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.


~Empowering children to make a positive difference in the world through Knowledge, Strength and Compassion~best school santa cruz

Our Annual Giving campaign ended on January 1st, 2023 but you can still make a gift to Tara Redwood School by clicking HERE . Tara Redwood has kept its doors open since 1989 because of generous benefactors and thanks to the tremendous support from our community of family, friends and alumni. Our non profit school is unique to offers our own piloted CCC programs, Montessori inspired curriculum and hands on environmental studies. We are one of the very first educational institutions in California to have implemented mindfulness as an important addition to regular scholastic routines to many children throughout the years. We offer heartfelt THANKS to all of you for partnering with us to make this world a better place by supporting our mission.

Building From The Foundation Up! Learn more here.

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We are raising any amount but the goal is $350,000.

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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. This upcoming school year the class will be composed of second and third graders. 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.




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."


"Mind & Its Potential" Presentation at the annual conference of neuro scientists in Australia


Presentation talk by Tara Redwood School founder, Pam Cayton, at the "Mind & Its Potential" annual conference of neuro scientists held in Sydney, Australia in 2011. Learn more about the foundation of the school's innovative CCC program and the "Seven Steps of Strength, Knowledge & Compassion" here .

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.


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