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St. James Academy

Private | PK-8 | 271 students


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Living in Solana Beach

Situated in an urban neighborhood. The median home value is $702,500. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,870.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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4 stars

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35 reviews of this school

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Posted June 29, 2014

The person below is right about bullying, but it is worst among the parents who throw their weight around - with each other, the principal and the poor teachers. And it is really sad when they exclude other kids. My friends and I agree that our kids had an awesome year. There was lots of controversy in our class this year, but we want everyone to know that 6th grade is sensational, and we are looking forward to a stupendous junior high!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted June 10, 2014

Unfortunately, the main problem with this school is Bullying. Especially in the mid-level grades. The Principal does not address the bullying with the questionable families- she fears upsetting them since they give the school lots of money. Nice, huh??
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 13, 2012

Wow, what a great school indeed! The teachers are fabulous and that is the most important thing. They are so dedicated, professional and patient - I don't know how they do it all. If you are looking for a school that is the whole package, this is it. Faith, community, safety, academics, arts, music, foreign language, lab sciences, technology, field trips...nothing is missing. Parents are really involved too, and that is a positive thing. I can't stress enough, from the warm and loving preschool, through the fun and challenging younger grades, to the high achieving upper grades, what a great experience this school will provide your child. I am so happy my children have been here.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 23, 2012

Saint James Academy is an excellent school!. My child has thrived here. The academics are above standard, (the school is adding Ipads this year), the teachers care about the children and there is a strong sense of community. Parents are encouraged to be involved with volunteering and are welcome in the classrooms. The children are taught to be kind and to respect one another. The school truly is a gem and we are could not be more proud to send our child here. Definitely check it out!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 15, 2011

I have had the opposite experience from some previous posters: I love this school, the teachers and the principal. First grade was fantastic for my child, and we love the teacher. She is great with the kids - loving, patient, kind, firm, and dedicated. She taught them so much! I don't know why anybody would ever leave St. James!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 26, 2011

Another Christian value is honestly. How many of last year's graduating class tested into geometry? The year before the school shared with the parents the high school math placement scores. They bragged about the high number of kids that tested into geometry. Last year's class parents could not get an answer out of the principal - because she knew the scores were a reflection on the poor math teaching skills this class had received. Last year's class was taught math for two years by in inept teacher and their math scores reflected it. This inept teacher is still at the school.

Posted May 21, 2011

Good grief ! The negative comments seem more focused on the personal struggles parents have rather than the quality of education children receive here. Enrollment is down like many private schools in poor economic times. Also, there are some excellent alternatives nearby in the public schools and a competing Catholic school which opened within the past five years. St. James Academy is a traditional, Catholic education for K-8 students. The standards are high and parents are expected to help bring their children along in the Faith, volunteer for the school or parish, and help in fundraising efforts. We're expected to act like ...well, Christians and I am glad the standards are what they are here. It shows in the results. The results are indisputable. SJA graduates go on to high schools like Cathedral Catholic, St Augustine Prep, Our Lady of Peace, Santa Fe Christian, as well as the fine public schools. It is not an exception to hear that SJA graduates attend Notre Dame, Boston College, Villanova, Stanford, Berkeley, Gonzaga, Santa Clara, UCLA, USD,DePaul, USC, among others, SJA Graduates become achievers. Submitted by Brian Brady
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 18, 2011

I feel badly for parents who may be conned by the glowing reviews. They probably have been written by St. James employees or parent volunteers. In a nutshell, the teachers simply do not care. The cold, unapproachable principal's main concern is money. Parent volunteers are allowed to play favorites. It is true that St. James does rely heavily on parent volunteerism. These parents truly run the show. One parent coach played her own daughter and her daughter's friends heavily while letting other equally skilled girls sit on the bench. Many parents were furious and complained, but the principal did nothing. Another BIG volunteer and PTA member put extremely inappropriate photos on her Facebook regarding her child's class project. The principal was made aware. Again, she took no action. The parent is still a HUGE presence at the school. This, and the poor quality of teachers compelled us to find a new school. Our children BLOOMED in their new school. The teachers actually care about their students. Volunteers are not authority figures. The teams are coached by professionals. The Christmas program is run by teachers. It is such relief it is to be out of such a poorly run school.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 7, 2011

Opinions are subjective. Lets be fair as to what this school is about. 1) Small school - 1 class per grade. 2) Solid academics - The bar is set high and can be challenging at times for all. 3) Well funded. - active parents organize and raise A LOT of money that not only fill a $900 gap per student but provides for additional expenses. 4) excellent facility. - Smart boards in every class, updated computers, very nice buildings. Strong financial management. 5) Strong family connections -'parents in prayers' groups, parents in class. Social fund raisers. 6) Noticeably well mannered and mature students. The expectations are high at this school and it can be challenging for almost all at times - for parents as well. 1 class per grade and they don't teach to Lowest common denominator. This may not be best for some, although as they strive to hit the bar and meet the challenge they learn more than a mediocre experience. No school or teacher is perfect. Not all parents will get along. Maybe because its smaller the little issue become larger in scale to some. St James is an academical above-average school that will more than prepare your child for the next step.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 4, 2011

Saint James Academy, I give it two thumbs down. Moving on after this year is over.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 27, 2011

A once great school that has gone to the dogs. The staff, parents and new principal all deserve their current miserable state. The school is in major financial trouble despite the flood of Range Rovers, Mercedes and other high-end vehicles driven by the "Housewives of Orange County" wannabes. It's perhaps one of the only Catholic schools I've ever seen where the priest is so detached most kids have no idea who he is. The parish is in financial ruin and so is the school. With the value of the land - and many rumors about the dioceses selling the land - I doubt SJA will be around in 5 years. Go someplace else...St. John in Encinitas or Notre Dame in Carmel Valley. We moved our one child and it's like shackles were removed.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 17, 2011

I have two boys at this school and although they are not above average they are doing fine. There is no perfect school. This school has its issues, but the new principal is very approachable and willing to work with each family if you have a legitimate concern. Everyone from the front office staff to the junior high staff really cares about the kids. The curriculum is challenging (but that's what we want, right?) and the kids are definitely not taught down to, but the teachers are willing work with your child if needed. There are lots of after school options, and activities from sports to homework club. If you are looking for a challenging curriculum, good teachers, and a place where your kids can grow spiritually and academically this is a good school for you.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 10, 2011

We drive far so our child can attend here because the school fosters a sense of community & encourages stewardship: teachers look out for the kids, families look out for other families, older kids look out for younger ones. It s also academically challenging in the best way. I love the organic garden the kindergarten class nurtures, while at the same time learning the science behind it, the Spanish classes that teach our children a valuable skill & cultural appreciation, the music & arts programs that instill a love of culture and builds confidence among the kids. I love the feedback mechanism the school has: always an open door by the Principal & teachers where feedback is heard & acted upon. I love the family concept they have with the kids, grouping one kid per grade & forming school families of K-8th graders. These kids care about each other & that s fostered by programs the school puts in place. I can t think of a better place for my kids to go to school, to be challenged academically, to grow spiritually both in a religious sense as well as a larger sense of understanding how one can impact the world around them. It s a rare commodity & one that is taught 100 fold at St James
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 10, 2011

This school is a hidden gem! It is a wonderful community of people that really care. My son is learning so much and is only in kindergarten! He is now reading at a first grade level thanks to the curriculum at St. James. I can't say enough positive things about my experience here so far. The principal is doing a great job as well - I can only imagine how difficult it can be dealing with parents in general, but particularly in this community but she handles it with grace, helping everyone feel included and appreciated. For the most part, the parents are all great, active in the community, kind to one another and love each and every one of the kids. The staff is wonderful, curriculum is robust and overall it is a great place!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 7, 2011

Academically this is a great school if you have an above average kid. They will be challenged and get a good education. Some are frustrated, many of my friends have tutors for their kids. I think all of the teachers are very good, except for a couple. Leadership is lacking, and the principal needs to put the best interest of our kids first when she makes decisions. While it is faith-filled with the potential to be better, I do not think the community is as great as the comment below said it was. There is a small group of truly kind and generous people, but there is too much gossip and entitlement, and not enough sincere appreciation for the school or respect for the teachers. We have been in this school for many years, and as a parent of three I can say that if you are looking for a school with a great group of kids, a nice campus, and lots of academic and extra curricular opportunities for your child, this is a school to consider seriously.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 3, 2011

I currently have 3 children enrolled at St. James Academy. They are all very happy at school and thriving in their classes. There are many extra-curricular activities and sports that are offered that my children enjoy. The principal, who is in her 2nd year at SJA, has made many positive changes and there are many more to come. The families and community at SJA are wonderful. Please don't let the negativity of some of these reviews influence you on that. The experience is what you make of it, and first & foremost, it is your child's journey. If you are looking for a solid, spiritually fulfilling, top-notch education for your child, you should consider St. James Academy.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 21, 2011

I am a former parent. I can say confidently from many years of experience that the St. James program develops well-rounded, well-spoken, well-educated, responsible students. St. James graduates stand out when they get to high school for their maturity, thoughtfulness and strong capabilities in every area. The new principal (2010-11 is her second year) methodically assesses programs and does not hesitate to make improvements where needed. The parent community is smart and supportive. Many parents are affluent with very high expectations for perfection---some miss the big picture at times. Note that if your child has special needs-on the low or very high achieving academic end, this may not be the school for you.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 12, 2011

I have two children attending SJA with a third entering next year. Prior to enrolling, we interviewed two other parochial schools in the area. We decided on SJA because of the community. The families at this school are very welcoming- but you have to be open to it and put your time in also. Like any school, you can find negatives when you look or become disgruntled. Overall I'm very satisfied with where the school is and where it's going. Our new principle is a strong leader and has a clear vision for the school. If you are looking for a school where you can bend the rules for your child to stand out and succeed alone, this may not be the environment for you. However, if you're looking for a school where the whole community is there to support your child as well as their own (as has been my experience) then check out Saint James. For my kids the educational curriculum has been great, but their "whole person" education has been amazing!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 14, 2011

SJA is a fantastic environment for my children both for the quality of education and the cocoon of a loving small school. I agree that not all the teachers are super fantastic but, where are they all great? The school is sweet and so are the children that go there. If you want a school with no drugs, no bullies, no sex, this is the school for you. My children score in the tof 1% of the nation. The school has a lot to with this. I am a working mom and so are my friends. We do not feel excluded in any way.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted November 8, 2010

SJA has been an excellent place for my two children to go to school. The new principal has throughtfully implemented changes to the school that have enhanced the learning experience as well as the grounds, The whole-child curriculum is seen in the time given to the strong music program and character-buillding exercises. If you are looking for a faith-based school with a strong, involved parent community, I highly recommend SJA.
—Submitted by a parent

Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
White 77% 26%
Two or more races 14% 3%
Hispanic 5% 52%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 3% 1%
Asian or Pacific Islander 1% 11%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 1%
Black 0% 6%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

School facilities
  • Computer lab
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School basics

School Leader's name
  • Ms. Kathy Dunn
  • Coed
  • Roman catholic
  • NCEA


Specific academic themes or areas of focus

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  • Religious


School facilities
  • Computer lab
  • Library
Partnerships with local resources and organizations
  • Diocese of San Diego
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623 South Nardo Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: (858) 755-1777


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