History of Bowman

In the spring of 1995, a group of concerned and entrepreneurial parents met around a picnic table, and Bowman School (previously Children’s International School) was born. We are indebted to this group for their vision, their spirit, and their unwavering dedication and hard work in the formative years of our school.

The Founders Sought To:

  • Create a unique educational model and non-profit school
  • Provide a strong, individualized, self-directed, academic program for their children
  • Expand the concept of community and citizenship to the global level, the “neighborhood” and “workplace” of their children’s future
  • Integrate the use of state-of-the-art technology into the curriculum
  • Contribute to educational choice and innovation in schooling
  • Recognize and support the demanding work-life needs of today’s families

Founding Families

  • Norman Adams and Elizabeth Grover (Allison, Andrew)
  • Dana Bangs and Elaine Phoutrides (Greg, Deanna)
  • Claudia Davis (Katya)
  • Greg Franklin and Sue Lowe (Taylor, Alix)
  • Norman and Lynn Franklin (Casey)
  • John Kessler and Janet Lasher (Julian)
  • Tom McNair and Jamie Briggs (Caitlin)
  • Ted and Margaret Ricks
  • Jim and Laura Strand (Erica, Steve)
  • Fred and Ellie Van den Bosch (Lianne)
On June 30, 2008, Margaret Bowman Ricks, the founding Head of School, retired.

“At Bowman, the focus is on the whole child. The three essential qualities we develop in children are self-confidence, respect, and responsibility. These qualities lead to independence and adaptability. All these qualities, taken together, form the foundation for success in school and in life.”faculty_margaret

Margaret directed Bowman through its formative years. Her guidance and leadership were instrumental in the process of transforming a startup school of 13 children and 2 teachers into an established institution with 185 children and a program that continues to evolve and gain recognition year by year.

As a recognized leader in Montessori elementary education, Margaret built an impressive reputation for founding or expanding many of the leading programs in the country, including establishing new curriculum programs and implementing sound fiscal and operational policies. She served in a director capacity at Whitby School in Greenwich, CT; Kingsley Montessori School in Boston, MA; and Diablo Valley Montessori School, the first Montessori school west of the Mississippi, located in Lafayette, CA.

Through her passion for “teaching the teachers” at leading Montessori training academies and her success overseeing countless interns, Margaret was one of the most connected and respected Montessori educators in the country.


Bowman Milestones


Bowman School was founded in 1995 as Children’s International School (CIS) by a group of parents and educators, many of whom lived in other areas of the world.

CIS opened its doors at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto in September 1995, with 15 students ranging from kindergarten through fourth grade, and offered Japanese and Spanish.

CIS had two teachers: Mary Beth Ricks and Nancy Coza.


1996 – 1998

Latin was added as a third language for Middle School students.

By 1997, Upper School was added for grades 6-8.

In 1998, the teaching staff expanded to include music and art teachers.



CIS enrolled 115 students.

The Middle School class trip program began with trips to Japan in 2000, 2005, and 2008; Boston in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010; Spain in 2002; and England in 2006 and 2009.


2003 – 2004

CIS purchased the current 24,000 square foot facility.

CIS changed the name to Bowman International School, an honorary tribute to Margaret Bowman Ricks, our founding Head of School.

In December 2004, Bowman moved into the facility at 4000 Terman Drive, Palo Alto.



Bowman was invited to participate in the annual Global Peace Conference (GCAP) for Montessori students in New York City. Bowman has participated every year since 2007.



Margaret Bowman Ricks retired.

Mary Beth Ricks, the first Bowman teacher, was appointed the Head of School.

Bowman began the process to become a Green School.



Bowman achieved accreditation with the International Montessori Council (IMC).

Bowman joined independent schools in the area in the SSIL Sports League and Common Ground Speaker Series.



In celebration of its 15th year, Bowman adopted the Bowman Bee as the mascot and began the tradition of the Founder’s Day International Fair.



Bowman achieved the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation.

Mary Beth Ricks won the YWCA Silicon Valley’s Annual Tribute to Women (TWIN) Award, honoring women who demonstrate excellence in executive-level positions.



Bowman hosted the international art project In Search of the Truth and invited the public to participate in this project designed to initiate cross-cultural communication through use of “The Truth Booth” – an iconic 17′ high, 25′ long, portable video recording studio shaped like a giant cartoon speech bubble with the word “TRUTH” boldly printed on the side.


2014 – 2015

Bowman celebrates its 20th year.


2019 – 2020

Bowman celebrates its 25th year.