In Education

Private Schools in Santa Cruz County Welcome Your Inquiry

These introductions offer a brief introduction to private schools in Santa Cruz County. We encourage you to visit their websites for more information, and remember there is no substitute for an in-person visit! You may think “I can’t afford private school,” but there are scholarship and sliding scale programs at most schools.

Baymonte Christian School, Preschool – 8, Baymonte Christian School offers a distinctively Christian and highly academic education in a loving and supportive environment. Baymonte Christian Schools, believing a strong “today” builds a strong “tomorrow”, endeavors to educate students in a distinctively Christian environment, equipping them spiritually, intellectually, and physically to apply a Christian worldview as they meet life’s challenges and opportunities. Admissions Director: Courtney Skinner

Brite Horizons is a non public school serving students grades 1-12. The mission of Brite Horizons School is to provide students with individualized educational services to address each student’s unique strengths and deficits in a manner that allows the student to be successful daily and reach their overall full potential. Through the use of scientifically proven methods, students are provided with tools to make meaningful progress and valuable connections with others. The Brite Horizons School strives to provide each student with a supportive community and the skills necessary to successfully transition into a public school setting.  Executive  Director Ginger R. Raabe,

Chartwell School, 1-12, empowers students with dyslexia and associated learning differences to unlock their full potential. We provide a college preparatory, strength-based program that gives students the skills, strategies, tools and mindset needed to become successful lifelong learners. We share our expertise through partnerships and outreach initiatives to transform education. The Chartwell Way is a teaching approach grounded in research and based on diagnostic prescriptive methodology. Our teaching is informed by student learning. We aim to reach every learner and adapt our teaching methods so that each student, at every age, learns and grows.

Gateway School, K-8. 2021 marks an important milestone in Gateway’s history – 50 years of providing families with an exceptional educational experience. Gateway School is an all gender day school in Santa Cruz, CA for students in grades Kindergarten through 8th. To learn more about 50 years at Gateway click here. We invite all families interested in Gateway School to visit, ask questions, and get to know our community!  Visit

Good Shepherd Catholic School, PreK-9. At Good Shepherd Catholic School (GSCS) your child will receive a strong academic and spiritual foundation, have the opportunity to participate in competitive athletics, be a part of outstanding enrichment programs and mature through community service offered at all grade levels. GSCS seeks to not only fully prepare your child for the academic rigor of high school, but to enable your child to be a confident, well-rounded adult. Principal: Richard Determan,

Green Valley Christian School, PreK-8. Our mission is to develop, disciple, equip, educate and encourage students both academically and spiritually. Green Valley Christian School exists to: Develop students who are followers of Jesus Christ; Disciple students to Christ-like character; Equip students for life-long Christian service by honoring individual giftedness; Educate students academically for competence in life development; Encourage students to honor their families. Principal: Jeff Herring,

Holy Cross School, Preschool-8, is a nurturing, Christ centered community that offers a comprehensive curriculum that is aligned with the nationally recognized Common Core standards. We pride ourselves in providing a challenging and rigorous academic program for our students. Principal Patty Patano

Kirby School, 6-12,  is an award-winning, independent college preparatory day school for grades 6-12 located in Santa Cruz, California. For over 25 years, we have welcomed learners from all backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. Driven by our love of learning, we engage students in a wide variety of activities that activate critical thinking and inspire creative expression, preparing them to thoughtfully contribute to their communities and shape their futures with confidence. At Kirby we listen to, value and appreciate every student admitted to our program. We see their unique potential. We get to know them for the hopes and dreams they carry, and for the challenges they face as they achieve them. Join us at an upcoming Admissions event and get to know Kirby School better.

Monte Vista Christian School, 6-12, Day and Boarding, empowers learners to achieve their highest potential through Christ-centered educational excellence by courageously engaging in God’s redemptive work throughout our world.  At MVC, we make Christ known, see every person, craft beauty, and laugh together. Monte Vista Christian School is an IB World School for the Diploma Program and is a Candidate School* for the Middle Years Program. MVCS is pursuing authorization as an IB World School for the Middle Years Program. IB World Schools are schools that share a common philosophy—a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education that MVCS believes is important for our students. Assistant Head of School Nikki Daniels,

Moreland Notre Dame Catholic School, K-8, in partnership with parents, seeks to create an environment where students grow in their understanding of themselves as children of God and important members of ever-widening communities of faith: family, classroom, school, local and global communities, and Church. As members of this school community we desire that our actions demonstrate the goodness of God.  We aspire to be a Catholic school in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame, in which students can learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment in the company of teachers, staff, and classmates. In the words of St. Julie Billiart, we work to teach our students “whatever is necessary to equip them for life.” Moreland Notre School incorporates the characteristics, values, and activities set forth in the document Hallmarks of a Notre Dame de Namur Learning Community. Principal Cathy Mottau

Mount Madonna School, preK-12,  strives 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, 375-acre campus, science and technology labs, competitive athletic program, 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. For more than 40 years, Mount Madonna School has offered students a quality education based on academic excellence, positive character development and creative self-expression. Preschool through high school; fully accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Mount Madonna is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual and ethical growth. We support our students to become caring, self-aware, and articulate individuals. We believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. Director of Admissions: Benna Dimig,

Orchard School, K-6, aims to provide an educational experience (K-6) where children learn in a healthy, non-competitive atmosphere with an interactive, hands-on curriculum that builds academic skills; respects the individual child, the community and the environment, and nurtures the intrinsic process of learning. We believe that children need to live vigorously in an environment that invites learning, and we know that they will thrive given the time, the space, the resources, and the gentle and respectful guidance of skilled mentors. Much as we value core academic skills, we also find it important to nurture and protect childhood, giving kids the chance to do things like climb, dig, run, unicycle, gaze at the clouds, sing, prepare and share food, and feel the earth beneath their feet.

Salesian Elementary and Junior High School, K-8. Salesian Elementary and Junior High School is a TK-8 private Catholic elementary and junior high school working cooperatively with the Diocese of Monterey to provide a child-centered learning environment within a family atmosphere that embodies the Salesian philosophy of reason, religion, and loving kindness as taught by Saint John Bosco and Saint Mary Mazzarello. Following the tradition of Saint John Bosco: we are a HOME where love and joy nurture a family of faith, we are a SCHOOL that fosters a passion for learning and supports the success of each student, we are a CHURCH that is inspired by our Marian tradition and promotes living the Gospel values, and we are a PLAYGROUND that builds character and lasting friendships.

Santa Cruz Children’s School, K-6. At Santa Cruz Children’s School, your child is a part of a dedicated community of learners that includes teachers, students, and their families. Students love being at school and thrive in an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity, creativity, and kindness. Students progress at their own pace with confidence and passion in a safe and nurturing environment. An independent, non-profit elementary school founded and run by teachers, your child can expect to love learning at Santa Cruz Children’s School.  Director Deric McClean

Santa Cruz Montessori, Preschool-8. As a Montessori learning community, we inspire life long learning and a peaceful world by nurturing the natural development of the whole child. Santa Cruz Montessori is founded on the methods and philosophy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. She recognized the potential of each child to become a force for good in creating a better world for all. Respect for ourselves, each other, and our environment—be that our school, our community, or our world—is at the foundation of Santa Cruz Montessori philosophy and drives our efforts at peace through education.  Enrollment Director: Kathy Rideout,

Santa Cruz Waldorf School, preschool-8, honors students’ individual development and capacities, and nurtures a love of learning through our rich curriculum inspired by Rudolf Steiner. At our rural, forested campus, our community, led by creative Waldorf-trained teachers, encourages the protection of childhood and respect for 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. Enrollment Director: Amanda Harper,

Springhill School, Preschool-8, is an independent private school serving Kindergarten through Sixth Grade students and sending graduates well prepared onto middle school and beyond. We believe that that children will thrive by connecting with each student, making curriculum adjustment as needed and being to the students in front of us. Our approach builds a supportive and inclusive school community. All of the teachers know all of the students and we value cross-grade experiences along with parent collaboration. With small classes, teachers are able to keep each student moving forward from where they are. Through shared class experiences and a team environment, students see each other as resources, appreciate strengths and cheer each other on. Integrated projects create a rich learning environment to inspire a long lasting love of learning. Teachers incorporate student interests into the classroom experience and collaborate with parents to support everyone in learning to their full potential.  Teachers have the freedom to adjust their approach and their lessons based on what they are seeing in their students – it is child inspired.

St. Francis High School, 9-12, recognizes the importance of a high quality, holistic education for a rapidly changing world. Guided by St. John Bosco’s educational philosophy of reason, religion, and loving kindness, and in the spirit of St. Mary Mazzarello, foundress of the Salesian Sisters, St. Francis High School provides a college preparatory education for students from diverse abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The faculty and staff actively seek to provide students with an experience of home, where they feel welcome; school, where they learn 21st century skills for life; church, where they find meaning; and playground, where they celebrate life and others. Embracing St. John Bosco’s vision of community as family, St. Francis High School collaborates as a total Salesian family–students, parents, administrators, teachers, and staff–to achieve the goal of preparing young people to be outstanding citizens of this world and the next. Principal: Patrick Lee

Tara Redwood School, Preschool-6, offers a unique curriculum amidst 108 acres of playground forest and creeks , mostly outdoors with small size class groups. Tara Redwood School uses a global curriculum with its original framework known as the 7 Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion developed over a period of  30 years. The school’s program is a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) methodologies. We engage children to develop strong academic foundations, rich in the sciences and emotional intelligence. We also value the importance of the performance and creative arts as an integral part of a child’s early development.  The CCC pedagogy provides an education for the heart and mind with unique social emotional components that nurture children’s innate positive qualities while empowering them to make a positive impact on the world through their thoughts and actions.

Twin Lakes Christian School, K-8, provides an excellent educational experience in a caring Christian community. We believe the purpose of education is to teach students the knowledge of God’s infallible truth as revealed to us through His Word, approaching each subject through the lens of this Truth. We seek to develop in our students a love for God and a desire to know Him better through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We encourage them to display Christlike character, show respect and compassion for others, and have a desire to become responsible citizens, prepared to impact their community and beyond. We believe that all children are gifts from God, each with talents and abilities specific to His purpose for them. We seek to nurture and support our students in their moral, emotional, intellectual, and physical development, honoring and encouraging the uniqueness of each individual. By offering diverse academic and enrichment opportunities we seek to develop students who desire to use their God given abilities to impact their 21st century world. Principal: Meg Imel,

VHM Christian School, K-8, serves our community as a private, co-educational, Christian School. We offer multi-grade classes in grades Pre/K-Kindergarten through Eight. Multi-grade classrooms allow students the flexibility to learn concepts at a wider-range of aptitudes and skills. VHM Students are taught and mentored by highly qualified and certified Adventist-Christian teachers. Our students are challenged to learn new concepts, skills, and critical ways of thinking – all rising from the school’s dedication to academic and spiritual excellence. They will be inspired by our Encounter Bible Curriculum which encourages building an understanding of and a relationship with a loving Creator, and will be given practical opportunities to develop a character consistent with a belief in truth, justice, and personal integrity. Our program is designed to help students discover their unique gifts and to nurture intellectual, physical, and spiritual development.  If you and your children choose this “higher form of education,” we will be delighted to help you reach that goal. ​Deborah Joplin, Principal,

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