Beginning School

Welcome to the Beginning School!

Walk through the doors of the Beehive—as the Beginning School is affectionately known—and you will be surrounded by the hum of children joyfully, naturally, purposefully learning. 

Here in the Beehive we honor young childhood. While giving our students the space and time to be young, we also build their agency and capabilities by inspiring them to be big. Our teachers are masterful experts at harnessing the power of children’s natural curiosities. Beginning Schoolers are engaged in wondering, investigating, hypothesizing, building understandings, and developing emergent academic skills in service to their intellectual endeavors. Through play, children learn new concepts and skills and become artists, scientists, innovators, writers, mathematicians, investigators, and problem-solvers.

To contribute and find success in the world, we know our children will need to be able to listen to others, appreciate different perspectives, and work together to solve problems. This journey begins in the Beginning School. We cultivate a child’s sense of self—they learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and energy—while we simultaneously help children begin to see outside of themselves.  Through careful guidance, our students become a welcoming, supportive community.

The Beehive is a special place—I hope you will come for a visit!

Dawn Isaacs
Head of Beginning School

Learn More

Allowing them to be little, Inspiring them to be big

Learn more about our program from the people that know it best

Explore the video gallery

Take the first step

Interested in applying for preschool or kindergarten?

Read more about the application process

Quick Facts

Teacher specialists for woodshop, music, PE & library

Three parent-teacher conferences per year

Students spend time outdoors every day


  • 22 four- and five-year olds gather in one large classroom
  • Two teachers and a teaching assistant


  • 36 five- and six-year olds gather in two large classrooms and an art studio
  • Two homeroom teachers, one studio teacher, and two teaching assistants
An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

Explore why Catlin Gabel is a national leader in progressive education.

We welcome more than 100 new families annually to our inclusive community from the Portland area and beyond.


A demanding and engaging program in which each student is the unit of consideration

Playing sports involves life lessons in determination, grace, and resilience. We invite everyone to be part of a team.

Extensive support ensures our students are successful.

Learn about Catlin Gabel news and events on campus and beyond.

We foster a community that appreciates our differences and recognizes our essential unity

Every gift benefits our students. Every volunteer hour builds our community.

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