Topanga Mountain School
Topanga Mountain School is a small private middle school for grades 6,7,8 located in Woodland Hills at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains.
TMS was founded in 2001 to serve the nearby community of Topanga and has since expanded to include families from neighboring communities.
At TMS we believe that a school is not only responsible for a child's academic growth but is in a partnership with the child's family in helping both spiritual and emotional development.
The aim of TMS is to endow the student with a sense of personal responsiblity and motivation.
- School Type: Alternative School
- Grades: 6-8
- Students: 37 students
- Yearly Tuition: $18,500
- Average class size: 12 students
- Application Deadline: Feb. 10 / rolling
Student Body Type
% Students of Color
State avg.: 48%
Students by Grade
Academics and Faculty
Total Classroom Teachers
Student : Teacher Ratio
National avg.: 13:1
% Faculty w/Advanced Degree
Average Class Size
Classroom Dress Code
Tuition and Acceptance Rate
Feb. 10 / rolling
Yearly Tuition Cost
Financial Aid available Admissions and FA deadline February 10th
- At TMS we believe that a school is not only responsible for a child's academic growth but is in a partnership with the child's family in helping both spiritual and emotional development. Children spend a great deal of time in their school environment and it is here, away from family, that they practice and experience many of the social mores that become the foundation for their developing independent minds and bodies. In the past extended families and communities took responsibility for teaching their young. This world that children moved through gave them a sense of belonging, yet afforded them the freedom to try out their independence. These days children are increasingly isolated and have few (non-media) role models outside of their immediate family. At TMS we believe that it does "take a village" and that in returning to an understanding of our responsibility as a community we can help in the process of raising our children into well-balanced, compassionate and questioning adults. The program at TMS works at preparing the child for it's academic future as well as giving them a safe space in which to find out who they really are. We need to give children room to explore, make mistakes, and feel supported and safe as they build on their experiences. Education is never limited to a classroom or an age group and at TMS we strive for our students to gain that love of learning and adventure that they will hold dear for a lifetime. At TMS we have fun; school is a positive place where a child enjoys learning and the social interactions with peers and elders. At the core is an understanding of respect and personal responsibility. Our school week is varied and allows for many teaching opportunities both in and out of the classroom. Students are on campus for three and a half days of the week and spend the remaining time out in the community gaining first hand experience of the world they live in. The academic program is broad, offering classes in all the core subjects: Language Arts, Humanities, Math, Science and Spanish. These classes are relevant and interactive. Students also attend classes of Creative Writing, Drama, Art, and Music. Time is set aside for developing study and organizational skills as well as school chores. Students learn to take responsibility for themselves as well as taking care of their school environment.
We are in our third year at TMS. My son hated school until he came to TMS. The current model for public school and most private schools was not going to work for him and it was making him extremely agitated and closed off to academics. He went from grunting, griping, and not doing any work without major threat of losing privileges, to taking care of his own homework without me asking, doing chores around the house, and being exceptionally self- reliant. Basically, he went from cave man to modern human being. It took a while, but I have no doubt that it was due to his opportunities for success at TMS, acceptance as an individual, and reliance of others on him as a member of the TMS community.Middle school is the perfect age group for the TMS model of education. These kids learn self-reliance, become independent thinkers and form a global view of life. The class sizes exceptionally small (10-12 kids) and the teachers know each students` individual strengths and where they need more support so that every student receives a personalized education. The staff and teachers form close bonds with the students through mutual respect and a synergistic approach to advancing each student in their academics, as well as social and emotional growth. Middle school is such a tough time for kids and at many schools, kids become marginalized resulting in low self-esteem. At TMS differences are celebrated as strengths. When social or emotional problems arise, they are talked about in a non-judgmental group forum. This school provides a way for kids to connect with themselves, and the outdoors. They are given time and prompts that promote self-reflection so that they can open their minds to who they are becoming and what type of person they want to be as young adults. They are presented with current real-world problems and information that they research and discuss openly and without judgement. The books they read and discuss often reflect pertinent social issues that have application to the world they are growing up in. Math classes are levelled by skill and learning speed so that no one is bored or left behind. Science classes integrate what they are learning in math and English and art so that there is a overview of the subject matter that reinforces itself in every class.Options within the academic curriculum allow students to approach and accomplish their academics in a learning style that works for them, whether it be project based, hands-on, media-based, or any other method. Teachers and staff are enthusiastic about having students access the curriculum in whichever way the students can learn and convey it best. Also with the integrated outdoor education, arts, music, drama, sciences, there are so many ways for a child to succeed at TMS. During camping trips kids learn to plan meals, cook and clean for themselves, work as a group to overcome physical and emotional obstacles. They visit countless museums and learn to take the busses and the metro downtown. Common electives include horseback riding, archery, ceramics, aerial silks, rock climbing, mountain biking. Students can request any type of elective that is feasible and if there is enough interest, TMS usually finds a way to offer it. Some additional electives that have been implemented include metal working, photography, fishing, yoga, self-defense, and dance.Another unique feature at TMS is that classes are not divided by grade levels. You may have 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the same class depending on skill level and interest. Assignments are similar for all three grade levels however expectations and length of assignments increase with grade level and with the individual so that each student is working to their potential within the given curriculum.If you value quality over quantity. If you want your child to be able to think for themselves and articulate those thoughts, if value learning how to learn rather than how to memorize a bunch of facts for standardized testing, then come check out TMS.
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