Marin Private Schools Answer Your Questions: Learn About Their Academic Philosophies, Curriculums and More

private school guide

We asked some of Marin’s best private schools to tell us what they offer and how they can help your kids learn. Here’s what they had to say:

Salesian College Preparatory

Salesian logo

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Salesian College Preparatory creates a caring, loving, and nurturing environment where the young of all faiths and ethnicities can learn, grow in faith, feel a sense of belonging, and ultimately be happy all in accordance with St. John Bosco’s educational philosophy of reason, religion and loving kindness. The students are always at the center of all we do, as St. John Bosco said: “Education is a matter of the heart.”

Please describe your curriculum.

Salesian is a private, independent, Catholic, co-educational high school. We feature a strong STEM curriculum including Project Lead the Way’s Biomedical Science Pathway, as well as a full Computer Science program which includes AP Computer Science. An extensive roster of Honors, AP and elective courses highlight a curriculum specifically created for 21st-century learning.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Students receive a rigorous yet nurturing education that helps them prepare for college and develop into well-rounded scholars. For students who require additional support, Salesian offers an Academic Success Program (ASP). Students participating in ASP may have mild learning differences (504 Plans or IEPs) or disorders that create obstacles to learning. ASP allows students to thrive in regular academic classes without the need for modifications to their curriculum.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

Salesian has a well-deserved reputation as the “home of champions,” with 13 competitive interscholastic sports teams, including a Nike Elite basketball program for both boys and girls. Salesian also offers a full spectrum of visual and performing arts programs and 40+ student-led clubs.

Brandeis Marin

brandeis marin

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

We’ve learned that while we may not know what is coming around the corner, we can face any challenge, rise to any occasion and thrive under any circumstances. We prepare students for the future they will inherit, and we understand that the skills, knowledge, values and habits we instill in our students today will shape the future they will build.

Please describe your curriculum.

We have developed a curriculum that allows for the intersection of science, technology, the humanities and Jewish Studies. They learn to own their mistakes, grow from them, repair that which is broken, celebrate the achievements of others, and build a kehillah kedushah — a unique community dedicated to lifting up one another.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Students are fully engaged in the learning process when they are challenged and when they are having fun. Learning is individualized and scaffolded, taking into account students’ prior knowledge, interests and experience, as well as the latest research and best practices. Students are taught to know themselves as learners and as people, and taught universal values, grounded in the Jewish tradition, that will shape their experiences as they grow and encounter new challenges.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

From cooking to chess, robotics to juggling, and drama to Minecraft, our classes satisfy every curiosity, whim and passion. Our after-school program provides a nurturing environment where students can study, read, play and relax. We have a variety of sports teams including cross-country, basketball, flag football, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, and track and field.

Town School for Boys

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

As an all boys’ school, Town provides a rich, challenging and rigorous educational experience that addresses the distinctive energy levels and developmental styles of boys. Town values being a diverse and inclusive community that nurtures integrity, sensitivity and respect, and prepares boys to become productive and contributing members of an ever-changing world.

Please describe your curriculum.

The Lower School at Town nurtures students’ natural intellectual curiosity and excitement about learning. In language arts, our boys become proficient readers, writers, and oral communicators. Our mathematics program trains students to use mathematical thinking to solve real-life problems. The Lower School curriculum also includes social studies, with an emphasis on cultural diversity and multiple perspectives, a hands-on science curriculum, PE, music and art. The curriculum of the Upper School is designed to develop both academic strengths and strength of character in our students. We balance teacher-directed learning with student-centered approaches that foster critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, collaboration, and other key 21st century skills. Our students graduate well-prepared for high school and beyond.

How does your school support individual students’ learning needs?

At Town, boys experience an education that is designed specifically for them. With small class sizes, our talented and committed faculty support each individual student’s unique needs, and differentiation is an important component across the K-8 experience.

Town School offers competitive athletics and a wide variety of after school enrichment programs. Clubs are offered both during and outside of the school day, including Math Olympiad and Mathletes, LEGO Robotics, and Debate.

Mark Day School

Mark Day School

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Mark Day School believes that students learn best through hands-on, interactive and collaborative work that challenges them just beyond their comfort zones.  Students are also engaged in inquiry-based learning activities during which they question, hypothesize, explore, experiment, research and present their findings. Technology is thoughtfully integrated into each classroom as a means of research, differentiation and creating media-based projects.

Please describe your curriculum.

While the traditional skills and competencies of foundational literacies are critical, current research and experience tell us that they are not enough. We integrate four cross-disciplinary literacies into our K-8 curriculum like SEL and media and information literacy, as well as metacognitive skills like creativity and curiosity into curriculum to reflect the complexity of the real world.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

We believe that learning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Lessons, activities and classroom configurations often involve different modalities to support varied learning styles. Teachers across K–8 know each student deeply, and use this insight to inform differentiated lessons and activities and offer strategies to support and challenge students. Our learning specialists meet with students individually and in small groups and work closely with parents and guardians to educate them on their students’ learning profiles.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

Mark Day School offers school theatrical productions; team sports like basketball, volleyball, golf, track and field, and cross country; and after-school and lunchtime activities like rock band, chess, art and tinkering.

The Marin School

marin School

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

We believe there is more to an education than just content and subject matter. It is equally vital to teach students how to think critically, reason, interpret, analyze and improvise. Our graduates leave TMS with the skills they need to thrive in any environment as thoughtful, confident members of the global community.

Please describe your curriculum.

Our curriculum encourages creativity in classrooms and across disciplines. We celebrate project-based learning and STEM programming, including integrative use of coding and hands-on tools in our Fab Lab and coding classes. Creativity is celebrated in drawing, painting, photography, design, film, technology, creative writing, drama and music.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Our Learning Center offers a quiet environment where students can study independently or in small peer groups, receive direct instruction, use assistive technologies, do homework, and organize their time and schedules. Parents can work with our learning specialists to help communicate with teachers regarding student’s unique educational profiles, recommend tutoring or educational assessment services, and request College Board/ACT accommodations for students diagnosed with learning differences.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

Our extracurricular offerings vary from year to year, depending on student interest. Student-centric clubs have included student council, SAT test prep, yoga club, LGBQT+ club, esports league, Dungeons & Dragons and LARP-ing clubs, Model UN, Minecraft and more. We participate in a smallschool sports league and compete in basketball, soccer, flag football and cross-country. Other after-school activities include school dances, community game nights, Festival of the Arts, drama performances and more.

San Domenico School

San Domenico School

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

At San Domenico, we believe what students do with their education is just as important as academic achievement. Every day we encourage our students to not just study, but to reflect on their learning, find their purpose and celebrate because an exceptional education where values and academics join together creates more than great students — it develops great people.

Please describe your curriculum.

As a K–12 college-preparatory school, San Domenico School provides an academically rigorous, independent school education. Fully integrated social-emotional programming and a warm and supportive community culture balance the academic rigor. Key points of distinction include our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math); LEAF (Leadership, Environment, Advocacy, Focus); and social justice programming.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

San Domenico is a diverse community of belonging, where students, staff and families are dedicated to inclusion and respect for all. San Domenico’s Student Support and Wellness team include small-group advisors, learning specialists, school-level counselors, a health services team, and in the upper school, individual mentors, block schedules, college counseling and peer resource teams. Together with our San Domenico teachers, staff and families, we foster social, emotional and academic wellbeing and an experience of health and wellness for all of our students.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

With a 515-acre campus and world-class facilities, San Domenico offers a breadth of K–12 extracurricular activities, including digital, visual and performing arts; music; community service; and athletics (53 teams). Choosing from social justice, chess, investment, anime, coding, identity-based, environmental clubs and many more, San Domenico students feel safe exploring new interests.

Marin Primary & Middle School

marin primary and middle school

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Marin Primary & Middle School offers a learning journey that amplifies each child’s inherent strengths, helping them to build the intellectual skills, social awareness and emotional courage that will serve them throughout their lives. From preschool through eighth grade, we engage children in a warm academic environment that embraces growth and honors the journey of learning. Each stage of their development is a building block to ensure future success in the classroom and beyond.

Please describe your curriculum.

Our preschool students explore and discover, learning through play as they build self-confidence, gain independence and develop critical social skills through their interactions with teachers and other children. Students in our primary school connect to the people and ideas around them in the context of a joyous, creative and challenging learning atmosphere. They go on to middle school as kind, grounded and inquisitive learners. In middle school, students rise to the challenge of a strong academic program and become leaders, independent thinkers, self-advocates and engaged citizens.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Our teachers and learning resource specialists recognize and appreciate the unique learning profiles of our students, including their strengths and challenges. When students feel grounded and known, they are able to reach their potential as learners. As students discover how they learn best, they begin to develop the confidence, courage and skills they need to become effective self-advocates.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

The Marin Primary & Middle School after-school program offers a wide range of activities, including sports, cooperative games, arts and crafts, homework lab, drama and more.

Marin Catholic High School

marin catholic

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Encouraged by a Catholic tradition to view our universe as a dynamic, interconnected, holy creation of a loving God, we are committed to learning as a wondrous, lifelong process. We challenge our students with a rigorous program of courses in a variety of subject areas. We facilitate the development of specific academic skills, empowering students to find delight in the myriad intricacies of the universe, to think critically and creatively about their experiences, and to act in harmony with all life. At the heart of our identity is strong Catholic values. We affirm the dignity of all persons, cultivate high expectations for the quality of life, and serve as advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves. Informed and compassionate, we resolve to be role models of Christian action in the 21st century.

Please describe your curriculum.

We provide a challenging, college preparatory experience for all students. Along with the development and enhancement of essential skills, the required course of study encourages exploration and self-evaluation. Our curriculum includes college-prep level courses, as well as more than 30 honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

The Academic Support Center provides guidance and assistance for students with diagnosed learning differences. Our inclusive community recognizes the additional challenges many of these students face. We strive toward academic and personal success by encouraging responsibility, empowerment and self-advocacy.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

We have more than 40 clubs, 49 sports teams and 11 performing arts performances every year. Check out our website for more information on these activities and to get more information about our visual arts program.

Saint Hilary School

saint hilary

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Saint Hilary School (SHS) is a faith-filled community where children are able to develop their unique personal and academic gifts. SHS wants its students to be engaged learners with compassion, empathy, honesty and faith. We utilize a number of synchronous ways of teaching including inquiry and project-based learning. Students are challenged to think independently, work collaboratively, listen attentively, and challenge themselves to do their personal best.

Please describe your curriculum.

We use the STAR testing program and test our students four times a year to ensure they are on track with their learning. Starting in kindergarten, we focus on key subjects such as language arts, math, science, social studies, Spanish, religion, art, musical instrument instruction and physical education. Each grade works on various STEAM projects throughout the year. We offer enrichment programs for our middle school in Christian leadership, fine arts and advanced Spanish, as well as an algebra class in eighth grade.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Beginning in the first grade, we offer differentiated learning programs for our students. We also offer resource programs to help those students who require assistance with their reading, math or study skills. We have advanced-degree faculty who specialize in math, science, language arts and social studies to offer engaging materials for the entire class or a simple few.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

SHS offers an after-school electives program for all students to participate. Each year the program may offer different activities such as golf, tennis, drama, STEAM/Legos, chess, cheerleading and others.

Mount Tamalpais School

Mount Tam school

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Mount Tamalpais School (MTS) students are joyfully engaged in learning every day. Our educators, experts in their teaching discipline, challenge every student with generative questions that drive further understanding and inspire literal “aha!” moments daily. Social-emotional learning, as well as a focus on equity, inclusion and justice, are integrated into every class. As a result, our graduates are well prepared to thrive at some of the most selective high schools in the country.

Please describe your curriculum.

At MTS, experts each teach a single discipline, inspiring students in ways no generalist could achieve. Utilizing project-based learning and subject-specific expertise, our teachers engage and challenge students each day. Both an intentional social-emotional learning curriculum, as well as the structure of our tight-knit community, help ensure a healthy, joyful childhood in which children are well prepared for their future while remaining young at heart.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Teachers regularly use small groups and 1:1 instruction to target specific learning goals for students, helping a child puzzle through a challenge and dive deeper when excelling. Our student-support team provides targeted interventions as needed to ensure each student thrives at MTS.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

Our strong core academics are complemented by robust offerings in world language, arts and athletics. Each week students take classes in visual art, music and performing arts, with signature productions at numerous points during an MTS education. Finally, daily physical education classes are complemented by after school offerings each season.

San Francisco Girls’ School

san francisco girls school

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

We are committed to a learning environment where every community member is valued, challenged and changed by our engagement with each other. We believe that it is possible to combine academic rigor with physical and mental well-being. We have built a program on the foundation of student agency, incorporating voice and choice throughout their academic progression.

Please describe your curriculum

Our interdisciplinary curriculum weaves together the core elements of STEM, the arts and the humanities to create a strong foundation for college and beyond. With a commitment to innovative thinking, weekly experiential days, internships and mentoring, in-depth projects and unique interdisciplinary courses, we give students practice exploring the new and the novel.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

We are committed to helping students become independent learners capable of rising to any challenge. Students can select electives, define projects and pursue independent studies in their junior and senior years.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

We will offer one sport per season and multiple athletic classes within the school day like yoga and kickboxing. Performing and visual arts courses like graphic design, improv and podcasting develop student’s creative confidence and artistic expression. Opportunities for leadership, fun and social justice abound with student-led clubs like Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), muraling and sustainability. In addition, experiential days are an excellent opportunity for students to engage with local industry leaders and organizations via guest speaker series and community service.

Headlands Preparatory School

headlands preparatory school

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

At Headlands, we believe that all students can grow as individuals and learners within a supportive and individualized learning environment. Headlands is committed to developing and celebrating personal strengths, as each student masters course content while building self-confidence and an understanding of their unique learning profile.

Please describe your curriculum.

We believe in innovative, research-based curriculum in which students build understanding through educational challenges, exploration and application. Our curriculum is designed around the concept of Mastery Learning and our Acquire-Practice-Apply method, in which students acquire content and skills, practice them in a meaningful way, and apply them for long-term learning.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Headlands Prep analyzes each student’s strengths and preferred learning modalities. We provide a challenging college preparatory academic program within a model that allows students to learn at their own pace and develop an educational toolkit suited to their personal needs. The one-to-one model enables teachers to engage unique student interests and provides students with the opportunity to develop and articulate their own thoughts, interests and opinions.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

While many students pursue unique extracurricular activities outside of Headlands, we also offer a number of opportunities within the Headlands community. Headlands facilitates international and local group service trips, as well as student lunch clubs in which students explore shared interests, such as leadership, yearbook, social justice, board games, video games, Model UN, and arts and crafts.

Marin Montessori School

marin montessori

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

Marin Montessori School serves the diverse needs of children from toddler age through adolescence. We’re a community of families, faculty, staff, administration and board of trustees. Collectively, we nurture the development of each child to his or her fullest potential — intellectually, physically, socially, creatively, emotionally and spiritually. As a school accredited by the American Montessori Internationale (AMI) and California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), we strive to provide more than an academic education alone; our goal is to provide education for life.

Please describe your curriculum.

As a Montessori school serving toddlers through adolescents, we are dedicated to maintaining a warm, nurturing, joyful environment where each child: receives a quality education that supports his or her individual development; has the freedom to choose, balanced by the responsibility to be productive; can reach his or her academic potential without grade level limits; and enjoys beautiful, orderly, harmonious surroundings. Students grow as thinkers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, artists and citizens of the world. They matriculate to a range of excellent high schools.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Our Montessori approach means that our program is naturally individualized. It fosters self-motivation, self-discipline, compassion, independence, critical thinking, social and personal responsibility, and respect for others and the environment. It’s our vision that our children gain a strong sense of self and realize a life-long satisfaction and joy in learning, working and exploring life. We believe this will enable our children to contribute happily and productively their unique talents to the world.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

In our Bayside afternoon classes, students have the opportunity to participate in an evolving and expanding range of options that include athletics, the arts, world languages and more.

St. John’s Northwestern Academies

st johns northwestern academies

What is your school’s academic philosophy?

St. John’s Northwestern Academies’ (SJNA ) academic philosophy is excellence for life. Small classes, hands-on learning, individual guidance: It’s all here, along with Advanced Placement (AP), honors and dual college credit classes. Personal college coaching helps our students explore options and make choices now to support their dreams for the future.

Please describe your curriculum.

We develop innovative, curious and resourceful students by providing a solid college preparatory foundation while encouraging them all to become lifelong learners. Diploma options include STEM Honors, Humanities Honors and standard high school diplomas. High-achieving students receive Dean’s List and Dean’s List with Honors distinctions, academic stars and ribbons, and induction into the National Honor Society (NHS, grades 10– 12) or National Junior Honor Society (NJHS, grades 7–9). We believe in the power of hands-on, experiential learning. Students broaden their knowledge and horizons outside the classroom through field trips, local excursions, service trips and study abroad.

How does your school support individual student’s learning needs?

Academic support starts the moment your child arrives on our campus, with supervised evening study and a structured, award-winning peer-tutoring program. Every course is presented in a small-group setting with an average class size of 11, and a student-teacher ratio of 6:1. Highly motivated students even have the opportunity to take above grade-level honors classes, lending them more options as they progress, including graduating early.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

Extracurricular options include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, swimming, wrestling, co-op hockey, track & field, baseball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, trap team, kickball, dodgeball, ultimate Frisbee, softball, floor hockey, flag football and badminton.


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