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Independent School Guide 2018

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.


Expedition Academy Santa Cruz, grades 5-8

111 Errett Circle, Santa Cruz

Website  https://easc.education

Expedition Academy Santa Cruz is an independent, non-sectarian middle school in Santa Cruz, CA. Opening in the Fall of 2018, EASC believes a well-rounded educational experience focuses 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 K-8 academically challenging progressive school. Our education is rooted in play, creativity, and critical thinking. During their time at Gateway students develop self-confidence, communication and collaborative skills. We value a love of learning and encourage our students to become compassionate and responsible citizens. Gateway has long been a leader in innovative learning techniques – it was the first school in Santa Cruz to establish a Life Lab, the first to build a Maker’s Space, and the first to institute a mindfulness program. Small class sizes ensure individual attention from teachers who know and care about each child's needs. Art, Music, Spanish, Mindfulness, Life Lab Science and our Maker's Space are integral parts of our robust curriculum. In this supportive environment, Gateway students graduate with the habits to be successful in the most competitive high schools and colleges.


Good Shepherd Catholic School

Preschool - 8th grade

2727 Mattison Lane, Santa Cruz



Good Shepherd Catholic School offers a fully accredited academic program for students in preschool through eighth grade. For over fifty years the school has been welcoming children of all faiths. Our highly qualified faculty and staff provide a well-rounded curriculum that is project-based and faith driven. Spanish, music, art, life lab, robtics aand enginering  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 incuding golf, flag football, basketball, lacrosse and soccer beginning at grade two. After-school care is available until 6:00 PM. Please call 831.476.4000 to schedule a tour or request a shadow day for your child.


Holy Cross School

150 Emmett Street, Santa Cruz



For over 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-Learning projects, and a hallmark of our school is the strong home-school partnership. Please call (831) 423-4447 for a personal tour to learn more about our school!


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. Since 1979, MMS has offered students a quality education based on academic excellence, positive character development and creative self-expression. Fully accredited by CAIS and WASC.


Ocean Alternative Education Center



Ocean Alternative, Live Oak School District, supports your homeschooling adventure. Four credentialed teachers are available to guide you to build an exciting education plan for your child. Our weekly classes include literacy, math, science, and art. Students learn to communicate and collaborate in a group-learning environment. Community events, field trips & more! NEW THIS YEAR: Ocean Online is a non-classroom based independent study program. We offer a wide range of services including: quality online curriculum, personalized independent study programs, weekly teacher consultation and instruction, assessment and feedback, social networks of homeschooling families, resource libraries, and a Chromebook to loan.


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 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 credentialed teachers, free tutoring, and a wide variety of standards-based curriculum to assist your child to reach their fullest academic potential. 


Pioneer Academy




Pioneer Academy provides young people with a challenging, creative, and caring academic environment that values social, emotional, intellectual, physical and artistic exploration. We are deeply committed to the development of each child’s human potential. It is essential for the child to apply what they’ve learned about themselves into the classroom and immediate community. We believe young people learn best when they are actively engaged in their education, responsible and aware of their own personal growth, and comfortable with themselves, their teachers and peers. With this underlying belief, we are committed to employing a balanced curriculum delivered by engaging teachers in a natural setting. Classes are designed using an interdisciplinary approach through literature, history, music, mathematics, science, health and well-being, art and cultural studies. See our website for more information as well as open house times/dates. Now enrolling for the 2018-2019 school year for grades 6-8.


Salesian Elementary & Junior High

Transitional Kindergarten - 8th Grade

605 Enos Lane, Corralitos



2018 marks Salesian’s 40th year of excellence in Catholic Education in Santa Cruz County. Our beautiful hillside campus feels like a HOME filled with love. We are a SCHOOL that fosters a passion for learning, supporting the success of each student, a CHURCH rooted in faith, and a PLAYGROUND that builds character. Under the guidance of credentialed teachers, students develop a curiosity for learning and moral depth. In addition to strong academics, students participate in formal Art, Music, and Sports programs. Since 1978 our 50-acre campus provides opportunities for hands-on Environmental Education; Grades TK – 8. 


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


Santa Cruz Montessori is a non-profit, independent school founded in 1964 serving children ages 18 months to 15 years. Our programs include the arts, sciences, mathematics, literature, language, social studies and music. Our beautiful Montessori classrooms are designed to engage all of the child's senses and create a life-long love of learning. 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



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Waldorf education fosters a lifelong love of learning through a holistic approach designed to meet the needs of the developing child. Kindergartners thrive in a loving, play-based environment enriched with movement, music and daily outdoor time in nature. The grades 1-8

academic curriculum is complemented with foreign language, music, art, movement and gardening. We are the only primary school in the greater Monterey Bay area to offer a full stringed instrument program, and our campus borders the UCSC campus, surrounded by majestic redwood trees. Come visit our school and see for yourself, why Waldorf works! Call 831-425-0519, or email us at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


SLVUSD Charter School

325 Marion Ave. Ben Lomond



Would a different delivery model benefit your child? Have you considered more involvement in your child’s education? Our options may be right for you!  Our credentialed teachers form strong relationships with families to support individualized learning. We have six hybrid homeschool programs: Integrated Arts (7-8), Coast Redwood MS (6-8), Coast Redwood HS (9-12) Quail Hollow (K-8), Fall Creek (K-5), and Mountain Independent Study (K-6). Classroom collaboration invites creativity, community, and environmental stewardship. 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. WASC accredited.


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 to love coming to school. Join SHS and celebrate 40 years of excellence! Together with innovation and Design Thinking, we are known for teacher expertise, small classes, accelerated curriculum, and our individualized education by design. 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 a personalized 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 provides a curriculum that nurtures compassion and emotional awareness within each child. The school promotes empathy, mindfulness and social skills by providing creative tools for self-regulation and healthy expression. We offer an exceptional academic education utilizing both Creating Compassionate Cultures and Montessori curriculums. Tara Redwood School runs its Young Children (24mo-3yrs), Preschool (3 to 4.5yrs) and Elementary (TK-6th grade) programs from two Campuses. Situated in 108 acres of forest and sunny open spaces, the Redwood Campus is home to our Young Children and Preschool classes, and the Elementary Program is hosted in the “Village Campus”, right in the heart of Soquel Village. We offer mixed-ages, small size, and open classroom settings. The Redwood Campus: Monday - Friday 9:00am - 3:00pm and Village Campus 8:30 - 3:00 Early care from 8:00am Aftercare until 5:30pm.


Twin Lakes Christian School

2701 Cabrillo College Dr, Aptos



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Twin Lakes Christian School (TLCS) is an accredited (ACSI/WASC) non-denominational K-8 Christian school committed to offering a rich educational experience in a loving community with a new state-of-the-art educational building. TLCS provides a full academic program as well as enrichment classes in technology, music, physical education, art, foreign language, community outreach, middle school electives, and competitive athletics. Our new STEAM program introduces robotics, coding, digital citizenship and more starting in Kindergarten. Our teachers are qualified, experienced, and committed to excellence. We also offer an outstanding before and after school program. Call today for more information or to schedule a tour!





Coastal Community Preschool

Lic #444408854

900 High Street, Santa Cruz



CCP serves children ages 2 1⁄2 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 the Monterey Bay. Join us as we continue working with parents and caregivers to raise a community of strong, confident and happy children.


The Playgarden




The Playgarden is set in an inviting space on the West side of Santa Cruz.

We serve children ages 15mos to five years old. Using the Waldorf philosophy and current research, we encourage outdoor exploration, practical chores, and crafts. Children can participate in meal preparation, animal care.


Rocking Horse Ranch Preschool

Lic #444400117

4134 Fairway Dr, Soquel


Rocking Horse Ranch is a play-based preschool located on 3 beautiful acres in sunny Soquel. We are open from 9-5:30 and offer morning, afternoon, and full day sessions. Our outdoor space offers lots of room to explore, including our gardens and many different kinds of animals. Come visit us!


Rose Blossom School

Lic #444403616



Sharon Rose, Director

Rose Blossom School is a preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten in Aptos, CA. Age-appropriate academic games and curriculum are interspersed with free-choice play time; music, art, and creative play are included every day. Heart Language, based on Nonviolent Communication, provides a foundation system of communication on which is built a respectful, cooperative community of children, teachers, and parents. Additional programs include monthly music shows, weekly tumbling class, and annual Trike-a-Thon and Hop-a-Thon events. Our goal for the children at Rose Blossom School is for them to enjoy learning and be prepared for their next school experiences.


Educational Support


All About Theatre 

325 Washington Street, Santa Cruz



Celebrating 15 years and over 115 musicals in Santa Cruz County. We offer training in the performing arts for Tiny Tots (3-5), Tots (5-10), Youth (10-16), and Adults. Come see our Winter Production: Footloose the Musical Playing at the Louden Nelson Center (Feb2-10). Don't miss our Spring Season - upcoming classes and musicals. There's a role for everyone and everyone will leave with skills that they didn't have when they arrived. Come be a part of the magic... and give the gift of performing arts to your child. We are located in downtown Santa Cruz and at our midtown location in Soquel Village. Check out our website for New and expanded classes and productions in 2018.


Canta y Baila Conmigo® with MusicalMe, Inc.

Locations in Santa Cruz and Capitola

831.438.3514 or Text: 831.332.9002


Now offering the new and exciting music, movement and Spanish immersion program – Canta y Baila ConmigoTM. For beginners and native speakers alike, CyBC brings the highest quality music and movement experiences to young children and the adults who love them, with a playful, interactive atmosphere that integrates language learning naturally and organically in the musical experience. Our curriculum fosters the integration of music into everyday life – regardless of adults’ music ability. CyBC enhances children’s learning in multiple domains, increases family engagement and adds richly to each family’s “toolbox.” Siblings are welcome, especially infants who attend free if they are 8 months or under. Classes are now offered in Santa Cruz and Capitola. Contact us now to attend a class for free!


Cherryvale Art Farm

4900 Cherryvale Ave, Soquel



FB: Cherryvale Art Farm

Nestled in the Soquel hills, we offer expert art instruction, for Tk-12th grades, in a gorgeous rural setting. By placing the artists in the unique farm habitat Cherryvale Art Farm participants are able to explore the garden and farm animals through creative art, crafts and cooking experiences. The hands-on instruction will include handling and caring for our animals (who are also some of our models), harvesting and cooking from the garden and specializing in projects that integrate the experience through open-ended projects. 2018 after school and summer program schedules are up on our website and open for registration.


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.


Motion Pacific Dance
131 Front Street, Downtown Santa Cruz

The Motion Pacific Youth & Teen Program provides students of all ages the opportunity to experience dance in a context that values the individual and the creative process. We are dedicated to high quality technical training within a non-competitive environment and offer access to many forms of dance. Our curriculum caters to each student’s strengths and is designed to encourage creative expression and a positive body image. Motion Pacific is a nurturing, exciting and dynamic setting for students who seek either sheer enjoyment or a career in dance.
NEW: Motion Pacific now offer pay-what-you-can tuition for dancers 3-8 yrs to better support our organizational vision that high-quality dance education should be available to everyone. 


Music Together® with MusicalMe, Inc.

Locations throughout Monterey, Santa Cruz & Santa Clara Counties

831.438.3514 or Text: 831.332.9002


Offering the award-winning Music Together® Early Childhood Music & Movement program since 1996 – making the world a better place by making it more musical. We bring the highest quality music and movement experiences to young children – and we involve the adults who love them in the magical process of development that only music can bring. Our curriculum fosters the integration of music into everyday life – regardless of adults’ music ability. Our programs enhance children’s learning in multiple domains, increases family engagement and adds richly to each family’s “toolbox”. Siblings are welcome, especially infants who may attend free if they are 8 months or under. Classes throughout Monterey, Santa Clara & Santa Cruz Counties. Contact us now to attend a class for free!


The Sensory Toolbox


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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/


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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .













Last Updated on Thursday, 04 January 2018 15:43
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