Private Palo Alto School Expanding

Atherton residents donate millions to a school in Palo Alto.

The Sand Hill School in Palo Alto is expanding, thanks to a multi-million dollar gift from two Atherton residents. John Kriewall and Betsy Haehl donated $550,000 to the Sand Hill School to sustain the education facility’s operation costs. 

“We are truly honored to receive this extraordinarily generous and visionary gift from the Kriewall-Haehl family,” said Dr. Rosalie Whitlock, Executive Director of the Children’s Health Council. The CHC develops the Sand Hill School’s curriculum.

“John and Betsy offered outstanding advice when this school was just a dream, and their collaboration has helped to make it a reality,” Whitlock said.  In addition to their advice, the two Atherton residents pledged $2,000,000 to help the school expand. 

The Sand Hill School was ideated three years ago, with the goal of creating an academic environment in which children with learning difficulties could thrive.  Founders developed a curriculum that focuses on social emotional learning, self-awareness, and self-regulation. This vision became a reality in February 2011; six students enrolled.  

Sand Hill School has since expanded and now educates 40 students in grades K-4. The donation from Kriewall and Haehl will enable the school to eventually teach students through eighth grade.

When asked about the reasons this gift was made, Kriewall said he wanted to ensure its future growth.

“We know that learning challenges like dyslexia and ADHD don’t exist in isolation. They affect the whole child,” Kriewall said.  

“This school will build upon the hard work of the CHC Board, Advisory Committee, school leadership and teachers, as well as the wealth of learning and multi-disciplinary expertise at CHC. It has the potential to be a model for how our community looks at education and early intervention. Betsy and I can’t imagine a better investment than that,” he said.

The Sand Hill School offers unique approaches to overcoming things that challenge learning such as ADHD and anxiety. It is a sister school to the Esther B. Clark School, which is also a private therapeutic school. Tuition for the 2012-13 academic school year at Sand Hill School is $28,755.  School administrators expect to add the extra four grades to the school in the next four years. 


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