West County Mandarin School

Community Subscriber

Chinese, English
350 students
Website: http://wcmspta.org
Email: westcountymandarin [at] wccusd.net
1575 Mann Dr Pinole, CA 94564
School district-run
Program Type: 
Language immersion

In August 2017, the West Contra Costa Unified School District became the first public school district in the East Bay to offer a schoolwide Mandarin immersion program for its students. West County Mandarin School develops bilingualism/biliteracy for students through content taught in both English and in the target language of Mandarin. The program also develops student cultural competencies related to the target language. The district’s Dual Language program in Mandarin is a “one-way” immersion model which means that there is not a requirement that any percentage of the incoming kindergarteners be already proficient in Mandarin before they enroll.

The school became IB certified in 2021, and moved to a permanent site in Pinole.  The school is open to students in the WCCUSD district (Richmond, Pinole, Hercules, El Cerrito, San Pablo, El Sobrante)

Parent Q&A

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  • West County Mandarin and dual immersion

    (2 replies)

    Hi, we are not a Mandarin-speaking household, but I see many positive reviews for the school. For parents who send their kids there and who don't speak Mandarin at home, I've got a few questions... How much can I expect my child to be able to actually speak and write Mandarin over time if they attend this school? Is it a 50/50 balance between English and Mandarin throughout the years? Will my inability to speak it hinder their ability to learn the language? Also, I think I see that it goes up to 8th grade now. Does anyone know of any plans for the school to expand to high school? TIA!

    Hi! My child is in Kindergarten at WCMS. We do not speak Mandarin at home but I'm not worried about her ability to continue to learn. There are computer programs and shows and other ways to enrich her learning but ultimately they also don't expect anyone to speak Mandarin going in so I anticipate the school to continue to teach at a pace that allows the kids to keep learning as they get older. My understanding is that Pinole High has a Mandarin and/or an IB program so I suspect that most kids who go through WCMS will go to Pinole High if they want to continue with that type of program. Next year it will only be K-5 but will add a grade each year. I highly recommend you attend one of the info sessions coming up - they will answer these questions in more depth. We love the school so far though so I highly recommend!  https://wcmspta.org/tours/ 

    I have a 4th grader and a 1st grader attending West County Mandarin School, and we don't speak Mandarin at home. It's 50-50 English and Mandarin for all grades. (Prior to 2020, the school was 90% Mandarin in Kindergarten, 70% Mandarin in 1st grade, and 50% Mandarin in 2nd grade and beyond.) My 4th grader has had no problem picking up Mandarin and is one of the more advanced kids in his grade in speaking and reading even though we don't speak Mandarin at home. My first grader started with the 50-50 model, and I can tell that he speaks less Mandarin than my elder child at the same age, but he still enjoys learning it and has no problems with his assignments in class or at home. He also did Kindergarten with distance learning because of the pandemic, so I think he and his peers are all in a similar situation. Will my kids be as fluent as a native Chinese family that speaks and reads Mandarin at home? Probably not, but I also don't think that's the goal. They will be very conversational in Mandarin, gain the executive function brain benefits of being bilingual, and have a cultural understanding of how to be a global citizen and a global thinker. I believe there's a lot to be learned in an environment that teaches about different world cultures. The school is an International Baccalaureate school, and it is also very diverse both socio-economically and ethnically. I love that my kids are surrounded by kids that represent the world in which we live. The homework is provided in such a way that parents do not need to understand Mandarin to help the kids complete it.  For the 2022-2023 school year, WCMS will be a K-5 school, adding a grade each year. The elementary school will be K-6, while the Mandarin program will continue into Pinole Middle School for grades 7 and 8. The eventual plan is to have higher-level Mandarin classes available at Pinole Valley High School, which is also an IB school. We are hoping that higher-level Mandarin classes will be available at other District high schools, but I don't believe there is currently a plan in place. I recommend attending a virtual enrollment information session to get more information and have your questions answered by the principal and/or a current parent. You can sign up at http://wcmspta.org/tours. We love the school and highly recommend it!

  • West County Mandarin School - feedback

    (4 replies)


    We recently moved to Richmond (Point Richmond) with our daughter.  I am interested in having her attend the West County Mandarin school.   We don't know anything about the admissions process.  Wondering if anyone has any idea if residents of Richmond get priority to attend this school?  Can we count on her getting in if we're residents?  Also if any parents have their kids attending this school, could you please tell me what you think of it?  Any feedback would be 'severely' appreciated :)  

    They typically will only accept incoming kindergarteners. You first need to apply to your local/neighborhood public school and then do the intra-district transfer form. Priority goes to underresourced families and siblings, then to people who apply during priority window (month of February). It is open to anyone in the WCCUSD but no guarantee of admission. During the info session they said last year 90% of applicants got in, but it varies year to year. I'm hoping my incoming kindergartener will attend so no specific experience but the info session was wonderful. Of note, they will be in the portable classrooms next year on Moeser near the El Cerrito Community Center since they have outgrown their current location. More info on their site and I bet they'd be happy to answer questions: https://wcmspta.org/

    You should attend one of the enrollment info sessions https://wcmspta.org/tours/

    There has been a recent development in the location of West County Mandarin School. The WCCUSD school board supported moving the school to Pinole on the Pinole Middle School campus beginning the 2021-2022 school year. This will be the school's permanent location. The school will be in its own enclosed area of the campus, separate from the middle school, with its own building and entrance. For more information, please contact the school office: 510-307-4523 or westcountymandarin [at] wccusd.net" jslog="click,impression" jsname="YheIzf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">westcountymandarin [at] wccusd.net.

    I have a kindergartener and a 3rd grader at West County Mandarin School. Our family loves WCMS because the school community is very close-knit, diverse, and values kindness. Academics are rigorous, and the PTA is one of the most active in the district. There is a long list of enrichment programs that the PTA supports through grants and donations. If you are planning to enter Kindergarten through 4th grade for the 2021-2022 school year, the process is as follows: 1) Register your child for enrollment at your neighborhood elementary school https://www.wccusd.net/domain/25942) The month of February is the priority enrollment period. Complete and submit an intra-district transfer request form for priority enrollment. (Don't wait until after February because the chances go down significantly that you will be accepted.) https://www.wccusd.net/Page/117003) Wait to hear if your request has been approved (usually in the month of May).  Your chances of getting into the school depend on the grade you are trying to apply for. Spaces in grades after kindergarten depend on the number of students that leave the school; however, the school has a low rate of attrition. Students within WCCUSD get priority enrollment over anyone out of district. 50% of the seats are held for low-income/English language learners/foster youth. Applicants with a sibling currently attending the school also have priority. No prior knowledge of Mandarin is necessary, and there is no preference given to children with prior Mandarin experience. If there are more applicants than available spaces, the school uses a lottery to select students. WCMS will have grades K-4 for the 2021-2022 school year, adding one additional grade per year to become a K-8 program. If you have not attended a virtual enrollment information session, I'd highly encourage you to sign up here: https://wcmspta.org/tours. There's a lot of good information on the school website: https://wcmspta.org. You can also call (510-307-4523) or email (westcountymandarin [at] wccusd.net) the school office to get more information that way. I hope that helps! 

  • My husband and I are moving to the East Bay and are interested in a Mandarin immersion elementary school. We have an adopted son who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. 

    1) I've read some posts about the budget crisis facing the West Contra Costa School District and would love any perspective on how this has / will impact the school

    2) Also, we heard that the school will be moving to El Cerrito in the fall and be meeting in portable buildings. Does anybody have insight into whether this is a long-term plan, or have other thoughts on how this will impact the quality of the education? We're excited about the school but a bit nervous about all the changes afoot. 

    3) Has anybody done research into the pros/cons and differences between Shu Ren, Yu Ming, and West County? 


    I have 2 kids attending West County Mandarin School (WCMS). Here are some answers to your questions:

    1) The budget crisis facing WCCUSD is similar to the budget crisis facing all public schools within California. How it affects WCMS will be similar to how the budget cuts affect any other school. At this point, I think all districts are focused on how the pandemic is affecting students in distance learning. There is some additional money that will come from the state to help schools, but it won't be enough to solve the budget issues that the districts face. WCMS has a very committed and close school community that has worked together to fill in gaps in enrichment programming and material/supply "extras" through grant writing and fundraising events. Because of the grants and fundraising, I feel that WCMS offers an extensive array of enrichment activities including art (taught by professional artists in the Mandarin language), music, P.E. (with a dedicated coach that teaches during P.E. class, as well as during recess), dramatic arts, spoken word poetry, social-emotional awareness programs, and more.

    2) The school has been so successful and popular that it has outgrown its current site. Currently, it is slated to make a temporary move to El Cerrito to a portable campus. The school district is still working out where the permanent location will be. The permanent site could be anywhere within WCCUSD (El Cerrito to Hercules). This school is young, nimble, and extremely resilient, so I have no doubt that the school will continue to thrive no matter where it lands. The leadership is very strong at this school - the principal is amazing and is very open to listening to parent ideas and input; the teachers collaborate on all their lesson plans (i.e. there are no "bad" teachers); the PTA at this school has one of the highest (if not the highest) parent membership rates. All this to say that I believe what is important about a school isn't just where it's located but the community and learning that happens within the school.

    3) We have several families that have attended Shu Ren for preschool and/or kindergarten that are now happy members of the WCMS community. Similar to Shu Ren, WCMS will be an IB (international baccalaureate) school - it is currently in the candidacy stage, but is on track to be approved at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.  In my view, one of the biggest differences about WCMS is the diversity. WCMS is committed to being a diverse school and reserves 50% of its seats for low income/English language learners/foster youth. We are the first school in our district to elect a Race and Equity Teacher Lead, are part of the African American Site Advisory Team, actively implement Restorative Justice practices both to resolve conflicts and to build connections to one another for a stronger school community, and have core school values (that were created by together teachers, students, parents/caregivers, and staff) of equity and inclusion with a specific focus on anti-racism.

    I would really encourage you to sign-up for a virtual information session at wcmspta.org/tours and stay until the end to speak with current parents at the school. You can also let the BPN admin know if you'd like to contact me directly. I'm happy to answer any other questions you have about WCMS. Good luck with your school search! I hope you find the best school for your kiddo.

Parent Reviews

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West County Mandarin School is an amazing school, and our family feels so lucky to be part of such a warm and nurturing school community. These must be some of the hardest-working teachers and staff I have ever met! They are always going above and beyond to ensure that each of the students is getting what they need to succeed and thrive. My two kids love going to school every day and feel so supported here. The parent community looks out for one another and is extremely involved at the school. I have been so impressed with how everyone has come together to help one another, especially during this pandemic. There are so many enrichment programs that are part of the regular school day, such as art, music, drama, PE, social-emotional learning, STEAM (science, technology, art, math) lab, and so much more. After-school there are additional opportunities to learn abacus, martial arts, and chess. There are even weekend sports activities such as soccer and basketball. Last but not least, the principal at the school, Dr. Peterson, is a dedicated and inspiring leader. Anyone that meets him can see that education is not just a job to him but a life mission. He is enthusiastic and is able to quickly prioritize the needs that impact the students and teachers most. He heard the mandate to create a diverse, equitable school and built an inclusive, multicultural, and socioeconomically diverse community of teachers, staff, students, and families that believe in and uphold these values every day. Our school is incredible because every member of the school shares their generosity and their love with it.

Since the previous parent mentioned the Mandarin immersion school, I just wanted to weigh in. My kids are black and Asian (not Chinese) and attend the Mandarin school. We love it. Last I checked, the school actually has more black kids than the district at large. And a significant number of mixed black kids. And while most (all?) of the Mandarin teachers are Chinese, many of the non-Mandarin teachers are black. Plus they have enrichment that is intentionally multicultural. West Contra Costa Unified is also increasing its focus on supporting black students (who, frankly, have been underserved). So, I recommend you check it out. I think the last year or two has had a wait list, so it'd be good to reach out before kinder registration/transfer to figure things out. 

You might try looking in the Richmond Annex. It tends to be more affordable than El Cerrito, but still safe and family-oriented. East Richmond Heights is also a good area to look, although it's a little further from 580 than the Richmond Annex. Marina Bay area of Richmond would also be close to 580 for your San Rafael commute and if your husband is able to take the ferry to SF, that might work too. You're right off the Bay Trail there for scenic walks and bike rides.

In terms of schools, a lesser known option for WCCUSD is the West County Mandarin School. It is located in East Richmond Heights and is open to anyone that lives in the District (El Cerrito/Kensington to Hercules). It's currently K-2, but will grow by one grade each year to become a K-8 school. 50% of the seats are held for low-income families, English language learners, and foster youth. It's extremely diverse (not all heritage Chinese families) both ethnically and socio-economically. You don't need to know any Mandarin when you start in Kindergarten. Our family doesn't speak any Mandarin, and now my 2nd grader is bilingual - speaking, reading, and writing in both English and Mandarin. We love this school - the school community is supportive and lovely, the academics are strong, and we feel like we have a 2nd family there. Also, Skytown Preschool is a cooperative preschool that recently relocated to East Richmond Heights. This is such a sweet, loving community of parents and teachers that allow toddlers and preschoolers to truly find themselves and be kids. They've been around for over 50 years for a reason. I think you'll find that Richmond has a lot to offer!

No thoughts on Thousand Oaks, but wanted to recommend the West County Mandarin School, a traditional public school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. It's very diverse, and (at my last check) about 30% of the students are black. And the staff are diverse -- two of the teachers are black (one English teacher and the PE teacher), many staff are Latino, and all the Mandarin teachers are Asian.

It's in central Richmond, right off of Arlington. It'd take you about 15 minutes to get there. You'd apply for an interdistrict transfer. In past years, there have been a few families from North Berkeley. The school's become more popular, so it might become harder to get in. But you can always just add yourself to the waitlist. 

It's a great school. My black son is thriving there!


I just wanted to share that tours are happening now at the West County Mandarin School (K-2nd grade) for the 2019-2020 school year. My son is in first grade at WCMS, and we love the passionate teachers and principal, the warm and diverse community, and the school's commitment to teaching to the whole child. In addition to the standard curriculum, the school has music, coding, art, mindfulness, athletic coach, STEAM Lab, a focus on social emotional learning, and more. We've been impressed with the school's commitment to nurturing and celebrating diversity at our school. It is a FREE, public (not charter) Mandarin immersion elementary school open to anyone in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules). No prior Chinese language experience is required. My child started Kindergarten knowing zero Mandarin and is now conversing, reading, and writing in both Mandarin and English! WCMS will be enrolling grades K-2nd grade for the 2019-2020 school year, adding an additional grade each year. Priority registration is in early February. Sign up for a tour at www.wcmspta.org/tours to find out more about this awesome school!

RE: Mira Vista/Richmond Heights ()

Hi there. I wanted to point out that West Contra Costa School District has a newish public school near you -- the West County Mandarin School. It's a Mandarin-immersion school that currently has grades K-1 and will keep moving up a grade each year as the kids get older. To get in, you apply to your neighborhood school (Mira Vista) and then apply to transfer. I think so far, everyone in-district who applied on time has gotten in, but I imagine as word gets out, it'll be harder to get in.

My son is a 1st grader there and we absolutely love it. We had no Mandarin experience before but he is having full conversations with Mandarin speakers now! And he's able to read signs that we see around. It's simply amazing! Plus the school community is great -- the other families, teachers, staff, and principal. And it's very diverse to boot. 

So, just another school for you to consider.