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Private Grade School
updated: Dec 04, 2012, 2:51 PM

Referral: I'm looking for opinions with private schools in SB/Gol. We are exploring our options as my son is getting ready to go into K in the fall. Please share any positive/negative experiences you've had. I'm really looking for a well-rounded school that offers not only a great education, but also provides opportunities for sports, music, learning Spanish, etc... And please don't go bashing me for not choosing a public school. I am considering that option as well but really would love to hear some opinions from those that have BTDT. (And obvi I won't be making a decision based on edhat posts - but why not hear from other parents who have gone down this road?) TIA!

Places People Are Talking About:

Laguna BlancaMontessori Center School
SB CharterThe Howard School

What People Are Saying:

 COMMENT 350209 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:16 PM

SB Charter! My kids just love it, they have lots of arts, some spanish, music, clubs, sports, etc. There is a lottery to get in. Wendy is the Kindergarten teacher, shes amazing as all the teachers are. You need to tour the schools, it will all depend on how your child learns, making sure it follows the way you discipline your child and how you want your child to be treated


 COMMENT 350211 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:22 PM

Adelante school is amazing!!


 COMMENT 350214P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:32 PM

Notre Dame is great :)


 ROB EGENOLF agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:35 PM

Privates schools are not "one size fits all"

You first need to completely and objectively assess such things as your child's educational and emotional needs, abilities, independence, scholastic and social skills.

Then take the time observe in the various schools to find the environment that suits him or her best both academically and socially.

If you don't find a fit that seems appropriate, stay in the public schools for now and keep your future options open.


 COMMENT 350220P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:47 PM

Rob Egenolf''s advice is the best. Only you know your son and can assess how various schools would work for him. The experience anyone else had with their child is not a good indicator of how it would be for your son.


 COMMENT 350223 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:51 PM

Our three kids went to Montessori center school in Goleta. A great school for beginning education. One has a PhD, one is getting one, and the third is getting a second master's degree. All this in spite of father's genetic defects!


 COMMENT 350227 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:55 PM

LOL @ 223 (that was a joke, right...I hope)


 COMMENT 350228P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 03:58 PM

Our son attended Laguna Blanca for 7th & 8th grades. At the time, it was an option/opportunity we chose over the public schools. Having experienced this wonderful school, I really wished he had started at an earlier age, but economically that was not possible. Laguna Blanca has a warm, caring atmosphere where academics, sports and the arts come together in an enriching environment. The teachers are engaged and first rate. They also offer scholarships. Ultimately, he choose public (Dos Pueblos High School) over staying at Laguna, however, it too is a wonderful school with plenty of advanced curriculum and honors classes. Even though he spent a short time in private school, he felt miles ahead of his fellow students at DPHS. You might want to consider saving a few bucks by starting your child off in private school, segueing later into public high school.


 COMMENT 350233P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 04:07 PM

I agree that you need to observe the schools/teachers. One trick I always found helpful was to see if I could spot a student whose behavior reminded me of my child's, then watching how the teacher interacted with that student. Good luck!


 COMMENT 350242P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 04:31 PM

Move into the Hope School District!


 COMMENT 350256 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 05:25 PM

Notre Dame is a great school!


 COMMENT 350268 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 06:06 PM

There are many fine public schools in the area. Many of the private schools around here are riddled with drugs (they can afford them.)


 COMMENT 350269 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 06:07 PM

Santa Barbara Christian school is outstanding. K is 8-2:30 which I found very helpful schedule-wise. They also have extended day care after school if needed. They have music & art and Spanish starting late elementary. They have a wonderful middle school as well. The principal is a new transplant from Pacific Palisades and has incredible enthusiasm & vision. The campus itself is conducive to learning & both Mrs. Hill & Ms. Cunningham are wonderful teachers at K & 1st grade. Check out the website and open house in January.


 COMMENT 350275P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 06:13 PM

Another positive experience at Montessori Center School on Fairview. Our daughter is in 2nd grade now - she's been there since pre-school. She's been getting art, music, Spanish, PE, origami, and chess in addition to her "regular" daily schedule. We love the teachers and staff. We've had a few minor issues with other families, but nothing that we wouldn't have also had to deal with in public schools. Different problems possibly, but probably more of them. She loves to go to school, loves to learn, and is well ahead of the curve as far as reading, writing and math skills go. I really urge you to add them to your list for a visit.


 BULLSEYEB agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 06:50 PM

I agree with Rob Egenolf's suggestions. I grew up going to public school. I became a teacher and have taught for 20 years in the public schools. I believe in the public school system and am so tired of all of the public school bashing out there.

Having said that, we moved our daughter out of public school in the middle of 2nd grade to Montessori Center School on Fairview. It was the best decision we ever could have made for her. We visited and observed at several private schools as well as Open Alternative, and SB Charter. We felt that MCS offered the most well rounded program as you listed above in your post, as well as an approach to the student's academic, social and emotional growth. We are quite impressed with the staff and their willingness to work with a diverse set of student needs. We have been there for a little over 3 years now and are cringing at the thought of leaving for junior high in another year. We don't want to leave.

Our daughter is happy at MCS. She actually likes going to school again. Her public school experience was not a positive one for her as she was bored and they did not accommodate for her above grade level academics and lower maturity level. Montessori is perfectly designed for her highs and lows and all in between needs.

Be sure to observe and look at academics, social, emotional aspects as well as the extra curriculars. If possible, get out of your own head and really observe from your son's point of view. You know his strengths and weaknesses. 233P also made a great point. Look for a child in the class(es) who reminds you of your child and see how he/she is responding to the environment and staff. Good luck in your decision making.


 COMMENT 350297P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 06:57 PM

@ 268 What, specifically, are you talking about? I would venture to say that drugs are on any junior high and high school campus anywhere. It being a private school has nothing to do with it. If you make accusations, you should be able to give specifics to back them up. Otherwise those statements can, and should, be considered as nothing more than incediary devices designed to incite shock and upset.

And not all the families that are sending their kids to private school are that well off. There are scholarships at private schools too, you know.


 COMMENT 350322 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 07:45 PM

SB Montessori School on Mirano Dr. In Goleta. Preschool through 9th grade. My child has been there since preschool and is now in the junior high. The campus is 9 acres, the programs & faculty are the best! Give them a call and take a tour...you won't believe it whe you see the classroom environment!


 COMMENT 350341 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 08:22 PM

One other option that parents often dont know about is public online schools. My daughter attended the California Virtual Academy, and graduated from their program. I wish it had been available when she was in elementary, but it was not created yet. CAVA offers a rich and challenging technology based curriculum...for all grade levels. Just giving you another option.


 COMMENT 350342 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 08:25 PM

Our son had a terrible experience at Montessori center. His teacher and head of school just couldn't understand how gifted he was academically, even though their educational counselor did recognize that fact and the poor fit of our son and the particular teacher. They wouldn't move him to a different classroom, so we moved and we had a great experience at Vieja valley. Highly recommend Hope district schools.


 COMMENT 350344 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 08:59 PM

I teach at one of the local high schools and have seen many students come to my school from many different elementary / jr. high backgrounds.

The one thing I can say is this: great kids come from anywhere, including some of the "worst" public schools and some of the "best" private and public schools in town. Conversely, horrible kids come from some of the "best" private and public schools as well as some of the "worst".

After many years of teaching, I have concluded that the single biggest factor in how successful a kid is in high school both socially and academically is NOT the school he or she came from, it's the parents (by far!)

BTW every teacher knows this.


 COMMENT 350348P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 09:26 PM

@344, so true! I remember parent/teacher conferences when I was a student teacher 20+ years ago. After meeting the parents, I'd think to myself, "NOW I understand why their kid is the way he [or she] is!"


 COMMENT 350350P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 10:07 PM

As a retired teacher in SB, having taught here for decades, I saw plenty of troublesome students from seemingly good families and I saw students from poor parenting who did well. Luck has its role in life. Rob's advice seems sage.


 SBBEEBOY agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 10:08 PM

Rob and 344, great input...as in most things in life...you only get out, what you put in.
Both of my boys (including my wife and I) started out at Starr King Parent/Child Workshop. From there to spending 11 years at OAS. My wife and I both spent all of these years spending as many hours as we possibly could in the classrooms with our boys.
From there to LCJHS (Core Knowledge) and then San Marcos.
They are both thriving, engaged, bright and grounded.
I would not select a school that someone else tells you is right for your kid. Let your kid tell, or show you what is best for him/her. If ou are paying attention, you will know.


 PIXIETANGERINE agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-04 10:53 PM

Coastline Christian Academy. Great private Christian school. Check it out for yourself!


 COMMENT 350374P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 06:59 AM

Santa Barbara Montessori School in Goleta. Set up an appointment for an observation!!! Must be seen to be believed!!!


 COMMENT 350375P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 07:03 AM

Santa Barbara Montessori School in Goleta. Set up an appointment for an observation!!! Must be seen to be believed!!!
Santa Barbara Montessori School is NOT the same as Montessori Center!


 COMMENT 350377P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 07:06 AM

Both my boys went to Montessori Center on Fairview from the time they were in preschool. Very well rounded program and as far as Spanish goes they start introducing it in preschool & both my kids have excellent pronounciation and aren't afraid to use their Spanish or speak it because of this. One of my boys excelled with the program there and graduated from there.
The other loved the school but needed more daily structure for his learning style. We moved him after third grade and that was better for him. Great school and education - worth looking into!


 COMMENT 350379 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 07:09 AM

Absolutely Laguna Blanca. My son began in K and left to attend Santa Barbara High School, saying he wanted to see the "real world". In those days the Laguna Blanca classes were very small so by high school it was "like dating one's syblings".

A wonderful education and from which he has benefited considerably.


 ABERMANT agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 07:12 AM

I too agree with Rob Egenoff's recommendation. In 1994 we moved into Cold Spring School District so our soon -to-be-born son could attend Cold Spring School - one of the best public schools in the Country. Cold Spring is a great school. Our first son attended until 7th grade. Our second son attended Cold Spring until 2nd grade when we decided that for him, Crane School was maybe a better choice. We were extremely happy as well with Crane School. One key element is to determine what does your child need? Every child is different. So keep your options open and enjoy every moment . . .it goes by too fast.


 COMMENT 350387 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 07:30 AM

Choosing a school is a critically important decision for a parent and deserves a lot of thought. We chose to send our children to an independent school after an exhaustive search of all of our options. We chose Marymount and have never looked back. Excellent academics, exciting teaching and a positive environment that has fostered leadership, creativity and a love of learning. Our oldest daughter is now in high school and has expressed how well Marymount prepared her on many occasions. Her grades, test scores and desire and willingness to be involved in the life and activities of high school support her claims. I wish you luck!


 COMMENT 350404 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 08:24 AM

Our child had a horrible experience at the now Garden Street Academy. I would recommend any private school but that one. I have had friends at Marymount, Waldorf, and Montessori that all had wonderful experiences. Good luck and go visit each school!!!!!


 COMMENT 350419 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 08:57 AM

i totally agree with 344. home environment plays a far more substantial role in determining the academic and social success of a student in high school than which private or public primary schooling they had.

personally, we were very happy with the public school system and the end result of our 4 children who all went on to good colleges...etc...

in fact...on reflection, let me reach around and pat myself on the back. lol.


 COMMENT 350423 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 09:10 AM

MARYMOUNT of Santa Barbara is an amazing independent private school on the riviera. Marymount starts in Junior Kindergarten and runs all the way through 8th grade. I truly feel that this school fosters a balance of academic success and enrichment classes and experiences. The students at Marymount embrace community and are such a great group of kids! I highly recommend looking at this beautiful campus and talking to some of the excellent teachers there on staff when making your decision. Best of luck!


 COMMENT 350425 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 09:12 AM

We went into our son's first school experience not wanting a public school. We should have visited our local public school before making that decision. We put him in a small private Christian school mentioned in previous posts. It wasn't for him because he couldn't sit for three hours straight as a five year old. He finished out his K year there and we moved him to the neighborhood Goleta school which turned out to be great for him. He's now in high school and doing well.

I don't think I would have valued the public schools had I not had such a bad experience in the private school first. The public schools do have a lot to offer and the parent involvement does make a CRITICAL difference.

I would encourage you to visit a number of schools before you make a decision and remember that you're only committing to one year. If it doesn't work that first year, change the situation. Best of luck in your decision.


 COMMENT 350431 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 09:20 AM

I've heard positive and negative experiences at every school in town. I was very involved with one private school but ended up sending my child to Garden Street Academy because of their educational philosophy. They offer a progressive education focused on the whole-child. They teach 'authentic' learning that is multi-disciplinary and project based. That means that the kids will do a unit that brings math, science, history and writing into one project. I can see the great results of this in my child's education. There are lots of good choices and it will depend upon what works for your child and family. I feel that Garden Street Academy has a unique strength in really focusing on what works best for each individual child and helping them thrive. My child absolutely loves it and I can see how they help nurture her critical thinking skills along with tons of enrichment in art, dance, music and theater.


 COMMENT 350460 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 10:03 AM

Laguna Blanca. Both my daughters were there for K through 8, before going into public high school. Their experiences were wonderful. LB does have scholarships.


 COMMENT 350463 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 10:11 AM

My 3 girls, have attended The Garden Street Academy. My oldest started when it was San Roque School, and stayed during the transition to The Garden Street Academy. She graduated from 12th grade 2 years ago, and only has fond memories of her time there. She applied to 9 universities and was accepted in to 7 of them. She is now at CalPoly San Luis Obispo, and credits the education she received at The Garden Street Academy for her success. The Garden Street Academy gave her the guidance and self discipline that she needed for her college years, she is a strong and independent young lady, and wise beyond her years, The Garden Street Academy was a perfect fit for her.


 COMMENT 350471 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 10:17 AM

Laguna Blanca is a wonderful school - excellent, caring teachers, small class sizes so each child gets the help and attention he/she needs to grow. Scholarships are available which make it very feasible. Good luck!


 COMMENT 350504 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 11:17 AM

OP here - wow, such great responses and sound advice. Thank you so much. I agree, accessing what is right for my individual child is very important. And also thanks to the person who said "you are only committing to one year" - that is true and something I need to tell myself. I keep getting all worried I'm going to make the wrong choice, but it sounds like there are a lot of really good schools, I just need to find the one that fits. Even if it doesn't end up being the first one we choose. Q for those that have gone the Montessori route - can someone please tell me what the difference is between SBM and M Center? I take it these are not owned/run by the same director but are the same philosophy? Also - I have heard that the ratio of girls to boys at Montessori is way more girls than boys, is that true?


 COMMENT 350509 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 11:30 AM

My second daughter is in the ninth grade, started kindergarten in the first year that the school transitioned. She is extremely proud of her school and is doing amazing well. I just went to her parent/teacher/student conference last Wednesday and as always am amazed at her progress. I love the one on one attention she get's from her facilitators, and she is doing fantastic! She does amazing in math, and I mentioned to her facilitator that I would like to have her challenged even more so, and her facilitators response was of encouragement that my daughter could handle the next level!


 EARO65 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 12:18 PM

Our children started school in a small Catholic parish school in Santa Barbara, but after some rather alarming issues that arose in the parish counsel, we sent them to Hollister School. I have nothing but the highest reguard for our local public schools. The staff of our schools are well educated, work hard for their pupils, and all of them are dedicated to our democratic way of life, which can only be delivered by public education. I believe you should take the tuition monies you are planning to spend and bank it for their supplemental education.
I do know some science professors at UCSB who have placed their children in public schools with the comment that they must learn to live with all of our citizens, if they wish to be functioning adults.


 COMMENT 350543 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 12:23 PM

Don't overlook The Howard School in Carpinteria (unless you are on the far side of Goleta, maybe). Solid academic curriculum, fantastic teaching staff, small classes, daily PE, and regular arts classes - visual, dramatic, and music. And it seems as if the kids really have fun and develop a love of learning. Howard is the oldest private school in Santa Barbara County, and students go on to thrive at Cate (3 in the past 2 years), Carpinteria High, Santa Barbara High, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Anacapa School, Midland School and others.


 COMMENT 350551 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 12:39 PM

part 3 from posts: 350463 and 350509
My youngest is in the 4th grade, she has been at Garden Street Academy also since kindergarten. She has had special issues with speech, being shy and with reading. Her facilitator each year has been encouraging and helpful. She is in a class of 16 students, with 3 facilitators, which allow for plenty of one on one time with her. She is now a master reader and is encouraged by her facilitators to participate more in groups, they even went out of their way to make up games so that my child would feel more comfortable. My child goes to speech therapy away from school once a week, one of my daughters facilitators took the initiative to go with me to my child's evaluation and ask her speech therapist what her facilitators could do for her at school on a one on one basis. They even asked for her speech therapist to send "homework" with my daughter, so they can help her at school one on one. I am glad I found this school.


 COMMENT 350555 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 12:57 PM

Another vote for Montessori Center school - a wonderful learning environment for children and families. My daughter is in sixth grade and we could not be happier with her education.


 COMMENT 350562 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 01:32 PM

I would recommend this website: sbindependentschools.co It has the all the Santa Barbara Independent School options and links to all the websites. There are more options than you think!

Its all about the fit of what you are looking for in a school and whether the school's mission and philosophy meshes with your own.

Do your homework and visit lots of different schools. And don't deny a school just because of the tuition. Many schools have strong Tuition Assistance programs.


 COMMENT 350585 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 02:52 PM

Crane Country Day School!!! I have 2 girls, one currently attending Crane and one that graduated and is now at SBHS. We are so extremely pleased with what Crane has to offer. Everything from Drama, Art Appreciation, Service Learning to Sports, Life Skills, Public Speaking, Spanish and much, much more! Crane has helped my girls become confident, strong, responsible young women. They have become dedicated learners wanting to make a difference in their community thanks to Crane's Staffulty (Staff/Faculty) who are so dedicated. They are just amazing! Think about visiting the campus, they do personalized tours for each family, it's definitely worth it.


 COMMENT 350727P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-05 08:32 PM

Both our kids went through Marymount, and we feel very fortunate for their experiences and the foundational skills they acquired. The staff and teachers were great, and there was a nurturing environment that helped them in every way. Lots of sports participation, excellent academics for a broad range of kids, JudeoChristian ethical sensibility/values, plus nice teachers and staff who, in my opinion, watched over our kids extremely well - all make Marymount a special environment. It prepared our kids well for high school (they chose public high school), and college. We recommend Marymount highly.


 COMMENT 351047 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-06 04:28 PM

I was not comfortable with public school intitally and we sent our first child to Marymount for K. MCS was full at the time. We later moved to a larger home in the Hope School District. Public school has its challenges at times, but we have had some excellent teachers there. I also note that Marymount sent my child to catholic mass several times that year without notifying us, and there is more religious content than they lead you to believe. Also, almost every one of the students at our public school graduates K reading, while that was not the emphasis for my first. My son needed extra fine motor work, so it was not really a problem for him. Still, it was surprising.

I believe parent involvement, great teachers, and - to some degree - class size are key. I also enjoy the diversity of our school. The "extras" like Spanish, etc. can all be supplemented outside of school for a lot less money.


 BULLSEYEB agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-06 05:48 PM

Hi OP,

I don't know the exact difference between MCS and Montessori in Goleta. My suggestion is that you call each school and ask that question directly. See what they both say.

It is my understanding that the Goleta Montessori is certified by the International Montessori Association and Montessori Center School on Fairview is certified by the American Montessori Association. That may mean that the Goleta school is truer to the original Maria Montessori method and that MCS is an "Americanized" version of the Maria Montessori method.

I'm not really sure, but I do know that we are very happy at MCS and we know people who are really happy at Goleta. Observe both! As far as boys to girls ratios, they fluctuate, just like they do in public schools. Some years are boy heavy and some girl heavy. Right now at MCS in the upper elementary program, I'd say it is pretty close to 50/50.

Good luck in your search.


 COMMENT 352033 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 07:31 PM

If you live in the district, Ellwood Elementary is better than any private school. It is a throwback to a better time, suspended out there in a rural area - for now. Development approaches though.


 COMMENT 471483 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-11-23 06:45 AM

Crane Country Day School is among the best, private K-8 schools in Santa Barbara. It's definitely worth considering and taking a tour, as students come from Goleta, Carpinteria, Ojai and even as far as Ventura to attend. It's that great! The school balances academic rigor with joyful learning, making it engaging and meaningful for the kids. They also have the best teachers in Santa Barbara.



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