Students enrolled 407
School leader Joyce Dara

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421 Entrada Drive
Santa Monica, CA 90402

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(310) 454-7510
(310) 454-7543
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Map of Canyon Elementary School address.

5 stars
Based on 43 ratings

Let others know what you
think about this school

November 17, 2014
Canyon has so many resources: a full time science, computer, and PE coach who are all excellent, music, dance, art, journalism, and a gardening program. There are many Nationally Board Certified teachers, and all are exemplary educators in every regard. All of our daughter's teachers have been so caring, and warm and love teaching and it shows!! Our daughter loves school and we have seen her blossom and thrive in the time she has been enrolled. Safety is a priority; we have no reservations about our child playing after school. I have never seen such a secure and well supervised school. In addition, there is a great emphasis placed on respect for others, and working out conflict through problem solving. There are wonderful children and families and the children are lovely to each other. In addition, there is parent involvement that is unbelievable. It is truly amazing what they are able to accomplish. All this, and a Principal that is warm, fair and caring to the children, listens patiently with an open mind to any and all parental concerns and works very hard to facilitate a positive outcome for all involved. She has unparelled energy, enthusiasm and leadership capacity.

- submitted by a parent
November 10, 2014
A small, caring school community with excellent teachers, and a safe no-bullying environment. Our child thrived here in every way! We got in by lottery, and I understand how other lottery parents might feel on-the-outs from the perceived clique of those who live in the surrounding, upscale area. They're all neighbors, and have know each other for years folks! So if you're a lottery parent, here's what you do: Volunteer! Get to know your fellow parents, join committees, be a room mom or dad, volunteer at book fair, pumpkin patch, booster club - there are so many ways to get involved - be pro-active and very quickly you'll realize that you have a bunch of great new parent friends!

- submitted by a parent
May 18, 2014
We love this school!! Our daughter started this school about 2 weeks late, we got in through the lottery system and cannot believe how lucky we are! She is so happy and completely thriving. Her k teacher is amazing and the parent involvement is beyond anything I have ever experienced.

- submitted by a parent
March 10, 2014
I have two kids at the school. We have had great teachers and the kids feel very comfortable with the teachers and the administration. The campus has a warm and comfortable feel to it and feels like a real community. Facilities are very well cared for and constantly being updated. Parents are very active in the school and particularly in the classroom. There are always extra parents helping and lots of opportunities to participate in the class, on field trips and for special school-wide events. It may not be a good fit for people who just need or want to drop their child off, as there is significant emphasis on financial and actual participation. However, if you want to be involved in your school, I cannot think of a better place to do it..

- submitted by a parent
January 21, 2014
this is our first year at canyon. we couldn't be happier! we love my daughter's k teacher and the families are very nice. we're upset the principal is leaving because she is wonderful.

- submitted by a parent
January 20, 2014
Overall Canyon is a very good school with caring and involved teachers. I think the principal is excellent (although sadly leaving this year). Bullying is not tolerated at all. period. For the most part the kids are a great bunch and get along well with each other. There are many down-to-earth, fabulous parents as well. But the person who said many of them are money-aware and will only associate themselves with others in their own "set" was sadly correct. It's a very affluent neighborhood and if you don't live it in, you can feel like an outsider. It feels very clique-y that way. Like most other public schools Canyon is way to wedded to standardized test results and there is a lot of teaching to the test, to the detriment of the kids. The Booster Club (and the core group of parents who essentially make it a full time job) do a fantastic job raising extra funds for things the school district would not otherwise provide. Unfortunately the lion share of the money goes toward buying more computers. When infrastructure is lacking and the arts and music program isn't nearly as robust as it should be, I don't think every kid needs an iPad. Just sayin'!

- submitted by a parent
September 03, 2013
I love, love, love this gem of an elementary school. I was a teacher in LAUSD, and before we moved to the neighborhood we were in SMMUSD, so I have experience with other schools. Canyon's Parent Leadership, Administration, Teachers, and support staff are TOP NOTCH!! We are so lucky to live in this neighborhood and able to walk to our fabulous school!

- submitted by a parent
August 29, 2013
This is a small gem of a school. Part of LAUSD, Canyon has been able to hire and retain excellent teachers and a caring Principal. The kids certainly love it and the tests scores are through the roof. However, Canyon is still dependent on LAUSD and thus some of the infrastructure of the school is wanting. Repairs seem to take forever and key maintenance issues are delayed over and over again. Parents tend to step in when things get bad but it should not be necessary.

- submitted by a parent
August 28, 2013
This school has had its principal replaced from 2008 - it's me! There seems to be some incorrect information between comments from 5 years ago and now. Canyon school is a warm, welcoming school and I pride myself on the collaborative work we do at every level - and every person is welcome to be a part of the process and product. My door is always welcome. My staff is highly trained and always open to learn and improve. We are the best because we invest in our school and our students constantly and consistently! Come check us out! Canyoncharter.com joycedara.com

- submitted by a community member
August 19, 2013
We love most everything about Canyon! This is our second year. We feel fortunate to be here. The school has strong teachers, fabulous fundraising efforts and parent involvement. I have had positive communication with the principal. There are some people with their noses in the air but arrogance masks fear so too bad for them! We simply choose to not be that way. We have met some very kind and down-to-earth people.

- submitted by a parent
May 15, 2013
Several of us agree fully with the parent who said that Canyon is a terrific school....in spite of....the immaturity (not by age) and poor judgments of the Principal. With such a strong parent involvement in this Charter School, and so many people displeased with the Principal, it's surprising that she's not been replaced. She's now been there enough years that any influence we have in changing her attitudes have taken whatever positive effect they could have achieved. She isn't changing....she 'knows it all'. But despite her, the school brings out the best in teachers and students and the parent who commented on it being in a really safe, even idyllic setting was ever so right. What a privilege to be a Canyon graduate!

- submitted by a parent
May 14, 2013
There are great and mediocre things about the school. One great thing is zero tolerance for bullying which the school admin takes seriously. Some of the school buildings are kind of shabby - they're a series of trailer-ish things. Most of the kids are very sweet to each other but the parents are very very very "money aware" and only socialize with parents of similar or better financial standing in the little canyon community. The parent organization is very highschool clique-y but it does a fantastic job raising money for the school and the events are fun. We've had terrific and mediocre teachers who were equally enthusiastic. The classes are big and the focus is very much about performance on the standardized tests. Overall a good experience but the teachers and principal are definitely far more interested in the wealthiest of the wealthy families. So if you can overlook the snarky parents, the kids are mostly kind and it's a good school and a safe environment.

- submitted by a parent
March 11, 2011
This is our first year at Canyon and I couldn't be happier. The teachers and staff are incredible. They do a great job differentiating in the classroom, so that those students who need extra work or are ahead get challenged. Parent involvement is what makes Canyon so unique and special. Canyon is like a private and public school rolled into one-- all the best of both. I feel so lucky to be able to send my kids to such a special school

- submitted by a parent
October 22, 2010
LOVE this school! My daughter came to Canyon as a 4th grader from a private school. Canyon was just what she needed! She was challenged academically, nurtured and she now has friends she will probably keep for many years to come! Upon culminating from Canyon, she went to New Roads in Santa Monica ( a great transition). Canyon prepared her very well for middle school. My only regret is that she couldn't have been there sooner!

- submitted by a parent
September 07, 2010
Canyon is a small idyllic environment where students receive an excellent learning experience. They leave well prepared to meet the demands of secondary school.

- submitted by a parent
May 11, 2010
My children and grandchildren have attended this school and it is exceptional in parent involvment and teacher excellence

- submitted by a parent
March 23, 2010
We feel so blessed to have gotten into this school on the lottery system! Our daughter is in her third year there and is absolutely blossoming. Her understanding of the material is so much more than just facts and figures, she is given experiences every day that give her a personal appreciation for everything she is learning. She adores her school and her teachers have been exceptional. Things got a bit bumpy as we received a new diagnosis of a learning disability last year, but the resource staff have been unbelievably supportive and really care about our child. They have never said no to any request, and have offered up support I didn;t even know was available. I can't imagine having to go through this anywhere else. Parent involvement is like nothing I've ever seen and the ideas of community and character are stressed in everthing they do. Simply awesome!

- submitted by a parent
January 26, 2010
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
January 25, 2010
Canyon is such a wonderful school. It combines challenging academics in a warm and nurturing environment. I really get the sense that all of the teachers care about each and every student. The parent involvement is phenomenal. The new principal is dynamic and energetic. The after school program is exceptional! I could go on and on but suffice it to say that Canyon is an outstanding example of what public school should be.

- submitted by a parent
October 03, 2009
Best elementary school on the Westside, hands down! Great families, wonderful teachers and a fantastic new principal.

- submitted by a parent
September 10, 2008
All around excellent school. Teachers are at every level superb. Students and parents very involved. All the students feel engaged in the school. It has the feel of a private school without all the inherent problems of most privates. The teachers here are far more experienced than at the privates we checked out. And the fund raising, though aggressive (where isn't it nowadays?) is not off the hook as it is at the privates. We feel very lucky to have gotten into this school on the lottery system. Many families try.

- submitted by a parent
September 09, 2008
Thanks to a vigorous and strong Parent board the school survives despite the immaturity and poor judgement of the Principal. Teachers are dedicated equally to all of the children regardless of the child's skill level, truly no one is left behind academically or socially. Differential methodology in the classroom creates targeted learning opportunities. Excellent teachers, working under a grossly substandard Principal/Manager who does not hold herself accountable and is frankly quite alienating and unwelcoming.

- submitted by a parent
October 24, 2007
I have child in the second grade. Support staff and the rest of the faculty are masterful, warm, accessible and all obsessed with nurturing kids into being life long learners. Terrific Music program, Art program and Computer Lab.

- submitted by a parent
September 18, 2007
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
August 17, 2007
My son attended this school k-5. I found his teachers and other staff excellent, involved and for the most part wise. The school has an active parent involvement which has its UP-side but there is a downside to this which I feel the principal for the most part navigates through extremely well, lending a fair and firm hold on the school as overly enthusiastic parents push their little ones up the ladder of elementary school stardom with little regard to the integrity of the student body as a whole. Many parents bring in their expertise to the classroom offering a wonderful glimpse into areas that may sparkle the imagination of the students- chefs, bankers, scientist, architects, writers, photographers, drumming circles, jazz bands...The teachers for the most part were fair and thoughtful as well as qualified. The 'family-time' element truly unifies the students and teachers and the librarian is just amazing!

- submitted by a parent
August 15, 2007
If it were not for the leadership of the teachers and parents this school would not be what it is today - A warm, safe, creative place to learn, grow and discover. The Principal holds this school back from reaching it's full potential, she is it's biggest detriment. She is inaccessible, inconsistent, dishonest and grossly insecure.

- submitted by a parent
August 14, 2007
Canyon has great, dedicated teachers, strong parent involvement and is small enough that every student can be known and appreciated by the staff. The school lacks a coherent art program, and can only offer PE on an irregular basis. Kindergarten days are short. The other grades also have a short school day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, an odd arrangement. Overall, the small-town feel of the school and the caring staff make Canyon Charter a solid, traditional public school.

- submitted by a parent
May 30, 2007
All three of my children have attended Canyon Charter Elementary school. It is a truly wonderful place for education and growth. However, the principal is very difficult to work with and appears to have her own agenda all the time.

- submitted by a parent
May 14, 2007
Canyon is just about everything you would want for your child's elementary school experience. The curriculum is very good but could have a greater focus on science. Just about all of the teachers are extremely good with the exception of a few. They treat the children with respect and encourage free thought. Parent involvement is huge and necessary as is fundraising in order to keep the non LAUSD programs funded. Because of the parent involvement Canyon has a small town feel. It is a very close community. The library is the original one room school house (A historic landmark) and has recently been renovated. There is even a charming librarian who knows every child who visits and what their favorite genre is. The leadership at the Principal level is the only thing lacking. With a new open minded Principal who would work with parents Canyon could soar even higher.

- submitted by a parent
May 05, 2007
Small and personal. Proactive support staff, dedicated, passionate, inspiring teachers, principal is insecure and suffocating to parents and faculty.

- submitted by a parent
February 20, 2007
This is a very special school--intimate and nurturing--a great way to begin the years of school to follow. What would make it better? Dynamic leadership with offensive thinking about ideas and how to meet challenges to keep Canyon on the cutting edge. The parents are just part of that responsibility and as such truly lead, but it is not our primary responsibility alone.

- submitted by a parent
September 18, 2006
A spectacular school! Better than any private school around!

- submitted by a parent
April 13, 2006
This school is a wonderful place to go to elementary school. Most teachers are exciting and committed. The parents are dynamic and involved. The location is special and magical. Not perfect by any means, but offers a high quality academic program with ever growing extra curriculars including arts and music.

- submitted by a parent
March 31, 2006
An excellent public school with a unique community feel. The kids are happy, engaged, and love their school.

- submitted by a parent
March 27, 2006
Small classes - tenured teachers who have been with the school for many years. Powerful presence by local parents. Enormous capacity for fundraising. Great school for k - 5.

- submitted by a parent
no rating March 03, 2006
Small, intimate, positive, personal. Principal has ineffective H.R. management skills which keep the school and teaching staff from achieving their fullest potential. Dedicated parent group, dedicated staff. The teachers (most all of them) are truly, truly masterful and creative. A rare gem in a terrible school system.

- submitted by a parent
January 19, 2006
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
July 31, 2005
Great school if you can get in. Parents are very involved. Small community a chance to get to know everyone.

- submitted by a parent
May 16, 2005
For a public school you can't go wrong. Excellent teachers, great parent involvement.

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2005
Canyon is an excellent choice for a charter school. The parent involvement is outstanding. The student body consists of a broad mix of students of all ethnic and social background reflecting on the diversity of Los Angeles.

- submitted by a parent
April 12, 2005
Great school. Wonderful settings.Feels private

- submitted by a former student
March 04, 2005
This school is excellent and the parental involvement is high. It has a reputation of being a bit Hollywood which it is but everyone seems to care.

- submitted by a parent
September 08, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
August 25, 2003
We moved our son to this school for the start of 4th grade and were only sorry to have missed the experience of having him educated entirely at Canyon Charter. He is shy and sensitive, not the typically outgoing young boy, but unlike his previous school, he does not fall through the cracks here. He can spend recess in the library if he likes (but now plays outside, having grown so comfortable with the kind, inclusive children there)...but that is only the beginning of the variety of ways they 'make room' for all types of kids. Because the school is so small and the staff so interested in every child, there is a definite family feel. There are numerous extracurricular activities (including orchestra and choir, chess, storytelling, etc.)...and where our son faced some bullying at the old, larger school, here it would be inconceivable. He is, in fact, looked after by the bigger kids. The education has been first rate. The teachers and staff first rate, and the parents and children lovely people. I cannot say enough about the school, from the principal to the crossing guard--every one of them knows my son's name and gives him a hello, drawing him out of shell daily, making sure he feels secure enough to participate in class. He is looking forward to going back to school next week--really!

- submitted by a parent
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Canyon Elementary School
421 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica, CA  90402
(310) 454-7510
Last modified Canyon Elementary School is a Charter school that serves grades K-5. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 10 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Canyon Elementary School Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 44 reviews. Top