Explore Cascade Canyon School in Fairfax

June 3, 2013

Cascade Canyon SchoolIf your child is entering kindergarten in the fall, you like many Marin parents, have probably considered an independent school. Cascade Canyon School is a K-8 school in Fairfax with a small, full-day, developmental kindergarten program that's capped at 10 students. We asked Cascade Canyon School to answer a few questions about their school and its programs and philosophies.

If you're interested in kindergarten at Cascade Canyon for the 2013–2014 school year, they'll be holding a final parent tour on Tuesday, June 4, at 9 am. For more information, visit www.cascadecanyon.org or call (415) 459-3464.

Please describe your school’s educational philosophy. What’s it all about?

At Cascade Canyon School, everyone knows everyone, and children feel comfortable expressing their individuality all the way through eighth grade. Within our accepting, inclusive community, we foster cross-age relationships and multi-age learning opportunities. Teachers, students and families work together to support our students' intellectual, social and emotional development. We offer small classes and a flexible, responsive learning environment that allows each student to reach his or her full potential. Our teachers are skilled in teaching to different learning styles and incorporating students' interests into the classroom.

The Cascade Canyon curriculum is rich in critical thinking: students actively analyze, evaluate, synthesize and apply their learning. We value the arts as an integral part of a child's education and are committed to helping each student develop his or her creative, expressive side. We recognize that students need a healthy balance of arts, academics and physical activity to thrive intellectually, socially and emotionally.

Through balanced, conscious and caring K–8 education, Cascade Canyon students gain a strong awareness of themselves and learn to communicate effectively with peers and adults. Our graduates are well prepared to succeed in high school and beyond as active, responsible citizens.

What does a typical day at your school look like?

School begins at 8:30 am and ends at 3 pm for elementary students and 3:10 pm for middle school students. Students are welcomed into a morning circle or class meeting at the start of the day, and typically spend the morning with their homeroom teacher working in the core subjects of reading, writing, word study, social studies and math.

In the afternoon, students travel with their classmates to two specialist blocks, taught by teachers in the school who are specialists in the subject area. Our core science program, as well as our specialist program in Spanish, art, music, theater, and PE, are typically taught in these afternoon periods. Some afternoon blocks are designated as “project classes” for students to work on integrated projects to support and extend core learning. The elementary school day ends with a closing homeroom period.

There are two whole school recesses, a morning recess at 10:15 am and a lunch recess at 12:15 pm. Kindergarten, first, and second grade students also have a morning snack.

Cascade Canyon SchoolCascade Canyon School

What programs does your school offer?

Our school offers a rich academic core program and a specialist program in the arts (visual art, theater, music), language (Spanish), and physical education. Language Arts encompasses Reading and Writing Workshop, modeled on the Reading and Writing Institute at Teachers’ College, novel study, guided reading and independent reading, and handwriting and word study curricula. Our social studies program project based, dovetails nicely with novel study and writing workshop. We use the History Alive! curriculum, as well as primary sources, biographies, and novels of historical fiction. Math is taught in grade level/ability groupings, and draws from a range of materials and approaches, including Making Math Real, Marilyn Burns, a wide variety of math games, and our Houghton Mifflin and Holt elementary and middle school programs.

In addition, we offer an excellent social-emotional program through our class meetings, based on the Responsive Classroom; our school-wide mindfulness practice; and our school-wide conflict mediation practice.

What is the process for admissions?

Admission to Cascade Canyon School is available year-round as space permits, although priority is given to families who apply by February 5. Admission is based on an evaluation of your child's previous school history (if applicable), a family interview, and your child's participation in a typical school day. We also strongly encourage applicant families to attend at least one Parent Tour and Open House to learn more about Cascade Canyon School, meet our teachers and familiarize yourself with our school philosophy.

As our Kindergarten program tends to fill quickly, we strongly recommend that Kindergarten applications are received by February 5 so that your child can be considered in our first round of admissions decisions. Families seeking tuition assistance (see below) must also submit their school application at this time.

Following the changes in California law, in order to be eligible for Kindergarten admission in 2013–2014, the student must be 5 years old by September 1st.

Please request an application by calling our Admissions office at (415) 459-3464, or click on the links here:

A non-refundable $125 fee is also required for each student at the time of application. 

More about the application process and scholarships here

What do you think makes your school special?

Since the school opened in 1981, we have dedicated ourselves to offering a K–8 progressive education in a small community-oriented setting. Our whole school is purposefully under 70 students with multi-age classes of no more than fifteen students, in combination with our balanced, integrated curriculum that fosters our students' natural creativity and desire to learn.

Our small school setting with multi-age classrooms is unusual in today’s world. People often say, “Really? Just 65 kids?” Then they walk the campus, meet the students and teachers, and leave saying, “You’re right. There is strength to small.” The evidence of the power of a small school rests with our students and teachers. Our students are confident, poised, inquisitive, and respectful, and have a sincere concern for others and the environment around them. They are connected to the school, each other, their teachers and the community, and never hesitate to ask a question or request help.