A Consultant’s Tour of Boarding Schools in California’s Ojai Valley

As an educational consultant it’s important for me to visit and revisit schools to keep a pulse on the community, administration changes and on current & past students. Not to mention curriculum modifications and new courses being offered (for instance more boarding schools this year and next are offering Mandarin Chinese). With this in mind, I recently visited a group of boarding schools in California’s beautiful Ojai Valley.

These schools have much to offer with the wonderful year-round weather where they can eat their meals outside and also hang out on their beautiful campuses. Students are outside using their environment for academics, skiing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking, surfing in the pacific, water polo, volleyball, swimming, etc.  Actually what’s not to like about a California boarding school?
Below are my impressions (in notes form) of the schools I visited:

Dunn School: Excellent learning skills program; small; caring; talented students; artistically sound; good academics; great personal attention to students and families. Friendly hands on type of school. They’re welcoming a new headmaster in July. Fifty years of experience; beautiful campus; art building houses a fantastic program!  School setting and campus are absolutely breathtaking; incredible scenery– horse country.
Midland School: A school with a clear mission that definitely prepares kids in academics, life skills and beyond. Excellent academics along with a faculty committed to the school and its philosophy. Strong relationships between faculty and students in a simple, self-reliant lifestyle. Close to nature in teaching students to appreciate life’s fundamental joys and challenges. Definitely a school community entrusting students to take leadership roles while having collective responsibility in taking care of oneself and others in the community. I loved Midland’s simple lifestyle and values. Beautiful land with very bright students who are both ambitious, artistic and take advantage of their 2,860 acre classroom!
Oak Grove School: Offers a small boarding high school in which students live in a home-like dormitory. A totally vegetarian campus; growing their own organic foods that are prepared in-house. I feel this will be the first green campus among independent schools. Students were very interactive, friendly, genuinely love their school and give back to it daily. Great science facility; strong visual and performing arts; strong music program. Kids were very at ease and comfortable with their faculty. Food was excellent!  They have recently been featured in a TV show about healthy eating for kids and living green. I loved the school and they are trying to grow there boarding population. It truly is a breath of fresh air!
Besant Hill School: Visual and performing arts are outstanding. Beautiful campus complete with a yurt were they hold school meetings (a terrific space). Very talented musicians who compose & preform their own music. Interesting campus. Perfect for the self-motivated student.
Villanova Preparatory School
:  An Augustinian High School; strong academically and athletically. Has a very high Asian boarding population. Community service is very important. Lovely campus and facilities.

Here’s are two list to checkout as you explore boarding schools in CA:

Ojai Valley boarding schools

All California boarding schools

About the Author
Marylou Marcus

Marylou Marcus draws on 25+ years as an independent school educator & Director of Admission & Financial Aid when working with a family to find the best private school fit for their child.

Contact Marylou for help in your search for the right prep school or visit www.AQeducationalconsulting.com to learn more about her work with families.

  • YAP

    What wonderful insights. It’s fascinating to read about your school visits. Please keep posting.

  • http://www.privateboardingschools.info/ Jack

    It’s a great post and interesting too. Many good and prestigious boarding schools are there in California. The list of these schools given here is also very beneficial.


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