The Four Things You Should Know About Our Academic Experience


Founded in 1976, Santa Barbara Middle School is the only independent, accredited school for grades 6-9 in California. Our teachers and staff have dedicated their professional careers to educating children during their middle school years. We love working with this age, and it shows. Year after year, we fine-tune our program to meet the needs of adolescents growing up in this fast-paced, 21st century.
By understanding the intellectual, emotional and physical transformations that take place during the pivotal adolescent years, we are uniquely positioned to help our students develop into innovative thinkers, responsible problem solvers, and compassionate young adults. Basically, we “get” teenagers.


We start with passionate teachers who are committed to engaging and supporting the middle school student. We continue with a well-structured curriculum grounded in the core disciplines of humanities, math, science, foreign language, and the arts. Whether studying World War II, reading Shakespeare, building robots and catapults, or conversing in Spanish, we provide rigorous classes that are equivalent to what is offered at other junior high schools, but we take learning a step further. Understanding that students have different learning styles and patterns, we are able to address these nuances in the classroom and meet students at their academic level.

Additionally, we have the flexibility in our curriculum to allow students to enroll in classes above their grade level, if appropriate, particularly in Math and Spanish. Our graduates are global and innovative thinkers, community activists, creative entrepreneurs, and ethical decision makers who excel in high school and beyond. It’s all part of the plan.

Santa Barbara Middle School is proud to offer a flexible curriculum allowing for advanced study in math and foreign language, with placement above grade level for qualified students in all grades. In addition, all ninth grade students take Honors Physics and have the option to enroll in Honors English.

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Outside of the classroom, you’ll find lively interaction happening on the field, on our stage, in the
art room, on a trail, in the ocean, and in the community. We offer Creative Arts & Sports, Diamond Time, Career Study Week, Community Service, Learning Support & Accommodation, and leadership opportunities that push students to think, learn, grow, create, and explore. Our acclaimed Outdoor Education program takes students and staff on rigorous expeditions in the wilderness and is designed to build self confidence and resilience that lasts a lifetime.

The kinships students develop with their teachers and friends while taking academic, emotional, physical, and creative risks in a safe and accepting environment become the foundation for success in the classroom and beyond. Some call it magic; we call it Middle School.


It starts with a contract, called “The Deal,” between the school and the student in which we pledge to do our best and always try. This agreement establishes a thread that continues throughout a student’s education at SBMS, in which they continually assess how to learn and develop a clear sense of who they are. Leadership, self advocacy, creative problem solving, compassion for others, and global awareness are just a few of the traits that distinguish our graduates. Most of our alumni say that SBMS was their most formative, positive educational experience. And that’s just the beginning.