Why choose our school?

Tara Redwood School provides a curriculum and environment that nurtures the innate positive qualities within each child. The school strives to stimulate an intense interest in and joy of learning and an opportunity for each child to fully explore their particular area of interest. The school offers a program that addresses not only our students’ various talents but, just as importantly, their emotional and inner development. Our preschool and K-6th grades’ instructors are  trained in ‘whole child‘ education— mental, physical and spiritual– as well as elements of Montessori principles and Creating Compassionate Cultures methodologies.

Our School Program

Santa Cruz Private independent school.

Tara Redwood School has a program founded on these basic values:

1. Insight

To develop a deeper understanding of our unlimited potential awareness of the effects of our actions on oneself, others and the environment. Insight to understand our emotions in order to exercise the freedom to make skillful, compassionate and helpful choices.

2. Authentic Speech

Speaking words that are helpful, kind, encouraging and complimentary.
Refraining from speaking words with ill intent i.e., divisive speech, lying, gossip, harsh speech, name-calling, belittling, and exclusion.

3. Kindheartedness

Showing respect and compassion for all living beings (creatures great and small).
Taking responsibility for helping others whenever possible.
Being mindful not to harm  others.

4. Generosity

Practicing generosity and sharing our material belongings, our knowledge, our time and resources.
Not taking that which has not been offered or does not belong to you.

5. Tolerance

Practicing patience, respect, acceptance and forgiveness of differences
Not responding with anger, jealousy, pride or resentment.

Each child has his/her own unique personality and interests. It is our aim to provide a curriculum that inspires and nurtures the various needs of the children.

Elementary School.Santa Cruz Tara Redwood School

Our open classroom style allows children to fully explore and pursue their special areas of interest. The education program Tara Redwood School offers has:

  • Mindfulness
  • Stimulating mathematics and language curriculum
  • Creative arts
  • Music program
  • Ceramics
  • Life lab studies with access to our own organic  farm and garden
  • Weekly excursions to the forest for wilderness studies
  • Yoga
  • Performing arts
  • Geography
  • Social Studies
  • Focus on Innovative Technology
  • Environmental Studies

Our parent community contribute their skills and talents to our rich and diversified program.

The curriculum is theme-oriented and it is inspired by Montessori’s philosophy of childhood development and the Creating Compassionate Cultures core program created by Tara Redwood School. Children, from a very young age, are introduced to cartography of the earths’s continents  and to astronomy for the study of space. Students learn the geography of every continent, the terrain, the fauna and the  flora and the diverse cultures of the world. As the continental studies advance with age, students  are introduced to the foods from the land/continent they may be studying. Our innovative school thrives to teach children about sharing and the meaning of community. We especially value the participation of all our parents as a way to teach children about community, compassion and interdependence.

Learn more about Tara Redwood School’s program here.

Ages 2 - 3

Part time/Full Time

Classes Begin as Early as

7:30am – 5:30pm


Ages 3 - 5

Part time/Full Time

Classes Begin As Early as

7:30am -5:30pm


TK - 6th Grade

Tk-1st grades | 2nd-6th grades

Classes Have Two Start Times

9:00–2:45 | 8:30–3:00


For Tk – 6th Grades:

Early care and after school care available if needed.

Redwood Campus: 831-462-9632    Village Campus: 831-475-0201

Video contribution by Sidharta Pascual

CCC | Creating Compassionate Cultures


CCC for Santa Cruz Elementary and Pre schools.

Tara Redwood School offers first year parents complimentary CCC workshops for all the seven steps that comprise our curriculum.

Tara Redwood School is the pilot school for the Creating Compassionate Cultures pedagogy (CCC).

Since 1989, Pam Cayton and the staff at Tara Redwood School have researched, created and implemented strategies for awakening compassion, wisdom and social responsibility in the minds and hearts of children. The Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion is a unique, secular educational methodology developed at our non profit private school in Santa Cruz, California.

Pam Cayton

The CCC program blends ancient Eastern and Western wisdom integrated with the latest neuro science and psychology about early childhood development. The core premise is that all human beings possess the ability to develop their innate wisdom, ethical sensibilities and sympathetic understanding, and that aim of education is to help children grow into well–rounded individuals and responsible members of the world community. We offer our students a myriad of creative activities in order for them to explore their feelings and communication skills as well as practice concepts of daily intention and reflections.

Each year, all the grades are given a theme and intention from which they aspire to complete their scholastic year. An example of a scholastic project in each grade is creating  Compassion  Art Cards, which are individually created by our students with mixed media water colors and ink.The cards are printed in stacks of 12 with envelopes and the proceeds from the sales go to a charity chosen by the students.

Universal Education and Creating Compassionate Cultures

Yama Yeshe

Lama Yeshe

Tara Redwood School is founded on the concept of “Universal Education” which was initially visualized by Lama Yeshe. A Tibetan Buddhist, teacher and friend and mentor to founder Pamela Cayton. Lama Yeshe hoped to develop a program that would incorporate the philosophies of wisdom traditions from around the world–like compassion and mindfulness–and bring them to people from different life backgrounds and parts of the world.

Tara Redwood School and the Land of Medicine Buddha  are two independent organizations. Although Tara Redwood School’s founders have philosophical roots with Buddhism, the school  is not a religious institution but rather a science and logic based establishment. Pam Cayton was motivated by a desire to help initiate an education program that not only prepared children academically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

The  first Tara Preschool opened its doors 1989 near the Land of Medicine Buddha in the redwoods of the Soquel foothills. The preschool was located at Cayton’s home and by 1996, a Montessori based program for kindergarten was begun.

In 1997, development of the playground began at LMB. Nestled in the redwoods by a gurgling creek, this magical spot is now comprised of a soccer field, a basketball court, a series of wonderful wooden climbing and play structures, a magical garden and multiple trekking trails. In 2012, for a temporary duration, Tara Redwood School opened a second campus in Soquel Village. This campus now houses our  elementary classes, K–5th grades and the Wisdom Way After School Program. In the near future, the school plans to have both campuses at the same Redwood forest location.


Upcoming Events

  1. No School: Holiday

    February 18
  2. Winter Work Party: All Welcome

    February 23 @ 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
  3. No School: Teacher Prep day

    March 1
  4. CCC Parenting Evening #7

    March 6 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  5. No School: Conferences

    March 15
  6. Annual Auction

    March 23 @ 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm

CCC Parenting Workshop # 6. Feb. 6th.

Tara Redwood School parenting class. Creating compassionate children. Santa Cruz school.

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Tara Redwood School private preschool Santa Cruz.


Tara Redwood School private elementary. Weekly forest trips for environmental studies.

Thematic Curriculum

Tara Redwood School Geography and Environmental studies

Creative Arts

Tara Redwood School music program