place where everything is not set in stone, where there is an opportunity for us to build something for our kids." - 6th Grade Parent

“I really like the year-round schedule.  It allows frequent breaks and you don’t forget everything over the summer, so when school starts up again you can jump in and start learning new things vs. going back to review it all.” - Student

"I like the school administrators’ engagement.  They practice what they preach on STEM and design thinking.   When we raise issues, they listen – and our feedback goes back into the programs.   The program is phenomenal.  We’re delighted with it.  – 6th Grade Parent