Stratford School

Stratford School is an independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. Educator Sherry Adams opened the first Stratford campus in Danville, California, in 1999. Since then the school has opened three Southern California campuses, serving children in early preschool through middle school and offering a Mandarin Bilingual Preschool and an online school.

Tell us about your school motto.

We know that each child has a unique set of skills, passions and dreams. We encourage students to pursue their curiosities, and we are committed to supporting them in achieving those dreams. Our motto, Summa Spes, Summa Res (Highest Hopes, Highest Things) embraces Stratford’s spirit of providing students with an uplifting education. Our goal is to prepare and mentor students for admission to competitive high schools and colleges, and our students achieve outstanding results.

What are some extracurricular activities you offer?

From drama to chess, sports, speech and debate, Stratford offers a variety of after-school clubs. Extended day is available until 6 p.m., which includes homework time and ample outdoor play and activities.

What are a few highlights of your academic program?

We believe high expectations lead to extraordinary results. Beginning in preschool, we apply our innovative and intentionally balanced curriculum in order to inspire and nurture the hearts and minds of every student. We infuse our curriculum with sequential instruction in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) to help students develop the diverse set of problem-solving skills and talents they will need in this changing world. Our passionate teachers cultivate a secure and nurturing classroom environment where children feel safe and eager to try new things and learn through hands-on discovery. This strong foundational approach challenges students, accelerates achievement and prepares students to become tomorrow’s creative problem- solvers, imaginative innovators, insightful thinkers and confident leaders.

What is the most important thing students learn at your school?

They learn that we support their voices. Key elements of supporting student voices include establishing relationships, building necessary skills, sharing prior knowledge, modeling listening and incorporating voice in stories. Cultivating this supportive environment encourages students to be actively involved in their learning by asking questions, sharing insights and providing their opinions.

How do you encourage inclusivity?

We live in an increasingly diverse world where children encounter people of varying races, cultures and abilities. As parents and educators, teaching children about diversity and inclusion is paramount as we focus on raising tolerant, accepting and empathetic children. So how can we teach children to have a positive attitude and approach?

Be a Role Model: Message to children at an early age that diversity is a smart goal. Diverse groups make smarter decisions than homogenous groups. Inclusion policies and practices can bring deep, long-lasting benefits to team dynamics, organizations and interactions among children in the classroom and on the playground.

Explain Differences, Don’t Ignore Them: When developing curriculum and programming related to diversity and inclusion, one of our favorite resources is Beyond the Golden Rule, published by Teaching Tolerance. The book features advice and resources for parents of toddlers, teenagers and all ages in between. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. When we help them understand our differences, they will be one step closer to respecting and celebrating all people, cultures and experiences.  

Tell us about your other programs.

We are passionate about learning at all levels. This commitment to always improving has enriched our premier educational offerings to meet the growing demand from our families. In this spirit, we enhance academic programs and explore new opportunities that allow our students to continue to grow and thrive. Two hallmark programs include our Stratford Mandarin Bilingual Preschool and our online academy.

Our Mandarin Bilingual Preschool builds upon foundational knowledge, skills and concepts in our core STEAM curriculum and provides culturally enriched activities that promote Mandarin language acquisition. Eager bilingual learners also enjoy new school experiences while developing socialization skills.

We’ve created an immersive bilingual environment designed to promote consistency and continuity for young learners. Stratford’s advanced curriculum is taught by teachers who speak and instruct in both Mandarin and English. This team-teaching approach creates an inclusive and responsive space in which individual needs are met, ensuring that students feel safe and secure to explore, take risks and learn without limits. Our Stratford Mandarin Bilingual Preschool program is available at Stratford School in Altadena and West Los Angeles.

We offer a fully aligned virtual learning experience with Stratford Online Academy, which features small class sizes; specialty teachers for music, Spanish and PE; and a learning approach complete with uniform pacing aligned with our students’ on-campus experience—all while engendering a sense of community for our online students and their families. Most importantly, our teachers are experienced and well trained in online teaching methods to deliver an engaging, personalized approach for each student throughout the virtual school day.

Photographed by Monica Orozco