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The History 
of Santa Ynez Vally Family School

SYV Family School is a private, non-profit educational institution located in Los Olivos, California at the base of the Los Padres National Forest. We provide a unique learning experience to students from preschool through fifth grade. The school was founded in 1974 by a group of Midland School parents who sought a more creative and individualized approach to education for their children.

The Early Days


Initially, the school operated as a cooperative, with parents actively participating in the school's management and curriculum development. The school's philosophy was based on the idea that children learn best when they are given the opportunity to explore and discover on their own, with guidance from knowledgeable and caring adults. Alumni fondly remember coming to school barefoot and going to the bathroom in a true outhouse. 


The school’s first year took place in a Midland building, sanctioned by former Midland Head ____. ___ believed in providing an elementary school experience for his teacher’s children, and allowed use of (Building name here). Family School’s second year moved to The Grange, located in the heart of downtown Los Olivos. The school had already grown to __ families. 


It was in the fall of 1977 that a group of parents got permission to build a more permanent home, leasing 5 acres from Midland in the process. Parents banded together to build Family School’s first building, what is now Green Door and Purple Door to create a one room, multi-age school house which served children from preschool through fifth grade.


The Middle Years


Over the years, SYV Family School has evolved and grown, while maintaining its commitment to providing a personalized and holistic education to its students. In the early 2000s, the school expanded its facilities, building what is now Blue Door and the faculty room through the generous contributions from parents and alumni in what was the Campaign for ___. 


Family School Today


Today, SYV Family School is known for its innovative and inclusive approach to education, with a focus on experiential learning, project-based curriculum, and community involvement. The school is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools and has a dedicated and experienced faculty and staff.


SYV Family School's legacy of providing a child-centered and holistic education has had a lasting impact on generations of students and families in the Santa Ynez Valley community and beyond. Its commitment to fostering creativity, independence, and a love of learning continues to be a guiding principle for the school and its students.

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