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Our History

Discover Willows Prep’s evolution, marked by unyielding innovation, excellence, and a commitment to curiosity.

Founded by Yuka Shimizu, Willows Prep’s history exemplifies a future-focused vision that transformed a single tutoring center into a highly respected academic institution. In 2000, Shimizu established Bellevue Children’s Academy, followed by the inception of Willows Preparatory School in 2014. Even in retirement, she continues to support our school and community, both as a senior advisor and through the “Yuka Shimizu Scholarship” for students in need.

Our ongoing evolution signifies our dedication to innovation, excellence, and fostering intellectual curiosity.

Inception and Growth

Our story began with the establishment of Bellevue Children’s Academy (BCA) in 1992, initially a tutoring center, evolving into a full-scale school by 1999.

Over the years, BCA flourished and established a presence across three campuses in Bellevue, providing a transformative learning experience from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 by 2013.

Relocation and
Transformation (2014)

The year 2014 marked a pivotal moment for our school, as the acquisition of the expansive 15-acre site of Washington Cathedral Church in Redmond ushered in a new era. The middle school division of BCA made this picturesque campus its home, adopting a new identity as Willows Preparatory School (WPS). This significant step in our history showcased our commitment to fostering innovation, academic excellence, and growth.

International Baccalaureate®
(IB) Accreditation

Driven by our dedication to world-class education, Willows Prep sought accreditation from the International Baccalaureate Organization in 2015. Our commitment to delivering a globally recognized education of the highest standards has been rewarded with accreditation for the Middle Years Programme and Diploma Years Programme. This recognition stands as a testament to the exceptional quality of education we provide to our students.

to High School

Responding to the aspirations of our students and their families, Willows Prep expanded to include a high school division on the Redmond campus. In 2023, we marked a significant milestone as we celebrated the graduation of our very first high school class – a proud testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering a complete and enriching educational journey from middle school to high school.

Joining the
International Schools Partnership

In 2019, a new chapter began for Willows Prep when we proudly joined the International Schools Partnership (ISP). By aligning with this global network of schools dedicated to continuous learning and growth, we amplified our commitment to cultivating lifelong learners. Aligned with esteemed schools worldwide, we’re furthering our mission to be the preferred choice for families seeking excellence in education, locally and beyond.

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