Independent Schools Guide
GUiSC’s Annual Guide to Independent Schools offers snapshots of Independent Schools in our community. Reading all of the entries will provide information for assessing a school 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–and check our calendar each month in print and online–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 process of finding the right school for your child is challenging and time-consuming and can also be a fascinating and exciting learning experience.
Baymonte Christian School serves infants through eighth grade students at our three beautiful Scotts Valley campuses. Baymonte offers a distinctively Christian and highly academic education in a loving and nurturing environment. Serving the Santa Cruz county since 1968, Baymonte students work together with passionate, qualified teachers, gaining a strong academic and spiritual foundation, graduating well-prepared for what lies ahead. If you or someone you know is interested in getting more information about the infant, toddler or preschool programs or kindergarten – eighth grade classes contact us today! We also offer a generous financial assistance program. baymonte.org
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.
Cypress Charter High School
2039 Merrill St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Cypress Charter High School graduates self-actualized citizens who utilize creativity, critical-thinking, and a comprehensive worldview, to be engaged and informed members of their communities. Cypress fosters a diverse student body through an inclusive community where each individual is seen and valued. Students utilize critical thinking skills in real-world applications, achieving personal and academic growth through a student-centered learning environment and a college preparatory curriculum.
Gateway School, founded in 1970 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. We are the only K-8 school in Santa Cruz accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools. We invite all families interested in Gateway School to visit, ask questions, and get to know our community! For more information and to schedule a tour, please call or visit our website.
Welcoming children of all faiths from preschool through eighth grade, our highly qualified faculty and staff provide a well-rounded curriculum that is project-based and faith driven. Spanish, art, music and coding 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 5:30 PM. Please join us at our annual Open House on Sunday, January 26 from 1-3PM. For more information, call 831.476.4000 or visit our website at www.gsschool.org.
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!
Kairos Learning facilitates deep experiential learning for children, by offering K-8 homeschool & after-school programs. The curriculum for our K-5 homeschool programs interweaves foundational knowledge & fundamental academic skills with nature-connection, permaculture, art, music, theatre, and movement. For 6th-8th graders, we offer core & supplemental classes, personal mentors, customized learning plans, and open tutoring hours. Kairos Learning emboldens children to navigate their unique learning pathways, in a community-oriented space. We facilitate this mission by providing mentorship, intentionally crafted learning experiences, opportunities for inspired action within the local community & landscape, and workshops & events for families and the larger Santa Cruz community.
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.
Moreland Notre Dame School
133 Brennan Street, Watsonville
Moreland Notre Dame School is a TK through 8th grade Catholic school founded in 1899 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. We are a school community committed to providing quality academic preparedness while educating our students for life. MND seeks to express the goodness of God by fostering a sense of family, a safe environment where each child is treated as sacred, justice and service to others is expected, and diversity is welcomed and celebrated. Located in the heart of Watsonville, Moreland Notre Dame has been educating students for life for 120 years.
Mount Madonna School: bridging tradition and innovation, where individuals are honored and community is celebrated. Imagine ONE school, where your preschooler can move through to kindergarten and elementary, be part of a middle school community and graduate from high school!
Offering a play-based hybrid Pre/K program on a 375-acre forested campus, mixed-grade buddy activities, environmental education, performing and visual arts, competitive middle and high school athletics (2019 D-V California state girls volleyball champions!) and excellent academics. We strive to prepare well-rounded human beings who succeed in college, value collaboration, form meaningful relationships and engage with their communities, nation and the world. Transportation available, with convenient bus stops throughout Santa Cruz County.
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.
For more than 40 years, Salesian Elementary and Junior High has been empowering youth with knowledge, faith and love! Located five miles from Highway 1, our beautiful hillside campus has the spirit of a home where every child feels loved. Rooted in the Catholic faith, we are a school that celebrates childhood, fosters a passion for learning, and develops moral depth through acts of service. Credentialed teachers and staff educate the whole child with a balanced curriculum that includes art, music, Spanish, and physical education. Our 50-acre campus also provides endless opportunities for students to learn from the natural environment. We welcome all families to attend our Open House on January 12th, from 2-4pm. Personal tours are also available!
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 young women prepared to lead and achieve in college and beyond.
Santa Cruz Montessori, Ages 18 months – 15 years
Main Campus (Primary and Elementary)
6230 Soquel Drive, Aptos
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.
Our magical, rural campus is nestled in the redwoods above USCS. Our community is warm and joyful. We are committed to protecting childhood, supporting each individual, respecting nature and all life.
Santa Cruz Waldorf School cultivates self-directed, empathetic and free-thinking individuals with the courage and capacities to serve an ever-evolving humanity.
Spring Hill – A Design Thinking School, Preschool-6th grade. Spring Hill is a community of educators and families who inspire children’s curiosity and love of learning. As a Design Thinking school, Spring Hill teachers cultivate a strengths-based learning environment that instills confidence and the willingness to risk imperfection. As practiced at the Stanford Design School, and whether it is being used to resolve conflict, address a social issue, or engineer an invention, Design Thinking provides a framework in which children grow and thrive. Contact us to schedule a tour: [email protected] 831-427-2641 www.springhillschool.org Find us on Facebook.
Tara Redwood School uses a global curriculum that follows an original framework known as the 7 Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion developed over a period of 30 years. It is a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) methodologies to offer children a strong academic foundation, rich in the sciences and emotional intelligence combined with the arts. The CCC pedagogy 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. Our school strives to offer a stimulating learning experience through daily outdoor immersion in our Redwood Campus which is situated on 108 acres of redwood forest in Soquel. We offer an integrated, environmentally conscientious approach to learning about the world around us and within us. Preschool – 6th Grade
Pacific Coast Charter School is a K-12 homeschool/independent studies charter within for the Pajaro valley United school District. We offer a unique blend of home, community, and campus-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 We provide credentialed teachers, free tutoring and a wide variety of standards-based curriculum to assist your child to reach their fullest academic potential.
Founded in 1993, we continue to maintain student-centered learning built on strong
connections between teachers, students, and parents. A responsive social environment and parent involvement are essential to our school. We integrate Life Skills into students learning, using collaboration and creativity to foster personalized interests. We have many program options. Based on the scholar-adventurer, Nature Academy (6-8) offers a 5 day-a-week program to challenge students. We have six hybrid-homeschool programs that support individualized pacing and passions: Coast Redwood High School (9-12), Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (6-8), Coast Redwood MS (6-8), Quail Hollow (K-5), Fall Creek (K-5), Mountain Independent Study (K-6).
Adventure Sports Unlimited (ASU) is the premier school for aquatics instruction in Santa Cruz. We teach infants through adults the joy of water through our swim, SCUBA and our many ocean adventure programs. Learning about our natural environment through swim opens the doors to an active and healthy lifestyle for all ages. The ASU Swim School blends comprehensive swim instruction with water play. Our custom-built facility consists of a tropically heated pool, play space for before/after class, deck with umbrellas and heaters, and observation room overlooking the pool. We want to make your entry into the water world truly enjoyable.
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.
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.
International Student Services Santa Cruz
Host Families being sought now. The making of a friendship between families here and overseas is an amazing experience providing enriching connections for a lifetime. Getting to know about our world through their eyes and the sharing of cultures makes the world smaller and creates an understanding in love and acceptance. It is a lot of fun! Make a friend you can visit. Here’s the info to have this happen for your family: Summer groups from Italy & France, visiting for two & three weeks. High School Term kids from Italy & Germany. Student interests: Tennis, soccer, art, Scouts, cooking!
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 http://www.thesensorytoolbox.com/
CCP serves children ages 2.3 years to entry into kindergarten with a safe, stimulating, and caring learning atmosphere. We have a curriculum that encourages development at each child’s own pace. Among our program highlights, we offer flexible year-round schedules, a highly experienced teaching staff, and a bright, secure West side location overlooking the Monterey Bay. Join us as we continue working with parents and caregivers to raise a community of strong, confident and happy children.
Rose Blossom Preschool & Kindergarten
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.
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 [email protected].