Skip to main content

History and Impact

Let’s dare to dream for our children better than we have yet known. 

—Molloy Morgenroth, a founder of Pacific Oaks Children’s School and its first director

1945. Coming on the heels of a World War that lasted six years and one day, six local families in Pasadena, California came together and opened Pacific Oaks Children’s School with the belief that everyone has an inner light that is worth nurturing. Through the Quaker values of community, equality, and peace, they believed they could offer a progressive education that would help the world heal.

As the children engaged with their teachers, it became apparent that their model of education of inclusion and self-discovery could be applied to train future educators. In 1958, Pacific Oaks College was established to train educators to make an impact in their communities through successful careers in Early Childhood Education.

Since then, Pacific Oaks College has expanded its programs to include undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Marriage and Family Therapy, Education, Human Development, and Organizational Leadership.

This Quaker influence has defined the values that have guided us for the last 70 years. 

—Pat Breen, Ph.D., President, Pacific Oaks College and Children’s School

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the War on Poverty legislation, providing an opportunity for families to lift themselves out of poverty through various employment and education initiatives. One of these initiatives was the Head Start program—a program that expanded access to education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Recognized for their progressive approach to education, Pacific Oaks College was asked by the U.S. government to launch one of the nation’s first Head Start training programs.

The practice of freedom; the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. 

—Paulo Freire

In 1989, Louise Derman Sparks—alumni and faculty at Pacific Oaks—publishes the book Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. The first of its kind, Professor Sparks’ work changed the landscape of early childhood education—Introducing curriculum that empowers children and promotes critical thinking about bias.

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.

John Dewey

To better serve its students and its community, Pacific Oaks College and Children’s School became part of TCS Education System in 2010. With a mission of training change agents to serve a global community, TCS shares in Pacific Oaks goal in harnessing the potential that is found in every individual and helping them make a significant impact in their community.