spring hill school santa cruz

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.


Gateway School
255 Swift Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
(831) 423-0341
[email protected]
Grades K-8
The Learning Continues – 2020 marked an important milestone in Gateway’s history – 50 years of providing families with an exceptional educational experience. Students and alumni proudly embody the school’s values and inspire future generations as Gateway embarks on its next 50 years. Gateway School is a 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 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 email our Admissions Manager or visit our website at gatewaysc.org.

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.

Monarch Community School
840 N. Branciforte Ave. Santa Cruz 95062
We believe that learning happens best when we work together (students, teachers, and parents), to develop learning environments spanning home, school, and the greater community. We are committed to providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences where students ‘construct’ their own knowledge connected to their lives and building upon prior experiences. We believe that students learn best when they are involved and engaged in purposeful learning where they have: Ownership and responsibility, A balance of choice and direction, experience and practice, Knowledgeable guides (teachers, parents, mentor students) We nurture a culture of respect, each individual working toward their academic and social personal best.

Pacific Elementary School
Located in Davenport. A public school serving ~150 students. Families throughout the county choose us for our: High-quality Preschool, Traditional K-6 Classrooms, Full-time K-6 Home Study Program with optional online classes, Hybrid K-6 Independent Study Program with some classroom days and some home study days each week. 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, media literacy, film-making, and drama. We offer a gifted and talented education (GATE) program and accelerated math. To express interest, visit: pacificesd.org/new-family-enrollment.html

Mount Madonna School, Pre/K-12
491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna
Mount Madonna School: bridging tradition and innovation, where individuals are honored and the 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! Accepting mid-year transfers in January, and offering in-person, on-campus, and remote learning options. Featuring a play-based hybrid Pre/K program on a 375-acre forested campus, environmental education, performing and visual arts, 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.

Salesian Elementary and Junior High School TK-8
605 Enos Lane, Corralitos
[email protected]
For more than 40 years, Salesian Elementary and Junior High has been Empowering the 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.

Santa Catalina School LogoSanta Catalina School
1500 Mark Thomas Drive
Set against the scenic California coast in Monterey, Santa Catalina School is where you can discover the true you. Our boarding and day school is where inspired, powerful, active learning happens—in the classroom, on the field or the stage, and in the dorms. Catalina girls take ownership of their academics—including a marine ecology program that takes advantage of Monterey Bay—and they pursue their passions. True sisterhood creates a community that is fueled by curiosity, kindness, and confidence.

Spring Hill School
250 California Street, Santa Cruz
We are a community of educators and families who inspire curiosity and a love of learning by creating a supportive and welcoming school experience. Our approach develops inner confidence and encourages a willingness to risk imperfection. With our small class sizes, each teacher comes to know each student, and we can prioritize effective communication with families. Students leave Spring Hill with a strong preparation for middle school both academically and on a social emotional level. With a focus on developing the tools to take on the world, a Spring Hill experience is designed to last a lifetime.

Tara Redwood School 
Preschool-6th Grade
5810 Prescott Road, CA. Soquel
Tel. 831.462.9632
Tara Redwood School offers children a strong academic foundation, rich in the sciences, emotional intelligence, and the arts. Our global curriculum is a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC), a framework known as the 7 Steps to Knowledge, Strength, and Compassion developed at the school for more than 30 years. The CCC pedagogy provides a unique approach that nurtures the children’s innate positive qualities through critical thinking and contemplative practices, empowering them to have a positive impact on the world through their thoughts and actions. Our integrated approach to learning has a strong focus on environmental studies and exploration of the natural world. Our classrooms extend into the outdoors and our playground is 108 acres of redwood forest and creeks in Soquel. 

Charter Schools

Pacific Coast Charter School
294 Green Valley Road, Watsonville
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.

SLVUSD Charter SchoolSLVUSD Charter School
325 Marion Ave, Ben Lomond
Founded in 1993, we continue to maintain student-centered learning built on strong connections between teachers, students, and parents. Dynamic, diverse learning environments 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 classroom/homeschool programs supporting 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
303 Potrero St., #15, Santa Cruz
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. We want to make your entry into the water world truly enjoyable. Come play with us!

The Bookakery
Check out our Bookakery Boxes, monthly subscription boxes filled with picture books, recipes, baking tools, and activities, curated to foster a love of reading and baking in kids, and encourages parent-child activities. Bookakery Boxes facilitate activity-based learning of reading, following instructions, counting, and more. Bookakery Boxes are perfect for preschoolers and early elementary-age children.

International Student Services
Santa Cruz
[email protected]
Host Families being sought now for 2021-’22 high school term and semester. 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 sharing cultures creates an understanding in love and acceptance. It is a lot of fun! Make a friend you can visit. Italian, German & French students for the 2021-’22 school term are coming to become part of an American Host Family. All students will be COVID-tested. Student interests: tennis, soccer, art, Scouts, cooking! and more! . Call now for more information