Head of School

Frailey Barbara

Imagine a middle school that is:

  • A small and nurturing, yet diverse and vibrant, community; 
  • A challenging and creative learning environment; 
  • A place where students feel like they belong, grow their confidence, and indeed come into their own.

I had a hard time imagining such a middle school before I joined Explorer West in 2019. Yet, that’s exactly what I found here. Since then, I have experienced our community growing stronger, and our program continues to adapt and evolve. 

At Explorer West, we know the middle school years are pivotal ones for young people. We are steadfast in creating conditions to help them thrive -- small classes, warm and engaging teachers, and an expansive, integrated curriculum. We focus on building respect and cultivating trust through solid student-to-adult and student-to-student relationships.

Together, we honor our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We embody the core values that have defined our school from its founding: Personal and Community Responsibility, Integrity, Creativity and Inquiry, and Confidence.

Explorer West students participate fully in each aspect of our program. By the time they finish 8th grade, our students take pride in some exceptional accomplishments. They have:

  • Written and produced original plays
  • Mastered the art of essay writing
  • Become confident public speakers
  • Learned to play team and individual sports, and even invented their own games
  • Completed Algebra I in preparation for advanced math and science classes
  • Mastered the basics of Latin and traveled to Rome as a group
  • Learned to play an instrument and sing
  • Camped, hiked, backpacked, snowshoed, and cross-country skied together for three years

The impact Explorer West’s program has on our graduates is extraordinary. High schools consistently share how well prepared, confident, and kind our students are and how much they love learning. They move on with high expectations -- of themselves, their peers, and their teachers. That’s the way it should be! 

I invite you to explore our community. Plan to visit our campus with your family and imagine how we can become your community. I look forward to getting to know you!


Barbara Frailey

Head of School

A Message to Prospective Families

By Dawn Fornear | January 14, 2021

Today is the deadline for applications to be considered in the standard timeline for the 2021-2022 school year. Our Head of School, Barbara Frailey shares this message with prospective families: With the unprecedented events of this school year, we know you are juggling a lot right now in your family. And while the prospect of choosing a…

Happy Holidays from Explorer West!

By Dawn Fornear | December 18, 2020

We hope you all enjoy some time together. Here’s a little message from Head of School, Barbara Frailey: In my family we celebrate Hanukkah, and tonight is the sixth night. As we light the candles on our menorah together (with a grandparent on Zoom, of course), before we eat our delicious fried treats like latkes…

Re-Opening Plans for 2020

By Dawn Fornear | August 7, 2020

Dear Explorer West Community, We are excited to be welcoming our students back to school next month. After careful consideration, we have decided that for September and October we will operate under a “Remote Plus Outdoor Learning” model, with students on campus one day a week, in small groups, fully outdoors. Please read the attached,  detailed…

Letter from Head of School Barbara Frailey

By Dawn Fornear | June 1, 2020

June 1, 2020 Dear Explorer West Community, This weekend the collective frustrations and heartache of Black Americans and their many allies were made visible in powerful form, here in Seattle and all over our country. In my family we talked about the most recent deaths and racial injustices that inspired these protests. My 13 year…

Winter VAM Night a Success!

By Dawn Fornear | January 24, 2020

On Wednesday, Explorer West faculty, students, and families gathered at the Chief Sealth auditorium for Visual Arts and Music (VAM) Night! Students from all grades proudly presented the songs they have been practicing this Fall.   6th grade played some favorite winter songs, 7th grade played the Star Wars theme song, and 8th grade treated us…

7th Graders Epic Outdoor Education Trip to Ross Lake!

By admin | October 4, 2019

This year’s fall Explorer West Outdoor Education trip for our 7th graders was backpacking at Ross Lake in the North Cascades. Starting out the school year, campers reestablished their connections with fellow students and rekindled their relationship with the outdoors. Head of School Barbara Frailey was along on the trip and was impressed with how…

Explorer West Summer Picnic and Goodbye to Mr. H.!

By admin | June 5, 2019

Welcome summer and help us send Mr H. off in style! We’ll be grilling and hanging out at Lincoln Park in West Seattle on June 15, Saturday afternoon and evening. Evan Hundley, outgoing EW Head of School   Come and share your memories of Explorer West and Mr H. with fellow Explorer West families and alumni!  …

EW Spring Arts Night a Roaring Success!

By admin | May 24, 2019

This past week Explorer West had our annual Spring Arts Night. Our talented students from all grades entertained a packed house with music and showcased their creative artwork at the Hall at Fauntleroy in West Seattle. From Mozart to Camila Cabello, the strings, woodwinds, and brass filled the rafters with wonderful sounds. Maestro and Music…