TMS was in founded in 2001 as a hybrid homeschool program in Topanga Canyon. TMS became a fully private school in 2003.
“Knowledge Naturally” is not only the tagline for our school t-shirt: it is the key to our innovative program. Students engage in hands-on experiential classroom activities coupled with an outdoor component that offers full integration into the world we live in. The school week incorporates:
Integrated core curriculum of Language Arts, Science, Humanities, Spanish and ability-level Math
Immersion trimesters of Art, Music and Drama each culminating in a major showcase.
Social Awareness / Community Service Projects with an emphasis on the value and necessity of leaving our world a better place than when we arrived. With a history of service learning projects, TMS remains committed to fostering a progressive understanding of the students’ societal and environmental purpose.
Sit-Spots, a personal place in nature which each student visits weekly to map the changes in the immediate environment, to make journal entries, and simply to take time to reflect and learn to be comfortable with his or her own company.
Council, where students, in a safe and supportive setting, are encouraged to share the challenges they face as adolescents and middle school students. This helps to allay fears and frustrations typical at this often-difficult time. Council fosters active listening as well as the ability to express feelings in a non-confrontational manner.
Our year is divided into three trimesters. Each trimester has a specific arts focus - visual arts, music and drama. Each trimester has an overarching unifying theme. Integrated unit(s) within each trimester address a problem or an essential question related to that theme. Each unit concludes with a public showcase or school demonstration of knowledge and skills.
Monday/Tuesday/Thursday – Academic classes on campus.
Wednesday – Mind & Body on the Mesa and in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Friday – Hiking and exploring both in urban and natural settings.
Added experiences on campus:
Gardening – student work the garden and harvest, cooking meals with their bounty.
Cooking – cooking classes encouraging creativity and competency.
Chores – all TMS students are responsible of the upkeep of their campus. 8th grade students have specific weekly chores.
On average TMS takes four camping trips a year ranging from 3 to 5 days in length, camping in diverse environments. 8th Grade students culminate with a backpacking trip and rite of passage.
Students, independently from staff, work together in small “families” to plan, pack, budget, buy, cook, clean and learn how to coexist peaceably.
School day 8:15am – 3:30pm
On average 35 students
Class size 10-12
Seven full time staff:
Four core subject teachers
TMS alumni intern
Current specialty teachers for the following subjects:
Spanish, Ceramics, Horse Riding, Archery, Aerial Silks, Music, Drama, Dance.
Curriculum is designed and created by our team. We do not use textbooks.
There is no standardized testing.
Trimester Report Cards consist of a narrative and a transcript. Grades are given.
Transportation / Mobility:
TMS has a fleet of passenger vans which allow for movement and access to our city and our state. Vans are essential for exposure and exploration, which is at the core of our program.
Commitment to three important principles: openness and curiosity, health and nutrition awareness and emphasis on community.
Monday – Ethnic foods (brought in from outside sources)
Tuesday – Our Nutritionist/Chef prepares impressive and wholesome homemade from scratch meals and discusses with the students the value of the process and outcome.
Thursday – Parents commit to preparing and providing a meal. They stay and share in the fun.
Wednesdays and Fridays – student bring a packed lunch as we are off campus.
TMS runs morning carpools from the East Valley (Van Nuys and Balboa) and from Topanga (Pine Tree Circle). Students commit to their seat for the school year. There is a charge of $500.
There is no official after school program, though we do offer Study Hall on Tuesdays until 5pm. There are also student run clubs as requested, our most enduring being our Monday Nerd Club where they play board games and take on RPG challenges.