Conejo Valley residents have much to be thankful for, and high-quality schools at every level, from elementary through university, top the list, highlighting the high priority this region places on education. Public, private, charter and alternative educational and homeschool options abound in the Conejo Valley, allowing students to find the perfect fit for their individual learning style.
California Lutheran University
Nestled in the beautiful hills of Thousand Oaks, California Lutheran University spreads over 225 beautiful acres and offers a wide variety of degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional fields. Founded in 1959, CLU is home to more than 2,800 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students from more than 66 countries, representing a wide variety of faiths and cultural backgrounds.
CLU’s mission “to educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation and committed to service and justice” is exemplified in its unwavering commitment to support, educate and enrich its local community as well as its students through accessible, high-quality educational programs.
“Cal Lutheran is committed to educating and providing cultural experiences for the whole community—not just our students,” says Karin Grennan, media relations manager and a member of CLU’s Artists and Speaker’s committee. “We offer a packed schedule of free lectures, performances, art exhibits, film screenings and workshops. We support a professional theater company and vocal ensemble, as well as a National Public Radio station. We are always looking for new ways we can be of service,” she adds.
CLU’s NPR radio station, KCLU (88.3FM), offers comprehensive local and national public radio programming, and has grown to include almost 80,000 listeners during its 12 years of providing in-depth reporting on local news and public affairs programming in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.
Local art and music enthusiasts find many opportunities at California Lutheran University, where music and theatre departments provide ongoing support for community-focused programs. Arete, founded by music professor Wyant Morton, features a professional ensemble of locally based vocal artists performing in a variety of events and venues. Arete’s “An American in Paris,” also featuring the Los Robles Children’s Choir, is scheduled for Sunday, November 8.
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, the university’s professional theatre company, stages two of the Bard’s plays for the community each summer. In addition to entertaining people of all ages through the works of William Shakespeare, the company provides ongoing workshops in K-12 Conejo Valley Schools, in partnership with the City of Thousand Oaks Arts Commission. Since its inception in 2000, more than 7,000 elementary school students have participated in this groundbreaking program.
Ongoing lecture series and community events, as well as a counseling center that offers services on a sliding-scale fee, make CLU an important community resource for all residents. Summer camps at CLU include innovative and fun-filled programs focusing on athletics, technology, theatre and service.
Summer in the Conejo Valley should include at least one afternoon at the university’s popular community pool, offering year-round aquatics programming. In partnership with the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District, CLU’s seven-lane pool is open to community swim clubs, master swimmers and the local community.
Conejo Valley Unified School District K-12 Education
Known for its outstanding public K-12 education, including diverse educational options, the Conejo Valley Unified School District serves some 21,000 students in 17 elementary, five middle, three comprehensive high schools and two alternative high schools in the Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Westlake Village regions.
Newbury Park High School, a “California Distinguished School” and “Blue Ribbon School of Excellence,” provides a high-quality education and a wealth of extracurricular activities and clubs, Advanced Placement courses, sports and special programs for over 2,500 students. NPHS is renowned for its block schedule, allowing students to focus on fewer classes at a time, and special programs, such as the International Baccalaureate Advanced Placement program for highly motivated juniors and seniors and the Digital Arts and Technology program, a “school within a school” that focuses on computers in education and includes job shadowing, mentoring and field trips.
Thousand Oaks High School, home to over 2,300 students, offers several specialized programs centered on post-graduation success. The Center for Advanced Studies and Research program provides gifted and high-achieving students with the opportunity to engage in disciplined and scholarly research through college-level courses. The EThOS program is a school within a school California Partnership Program that includes college preparatory course work with electives like Entrepreneurship, Sports and Entertainment Marketing and Virtual Enterprise/Economics.
Westlake High School continues to earn state and nationwide recognition as the number one high school in Ventura County and earned a “Gold Status” ranking in the 2014 US News and World Report as number 60 in the state. Westlake High School offers some 2,300 students several highly specialized programs, such as the Westlake Innovative Technology Academy, a California Partnership Academy focused on providing students with additional post-graduate college and career opportunities. In addition to a full-time Career Education Coordinator, the school offers career and college exploration courses, job shadowing, internships and many local community service opportunities. Award-winning sports teams, theatre arts department and chorus, as well as extracurricular activities, contribute to Westlake High School’s outstanding reputation.
The Conejo Valley Unified School District offers comprehensive educational opportunities for preschool, transitional kindergarten and other special programs and academic alternatives, including adult education. The CVUSD website, ConejoUSD.org, provides details on special programs and the K-12 school options and district boundaries by geographic location.
EARTHS Magnet School offers K-5 students a challenging curriculum interwoven with additional environmental science and technology enrichment and an outdoor learning program. Admission is on a lottery basis in April of each year.
Charter schools are independently run, publicly funded and typically include parent involvement.
Bridges Charter School is a K-8 whole child philosophy-based school that offers both a traditional education model as well as a homeschool program that gives students access to the school’s campus, resources, and an on-site educator who manages and supports the families’ individual goals. The whole child philosophy focuses on the development a child’s social, emotional and cognitive needs. The school continues to see growth in its enrollment of 300 students in the site-based program and 65 students in the home school program.
Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School provides a safe, stimulating and enriched environment, including a focus on the research-supported framework of the arts and technology, project-based learning and high expectation of achievement in core content areas and community involvement. For its almost 350 students, MATES provides a learning environment that celebrates questioning, experimentation, self-expression and appropriate risk-taking.
Several fantastic and flexible options exist for homeschool support and alternative educational programs.
One Spark Academy meets at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center and offers quality educational courses taught by experts in their fields for middle school students. Offering flexible schedules in a nurturing, positive environment, courses (including English, Math and Science, as well as electives like Food Fascination and Bird Sleuth) are rooted in a whole child, whole family educational philosophy. Small class sizes (5-15 students) allow for individual attention and enriched learning opportunities.
River Oaks is a tuition-free parent-initiated and directed homeschool charter program for K-12 students. Supervising, credentialed teachers guide parents through curriculum choices and learning styles while overseeing students’ educational progress. The focus on highly individualized learning is designed to help each child find the passion that supports their unique talents and gifts.
Private & Religious-Based Schools
Oaks Christian School provides an independent, college preparatory education for students in 5th-12th grade. Aiming to give students mastery of the historic academic disciplines necessary for collegiate and life-long success, Oaks Christian continues to gain recognition for award-winning athletic programs, the Oaks Performing Arts Society and its independently organized annual TEDx event.
La Reina High School is an independent Catholic college-preparatory school for girls in grades 6-12. Known for its academic excellence and rigor, La Reina offers a full range of extracurricular activities and clubs, as well as community service opportunities.
Hillcrest Christian is a private, Christian-faith based school serving 260 students from preschool through high school. The school also offers Hillcrest Academy, a fully accredited WASC homeschool program, with an online curriculum and hybrid option for students to attend on-campus classes.
A high-quality education serves as the foundation for life-long success, and with so many educational options in the Conejo Valley, residents can truly give thanks for our schools.