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San Francisco school board recall leader launches private school

Ann Hsu, former San Francisco school board appointee, poses for a portrait while walking through Golden Gate Park on Nov. 29, 2022. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

After her high-profile rise and fall in San Francisco’s school board, Ann Hsu soon found her new endeavor—starting a private school.

Named after her late father, the Bertrand Hsu Academy opens its doors in a few weeks with a mission to provide Chinese bilingual and bicultural education from kindergarten to eighth grade.

Hsu, a leader in the school board recall movement, was appointed to the board by Mayor London Breed after voters ousted three members in a February 2022 landslide. During her term, her controversial comments about Black and Latino students lacking family support caused a political firestorm. Defying calls for her resignation, Hsu went on to lose her bid for a full term on the board in November.

Chairs and tables are set up in the kindergarten classroom at Bertrand Hsu Academy in Potrero Hill in San Francisco on Thursday. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

In April, Hsu announced that she would be launching a new school in San Francisco’s tony Potrero Hill neighborhood. After months of planning, the school will have its grand opening event on Sept. 2, with the first day of class on Sept. 5.

Talking about her bicultural concept, Hsu explained that she wants to “combine the Chinese educational approach of knowledge acquisition and skills mastery with the American approach of encouraging critical thinking and creativity.”

Former San Francisco school board member Ann Hsu, who lost her election last year, will open Bertrand Hsu Academy in Potrero Hill in San Francisco next month. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Located at 450 Connecticut St., the school was once a church and later a Chinese medicine school, and the site is currently under renovation. Hsu said Bertrand Hsu Academy has already moved some furniture in, as well as a donated piano.

Quincy Yu, who is both the academy’s COO and CFO, told The Standard that enrollment is considered decent for a new private school. Yu expects 10 to 15 kids, mostly in kindergarten and first, fifth and sixth grades. Yu also expects those numbers will grow, as enrollment continues.

Tuition runs about $18,000 a year—considerably lower than the $30,000 to $40,000 that many San Francisco private schools command—and welcomes people from all backgrounds, not just Chinese American families. Multiple open houses are scheduled this month

“We are open to the whole community,” Yu said. “We are focusing on working-class parents who want a great education for their kids.”

COO and CFO Quincy Yu poses for a portrait at Bertrand Hsu Academy in Potrero Hill in San Francisco on Thursday. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

One key morning activity at Bertrand Hsu, Yu said, is daily kung fu practice in the yard.

A number of locally prominent individuals sit on the school’s advisory board, including retired judge Quentin Kopp, Chinese Hospital CEO Jian Zhang and Civil Service Commissioner Doug Chan.

Zhang told The Standard she agrees with Hsu’s idea of bilingual, bicultural education, which will cultivate the next generation with a better understanding of the world and the immigrant community. Zhang also said she’s looking forward to the potential field trip, summer camp and internship partnering programs.

“It’s not easy to start a school,” Zhang said. “I admire her courage.”

Han Li can be reached at