How Authenticity Leads to Learning at Marin Primary & Middle School

When being true to who you are is the benchmark for success, the challenges you may face along your learning journey become opportunities for growth, rather than a definition of self-worth. 

Research and experience tells us that when students feel grounded and known, they develop a capacity for social and emotional intelligence, a depth of engagement in learning and a self-awareness that honors their authenticity. 

From 2s to teens, students at Marin Primary & Middle School (MP&MS) are encouraged to explore and lean into who they are as individuals, students, friends, community members and leaders. 

Division Director Dave DeMartini, who has been at MP&MS for over 40 years, never hesitates when asked what he loves most about this community. 

“I feel so lucky to be here because of the kids,” he said. 

DeMartini has worked in every sector of the school and is now our longstanding middle school director.

So, what truly makes MP&MS stand out from its peer schools? According to DeMartini, it really comes down to our community. 

“We attract teachers, students and families who are looking for an authentic experience – one where students and their parents can feel safe to be themselves,” he said. 

Since its founding in 1975, MP&MS has been a pioneer of social emotional learning, offering a challenging academic program that is balanced by an integrated approach to educating the whole person. From an early age, students learn to ask questions, push past personal boundaries and think outside the box. The result of the MP&MS learning journey is that students feel known and valued for who they are, and this cultivates an atmosphere of respect, inclusion and courage.  

“The student body here defends every other student’s right to be their authentic self,” DeMartini said. “That’s why I feel lucky to be at this school. I don’t feel like we have to pretend. I think we can be who we are. I love that about this place.”  

Authenticity doesn’t just make students feel good about themselves and their learning process; it leads them to greater success throughout their educational journey.

MP&MS students go on to all the most competitive high schools in the area.

“We’ve heard back from the high schools that MP&MS students have a different way of relating to what’s being offered to them,” DeMartini said. “They ask questions that may not have a right or a wrong answer, that make you think a little bit more or dive a little bit deeper, and that reflect their own vulnerability. They’re open to that challenge, even in a new environment. And that’s what we want for our students: to feel comfortable to be themselves.”

To learn more about the MP&MS learning journey, visit the Marin Primary and Middle School website.