The History of Starting Gate School began in 1972 when Genevieve M. Reignierd started putting her methodology to work while opening up a day care center for a local Episcopalian Church. The center quickly earned the reputation of providing higher learning for children who were academically ready to achieve more. When the church Sunday School program grew, Genevieve began teaching from her home later that same year.
Analyzing the works of Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, grandmotherly love and the increasing rise of the single, independent working woman, Genevieve M. Reignierd combined the best of each philosophy, and developed her own style. Educator and Sociologist, she earned her life teaching degree and administrative credentials from Sonoma State University. Notably, during this turbulent time of the Vietnam war, Hippies, and the Civil Rights movement, Genevieve’s style was being utilized and developed by many others.
Prior to Diane Feinstein becoming a State Senator, Genevieve M. Reignierd was invited to speak on her behalf pertaining to Civil Rights issues. Believing her calling was in education; Mrs. Reignierd’s earned degrees in Education and Sociology. Having earned her life’s teaching credential in 1968 her career developed as a high school and college instructor, teaching Human History and English.
Circa the late sixties to the new millennium, Mrs. Reignierd accepted invitations throughout the globe to expand her educational studies that included Japan, Central America, Canada, France, Switzerland, The West Indies, Russia, China, Islands of the Pacific, and many of the States in her home country of the USA. Holding true to the belief that Quality Education Can Be Affordable, in 2008 Mrs. Reignierd left a legacy of memories and educational excellence for future generations to uphold.
Starting Gate School celebrates her educational methodology. Believing that education works through collaborative efforts, teachers, former students, and supporting members of the community have banded together to create Starting Gate School, continuing 4 decades of tradition set before us.
Each year beginning with its inception, preschool parents petitioned Mrs. Reignierd to add the next higher grade in order for their child to remain under her tutelage. Eventually, the school incorporated all grades Kindergarten through Grade 12, with a separate facility for preschoolers.
In 1976 the first preschool learning center opened in nothing more than a rundown house on a half acre parcel. Aesthetics were of no concern compared to achievements her students were earning. With an open door policy and parent volunteers, the little red school house began to take shape. Daisies were planted for their brilliant color. This little change led to building a playground, and later plantings of Elm and Mulberry trees followed with the help of dedicated parents and staff members. Expansion was imminent and by 1980 many transitions were to take place. Expensive and time consuming permits needed to be approved by the City of Vallejo.
For a 1 year period Reignierd School rented and operated out of Saint Catherine’s Sunday School classrooms. With Saint Catherine’s developing plans of their own future school, Reignierd School was presented with the opportunity to purchase a former school as a temporary operating site and continued with plans for future development on another more suitable property.
Costly delays and legalities involving a tenant of the new school site incurred which resulted in resale of the intended school site. The late Henry Burton, a long time Vallejoan and parent of a Reignierd student, negotiated classroom space with the Friendship Baptist Missionary Church in Vallejo where he was the Sunday School Director.
Struggling by another year Reignierd School acquired another building in ruins and began improving it in the neighborhood where her husband Albert was raised. This location was for Kindergarten through grade 12 and drew many community sponsors, serving cities and counties outside of Vallejo. Seasonal parades, field trips to metropolitan museums, Bay Area landmarks, and Washington D.C. were but a few of the events the community of Vallejo sponsored to show their support.
Pledging to teach faculty and staff how to help their students learn and grow academically, she ensured each child was given the opportunity to maximize their ability to learn. Always underscoring that education is fostered through cooperation between the teacher, student, parent, and administration; she committed herself to provide an environment which encourages each student to develop self-esteem and personal growth. Mrs. Reignierd continued to foster her love for education until she passed away in 2008. Funeral services were held at the Friendship Baptist Church.
Once again Friendship Baptist Missionary Church came to the aid of educating Vallejo’s youth, and the Genevieve M. Reignierd methodology was reborn as Starting Gate School. Many transitions would transpire in moving the school forward. Ken Mitchell, Church Trustee and long time supporter of Mrs. Reignierd, and Elyce Gaylor, former student and granddaughter of Mary Gaylor, also a Church Board Trustee, helped bring to fruition an entirely new vision for Reignierd School. The D’lonier Foundation was developed as a philanthropic memorial institution by Mrs. Reignierd’s maternal family supporting the advancement of her educational life and career. A new name and new location played an important role in its continuation into the 21st century. Equally important was the number of established teachers and staff members that remained on board to share their knowledge with today’s youth. Starting Gate School emerged from the ashes as a nonprofit educational facility in a time of turbulent and economic malaise, continuing to stand the test of time.
Starting Gate is located on California’s Historic Route 40. Architecturally designed in contemporary California Mission style, Starting Gate is situated amongst established redwood trees on a 3 acre site in Vallejo, California. Serving the East and North Bay counties of the San Francisco area, there is eight thousand square feet of classroom space.
The School is a co-educational pre-collegiate, non-profit facility governed by a board of trustees and supported by tuition revenue, charitable contributions, and endowment income. Starting Gate is rooted in history embracing its cultural diversity, offering a safe environment for students enrolled in K-12 with a separate preschool facility. Facility # 483007753 - Affidavit # 72673