The Village School is located in the heart of the Palisades Village in a beautiful, three-story building completed in August of 1994. The campus provides spacious classrooms, a large library, a visual arts studio, science, and music facilities in a lovely architectural setting. In 2003 the school purchased property on which they will build a new gym, auditorium, music room, offices and classrooms. The new location will also provide the kids with more grassy areas. They expect these new facilities to open in September 2005. The building project is responsible for the required yearly $1,000 Facilities Deposit. Each family must pay this yearly until a total deposit of $7,000 accrues or the student enters sixth grade-which ever comes first. The full amount (without interest) will be refunded to the family the September following that students graduation from Village School or permanent withdrawal for other reasons. Voluntary gifts are also solicited.
Walden School is located in Pasadena in a self-contained, urban setting. The school purchased an additional building just north of the original in 1999. Their enrollment has since increased to 240. They now have a library with over 9,000 volumes, a huge dedicated art studio, three new classrooms (one of which includes a science lab), and Business and Development offices. The educational approach here is Developmental and draws on the philosophies of Maria Montessori, Henry David Thoreau, Socrates, Jean Piaget, John Holt, Marcy Cook, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow.
Waverly School is located on a quiet street in an industrial/business section of Pasadena. The two-story facility looks more like an office building than a school campus, but if you let appearances fool you, you may miss out on one of the best up and coming schools.The building has eight classrooms, a library, cooking area, community room, teachers lounge, reception area, and administrative offices. The outside play area (along the side and back of the school) has a basketball court, climbing structure, and swings, grass, a garden, and a shaded lunch area. In 1997, Waverly expanded to include grades 9-12 at a facility down the street. This will mean several years with smaller class sizes at the high school level. While this delights parents looking for individualized instruction for their children, it may not fill the needs of a student looking for the bustle of activity and intramural sports programs that can be found at a larger school. The only sport they offer on campus is basketball.
The Wesley School was founded in 1999 and is located on four acres at the First United Methodist Church of North Hollywood. The school was formerly St. Michaels. I have run into Wesley parents at my sons basketball games who take a lot of pride in their involvement with teachers and administrators in helping the school get up and running. This is rightly so because they have created a warm, wholesome environment, and the admissions process is not intimidating. The head of school said something that hit home with me, At many independent schools the academics will be similar. What differs are the schools cultures. If you are not looking for that rich mix of spivs and toffs, this is the right place for you. Im sure many of the parents at Wesley can afford the Country Clubs but wanted something different. The classrooms are a good size, there is a computer lab, and my favorite, a cedar library. The library reminds me of a woodsy cabin, a place where you would like to sit with a book.
Westland is a Progressive school located on Mulholland Drives private school row, which includes Mirman, Curtis, Berkeley Hall, and Steven S. Wise. The modern, one-story facility sits on one and a half acres and includes large, bright classrooms, a library, conference rooms, a kitchen, and an auditorium all grouped around a central patio, which serves as a protected work area and a place for informational exchange (school bulletin boards etc.). Westland has a spectacular gymnasium/auditorium, which has huge windows at the far end that overlook a grove of pine and eucalyptus trees. This grove formerly housed the play and climbing structures for the younger children, and what was once a bit of a wild, un-manicured area is now nicely landscaped. This created a bit of controversy for a group of Westland parents who liked having a wild adventure area for their kids to explore. There is a new library, science and art lab, and three play yards.
The Westridge campus is on a tree-lined residential area off Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. You might even think you were in the country as you survey the surroundings. The school occupies an eclectic collection of buildings, some of which date as far back as 1902. Construction is currently under way on a new Performing Arts Center and an athletic field scheduled to be completed during the 2004-2005 school year. The City of Pasadena is also re-zoning the area and eliminating the cul-de-sac that divides the campus, making it more pedestrian-friendly. I arrived for one of the Open Houses, and after walking through some beautifully manicured gardens, was ushered into the auditorium. There we heard the headmistress speak, along with a number of girls who gave very well rehearsed speeches, letting us know why this school worked for them. These were the same girls that took small groups of us on a tour of the school. They were bright and articulate, and happy to answer all our questions. We visited the Joan
Wildwood Elementary is a developmental Westside school that has wonderful teachers and a state-of-the-art facility. On the first (of four) visits, I was dazzled by the new buildings. These beautiful, modern, two-story structures with clean lines and bright, open spaces were designed by a Wildwood parent/architect. Facilities include a soccer field, running track, tether ball area, science lab, art room, outdoor art yard, cafeteria/auditorium, music room, reading room, and library. The buildings share a common courtyard that is handsomely landscaped with flowers, palm trees, and winding pathways. All the classrooms have connecting doors, a feature that helps facilitate Wildwoods team teaching approach. There are six primary pod classrooms at the kindergarten through 2nd grade level. This system allows children of different ages to help and encourage each other. Each child stays with the same teacher for three years and has the opportunity to learn from the older children and to grow with the group. Over
Take a determined group of wealthy parents, a number of teachers that have achieved star status among the educational community, a swarm of architects, planners, and facilitators, an empty warehouse in a now-defunct industrial section of Culver City, give them all a seven month deadline, and . . .voila, a private school is born. The schools 94/95 brochure was the size of a small newspaper and featured a two-page story of the struggle to open the doors in seven-months time. The founders had to convince parents to enroll their children in a school that did not have an actual address and to schedule visits for them to the present site before the lease was signed. The glue on the floor installation was barely dry when the founding parents, new parents, and grandparents converged on the school to organize the classrooms, library, and art room.
Windward School is located in West Los Angeles across the street from the Mar Vista Park, close to the freeway on a nine-acre spread. A man-made river runs through the entire length of the school grounds and divides the tree-lined campus. The Leichtman-Levine Bridge takes you to the heart of the campus - a group of modern classroom buildings that reminded me of the MOCA complex downtown with its sleek roof lines, pathways and striking colorful umbrellas dotted outside the school restaurant. While I was visiting the school, I followed along with a group of students who were being given a tour of the school by a very enthusiastic member of staff. As he passed by the school store (which looked like a mini-Gap), he told the students, All you just have to do is sign your name for things you want because your parents automatically get an account here when you join the school. That brough smiles to their faces, but be warned, your little darlings could be adding to your already high tuition costs!
Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School is located in the Bel Air hills near Mulholland and the 405 freeway. The facilities are modern and beautifully laid out on the 10-acre property. The classrooms are well-stocked, clean, and bright. There are flowers planted along all the walkways. The whole place exudes a deluxe, top-of-the-line feeling, including the website which takes about 5 minutes to load! There are two large playgrounds for physical education and recreational play. These areas have basketball, handball, and tetherball courts, along with special areas for kickball, softball, and soccer. A rooftop play area is available for the kindergarten and first grade children.