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 interests?
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.
2511 Numa Watson Road, Seaside
Chartwell School, located on 65 acres in Seaside, CA, serves students with dyslexia and other related learning differences who are not currently reaching their full potential. We do this in grades 1-12 by providing targeted and direct instruction to empower learners with the skills, strategies, tools, and social-emotional mindset they need to thrive in college and beyond.
Chartwell has changed our family’s lives. It provides my children an individualized and targeted education that supports their academic and social-emotional learning. My boys have become the people I’ve always known them to be.
– Karla, Adam and Matthew Bellt
Gateway School K-8
255 Swift Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Gateway School provides students in grades Kindergarten through Middle School with an exemplary education. Small class sizes and programs in Art and Technology, Music, Spanish, and Life Lab Science complement an academic curriculum grounded in Social Emotional Learning. Gateway students are collaborative, creative, love learning, and become compassionate and responsible citizens. Children’s innate curiosity and sense of wonder are nurtured through exploration, discovery, and hands-on experiences. Our graduates have an inquiring spirit, are confident, and stand up for those who need help. To learn more about the difference a K-8 school model provides, visit www.gatewaysc.org and schedule a tour to experience all that Gateway has to offer!
Gateway will forever be my home, and all the teachers and staff were so supportive and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
– Gateway student, Class of 2020
Good Shepherd Catholic School
Preschool – 8th grade
2727 Mattison Lane
Santa Cruz 95065
Welcoming children of all faiths from Preschool to Eighth grade for nearly 60 years on our centrally located 10-acre campus. Fully accredited by the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA) with highly qualified faculty and staff providing a well-rounded curriculum that is project-based and faith-driven. Spanish, physical education, 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. Offering small class sizes, indoor and outdoor learning. Schools sports such as golf and after-school care are available. Spots are still available for the 2022-2023 school year. Contact us for an in-person or virtual tour.
Holy Cross School
150 Emmett Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
For nearly 160 years, Holy Cross School has educated children in the heart of Santa Cruz, California. Holy Cross is a Preschool-8 Catholic co-educational private school that provides students with an environment of trust and respect; fosters spiritual and moral development; develops creativity and self-expression; challenges students to reach their full potential; and nurtures both mind and spirit. The academic program includes math, science, Spanish, English Language Arts, social studies, P.E., music. Athletics programs and afterschool care are also available. Class sizes are limited. Visit our website at www.holycsc.org. For more information, call (831) 423-4447 or email [email protected]
Grades 6 through 12
425 Encinal St, Santa Cruz
Kirby School empowers students to shape their futures with confidence. Our independent middle and high school has been preparing students for college for over 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.
Monte Vista Christian School
2 School Way, Watsonville, CA 95076
Nestled on a sprawling tree-lined campus, Monte Vista Christian School has been providing an unparalleled learning experience for nearly a century. MVC’s diverse student population and its low student-to-faculty ratio help create a close knit learning community that is equal parts rigorous and celebratory. MVC is committed to empowering learners in their academic excellence, community involvement, and global engagement. Learners at MVC gain a strong academic foundation, develop an understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures and views, and build lifelong friendships, all within an encouraging environment. We invite you to be a part of a school you can call home.
Monte Vista Christian School
All three of my children have had incredible experiences at MVC. The faculty and school community are amazing and have really helped prepare my kids for college and beyond.
-Gretchen C., parent
Moreland Notre Dame School, TK-8
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 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 over 120 years.
Mount Madonna School
491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna
In their classrooms and beyond, Mount Madonna School students are part of a diverse, inspired, creative, and academically vibrant learning community. We strive to prepare well-rounded human beings for college and beyond, who value collaboration, form meaningful relationships and engage with their local communities, nation, and the world. Imagine ONE school, where your preschooler can move through to kindergarten and elementary, be part of a close-knit middle school community, and graduate from high school! Featuring Montessori-influenced preschool and kindergarten programs, environmental education, performing and visual arts, life skills, and excellent academics. Transportation available, with bus stops throughout Santa Cruz County.
Orchard School K-6
2288 Trout Gulch Road
Aptos, CA 95003
Orchard School, established over 30 years ago, provides a unique, yet comprehensive K-6 education. At Orchard, we weave together the magic of an extraordinary faculty, a 14-acre campus, and a down-to-earth philosophy that nourishes and honors the natural growth and development of children. Small class sizes, an organic garden, and an animal farm create enriching “whole child” learning experiences that are hands-on and individualized. We provide Strong Core Academics, Excellent Science Curriculum, Art, Music, Physical Theater/Circus Arts, Electives, Ceramics, Archery, Swimming, Leadership, Field Trips, Drama Productions, and more.
Pacific Coast Charter School
294 Green Valley Road, Watsonville
Pacific Coast Charter School is a K-12 homeschool/independent studies charter within 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 schoolwork 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 Coast Charter School
PCCS fills a niche in the community because it offers an excellent solution for families who want to be very involved in their children’s education but will also want the kids to have a learning community.
– Alyson Greatorex
Pacific Elementary School Davenport
50 Ocean Street, Davenport
Pacific Elementary School in Davenport is a public school serving ~160 students. Families throughout the county choose us for our: High-Quality Preschool; Traditional TK-6 Classrooms; Full-Time TK-6 Home Study Program with optional online classes; Hybrid TK-6 Independent Study Program with 3 classroom days and 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
Salesian Elementary and Junior High School
605 Enos Lane, Corralitos 95076
For more than 40 years Salesian Elementary and Junior High has been empowering the youth with knowledge, faith, and love! Our beautiful hillside setting 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, Spanish, Coding, 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 Sunday, January 30th from 2-4pm. For more information: [email protected]
Santa Catalina School
1500 Mark Thomas Drive, Monterey
Set against the scenic California coast in Monterey, Santa Catalina School is where you can discover the true you. Our boarding and day school, for girls in grades 9 through 12, 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.
Santa Cruz Montessori
Ages 18 months – 14 years
Main Campus (Primary and Elementary)
6230 Soquel Drive, Aptos
Winston Campus (Young Children’s Community and Jr. High)
244 Cabrillo College Drive, Soquel
Established in 1964, Santa Cruz Montessori is a non-profit school serving children 18 months to 14 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
Since 1993, San Lorenzo Valley School District’s SLV Charter School has offered a range of programs that support a variety of learners. Active learning, parent involvement, and student voice are key components of our programs. In addition to supporting all academic areas, charter programs foster student creativity, social-emotional development, and the pursuit of individual student passions. Built on a foundation of strong ongoing teacher, student, and parent connection, SLV Charter boasts a wide variety of program structures including one 5-day a week program (6-8), six 2-4 day a week homeschool-hybrid programs (K-12), and an independent studies program (K-12).
Spring Hill School
250 California Street, Santa Cruz
We are a vibrant community of educators and families who inspire a love of learning through our collaborative, engaging school experience. Our approach empowers students to have agency over their learning path and encourages a willingness to challenge themselves. With our small class sizes, we are able to provide dedicated attention and individual support. Thriving academically, and on a social emotional level, students leave Spring Hill with a strong preparation for middle school. With a variety of subject matter sources and frequent integrated projects, a Spring Hill education is designed to create a rich and meaningful experience for all.
Tara Redwood School
5810 Prescott Road, CA. Soquel
Since 1989, Tara Redwood has been empowering children to make a positive difference in the world by educating the heart & mind with mindfulness practices. Our curriculum is an integration of Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) and a strong focus on global studies, sciences, nature, creative arts, social emotional learning and compassion in action. Preschool for ages 2 – 5 years and Elementary for children ages 6–11. Classes are multi-age with a low student to teacher ratio. Learn more here: tararedwoodschool.org. We are in close contact with CDPH regulations and we are very grateful to be able to offer small size outdoor & indoor classroom spaces for our students and educators.
Tara Redwood School
I am so grateful for what a wonderful early childhood experience Tara Redwood provided for Kai, his cousin and friends — they are all such great young men.
-Tom Killion, father to alumni, Kai Killion
9501 York Road, Monterey
Since 1959, York School has created an exceptional college-prep experience for curious students who want to develop their many interests and enhance their academic confidence. Our expert faculty provide meaningful and challenging experiences, fostering courageous leaders and creative, independent thinkers. From engaging classes, leadership opportunities, and global adventures, to competitive sports, vibrant arts, spirit days, and clubs, York will inspire you to discover more about the world, others, and yourself. We invite you to explore the thriving life of York School at york.org.
Adventure Sports Unlimited
303 Potrero Street, #15, Santa Cruz
We teach infants through adults the joys of water and adventure. Our ocean programs introduce families to our magnificent marine environments with camping trips to Santa Cruz Island and Big Sur. We explore the world-renown underwater landscape of Monterey Bay through our Open Water Scuba courses. Come play with us!
Be Natural Music
740 Water St, Santa Cruz, CA
Be Natural Music is a Jazz & Rock Music School based in Santa Cruz, with a satellite studio in Corralitos, and a new location in Cupertino serving our community over the hill. Our schools offer private music lessons, Real Rock & Jazz Band classes for youth and teens, workshops, and music camps. We offer musical instruction on voice, piano & keyboard, guitar, bass, drums & percussion, saxophone, clarinet, ukulele, harp & beginning DJ lessons. Saturday classes starting in early 2022.
Be Natural Music
We are so lucky to have an amazing program like Be Natural Music in our area. It’s been amazing. It’s given our daughter the confidence to perform in front of a large crowd and truly be a rock star.
-Kevin P., parent
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 in any learning environment.
Cabrillo Youth Chorus
Directed by Cheryl Anderson, the Cabrillo Youth Chorus offers a comprehensive vocal music program for children 8-18 years of age, providing instruction in musicianship and theory along with exciting performance opportunities. CYC offers four levels of instruction from beginning to advanced. CYC students sing with the Santa Cruz Symphony and other performing groups, have performed in Carnegie Hall, and frequently travel to children’s choir festivals. Rehearsals take place weekly at Cabrillo College from 4:00-5:30 pm; the beginning/intermediate class meets on Tuesdays and the intermediate/advanced class on Wednesdays. More information is available online at CabrilloYouthChorus.org.
Mountain Music School
(Formerly known as B Sharp)
216-A Mt. Herman Rd, Scotts Valley
(831)201-9605 (text or call)
Mountain Music School has brought fun, quality music lessons to the Santa Cruz Mountains since 2017. Learn to play piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, voice, and more! Students and their families enjoy an enthusiastic, lighthearted atmosphere brought by our qualified instructors. Our philosophy is that lessons should be fun!
Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center, Inc.
2750 B Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz
We at Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center understand how important physical movement is in developing a healthy brain in children. Healthy brain development leads to proficiency in learning and overall confidence to lead a successful life. Our gymnastics instructors take pride in offering gymnastics training packed with a lot of fun in every class! Each lesson offers a wide range of sensory integration activities through the usage of our gymnastics equipment on the floor, bars, balance beam, vault, trampolines, and foam pit. We offer a range of classes from preschool to competitive teams. Check our website to see what is available for your child today.