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.
Coastal Community Preschool
Lic. #444408854 & Lic.#444415615
900 High Street, Santa Cruz
Coastal Community Preschool (CCP) serves children ages 2.3 years through 5 years 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 Monterey Bay. We also offer an after-school program for TK-1st grade. Join us as we continue working with parents and caregivers to raise a community of strong, confident, and happy children.
Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm
Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm offers a unique program in a beautiful setting. Our curriculum is emergent with a strong emphasis on creating a connection to the natural world. We seek to promote and maintain basic principles of Freedom, with the goal of educating our children to be critical thinkers. Our open classroom creates a warm environment, and we encourage freedom of choice and relationship building. Set on several acres, every day is filled with the beauty of nature, joys of friendship, and fun activities geared toward artistic expression, physical movement, and the development of a lifelong love of learning
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!
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].
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. Learners have the opportunity to reach their full potential in an IB, Christ-centered school with unmatched academic, athletic, fine arts, and equestrian facilities. MVC is a co-ed, grades 6-12, day and boarding school. 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 year.
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.
Mount Madonna School
Mount Madonna School helped me raise my child to be a well-rounded, academically strong, compassionate human, while surrounding him with a community of the same.
-Robyn Pearson, alumni parent
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 Collegiate School (PCS) is a tuition-free public charter school for students in grades 7-12 to explore exemplary college preparatory learning. We inspire students to discover the interests, purpose, and passion that will enable them to thrive. We cultivate a love of learning in an inclusive community of care. Students excel through academically rich and culturally relevant learning, integrated with arts and world languages. Our curriculum empowers creative problem-solvers, effective collaborators, and engaged leaders of today and tomorrow. Visit www.pacificcollegiate.com to sign up for an information session, tour, or Zoom meeting to learn more!
Pacific Collegiate School
The PCS community is one of a kind. I am so grateful for my relationships with the staff, teachers and student body. PCS gave me so many opportunities, an incredible education, and some of the most inspiring connections I’ve ever had.
– PCS Alumna, Class of 2019
Pacific Elementary School
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 School 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 youth, fosters a dedication to learning, and develops moral depth through acts of service. Credentialed teachers educate the whole child with a balanced curriculum, and our 50-acre campus provides ample opportunities for students to learn from their natural environment. We welcome all families to attend our Open House on January 29th, from 2 – 4 pm. Personal tours are also available! 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.
Santa Cruz Waldorf School, PreK-8
2190 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Waldorf School nurtures the whole human being in every individual, cultivating the capacity of head, heart, and hands. We offer a rich and balanced curriculum in which intellectual and artistic development are both vital and fully integrated. Specialty teachers work alongside class teachers to provide students with diverse experiences in language, movement, music, arts, games, and gardening. 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.
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
Celebrating our 45th year! Spring Hill School welcomes you to join our vibrant community and experience how we inspire a love of learning. Our approach empowers students to value their strengths and have the confidence to try something new. Through a Design Thinking philosophy, Spring Hill values empathy as a starting point and a revise-and-refine mindset. Spring Hill students thrive academically and socially at Spring Hill and beyond. www.springhillschool.org
Spring Hill School
We searched for months for a school that would nurture our child’s curious and creative mind. Spring Hill has exceeded our expectations. We live 30 miles away, and it is worth the effort!
-2022 Kindergarten Parent
Tara Redwood School
5810 Prescott Road, 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. We offer an integration of Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) mindfulness education, Montessori academics, a strong focus on global studies, sciences, nature, creative arts, environmental studies, social emotional learning and compassion in action. Our campus is located on 108 acres of natural forest for daily nature immersion. Preschool to Elementary grades up to 4th. Soon to expand to 6th grade. Classes are multi-age with a low student to teacher ratio. Learn more here: tararedwoodschool.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.
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.
Child Development Resource Center
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz
Finding the right care for your child is one of the most important decisions your family can make. The Child Development Resource Center, a program of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, is a free, one-stop source for local families seeking early education options. Child care referral specialists can answer questions and connect you with licensed programs to meet your family’s needs. The CDRC maintains the only up-to-date list of child care and early education programs in Santa Cruz County.
Jim Booth Swim School
Harvey West pool in Santa Cruz and Watsonville
Be a water wonder! Lessons for all ages! From our Little Otters swim class for parents and their babies to Aquaphobics, our adult beginner class, the whole family splashes together at Jim Booth Swim School. Little Otters is a gentle introduction to our 94-degree pools that will make you confident that you are guiding your infant to a happy water experience. Our lessons emphasize quality swimming in an exciting class taught by our caring, well-qualified teachers. The whole family can swim at Jim Booth Swim School!
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.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
1305 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
Are you a super sleuth when it comes to nature? Join the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History this Spring Break for Nature Detectives camp to solve puzzles and mysteries of the natural world. Investigate phenomena and collect evidence to draw conclusions about the natural world around us while playing fun games and making great crafts with new friends. Nature Detectives camp will run from April 4 – 8, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM. Registration opens January 3rd at 9:00 am. Tuition: $250 per camper for Museum members, $275 per camper for non-members.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
This camp has been the best environment that I’ve witnessed, super inclusive and I think the opportunities that this camp provides are making a big wave in the next generation’s lives!
Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation
Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation is excited to provide fun, educational, and active classes for all ages all year round! Scholarships are available. Find our seasonal Activity Guide online – www.cityofsantacruz.com/register.
Santa Cruz Parks and Rec
Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation has been instrumental in providing life changing programs to both of my children. For us, the Junior Guards program has been something that they look forward to every summer, and has provided fitness, friendship, water safety instruction, competition, and an amazing environment to learn about being a leader. The instructors are some of the best role models for our kids in the community, and have taught our kids how to be brave, strong, and future leaders themselves. We are grateful to Parks and Rec for hosting such an amazing opportunity for our kids to grow and thrive!