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K-8
Public
Santa Barbara, CA

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4025 Foothill Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

School website
(805) 683-3127
(805) 683-2427
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Map of Open Alternative School address.

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January 12, 2014
Loving it. It's our first year, but with three children attending already have a broad swath of experience :) Teachers and office staff are caring, nurturing and respect every student as a unique human being. A great family feel, and I have never once heard my children complain of boredom. There are Choice classes on Fridays (fun arts and crafts type classes taught by parents), each child learns at their own level... One of the most important aspects I consider to be the Core Group which happens daily, teaching emotional maturity! Each class sits in a circle, and students go around one-at a time discussing their recent experiences and expressing concerns/ appreciations about their school-day or personal life. This promotes emotional maturity in the child. Self-reflection, and skills to work with others are a key part of succeeding in navigation modern life--- neighbors and co-workers will be from varied cultures and backgrounds: children learn to express their joy and also state their boundaries with others in a group atmosphere---assuaging the origin of antisocial behavior (i.e. bullying or acting out) since each child feels personally heard and understood by peers and teachers.

- submitted by a parent
September 05, 2013
So fun...Teacher's nice. Fixing the balls and books would be good. I love my school. (:

- submitted by a community member
September 04, 2013
A warehouse for children. A total disappointment. our kid was not taught how to read, write or do anything useful. While there, we witnessed the decline and transformation of a once prosperous learning institution to a sad and depressing and hostile environment for our kid. Bad news. BTW, the comments from 2009 are very accurate, It's just not the same school today.

- submitted by a parent
August 26, 2013
We love our school because they have indoor and outdoor class.our kids are always happy to go to school. We enjoy the end of year family camping trip for each grade. We love the theater arts and other electives that are taught by both parents and teachers in music and And other areas of interest. We enjoy the friendly staff and the encouragement they give toward parent participation. I wouldn't change anything about OAS they really support the family unit. We can't say enough good things we totally LOVE our school.

- submitted by a parent
April 21, 2011
We have had our children at OAS for a total of 9 years so far. My eldest is now in Jr. high and thriving both socially as well as academically. I believe this is proof of the wonderful teaching going on at OAS. The hands-on approach to learning academics along with the emphasis on the importance of learning to be socially responsible, have made this wonderful school stand out. Core Group is an amazing part of each day's curriculum in every grade. It is a vehicle for dealing with challenges that may come up for students during the day, as well as appreciations that want to be expressed. Core Group fosters a safe and effective environment for students to work out social challenges. The two head teachers that have been at OAS since my children have attended, have held both teaching, as well as administrative credentials. The philosophy of Progressive Education at OAS means that administrators and teachers are consistently learning new methods and theories to advance the learning that takes place. Many parents, like myself, are also involved in the learning that happens at OAS, and the best part for our family is that the environment at this school is organic and authentic.

- submitted by a parent
April 20, 2011
Our children have learned to learn, not just memorize. They've learned to have an appreciation for education while also learning how to respect others. Granted, our children started in kindergarden and had the full OAS experience while others (bullies?) may have more trouble adjusting when coming in later. This is a problem in all schools. Our eldest child is a straight A student in junior high after attending seven years of OAS. And while I'm pleased at the grades I'm more pleased to know that my children enjoy school and learning. As far as leadership goes, OAS has had some unfortunate circumstances due to budget cuts, etc. that have required an inordinate amount of principal time and effort. Overall I'm pleased with leadership and the parent participation in the school. The school does a great job with it's limited resources and it's amazing that it is a free public school open to anyone in the Santa Barbara Elementary School District!

- submitted by a parent
April 19, 2011
I notice a lot of the reviews are from 2009. This is our second and final year at OAS and I feel it is slipping away. We have had trouble with bullying all year. The teachers are great but their hands are tied in matters of getting the kids to listen or behave. The current head teacher (a.k.a. principal) is not credentialed or, in my opinion, qualified to run a school. This fact is slowly degrading the quality of education and the experience at OAS.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 12, 2010
OAS is a wonderful school, that is truly a community of teachers, staff, children and parents who come together to offer a unique, engaging, and effective learning experience.

- submitted by a parent
August 17, 2010
My children have excelled at the Open Alternative School! Academically, they are pushed to their potential. OAS has the ability to individualize instruction which sets this school above all other public schools. The students at OAS are responsible, caring and bright. I am proud to say my children attend OAS.

- submitted by a parent
May 04, 2010
OAS is criticized for it's lack of academics by people who have never set foot on our campus. The truth is OAS students are superior academically. Here are a few facts... -3 out of 4 of the La Cumbre students chosen for the Tri-County Gate Leadership Conference were OAS students. -The two essays awarded for the ADL 7th-12th grade contest were OAS students currently in the 7th grade. -The Renaissance Club (Honors Club) has an extremely high percentage of OAS students. Get the facts on OAS, it's an amazing school!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 22, 2010
My children love going to school! They are flowering in an engaging environment that creates a love for learning and instills respect for others.

- submitted by a parent
February 22, 2010
OAS has a style of teaching that encourages individuality, independence and self worth... yet, not all of the teachers have mastered the delicate balance between this type of child centered instruction and the need for clear expectations and structure. The school is a parent co-op, but leans more on parents than any other co-op I've been exposed to. Be prepared to participate financially and physicially in every class activity. Their lunch program is excellent and the on campus child care teacher is its most valuable asset.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 03, 2009
The people and the relationships and the caring are the best! Kids are not squashed but allowed to blossom at their own individual rate.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 23, 2009
Open Alternative School has been a great place for my 6th grader. He's learned a lot about treating people with respect, feeling confident his his ideas and abilities, excelling in creative writing, math and the sciences. Most of all, he has a love of learning that he can take with him to all his other places of learning throughout his life.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 23, 2009
OAS's non traditional way of teaching enriches the students life in ways that 'traditional' classrooms don't. It allows the student to not just grow as a student but also as a person. They teach math, reading and other 'technical' elementary school classes but also teach them about interaction, how to express themselves, and how to develop their own learning style.

- submitted by a parent
September 18, 2009
I love participating at OAS. As a parent I got to collaborate with the children in writing an original theater play. It was the funnest thing I've done in my life. I'm doing it again this year, since it was so fun. Children are creative, and OAS encourages their creativity and free thinking. Our children were slow to start reading. OAS teachers didn't rush them or punished them for it. They knew the children would come to reading at their own speed. Now they both love reading and devour books. If they had been singled out for not reading in their earlier years, I'm sure they wouldn't love reading now. Thanks for reading, Isaac

- submitted by a parent
September 18, 2009
OAS teaches kids to think...not just follow instructions

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 18, 2009
It has amazing, dedicated teachers. The school has a healthy lunch program that includes food from the school's organic garden. There is a strong emphasis on outdoor and environmental education including camping trips from 2nd grade on. It also has annual class plays. Core group sharing is a daily event where students discuss 'concerns' and 'appreciations' and there is a Peer Mediation Program. All in all a strong, small, (k-8) progressive school.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 17, 2009
Freedom to teach our kids the way they individually need to learn and not put them in a box.

- submitted by a parent
September 17, 2009
I love Alternative School because along with the basics, my children are learning how to be caring, sharing, citizens of the world.

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2009
A great school where children learn to love themselves and learning.

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2009
I love Open Alternative School because children are taught to respect each other and challenge themselves.

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2009
OAS - Love Where You Learn OAS is an oasis (ha ha) for humane, thoughtful and caring education. It is an overwhelmingly undervalued community resource that would benefit immensely from any injection of funding. Their staff is the most committed and industrious group of teachers I have ever had the pleasure and honor of knowing.

- submitted by a community member
no rating September 16, 2009
I love our teachers, especially Ann. They have such great respect and love for the children as individuals.

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2009
I love Open Alternative School because our philosophy is to recognize and provide what truly nurtures children, individually and collectively as a community. We encourage non-violent communication with a strong dedication to peace and awareness.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 16, 2009
I love the child-centered learning, where each child's mind, body and spirit is nurtured in a supportive and caring environment. The philosophy at OAS cultivates a life-long love of learning and enthusiasm for life while also holding each child to high academic standards.

- submitted by a parent
no rating September 16, 2009
OAS- a place where a child can be a child and learn to grow to be a thoughful and caring human and along the way learn the mechanics of being educated.

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2009
I love how are school stimulates creativity and a desire to learn while encouraging a family atmosphere!

- submitted by a parent
February 11, 2009
OAS is an amazing public school and different from all traditional schools. There are no A,B,C grades. Year grades are combined, such as K-1, 2-3, 4-5, etc. Everyone is on a first-name basis. All classes from 2-3 on put on amazing 45 minute plays and go on camping trips to learn about the environment. We take many field trips each year. The big kids are book-buddies and big-buddies to the little kids. Even kindergardeners create a science project (with a lot of help), so by the time they are in 4th grade, they can easily make one on their own because it will be their fifth! This is truly an amazingly different school, one I wish was around when I went to school. Do your kids a favor and check out the most fun school they could possibly attend. They will thank you the rest of their life!

- submitted by a parent
November 23, 2008
OAS has fantastic teachers. Half the parents are passionate about education and the other half are a bit nuts, but benevolently so. Parents and students can define the kind of education that they want. Students learn to think of themselves and others as individuals, not as types. This is a lesson I still cherish. I did have trouble adjusting to the structure in high school. Now I'm at a top ranked college and looking back I think the passion for learning, self-confidence and social skills I got from OAS helped me more than the structure thing hurt me. The kids I grew up are the kids who stand up and speak when someone is being picked on or authority is misused. Recently my OAS friends' mother, a teacher, went to a board meeting on immigration and found, to her surprise, that her daughters were serving as panelists. That s us ^_^

- submitted by a student
August 26, 2008
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
June 18, 2008
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
May 22, 2008
If you want to participate in your child's education then this is the place for you. If you want children who learn to think for themselves then check it out. If you want to stimulate your child's creativity then join us. Children naturally enjoy learning and Open Alternative School preserves that joy.

- submitted by a parent
no rating May 13, 2008
My two children have flourished at OAS. They have been instilled with a strong sense of social justice. The eldest had no problem transitioning to a traditional school setting. the school taught them to be responsible for their own learning.

- submitted by a parent
March 16, 2008
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
March 14, 2008
I'm an ex-student. I did not reciev enough direction while at OAS, I believe that very few of my fellow students worked well in the undisciplined environment. I think that I learned very little from my time at OAS. Although attending OAS was great fun, it was not at all challenging or structured.

- submitted by a student
January 22, 2007
My son has blossomed at this school, the academics are terrific and the emphasis on the 'whole child' learning experience is phenomenal.

- submitted by a parent
April 23, 2006
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a former student
March 02, 2005
This is the best school we found in Santa Barbara after careful consideration. We love it. The teachers are great and the parents are very involved. The theater program is outstanding. Children learn to be leaders and to think for themselves. I couldn't think of anything better for my children.

- submitted by a parent
October 28, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
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Last modified: October 28, 2014

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Open Alternative School
4025 Foothill Road, Santa Barbara, CA  93110
(805) 683-3127
Last modified Open Alternative School is a Public school that serves grades K-8. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 5 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Open Alternative School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 40 reviews. Top