What We Do

Reshaping Education

The Cottonwood HS course of study blends California State Content Standards, interdisciplinary, project-based learning, and 21st century skills with the Montessori approach to education. Our students are inspired to develop a growth mindset and take charge of their own learning.

A growth mindset
As one of the leading Montessori-inspired high schools in the country, at Cottonwood innovation, experiential learning, design thinking, and meaningful interdisciplinary studies are emphasized. Our high school is designed to meet the personality and interest of students exactly where they are, in a relaxed, open environment where students can respectfully express themselves.

Personalized curriculum
At Cottonwood HS, students benefit from consistency, inspiration, and support. The same group of students progress through high school together and each student is assigned a single teacher, or learning coach, for all four years of high school. Learning coaches help students find educational resources, assist students in targeting key academic learning goals, work with mentors to ensure the rigor of internships, and actively involve parents in their student’s education. Daily schedules have time built in for individual and/or small group tutorials for students (with teacher guidance when needed).

Passion for learning
Students are encouraged to explore their passion for learning by participating in week-long field studies linked to various themes and academic work. These may include mini courses, field studies, or local and international trips based around areas of interest such as the arts, astronomy, environmental service, civic studies, and more.

Meeting or exceeding state standards
The Cottonwood HS students must complete the courses required for graduation. In addition, students are encouraged to pursue internships, special projects, and other endeavors for credit toward graduation, with guidance from their assigned learning coach.

By graduation, all students will have:

  • Met or exceeded all state standards for high school graduation
  • Planned and participated in one field study per year
  • Launched an independent “design thinking” venture
  • Given multiple presentations, including performances to the student community
  • Planned and participated in service learning each year