Pam Cayton – Director

best school in santa cruz

Originally from Australia, Pam lived and worked in Nepal for ten years where she taught English to Nepali and Tibetan children in the Kathmandu Valley. After moving to California with her family in 1988, Pam founded Tara Preschool in 1989, which she then expanded to Tara Redwood School in 1996, with the aim of educating the whole child. The purpose was not only to convey the joy of learning but to provide a foundation for the emotional and inner development of each child. Working with the school's staff, Pam researched, created and implemented strategies for awakening compassion, wisdom and social responsibility in the minds and hearts of children. In 2009, Pam began to tour the world to share her methods with educators and parents. To date, she has presented the Seven Steps at workshops in 10 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. pam@tararedwoodschool.org

Mary Thompson–Head Preschool Teacher. Rainbow Class (Preschool, 24mo–4y).

Mary Thompson Tara Redwood School Preschool

Mary Thompson has been working with young children for over thirty years. In Tucson, Arizona. she became a certified Montessori teacher. She has an A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Cabrillo College and she has dedicated seventeen years working with preschool age children and the Family Network Preschool in Santa Cruz, Ca. Mary has also run her own  emergent curriculum that was play based before she decided to work for Tara Redwood School.

Working with young children brings Mary the most joy. To her, children are fun and magical; she believes each child is unique and that each child has something new to teach us everyday. Some of Mary's favorite hobbies and ways to enjoy her time are foraging for mushrooms and plants, gardening, science fiction, animals and spending time with her four grandchildren. mary@tararedwoodschool.org


Laura Carelli - Assistant Teacher in the Rainbow Class ( Preschool, 24mo–4y).
Daniela Silver -Lead Teacher for the Mandala Class (PK, 3-4 y)
Bev Gwyn —CCC  Teacher for the Mandala Class ( PK, 3–4y).

Pre school instructor at Tara Redwood School

Bev Gwyn was born in Quebec, Canada and holds BA degree in Teaching from University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

She has been with Tara Redwood School from the very beginning (nearly 25 years) and has worked as lead preschool teacher here, as well as a high school counselor early on.

Bev Gwyn has travelled extensively around the world and has lived in Tibet, India and Nepal.

She is a student of the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Lama Yeshe and is one of the founders of the Vajrapani Institute in Boulder Creek. Her favorite activities involve reading, meditating, gardening and being with friends.  bev@tararedwoodschool.org

Michelle Namasya Carpenter –Lead Teacher for Element Explorers Class (TK–K, 5– 6yrs old)

Michelle Namasya Carpenter has been teaching for eleven years. She is a Certified American Montessori Society (AMS) Teacher. In 2005, she created her own cooperative home school group and she founded an intentional living community focusing on sustainability and children. Namasya is an avid traveler, spending 4 years of her early adulthood traveling within the US, living abroad, and sailing throughout the world before settling down in Santa Cruz to start a family. She is a mother of two amazing children, ages 10 and 17. She believes in creating community. She is a certified Integral Hatha yoga teacher, certified Spiritual Practitioner, and is a Master Potter and teacher of pottery. She is a lifelong student and enthusiast of dance, and studied African Dancing in Ghana.

She is absolutely in love with nature, taking opportunities to meditate outside, swim in rivers, climb trees, and hike in the redwoods. She is a professional percussionist and has been an active member of a local band for the past 12 years. Namasya feels passionate about teaching children and inspiring them to see their own light within themselves, and helping them to recognize their innate connection with nature. namasya@tararedwoodschool.org

Crystal Moran- Assistant Teacher for Element Explorers Class (TK-K).
Sofia Rain-Teacher for Global Citizens Class (1st.–2nd. grades. 6–8yrs. old).

Sofia Rain, Santa Cruz School faculty

Sofia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in Montessori lower Elementary education. She also brings her wonderful creative talents to the children, some of which are ukulele classes, Spanish language, and creative arts.

Karen Miscisin -Teacher for Global Citizens Class (1st.–2nd, 6–8yrs. old)
Lisa Dreyer Campiglia – CCC Teacher for the Global Citizens Class (2nd.–3rd. grades, 7–9 yrs.old).

Lisa has been a member of the Tara community for over 20 years, since 1993 when she joined the school as a parent with her 2 year old daughter. Soon after she founded the Santa Cruz Adventure Trails Wilderness Camp. She has worked as a head teacher in the older Elementary class at Tara since 2005. She brings with her years of integrating CCC into her class and has Montessori Elementary Certification, a California Teaching Credential, and a Masters in Education

Lisa received her undergraduate education from UC Santa Barbara and her Masters in Education from UC Santa Cruz.

She has also been coaching soccer at Soquel High School and teaching Capoeira at the Santa Cruz Dance Company for many years.

When Lisa is not working you can find her at the beach, in the ocean, in the Capoeira studio, or in the forest. You will also find her with her dog Rocket who has grown up at Tara too.  lisa@tararedwoodschool.org

Tammi Brown

Finance Manager


Enrichment Course Instructors

Tara Redwood School has a curriculum that allows access to wonderful resources we have in our families and community.
We are committed to make the students' learning as experiential and stimulating as possible.
Every parent volunteer is a professional in the enrichment course they teach.

Sofia Rain – Music Instructor

Sofia teaches our Global Citizens the beauty of ukulele song and sound.

montessori school,nature school santa cruz