Why Choose Tara Redwood School?

Tara Redwood School offers an education for the heart and mind. Our philosophy is based on ancient wisdom, modern neuroscience and psychology. Tara Redwood School’s program was founded on the belief that all beings have innate goodness and unlimited potential for development.  Our commitment is to provide education for awakening the wish and confidence for each child to make a positive difference in the world.


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  nearly 35 years.

The school’s program is a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC) methodologies. Our mission is to engage children to develop strong academic foundations, emotional intelligence and core values. We believe that daily outdoor immersion, the arts and hands on environmental studies are also an important integral part of a child’s early development.  Our CCC program 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.

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Nestled in 108 acres of sunny, serene redwood forest adjacent to Nisene Marks State Park, Tara Redwood School is a forest school that provides an unparalleled learning environment of peace and beauty. We offer a toddler program (24 mo. & up), preschool, and kindergarten 6th grade. Recently we have created more classroom space for our wait listed families at our new Preschool Campus in the Soquel Village located at the historic Soquel Congregational Church. Note that this is just a temporary location until county licensing for campus development is completed.  All grades receive daily immersion  to the redwood forest  campus comprised of hiking, creek play and organic gardening.

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Tara Redwood School's Earth Stewards class is a one of a kind and uniquely designed to inspire caring for the Earth and its inhabitants. The program taught by Lisa Marie Dreyer has an academic focus supplemented by Montessori methodology, hands-on field studies, field trips, and daily forest immersion. The global curriculum will educate the students in the interconnected nature of the planet and will focus on natural resources, indigenous studies, sustainability, and preservation of animals. Our Compassion in Action projects will supplement global programs that promote preservation and ecological recovery. Lisa has been teaching the Earth Stewards class for the last 10 years and has a Masters in Education, BA in Environmental Science, a California Teaching Credential, and a Montessori Credential.

*The class will move up together in the coming years to 6th grade and continue to explore, learn, and connect to the Earth and each other.This upcoming school year the class will be composed of 3rd and 4th graders.




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Part time/Full Time

8:30–2:30pm – 8:00–5:00pm


PRESCHOOL Ages 3 - 4

Part time/Full Time

8:45am–2:45pm – 8:00am–5:00pm



Tk-1st grades  |   2nd-4th grades

9:00am–2:45pm  | 8:30am–3:00pm


A Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

 "We need an education of the heart"

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"My wish is that, one day, formal education will pay attention to the education of the heart, teaching love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, mindfulness, tolerance and peace. This education is necessary, from kindergarten to secondary schools and universities. I mean social, emotional and ethical learning. We need a worldwide initiative for educating heart and mind in this modern age."  His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 2017

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is the spiritual leader of Tibet and a Nobel laureate for peace. He wrote this op-ed with Franz Alt, a television journalist and bestselling author. This piece is adapted from their new book, "An Appeal to the World: The Way to Peace in a Time of Division."


Alumni Testimonials


"Some of my earliest and most cherished memories come from my years spent at Tara Redwood. The foundation that I received there was unlike any that I could possibly imagine. At Tara, I was able to flourish, and enhance my capacity and interest for knowledge,spiritual and mental well-being, and ambition. From the environment, to the teachers, to my fellow students I was able to find a home at Tara Redwood a place to grow and learn about life. Most importantly, Tara Redwood has taught me about compassion a characteristic that has been so important to me, and helped me with human connections throughout my life. "

Alex Ivany

Documentary Film Editor for 13th & Skin in the Game.

October 6, 2018

Heidi Winig, Professor alumni

"We are SO  appreciative of all that Tara Redwood School is doing and all that this school has done for all of these wonderful families and for our immediate family as well. We believe that Tara has the formula for how education for young children should be in so many ways, and we hope that we can keep these lessons in the forefront of our day to day life as we move forward with our children’s education.  We are eternally grateful for our experience at Tara."

Heidi Winig Health Educator and mom to two Tara alumni.

November 12, 2018

Heidi Otto, Parent Alumni.

"We are so incredibly grateful for our experience at Tara.  We truly can't imagine having the early years of growth for our sweet girls be anywhere else.  We see that so much of the foundation of the school is just a part of who they are as little people operating in this world.  Everything about the program has been the perfect fit for our family and provided an immense connection for us to the Santa Cruz community and built our experience for our first 5 years in here.  This is truly the best decision we made as we moved here.  Each year has brought new growth, learning, support and enrichment to all of us.  We are so proud to be part of the Tara community and so blessed in so many ways that we've been able to participate."

Heidi Otto Portfolio Director, North America at Distill Ventures.

November 12, 2018

Tom Killion testimonial "I am so grateful for what a wonderful early childhood experience you provided for Kai, his cousin and friends. — they are all such great young men". Tom Killion Santa Cruz Artist and father to alumni, Kai Killion.

November 20, 2018

Dylan Love, Tara Redwood School testimonial

"Tara Redwood certainly helped my life in a positive way. It's amazing how much elementary and pre-school have impacted my life! I stay close with my best friend from Tara Redwood even today at age 27, and have a huge amount of warm memories playing in the woods and hiking up at Land Of The Medicine Buddha as a young kid. Besides that, the loving individual teaching attention I was given helped foster a passion for math and spelling that made me well prepared for honors & AP classes in jr. high & high school. More than anything, I think the early lessons in empathy and kindness have helped me build great meaningful relationships throughout my life, and been instrumental to my career after college in high tech companies and venture capital. The values taught in Tara Redwood are truly needed in today's world and will be a huge benefit to the world to come! "

Dylan Love, Alumni

November 22, 2018

Sara Adams
"When reflecting on my time at Tara I look back with a happy heart and warm memories. Tara taught me so much about being in tune with my emotions and the world around me. Teaching me at a young age how to recenter myself with meditation and breath has been a huge benefit to my life as a teenager and adult. The community I build from my time at Tara is unlike any other community I have since connected to, and I hold a very special place in my heart for the members of my Tara community. I believe going to Tara from preschool through first grade made me a better human being, I came out more able to communicate my emotions, feelings, and needs. It also allowed me to look at challenges, both educationally and socially, as opportunities to learn. Teaching kids to grow into kind, emotionally intelligent  human beings is what the world needs more of, and Tara accomplishes that task."
Sara Adams, Alumni.

November 22, 2018

"This school has had a huge impact on me physically, mentally and emotionally that I will never forget about for as long as I live. It has made me proud to live somewhere with trees and greenery to enjoy and it provided a more in depth appreciation of nature. It has taught me to respect the value of life and taught me some life lessons. Tara Redwood School has helped shape the way I look at things. It’s weird the memories help me more now than they did when they were happening."
Kai Abrahms, Alumni
Excerpt from a Sociology college paper titled, “A Formative Experience”.

April 1, 2019

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