Information for Prospective Families and Students

Introduction to Pathfinder

A 2014 Washington State School of Distinction

The Pathfinder K-8 community envisions a school in which students are empowered to be inquisitive and versatile thinkers who value diversity, pursue their passions, reach their potential, and become advocates for our world.

Dr. Britney Holmes, Principal

Ellen Want, Assistant Principal

School building front exterior

What makes our school unique?


 Pathfinder was founded by cooperative preschool parents in 1992 to give West Seattle residents an alternative school option. Our parents continue to take an active role in and out of our classrooms. 


At Pathfinder we learn the same subjects, work on the same state standards and build the same solid academic foundation as all other Seattle Public Schools. 

Pathfinder students develop a passion for learning while striving to understand and internalize information. Our students develop strong critical thinking skills, learn to ask meaningful questions and search for their own answers. Experience and experimentation is vital in every subject; we use hands on materials and project-based learning. Everyone has something to contribute and addressing individual differences increases the creativity, learning and richness of the classroom environment. Our students share what they are learning by teaching one another and the community. 

Kindergarten through 8th Grade Education

 This small learning community is a public school choice for all of West Seattle. Strong student-teacher relationships are developed in all classrooms. Our classroom design includes:

  • K-5 grade looping (students stay with the same teacher for two years)
  • 6th, 7th and 8th grade core teams

Whole-Child Emphasis

At Pathfinder K-8 we support the development of the whole child. We do this by empowering children to recognize their own passions and gifts, build their capacity to be self aware learners, and to appreciate the similarities and differences of others. Students’ problem-solving abilities and social/emotional development are honed through regular class meetings, Talking Circles and social-skills training. 

Outdoor Education

Every year Pathfinder K-8 students engage in outdoor education through field trips and camping. Our goal is to create camping trips that foster community, vivid nature experience, skill building and plain old fun!

Creative Approach

 Pathfinder K-8 was designated a Creative Approach School in 2015. Our focus is on Social and Emotional Learning.

Expeditionary Learning

At Pathfinder, teachers and students pursue long-term intellectual investigations built around significant projects and performances. The investigations take students out into the world and bring the world into the classroom. Often they provide students with opportunities to serve the wider community. The learning expedition is marked by equal attention to goals of performance and academic content mastery, as well as character and community development. Opportunities for on-going assessment are woven throughout the expedition, pushing students to higher levels of achievement.

K-8 Education

  • strong student-teacher relationships
  • two year or team-taught classrooms

Whole-Child Emphasis

  • promotes development of the whole child
  • students become confident, inquisitive learners
  • focuses on academics, physical, emotional and social growth

Academically Strong Classrooms

  • rigorous and relevant curriculum

Strong Community

  • family involvement
  • onsite childcare
  • community events
  • active PTSA

Expeditionary Learning

  • in depth class and field work
  • centered on single guiding theme across core subjects

Environmental Education

  • respect is fostered by outdoor experiences
  • Earth Project with Nature Consortium
  • Camping component at all grade levels

Other Pathfinder Programs

Specialist Programs

Physical Education, Library, Art, and Instrumental Music

PTSA After school Activities

Unicycle, K-8 expanded after-school enrichment program (features 3-5 class choices each day, with new courses over three terms). 

In Middle School we offer sports: volleyball, ultimate frisbee, middle school girls’ and boys’ soccer, basketball and track.

Blazing Trails

Blazing Trails is an onsite non-profit that provides childcare before and after school to children through 12 years old.