The first thing any visitor notices upon arriving at St. Matthew’s Parish School in Pacific Palisades is the stunning campus where nature takes center stage on 30 acres in a beautiful park-like setting.
West Coast warmth infused with the gravitas of an East Coast prep school makes for just the right combination at this well-respected institution. Virtually everything about St. Matthew’s is reserved and understated. In our city of over-the-top lifestyles it is refreshing to see this quality in a school.
St. Matthew’s was founded in 1949, but it has been significantly updated. From the classrooms to the technology for learning (Smart Boards, iPads and more), St. Matthew’s has done an amazing job remodeling and rebuilding all of its 28 classrooms, the enormous library and virtually the entire campus, in part with a recently completed capital campaign. The look and feel of the campus is rustic and modern.
Head of School, Stuart Work (also known as Stu), and Jane Young, the principal, were generous with their time as I sat with them in Stu’s office talking about what make the school unique. Stu is thoughtful and articulate, with a firm handshake and a direct gaze. He is a former science teacher and accomplished administrator who adores kids and is obviously extremely proud of his school. He took the helm at St. Matthew’s in 2011. Walking around the campus, he seemed to know every student. Jane, a member of the St. Matthew’s community for more than 30 years, as an alumni parent and teacher, is warm, outgoing and approachable.
St. Matthew’s is a traditional school, both in its academic philosophy and its religious values. As part of the St. Matthew’s Parish, the school has embraced both spiritual growth—kids attend chapel and religious class each week—and rigorous academics, creating an enviable educational institution.
As Jane describes it, the school combines academics and a deep moral and spiritual foundation, rooted in its three faith-based elements: SERVE, LEAD, FLOURISH. Sixty percent of families belong to St. Matthew’s Parish, and there are a number of different religions at the school. All are welcome. The school is known in the community for being open to all faiths and very respectful.
St. Matthew’s is small (325 students total). There is one class per grade, with about 24 students and 2 teachers.
The kindergarten classroom is very spacious and bright. Natural light streams in from big windows giving the young students a glimpse of the outdoors as they learn. There is also a separate break-out room where they work on projects.
12 thoughts to “St. Matthew’s Parish School: Embracing Tradition and Excellence”
I love this photos of the classroom. How wonderful that they have a grant program for teachers. Thanks, Christina.
I love the strong commitment to community service. Thanks, Christina.
We will start looking next year. I’m so pleased to see this post about St. Matthew’s. It will be added to our list of schools to look at. Thank you.
What a gorgeous campus! I love the rustic setting and bright classrooms.
A wonderful piece about a gem of a school. Well done!
You perfectly captured the essence of St. Matthews. Such a joy to tour with you, Jane, and Stu. 🙂
What an absolutely beautiful school! I think it’s great that you’re doing this series of tours. It is so helpful for families who are in the process of looking to get this insider’s view. I have a friend whose children attend St. Matthew’s (a Palisades family) and they love it there…I can really see why.
What a beautiful, tranquil campus. I can see why it’s so popular among families that live in the area. It sounds like a school with a nice balance. I especially like the student to teacher ratio, 12:1. That’s great!
Having sent my boys to public school, I’m always interested in hearing about other school experiences. This campus & their philosophy looks amazing.
These pictures are beautiful and I love the small class size! Sounds like a wonderful program. I love these profiles 🙂
I’ve spent lots of time on this campus and you’ve captured it well. Love all the photos too. You’ve painted a very accurate picture of a wonderful little school.
Great piece. I love those fence posts! I think a commitment to community service is so important and I really adore that they value involvement in any religion.