Independent Schools, Enrichment, and Educational Support Guide

GUiSC’s Annual Guide to Independent Schools offers snapshots of Independent Schools in our community. Parents may already have some very clear criteria for schools. Reading all of the entries in the Guide will provide information for assessing a school in terms of those criteria and may very well illuminate new or additional considerations when choosing a learning environment. Many factors can enter into the evaluation and selection of a school for your child: academics, so-called non-academics, teaching philosophy, social environment, level of parental involvement, funding, values, unique programs, teacher/student ratio, physical education program. The importance of each varies from family to family and with each child and may involve prioritization. Is a fine arts program offered? Are computers readily available? Are children encouraged to set goals? Will the school provide for my child’s interests as well as offer new interest?

The Annual Guide to Independent Schools provides contact phone numbers for you to request additional information, ask questions and arrange for a meeting or tour. Be sure to ask about open houses, they are an excellent opportunity to view the entire facility, meet staff members and chat with parents of children already attending the school.

Whether you are enrolling your child in a Santa Cruz community school for the first time or seeking a new setting for a child whose needs or interests have changed, the Annual Guide is an excellent resource. The process of finding the right school for your child is challenging and time-consuming and can also be a fascinating, exciting learning experience.


Chartwell School

2511 numa Watson road, seaside 831.394.3468

Chartwell School, located in Seaside, educates students who are struggling in mainstream classroom settings; including those students with learning challenges like dyslexia. Chartwell considers each student’s unique needs to provide them with the academic skills, confidence, and creativity needed to meet the challenges of future educational endeavors. Students in grades 2–8 acquire academic skills as they are taught from a research-based curriculum which emphasizes multi-sensory phonemic aware- ness. For students in grades 9-12, the college prep program delivers project- based learning and related field experiences. Students can also experience the 4-week summer program which emphasizes literacy and enrichment skills.

Expedition Academy Santa Cruz, grades 5-8

111 Errett Circle, Santa Cruz


Expedition Academy Santa Cruz is an independent, non-sectarian middle school in Santa Cruz, CA. Expedition Academy Santa Cruz believes a well rounded educational experience focused on discovering passions, learning how to learn, and developing 21st Century Skills like critical thinking, leadership, creativity and empathy. Our mastery- based approach to learning puts students first giving them more guidance than direct instruction. We impel students into experiences that will drive their intellectual curiosity, develop compassion for their community, and give them an agile learning mindset to take on life’s questions.

Gateway School, K-8

126 Eucalyptus Ave, Santa Cruz

831.423.0341 ext 302

Gateway School is an independent, co-ed day school in Santa Cruz, CA for students in grades Kindergarten through 8th. We are a community dedicated to nurturing academic excellence and intellectual curiosity, high character and personal compassion, and individual agency and engagement. We seek to prepare children to care for themselves, each other, and the world.

Good Shepherd Catholic School

Preschool – 8th grade

2727 Mattison Lane, Santa Cruz



Welcoming children of all faiths for the last 55 years, our highly qualified faculty and staff provide a well-rounded curriculum that is project-based and faith driven. Spanish, art and life lab classes are part of the school’s curriculum with technology integrated throughout the school day. The school’s focus on community service gives the students numerous opportunities to learn and practice Catholic social teachings firsthand. Students may participate in the school’s highly successful interscholastic sports program including golf, flag football, basketball, lacrosse and soccer beginning at grade two. After-school care is available until 6:00 PM. Please join us at our annual Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1-3PM. For more information, call 831.476.4000 or visit our website at


Holy Cross School

150 Emmett Street, Santa Cruz


For more than 155 years, Holy Cross School has provided children with a Catholic education grounded in strong academics and values. Our fully accredited program provides an academically rich experience in a faith-based community from preschool through eighth grade. Highly qualified and dynamic teachers engage students in meaningful learning opportunities. In addition to a core curriculum of math, language arts, science, social studies and Spanish, student programs include technology, music, Life Lab, P.E., competitive sports, student leadership and public speaking. Holy Cross is committed to serving the community through service projects, and a hallmark of our school is the strong partnership with parents. Please call (831) 423-4447 for a personal tour of our school!

Kirby School

Grades 6 through 12

425 Encinal St, Santa Cruz


Kirby School empowers students to shape their futures with confidence. Our independent, non-sectarian middle and high school has been preparing students for college for 25 years. In classes averaging 12 students, teachers are responsive to each learner’s strengths and interests. Our rigorous academic and arts curriculum, intensive study paths, and inspiring faculty challenge each student based on their interests and readiness, rather than grade level. Kirby graduates go on to attend excellent four-year colleges and universities.

Mount Madonna School, Pre/K-12

491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna


At MMS we strive to prepare well-rounded human beings who not only get into and succeed in college, but learn to value collaboration, form meaningful relationships and engage with their local communities, nation and the world. Come see education through our students’ eyes: Montessori-based Pre/K program, 355-acre campus, science and technology labs, outdoor adventure and life skills, regional, national and international travel, mixed- grade buddy program, marine biology and oceanography on Catalina Island, visual and performing arts. For 40 years, MMS has offered students a quality education based on academic excellence, positive character development and creative self-expression. Preschool through high school; fully accredited by CAIS and WASC.

Orchard School K-6

2288 Trout Gulch Road, Aptos


Orchard School is a small, independent school set on a 14-acre campus with climbing trees, meadows, an organic garden, farm animals and no concrete. We create magic together in this amazing setting with a down-to-earth educational philosophy that nourishes the developing child, while honoring and celebrating childhood. Small classes in core academics taught by specialized teachers provide hands-on, individualized instruction. Other weekly classes include drama, circus, art, music, Spanish, leadership training, and gardening. All students participate in theater productions, help grow food for our hot lunch program and care for our animals. Such opportunities provide life-shaping experiences that keep children excited and engaged about learning.

Pacific Coast Charter School

294 Green Valley Road, Watsonville


Pacific Coast Charter School is a K- 12 Homeschool/Independent Studies charter within Pajaro Valley Unified School District. We offer a unique blend of home, community, and cam- pus-based learning that gives students the opportunity to realize their potential through personalized educational plans which complement their diverse learning styles. Students work 20 hours a week on school work and attend optional on-site general and college prep classes or enrichment workshops 2-3 times per week. We provide credentialed teachers, free tutoring, and a wide variety of standards-based curriculum to assist your child to reach their fullest academic potential.

Pacific Elementary School

50 Ocean Street, Davenport


Pacific Elementary School in Davenport is a public school serving 130 students, preschool-sixth grade. Families throughout the county choose us for our traditional classrooms or our hybrid independent study program with three classroom days and two home school days per week. All students participate in our award-winning garden and lunch programs in which students grow, cook, study, and eat healthy food. We emphasize experiential learning, including FOSS science, field trips, weekly music, media literacy, and drama. We maintain a gifted and talented education (GATE) program and offer opportunities for accelerated math advancement. To express interest, visit:

Rose Blossom Preschool & Kindergarten
lic #444403616


Sharon Rose, Director

Rose Blossom Preschool & Kindergarten offers preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten for children ages 2.5 – 6.5. Age-appropriate academic games and curriculum are interspersed with free-choice play time. Music, art, and creative play are included every day. Compassionate Communication provides a foundation on which to build a respectful, cooperative community of children, teachers, and parents. The children thrive and are happy in the safe and peaceful environment. Programs include monthly musical performances by the children, an annual Trike-a-Thon, and community events. Our goal is for the children at Rose Blossom to enjoy learning and be prepared for their next school experiences.

Salesian Elementary & Junior High

Transitional Kindergarten – 8th Grade

605 Enos Lane, Corralitos



Discover Salesian’s 40 Years of Excellence in Education! Our beautiful hill-side campus, located just 5 miles from Hwy 1 & Freedom Blvd, has the spirit of a home where every child feels loved. We are a school that fosters a passion for learning and supports the success of each student, a church rooted in the Catholic faith and welcoming families from all backgrounds, and a playground that builds character and moral depth. Our dedicated credentialed teachers educate the whole child with outstanding academic, athletic, music and art curriculums. Endless opportunities for environmental education on our 50-acre campus have resulted in Salesian being recognized as an Ocean Guardian School for extensive student-led conservation work. Call for a personal tour! Open House: Sunday, January 27 from 12-3pm (lunch provided)

Santa Catalina School

1500 Mark Thomas Dr, Monterey



Founded in 1950 and set against the scenic backdrop of Monterey, Santa Catalina School is an independent, Catholic, boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-12 with a diverse student body and strong local roots. We challenge students to achieve excellence in every arena, from rigorous academics—including a marine ecology program that takes advantage of access to Monterey Bay—to competitive athletics in 12 sports to an arts program with professional-quality facilities. In a warm community that values spirituality and service, Catalina girls become confident young women prepared to achieve greatness with grace.

Santa Cruz Montessori, Ages 18 months – 15 years

Main Campus (Primary and Elementary)

6230 Soquel Drive, Aptos

831.476.1646, Enrollment: ext. 12

Winston Campus (Young Children’s Community and Jr. High)

244 Cabrillo College Drive, Soquel

831.476.1646, Enrollment: ext. 12


Established in 1964, Santa Cruz Montessori is a non-profit school serving children 18 months to 15 years. Our beautiful classrooms and outdoor environments engage the children’s senses as they learn. Based on a deep understanding of child through adolescent development, our programs meet the interests and needs of our students, engaging and challenging them to do their best. We offer a supportive community of learners and an exciting Montessori curriculum including humanities, math, sciences and arts. Our mission: as a Montessori learning community, we inspire life-long learning and a more peaceful world by nurturing the natural development of the whole child.

SLVUSD Charter School

325 Marion Ave, Ben Lomond


Have you considered more involvement in your child’s education? Our credentialed teachers form strong relationships with families to support personalized learning. Based on the ideal of the scholar-adventurer, the Nature Academy (6-8) offers a 5 day-a-week program to challenge students -— academically, physically, emotionally, and socially. We have six hybrid homeschool programs: Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (6-8), Coast Redwood MS (6-8), Coast Redwood HS (9-12), Quail Hollow Homeschool (K-5), Fall Creek (K-5), and Mountain Independent Study (K- 6). Classroom collaboration invites creativity, community, and environmental stewardship. One of our program options may be right for you! Join us!

Santa Cruz Waldorf School, PreK-8

2190 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz


Waldorf Education nourishes the whole human being in every phase of development. In Preschool and Kindergarten, children learn through supervised free play, protected from inappropriate intellectual demands. Elementary school is filled with rich and deep study of the whole of human experience, engaging head, heart, and hands – math, science, and reading, fully integrated with artistic development and bodily engagement through crafts and movement. Waldorf graduates love to learn and are prepared for whatever is to come next. They thrive on solving problems. Colleges and universities are now seeking them out for their promise, for the whole human beings that they are. Visit our campus, which borders UCSC and is touched by redwoods.

Spring Hill School

250 California Street, Santa Cruz


Spring Hill School, Pre-K through 6th grade, is a community of educators and families who inspire children’s curiosity and love of learning. This school year marks our 40th anniversary of providing excellence through our strong and unique values! We are known for small classes, teachers with advanced education and accelerated curriculum through personalized education. Using a Design Thinking approach, SHS students learn and create at the highest levels, and collaborate within a community of friends. Our whole-child curriculum includes Spanish, social-emotional learning, music, performing arts, physical education, design lab, garden, and more. Call or email to schedule an individualized tour.

Tara Redwood School

Redwood Campus – 5810 Prescott Road, Soquel

Village Campus – 4746 Soquel Ave, Soquel

831.462.9632 and 831.475.0201

Tara Redwood School uses a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) methodologies to offer children a strong academic foundation, rich in the sciences and arts. We provide a stimulating learning experience through our integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to learning about the world around us and within us. Our global curriculum follows a framework known as the 7 Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion developed over 30 years at Tara Redwood School. It provides a unique social emotional component that nurtures the children’s innate positive qualities while empowering them to make a positive impact on the world through their thoughts and actions. Preschool – 6th Grade


The Bookakery

Foster a love of reading and baking in your kids with Bookakery Boxes. Each monthly box comes with a hardback picture book, kid-friendly recipe card, baking tool/item and an activity, all built around a theme of the month. Perfect for kids ages 3-7. Available as month-to-month, or in 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions.

Music Together/MusicalMe, Inc.

Locations in Santa Cruz and Capitola

831.438.3514 or Text: 831.332.9002

Offering three different programs:

Music Together: A music program for children birth to age 6—and the grownups who love them, enhancing children’s learning in multiple domains (mentally, physically, socially, etc.), increasing family engagement and adding richly to each family’s “toolbox”. Siblings are welcome, especially infants who may attend free if they are 8 months or under.

Canta y Baila ConmigoTM: A unique curriculum for young children (ages Birth to 5 years) with dual, complementary goals of music education and language immersion. Designed for beginners and native speakers alike, CyBC creates a playful, interactive atmosphere where language learning is integrated naturally and organically in the musical experience.

Rhythm Kids®: A drumming, music, and movement, program for children ages 4–8 years. Classes naturally support children’s rhythm development and help them prepare for formal music lessons.

Santa Cruz Junior Golf

For the last 26 years, Santa Cruz Junior Golf has been hosting affordable golf tournaments for kids between the ages of 6 and 18. It is the mission of SCJG to provide junior golfers with valuable skills which last a lifetime. The rules and etiquette of golf are essential, but as important are other values like sportsmanship, integrity, honesty, respect, perseverance, and of course fun! Please consider joining us for another year of great junior tournament golf.

French Tutoring

Sophie Véniel


Customized French tutoring specializing in middle and high school students. Learning French can be one of the most rewarding educational opportunities. As a French native I am passionate about teaching and sharing my language skills. I offer simple steps to understand grammar, build vocabulary to gain confidence in speaking while learning at your own pace.

The Sensory Toolbox

This is the place for education and resources about autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder. As a community, we tackle your child’s everyday sensory challenges, from creating sensory strategies to finding treatment services. Diana is a licensed and registered occupational therapist who specializes in pediatric sensory issues. You can read her sensory tips, find products, and get a free Sensory Toolbox guide at

The individual schools submitted each school listing. GUiSC does not assume responsibility for the content of the listings or endorse any specific school. The guide is for informational purposes only. If you would like to have your school listed in next year’s Guide to Independent Schools, please email