World-Class Educational Options Prime Students’ Potential

Conejo Valley schools offer world-class education delivered by talented, dedicated educators aimed to equip students to pursue their dreams and excel in their future endeavors. With myriad co-curricular opportunities and award-winning academic programs, local educational options serve multiple learning styles and interests. Here’s a glimpse of what our area schools have to offer.

Carden Conejo School

For more than 5 decades, Carden Conejo School has fostered a warm school community that’s committed to shaping not just great students, but good people ready to positively impact the world.

“Carden Conejo is a truly unique school,” emphasizes Head of School Lisa Macias-Flavin.

“We are an independent, non-sectarian school,” explains Macias-Flavin, adding that Carden serves approximately 180 students on a beautiful, serene, 8-acre campus. “We develop the whole child by instilling the importance of manners and morals, providing a rigorous academic curriculum, and hand-picking a staff that knows each child by name.”

The leaders at Carden Conejo believe that children should know how to think; being a good person matters; exceptional reading and writing skills are powerful; strong math, science and technology programs open limitless future opportunities; the fine arts are a necessity; classrooms should be subject specific with appropriate space and materials; the school environment directly impacts learning; and students benefit from small classes taught by gifted, passionate teachers.

“If you share these beliefs, Carden Conejo might be a fit for your child,” Macias-Flavin notes.

Carden strikes a healthy balance between work and play, says Digital Marketing and Events Coordinator Erin Rappaport, adding that student skills and knowledge grow through teacher-directed lessons, as well as lots of time for creative and physical play.

“What makes Carden Conejo School so special? It could be their elementary and primary school curriculums that provide rigor and depth,” Rappaport says. In kindergarten through fifth grade, “it is Carden’s caring specialist teachers and small class sizes that lead to exceptional learning experiences.”

The Carden method in language arts also ensures strong foundational skills in reading and writing.

“But that’s not all—instruction in science, Singapore Math, engineering, computer science, French, the visual and performing arts and daily sports class set Carden apart,” Rappaport says. Additionally, “Carden’s emphasis on manners and morals and public speaking further contribute to Carden’s uniqueness.”

As far as the school’s philosophy is concerned, “We believe that the education of each child is a partnership among the child, the teacher and the parent,” Macias-Flavin says. “We stress the personal growth of each girl and boy academically and through the development of core values, which will enable her or him to become responsible community members.” 

Moral and ethical growth is emphasized in an environment guided by the ethical ideals of the Judeo-Christian tradition. 

“Honor, integrity, personal responsibility, and respect for one another are essential values,” Macias-Flavin says. To that end, “We design our programs to provide each child opportunities for success. We see the development of a child as a nurturing process that flows from grade to grade fostering critical thinking and independent learning.”

Above all, Carden Conejo School is committed to providing a learning environment and school community that promotes personal integrity and respect for the uniqueness of each individual. 

“Our program encourages all students to achieve their full intellectual, emotional, social, physical and creative potential,” Macias-Flavin adds. “By developing confident and independent thinkers, Carden Conejo prepares its students for academically demanding secondary schools.”

For more information, visit CardenConejo.com or call 805.497.7005.

Conejo Valley Unified School District

The award-winning Conejo Valley Unified School District—located in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Westlake Village—provides exceptional educational experiences to children in transitional kindergarten through Grade 12, preschool and post-secondary.

“The CVUSD sets itself apart with its student-centered approach,” says CVUSD Coordinator of Communications Kim Gold. “The district truly has a right fit for each and every student to achieve success in the classroom and beyond.”

The CVUSD is home to the Conejo Valley’s first Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion Program at the newly named Conejo Academy of Leadership and Language Immersion (formerly Conejo Elementary School), which is enrolling students in grades TK-1st for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Additionally, the CVUSD is home to Ventura County’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) at Cypress Elementary School.

“The PYP focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in school and in the world beyond,” Gold explains.

The district’s secondary schools boast innovative programs, including an Entrepreneurship Academy, EThOS at Thousand Oaks High School, an International Baccalaureate Program at Newbury Park High School, and a focus on state-of-the-art STEM education at Westlake High School, which recently opened a brand new building dedicated to advanced science and technology learning.

“There is also an abundance of career pathway opportunities available to CVUSD scholars who can enroll in a vast array of coursework, including culinary arts, woodworking, sports medicine, video production and everything in between,” Gold says. “These diverse course offerings provide CVUSD scholars with the opportunity to discover their passions as they master valuable skills along the way.”

The CVUSD’s teachers and administrators are recognized as some of the best in the county and nation, with recent recognitions including 2023 Ventura County Teacher of the Year, 2023 California Finalist for Presidential Award in Mathematics, and two 2023 ACSA Region 13 Principal of the Year Awardees.

“Our educators are truly phenomenal, and they are dedicated to creating caring learning environments that support all students,” Gold says.

Student mental health and wellness also remain a focus of the district, and the CVUSD is the proud home of 10 Wellness Centers across its secondary school campuses.

“This year, the CVUSD was awarded an $11.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its Wellness Centers for the next 5 years, along with funding that allows the district to expand and build upon the mental health services it provides to students across all of its campuses,” Gold points out. 

Additionally, the district is on the precipice of another exciting year of campus modernizations and enhancements, thanks to the voter-approved school facilities bond: Measure I.

“From new trike courses and playgrounds, to upgraded science labs, outdoor learning spaces and new technology in classrooms, Measure I continues to make an invaluable impact in our students’ daily educational experiences, with more impactful additions to come,” Gold emphasizes.

“There is so much to be proud of in the Conejo, and we encourage families to learn more about all of the educational opportunities available by visiting EnrollCVUSD.com.” 


La Reina High and Middle School

La Reina High and Middle School offer a unique opportunity for young girls in Grades 6 through 12 to grow in an environment where there is a clear vision for her future through high school and beyond. 

“At La Reina, we strive to create an atmosphere of genuine intellectual curiosity, open and honest friendships, and personal accountability,” says Principal Maggie Marschner.

“Our vision is to educate young women who are capable of navigating the turbulent times of today, by recalling the beauty and wisdom inherent in Catholic feminine spirituality,” she continues. “We welcome girls of all faiths and cultures, because the Catholic faith appeals universally as Christ did. Every cultural heritage we welcome contains something of the Divine, as we are all children of God.”

La Reina offers a true Catholic education.

“We seek to educate mind, body and spirit,” emphasizes Marschner, noting that La Reina offers unparalleled academics in the fields of science, mathematics, the arts and the humanities. 

“Our school culture seeks to inclusively weave the individual spirits of our students into a continuous tapestry of friendship and sisterhood, based upon mutual respect and friendship,” Marschner explains.

Through La Reina’s classroom pedagogy, Universal Design for Learning, the faculty addresses learner variability by developing lesson plans that support a personalized academic experience focused on growing each student’s individual gifts.

The extracurricular programs La Reina offers include mock trial, speech and debate, journalism, literature magazine, babysitting and first aid. 

“Our athletics program includes basketball, cross-country, golf, equestrian, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball,” Marschner says. “We welcome all levels of athletes and talent as we seek to grow our students in all areas towards excellence.”

The most popular programs are in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

“Our students also greatly enjoy our academic co-curricular through participation in our robotics program, where students compete in the VEX robotic tournaments, as members of the teams, speech and debate, academic decathlon, and mock trial,” Marschner says. “What each of these programs has in common is a pathway for the young women of La Reina to lean into their strengths and nurture their passion.”

Above all, the ultimate goal of La Reina is to graduate faith-filled, confident, capable and compassionate young women able to navigate their world.

“We seek to engage our students and bring them to an understanding of the beautiful vision of love that Jesus Christ calls us to,” Marschner adds. “We do not seek to build a monolithic culture at La Reina—rather, we seek to build students who can impact the larger culture.”

For more information, visit LaReina.com or call 805.495.6494.


Oak Park Unified School District

The Oak Park Unified School District (OPUSD) is a high-performing public TK-12 school district located in Oak Park, an unincorporated community in south Ventura County that’s nestled between the cities of Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, and Thousand Oaks.

The district was formed in 1977 when residents voted to create a new school district to better meet the needs of its residents, beginning a long tradition of placing the highest priority toward ensuring a high-quality education. 

“At OPUSD, we remain steadfast in our commitment to enhancing student safety, achievement, and relationships. In 2023-2024 we will work to broaden learning opportunities, champion educational equity, and cultivate an inclusive culture. Our continued efforts will center around fostering social-emotional learning and delivering culturally responsive teaching, thus preparing our students for a successful future,” says Jeff Davis, Superintendent. “The positive connections that our teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff make with our students is not only critical to a student’s academic success but also to their overall wellness.”

The full-time school counselors in each of the district’s elementary schools, Medea Creek Middle School, Oak Park High School, and Oak View/Oak Park Independent School, provide the resources and support necessary for students to thrive academically.

“In addition, the Wellness Centers, with dedicated wellness counselors at Medea Creek Middle School and Oak Park High School, adds another much-needed layer of social-emotional support for both students and staff,” Davis says.

To be able to continue to provide world-class education from preschool through 12th grade, “we all need to work together as a team with all of our educational partners,” he continues.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to the OPUSD families. Their steadfast support and trust are foundational to our success. We are privileged to join them in guiding our students on their educational journey, who inspire us daily with their intelligence, talent, and kindness.”

All of the district's schools are California Gold Ribbon schools and have been nationally recognized as Blue Ribbon schools. The district has also been recognized as a national Green Ribbon school district for its focus on environmentally progressive policies and practices. 

How does the OPUSD consistently rank as one of the highest-performing school districts in Ventura County, the state, and the nation?

“The answer is we have an exceptional group of highly skilled and dedicated teachers, administrators, caring counselors, support staff, and coaches who do everything they can to ensure student success from when a student enters our district through high school graduation,” Davis emphasizes.

Additionally, “our supportive Board of Education sets the direction for the district, sustains the vision and mission, and our teachers, administrators, and support staff delivers on that promise each day with our students. To bring this all together, our families provide a tremendous amount of support for our school sites and district.” 

 The district motto is to “Educate Compassionate and Creative Global Citizens.”

“In Oak Park, our students bring their diverse interests and needs to our campuses and flourish in the safe and caring environments that we provide for them,” Davis adds. “We appreciate that our parents place their children in our trust each day, knowing their children will all have daily meaningful learning experiences that will lead to their development as compassionate, creative, capable, responsible, happy, and caring people who will thrive during their time in Oak Park and into their adult years.”

For more information, visit www.oakparkusd.org; or call 818.735.2000.

Oaks Christian School

Oaks Christian School is a vibrant, dynamic learning community where each student is inspired and encouraged to discover their God-given gifts, talents and passions.

“We have a vibrant campus community that is committed to educating the ‘whole child’ and who puts the student first while also partnering with our parents,” says Head of School Rob Black.

“We offer students a rigorous curriculum, delivered by a highly engaged faculty who mentor and model wisdom, coupled with small classes that delivers a highly successful record of placement into many of the finest colleges and universities in the country and throughout the world.”

Oaks Christian’s signature institutes are considered “unparalleled” among high schools—beginning with an Institute of Arts and Innovation that offers pathways in songwriting, music production, film and television, dance, photography and vocal performance.

“Students gain real-world opportunities with industry professionals and master classes with experts in these fields,” says Black, adding that these students have gone on to produce award-winning documentaries, full-length feature films premiere in theaters and commercial music on Spotify, to name a few.

Additionally, students in the Institute of Engineering have developed complete water delivery systems for rural villages in Honduras, complete fiber optics systems, miniature housing with full electrical and plumbing, affordable wheelchair prototypes and readied products for the market, such as an anti-theft gas cap.

“Our Institute of Global Leadership students have explored the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals and written papers in these areas with proposed solutions to issues such as gender pay equality, the fentanyl crisis and the balance of the justice system,” Black says. “We are now poised to establish two new institutes: The Institute of Health and Sciences and the Institute of Biblical Studies.”

The most popular offerings at Oaks Christian include AP and honors courses in English, math, science, modern and classical languages, engineering and STEM, performing arts (theater, dance, choral and instrumental music), history (WWII, U.S. Government) and visual arts (film, graphic design, drawing and painting, and ceramics).

“We aim to graduate students who will represent our Portrait of a Graduate characteristics,” Black emphasizes. “Oaks Christian School is an exceptional community where students graduate as caring and compassionate servant-leaders who will use their knowledge, gifts and abilities to be positive influences in the world. We teach from a Biblical worldview which is paired with a culture of care to form our three pillars.”

These three pillars are as follows:

  • Knowledge and Wisdom: An Oaks Christian graduate is a discerning, discipline individual whose curiosity propels him/her to innovate.
  • Well-Being and Community: An Oaks Christian graduate is purpose-minded person who acts in a loving manner towards all while maintaining a joyful and sacrificial outlook.
  • Leadership and Character: An Oaks Christian graduate acts with integrity and humility. Collaboration and courage are hallmarks of their character.

As far as the future is concerned, the board of trustees recently announced that Oaks Christian will become a TK to 12 school—starting with adding the fourth grade this fall.

“Oaks Christian School welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds regardless of their personal religious beliefs,” Black adds.

“As a Christian school, we offer all students an opportunity to embrace and further develop their relationship with God or to explore the Christian faith and learn more about the richness of its offerings—we encourage you to learn more about all the many opportunities that Oaks Christian School has to offer and we can’t wait to welcome you to our campus.”

For more information, visit OaksChristian.org or call 818.575.9900.


One Spark Academy

One Spark Academy, a nonprofit learning center for sixth to eighth grade homeschool and independent study students (with many options available for older students), begins classes on August 21. Their current location is the recently closed Conejo YMCA, a rustic and tranquil 35-acre campus, along with a beautiful offsite garden classroom.

To ensure limited distractions and optimal learning, class sizes are small (8 students on average) and the curriculum is student-centered. One Spark Academy is unique, not just in its whole-child, creative approach to education, but in their flexible scheduling: Students can come full time, part time or just for one course per session. Students are also asked to sign a Participant Agreement, committing to not using their technology for personal reasons during the instructional day and being a helpful, kind member of the community. Their tech-free breaks help foster deeper friendships, engagement and mental wellness with outdoor play encouraged. 

Their first Session (7 weeks) will include ample study sessions to help students ease back into learning. However, they will also start the year with some of their most popular courses besides English and math, such as Mapping the World, Viewpoint, Food Fascination, Horticulture, and Pageant of the ReMasters. This year, they are adding more awesome classes, including the Molecular Science Series (taught by Dr. Steve Yoshinaga), The Big History Project, Structures of Anatomy & Life, Fine Art with Art Trek, and Color by Nature (using plants to create dyes and prints for wool, silk and cotton). 

One Spark’s advice to all students who want to be ready for a successful year, no matter where they are going or what grade they will enter, is this: Get adequate rest and acclimate to a routine a week or two before school starts. Boost mental health by adding more healthy foods to diets, being outdoors, being creative, getting exercise and taking long breaks from technology (especially at night!). All these habits will help students build a positive outlook, and in turn, they will be more fully present for a kind, collaborative and productive year of learning.


Santa Monica College: In Malibu, For Malibu

This beautiful and innovative satellite campus, in operation since February 2023, is SMC’s first in Malibu. Sitting on a 3-acre lot directly across from Legacy Park and adjacent to the Malibu Library, this two-story educational building includes a science room, a computer lab, a dedicated art studio, two general classrooms and a lecture hall that sits up to 100 with sloped seating, ideal for lecture series and presentations. The unique multipurpose room, which doubles as an Emergency Operating Center when needed, offers open floor spaces for dance and yoga classes as well as community gatherings.

With plenty of airy open green spaces outdoors, SMC-Malibu is a place where the community can come together to do great things.

There are four types of classes offered at the Malibu Campus: For-credit classes that can be used toward an associate degree or transfer to a 4-year college; noncredit classes for short-term vocational and workforce preparation and certificates; Emeritus classes for older adults seeking self-enrichments that are free of cost, and Community Education classes that are priced reasonably to address the interest of the community at large.

With so many options for varied subjects that range from sciences, arts, music and fitness to informative lecture series and political sciences across different dates and times, anyone who wishes to take a class at SMC-Malibu will find one to their liking. Class offerings change from semester to semester; visit SMC.edu/malibu for the most current class schedules.

For more information, email malibu@smc.edu or call 310.434.8600.

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