What makes us special

 In addition to providing an inspiring and rigorous academic curriculum, a great school must set itself apart as a uniquely enriching learning community. La Mariposa offers a panoply of opportunities that make children's years here truly unforgettable.

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Free tickets to Paradise

At La Mariposa Montessori School, we step directly from our classrooms into 55 acres of mind-expanding, spirit-elevating Santa Fe hills. Every visitor's first steps out the back doors into our expansive space bring an unexpected view of half a dozen animal enclosures, followed by a dawning awareness of what we call "the back 40". That first recognition of the vastness of our campus is almost always accompanied by an expression of disbelief. "This is your school?" "I never knew this was here!" "Are the children allowed out here every day?" These exclamations are testaments to the ability of our sprawling landscape to add inspiration to the children's school experience.

Our property offers access to real world studies in geology, botany, zoology, anthropology, history, and many other disciplines. The ways we can find to use this land to enrich our understanding of the world are limited only by our imaginations. 

Animal Husbandry

Nothing replaces the experience of daily, direct interaction with other living things. When children feel the breath of a baby goat on their hands, bury small fingers in the luxurious fleece of an alpaca, look into the eyes of a pony, they develop an acute awareness that the world lives and breathes, has personality, and needs love. La Mariposa's prepared environments extend to the outdoors in a way that is truly rare.  

The barnyard at La Mariposa Montessori offers a daily retreat to a place of joy. We have horses, alpaca, llamas, sheep, miniature horses, miniature donkeys, goats, chickens, birds, fish, a pig and honeybees. These animals are observed, loved, and cared for by the children. Care of animals teaches children responsibility. They learn the importance of keeping the barnyard clean, safe, and orderly. This is a natural way for children to expand their awareness of their responsibility as stewards of the planet.

Intergenerational Activity

Weekly, the students have community interaction with the residents of Montecito Assisted Living Center. The children visit their "grand-partners" and swap stories, play games and brighten the rooms with their cheerful smiles and warm hugs. Everyone feels great after socializing with our treasured elder grand-partners.  

This activity gives the children an appreciation for the continuity of our culture as they hear stories from the past that resemble stories from their own lives. They also learn how different some of our behavior is now than in the past. This type of interaction outside the normal family circle expands the child's world view, while giving joy to the elders and purpose for the children. 


Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW)

The ADW Assistance Dog Student Training program is the largest of its kind in the world. ADW teaches students to train dogs to help people. Student trainers participate in in-school, after-school and/or summer programs held by ADW on our campus. It is a collaboration that strengthens relationships, builds skills and nurtures empathy among young people, the dogs they train, and our clients.

ADW trainers teach behaviors that form the basis for 90 essential commands. Student trainers learn to reinforce the dogs’ behaviors, take puppies on trips (to refine commands in public settings), and experience the joys and challenges of training service dogs.

Each spring, a heartwarming graduation ceremony, in which clients are awarded their specially prepared service dogs, affirms for the children the importance of their yearlong investment of time and love.

Community Service

Maria Montessori created an education plan that includes excellent academics along with social interactions that support integrated development of the child's personality. It is the development of the personality that results in the child's ability to act on intrinsic values. The most effective way to develop the personality is to give the child "work" that is genuinely productive and fulfilling.  The community service projects at La Mariposa provide just such work, and what a joy to witness the achievements.