Overview of Pacific Elementary School
Founded in 1906, Pacific Elementary School serves approximately 130 preschool through sixth grade children. It is located in the town of Davenport, California, about ten miles north of Santa Cruz.
Pacific is proud to sponsor several unique signature programs, which make it a leader in innovative experiential learning.
First, the coordinated Life Lab (school garden) and FoodLab (school lunch) programs have received numerous rewards and national and international attention. Together, the two programs teach students of all ages nutrition, gardening, life science, healthy eating, and cooking skills. The youngest students begin with simple gardening tasks and assisting with preparing and cleaning up healthy snacks and meals. As students grow older they take on greater responsibility for composting, planting, harvesting, measuring, recording, and planning experiments. Finally, in the fifth and sixth grades, students assist in preparing school lunches, including cooking, menu planning, and nutritional analysis.
Second, Independent Study is a parent-involved program consisting of a blend of three days per week of classroom learning and two days per week of home study supplemented by three parent-organized field trips per month. The classroom learning is focused on the core academic areas of Language Arts and Math. This focus allows parents to reinforce material as needed and focus on science, social studies, the arts, and P.E. Many parents who might not feel prepared or logistically able to fully home school their student are comfortable taking on this narrower educational responsibility. Starting in 2020, Pacific School also offers a Home Study program designed to serve families looking for an entirely home-based educational option.
Third, Pacific School is one of few public schools in Santa Cruz to maintain an active gifted and talented education (GATE) program. Students identified as appropriate for GATE receive supplemental instruction designed to challenge and excite them about learning, as well as have the opportunity to advance at an accelerated rate through the mathematics curriculum.
In addition to these unique programs, Pacific School's outstanding Preschool and K-6 Classrooms emphasize experiential learning in an adult-rich, respectful, supportive environment, in keeping with the school's Mission and Vision Statements. All students benefit from Pacific School's commitment to a well-rounded hands-on, project-based education, including consistent instruction throughout the grades in technology and media literacy and music. In 2019-20, we adopted the FOSS science curriculum, which supports students in all grades in directly observing, discovering, thinking, exploring, modeling, and engineering. Various After School Activities further enrich students' experiences at school, as well as provide options for working and busy families. Pacific School accepts a limited number of out-of-district students, based on space available and the school's New Family Enrollment policies.
Finally, much of what is essential to the quality of education at Pacific School, including many of the Enrichment Programs, are funded by the efforts and donations of Pacific School's Parents' Club and the Friends of FoodLab. State funding alone is insufficient to support these programs, so the programs are dependent on the support of parents, volunteers, and community members for their continued success.
“It always amazes me how well you and the other staff adapt to the changing environment, weather, extra-ordinary events, parent demand, and above all, the student needs.” - Message from a parent, winter 2024