Marymount of Santa Barbara Equips Students with Intellectual, Ethical, and Social Skills | Private and Independent School Guide

The 2020 school year has just begun and Noozhawk’s Private & Independent School Guide is sure to make things easy when planning for your child’s education! Our school guide provides you and your child with all the necessary information about private schools in Santa Barbara County.

To give parents the tools to help make informed decisions about which school is the best fit for their kids in Santa Barbara, Noozhawk has conducted a series of interviews with representatives of local private & independent schools for this year’s school guide.

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Jaime Nelson, Director of Communications at Marymount of Santa Barbara to learn more about what they offer at their school.

Marymount of Santa Barbara

Question: What is the name of your school and what grade levels do you offer?

Answer: Marymount welcomes 3 & 4 year olds in our JK program and serves students from JK to 8th grade. We provide student-centered, individualized learning in a joyful and nurturing community, inspiring academic excellence and valuing difference.

Q: How is your school operated or governed?

A: Marymount is governed by a Board of Trustees who maintain the fiduciary management of the school and entrust the leadership and daily operations to the Head of School and Administrative team. Marymount Trustees are enthusiastically represented by Marymount alumni, alumni parents, community and educational philanthropists and current parents. They generously contribute their time, thought and energy, as well as financial resources, to support the viability and continued growth of Marymount.

Our vision statement: “To empower individual potential, inspire purpose beyond self, and cultivate social responsibility.”

Q: Describe what the typical model student looks like to your school?

A: We celebrate childhood and embrace it as the time of life when the most robust learning occurs. With our focus on Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade, we let kids be kids, without the pressure to grow up too fast. We help them navigate the tricky spots. Kids feel safe to learn here and that gives them the confidence to try new things.

At Marymount, we give equal weight to the intellectual, ethical, and social and emotional dimensions of a child’s development. We believe that the growth of a child’s character is as important as the academic skills he or she learns.

Innovative programs in design thinking, visual and performing arts, athletics, and service-learning are included in every student’s education at Marymount. Students are also introduced to Kaleidoscope, our one-of-a-kind academic program, that explores the history and culture of world religions. In addition, as students enter the middle school years, all students enjoy opportunities for outdoor education and global education experiences.

The result? Graduates who are prepared to succeed in high school. And young people who are bright, who are confident, and who care about the world around them.

Marymount of Santa BarbaraClick to view larger

(Marymount of Santa Barbara photo)

Q: What challenges is your school facing due to COVID-19? What are your plans for remote or in-person instruction?

A: We are committed to our Standards of Care: Consistent, Compassionate and Creative. When students, faculty and staff can be on campus… We Will Be. We will follow all federal, state and county guidelines. We will ensure the health, safety and social-emotional wellbeing of our community while on campus. We will honor all families and the choices they make for their children. We will plan to seamlessly move between on campus and remote learning as need be. We will continue to invest now in our students & teachers to plan enthusiastically for our future.

Q: Describe the typical day in the life of a student at your school for in-person and/or distance learning instruction.

A: Quick facts about safely reopening our school for remote or in-person/on-campus instruction:

11.5 acres to host up to a max of 235 students on campus at the same time.

28 indoor classrooms with newly added classroom air-filtration systems.

20+ outdoor classroom spaces for all grade level cohorts to use daily.

3 new “flex-faculty” have been hired to support teachers in the classroom.

School Nurse on campus every day.

Full time cleaning staff on campus daily/ evening cleaning crew every night Monday-Friday.

All JK-8th grade students have received and been assigned the appropriate 1:1 technology devices to work at home or school.

Art, Music, Physical Education, Science and Spanish along with the Kaleidoscope and SEL Signature Programs for all JK-8th grade students in addition to core curricular programs.

All Middle School students participate in the following new extension courses along with Middle School Success Seminar:

Creative, Performing & Visual Arts

Leadership & Service

Physical Fitness and Student Wellness

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

3 outdoor hard surface play spaces and 2 large outdoor soft-surface play spaces.

Outdoor swimming pool for safe return to individual and small group physical education.

All students have a dress code but uniforms are no longer required.

Q: What curriculum is available and taught at your school?

A: At Marymount, students can begin at three and four years old in our Junior Kindergarten program and enter the Lower School Division in Kindergarten with the primary goal of supporting the educational development of the whole child. Marymount students develop a solid foundation in a diverse array of subject areas including Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, World Religions, Visual & Performing Arts, Media Literacy & Technology, and Physical Education. Our emphasis on an integrated approach to Social and Emotional Learning provides a safe learning environment for all learners. We partner with families to share their journey, watching each student grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.

As students move through the Middle School years, they are empowered to gain confidence in opportunities that blend core content with project-based learning, allowing for real-world applications and cross-curricular programming. As students graduate 8th grade and prepare to enter High School, they leave Marymount with the following skills: critical thinking and problem solving, flexible thinking, college readiness, ethical responsibility, social confidence, self advocacy and interpersonal skills. With courses such as Ethics, Service Learning and World Religions, students go beyond the rigorous academics at Marymount. They thrive in accepting challenges and demonstrating ethical collaboration.

Our engaging, innovative and hands-on curriculum encourages students to become lifelong learners and leaders among their peers. Each content area is taught by experienced, professional faculty with advanced degrees who know how to inspire a thirst for knowledge and a growth mindset in every child.

Marymount of Santa BarbaraClick to view larger

(Marymount of Santa Barbara photo)

Q: How many hours do you expect kids to spend on online coursework each day and each week?

A: Varied per grade level with synchronous and asynchronous opportunities.​

Q: If K-6, will your school apply for the waiver application for in-person school reopening?

A: Marymount started the school year on August 24th with 30 Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten students on campus licensed through the CDCC. After receiving the waiver, Marymount will open for Grades 1st-6th on September 28th. Grade 7th and 8th will continue in remote learning until the county is able to move off the watchlist.

Q: Can you describe your student to teacher ratio?

A: During Covid, we are in cohorts with Teacher to Student Ratios 1:6 JK / 1:9 K /. 1:10-13 2-5th grade / 1:16max (MS)

– Junior Kindergarten | 12 students per “in-person” cohort.
-K-1st | 9 students per “in-person” cohort.
– 2nd-4th Grade | 10-13 students per “in-person” cohort.
– 5th-8th Grade | 12-16 students per “in-person” cohort.

Q: How does your school select/hire teachers? In what ways have these teachers either prepared or trained for distance learning?

A: Marymount seeks outstanding and well prepared educators to become part of our faculty. When a position opens, we undertake a comprehensive national and local search to identify the best candidate for the position.  Faculty are required to come on campus for a multi-day visit during which they meet with all stakeholders including students and are asked to engage in a sample lesson. Interested faculty and staff seeking employment at Marymount are encouraged and empowered to use their creativity to engage with students and each other to enjoy an environment that promotes life-long learning for all.

Marymount is fully accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools, and a member in good standing with the National Association of Independent Schools, and Educational Records Bureau. Marymount also holds memberships with CSEE (Center for Spiritual & Ethical Education, AISAP (Association of Independent School Admissions Professionals) and The HEADS Network.

Q: How will students interact with each other given the distance learning model? Is your school offering any extracurricular activities?

A: On campus or in remote learning, Marymount has a strong emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) with a full time counselor, Director of Student Wellness and a signature SEL program. Student’s days will begin with a morning meeting to cultivate a safe and nurturing classroom community. At Marymount, how you treat people is just as important as what you learn. There is a real culture of kindness that is valued in our community amongst the students, faculty and families.

Q: Does your school measure student progress? If so, how do you measure this individual achievement?

A: Marymount’s assessments of student learning are varied, show growth over time for an entire school year, demonstrate a growth mindset philosophy of learning, and are formative and summative in nature. Each teacher at each grade level and/or content area designs their own in-classroom assessments. These formal and informal assessments at times include pre- and post- assessments, as well as observations of student learning and end of unit presentations, projects and tests. Depending on the unit of study, students may also engage in self and peer assessments. For our youngest students, assessments are mostly formative and consist of observation throughout the day as well as student checklists and forms. 

For standardized testing, Marymount relies on the ERB Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP online) and the ERB Writing Assessment Program (WrAP) which are given in 3rd through 8th grade. The Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) is a rigorous assessment for high achieving students in areas such as reading, listening, vocabulary, writing, and mathematics. Verbal and quantitative reasoning subtests are part of the CTP beginning in 3rd grade. The CTP helps compare content specific, curriculum-based performance to the more conceptual knowledge base found in reasoning tests. The WrAP is a direct measure of student writing achievement and serves as a tool to help classroom teachers pinpoint specific strengths and weaknesses of their students’ written expression.

Q: How does your school support students who have academic, social, or emotional difficulties?

A: Individualized and personalized student instruction is at the forefront of a Marymount education.  At Marymount we know that an independent school learning experience takes into consideration the diverse learning opportunities and academic needs of every student. Through small class sizes, low student to teacher ratio, and flexible learning environments, Marymount faculty are able to truly focus on the individual growth and educational progress of every student.

 In addition to Marymount’s welcoming faculty and engaging classrooms, our uniquely designed Learning Support Program, supports any of our students with learning differences and accommodations needed for their individual growth and success. 

The Learning Support Program led by our Learning Specialist and supported by the Director of Counseling and Student Wellness, also provides access to a Reading Specialist in the Lower School Division, as well as faculty in several grades with degrees and experience in Special Education. In the Middle School division, we also have specialized academic skills enhancement classes and continued support from the Learning Specialist.

Q: How can parents get involved at your school during COVID-19 and thereafter?

A: We have a strong community feel at Marymount and value partnering with parents. That may mean getting involved with our active Marymount Parent Council, MPC, or volunteering to read or help with an art project. As we all navigate new social norms with Covid, we continue to look for creative ways to engage our parents. 

Q:What is the cost or tuition to attend your school?

A: At Marymount, we understand the value of an independent school education and we strive to make our program affordable to all qualified students. Our 2020-21 tuition ranges from $17,250 for Junior Kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds to $28,600 for the Middle School years. 

At Marymount, tuition assistance is based solely upon demonstrated financial need. Tuition awards vary by grade level and situation and provide families from a range of socio-economic backgrounds access to affording a Marymount education. Currently, 44 percent of Marymount families receive tuition assistance.

Click here for more information about Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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