Viewpoint School

Founded in 1961, Viewpoint School prepares children in grades TK–12 for college and beyond at its scenic, 40-acre campus in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Head of school and president Mark McKee has been a leader in education for more than 20 years.

Describe some of your students’ accomplishments.

In every classroom, sport, art and activity, we see the results of motivated students and gifted educators connecting to fulfill our mission of exceptional future readiness. During the fall and winter sports seasons, we scored girls and boys CIF championships in cross country and a bonus third-place win for the girls—a historic accomplishment. Our middle school boys tackle football team earned a Delphic League championship, and two of our students in the class of 2023 signed a National Letter of Intent for a collegiate sport. Two of our upper school students earned YoungArts finalist status in film, which is granted to just 10 students nationwide out of 70,000 applicants in all the arts. 

Our first semester also saw memorable theatre productions in our middle and upper schools and compelling strings, choir and band concerts. Our middle school robotics team recently qualified for state championships. All of this reflects our vision that “tradition connects us and innovation propels us.”

How do health and wellness play a role in what you offer students and their families?

We want to ensure that our students’ social, emotional and physical health is cared for. One of the major goals of our wellness initiative, led by director of wellness Rebecca Heller, is to connect our programming from TK through 12th grade. A theme we are exploring with all ages is emotional intelligence. 

As anyone who has been around young children knows, children experience big emotions and tend to feel more intensely as they are exposed to new situations. We teach students that all feelings are valid and to use skills like “name it to tame it”— based on the work of Dr. Dan Siegel—in order to regulate our nervous system and begin to relax and move on. At a follow-up lesson on mindfulness, we talk with students about how we can use the superpower of breath to calm minds and bodies when big feelings occur. Practicing yoga during physical education class introduces students to an activity that connects mind and body.Exploring feelings and emotions with our youngest students sets them up for emotional intelligence into their older years. 

What’s the best way to encourage a lifelong love of learning?

Love of learning does not emerge necessarily from a quest for grades; it emerges naturally from authentic engagement in the process of learning. In order to remain mindful of the quality of the student experience, Viewpoint teachers incorporate Collaboration, Creativity, Classroom Climate and Application into their classrooms and curricula.

Perhaps the most important of these is Classroom Climate, since establishing a trusting, safe space is an important part of inspiring students to engage with learning. When we speak with our seniors about the best aspects of their experience at Viewpoint, they often cite their relationships with their teachers—how the willingness of teachers to mentor their interests and provide a space for authentic participation gave them the confidence to explore and take on new challenges and achieve outcomes beyond their expectations.

We believe that the future will belong to those who know how to work successfully in diverse, creative, problem-solving teams. This priority is reflected in our “World Ready” mission, namely that we seek to cultivate “the critical skill set, courageous mindset and resilient identity of each individual Viewpoint student.” When students are working together creatively to solve problems in which they are invested, and when they perceive those problems and solutions to have relevance for them, a love of learning emerges naturally from the process.

Robert Bryan, associate head of school, says, “When we say that education changes lives, it is true primarily because of what students are able to learn about themselves through direct experience, trial and error, and the opportunity to embrace a breadth of challenges with their classmates and teachers along the way. Our Viewpoint values also cite unity in diversity, which is a great way to think about how each Viewpoint student can contribute uniquely to a stronger, more purposeful outcome.”

Love of learning is the result of curiosity, engagement, inspiration and agency. At Viewpoint, we will continue to strive to make this ambitious goal a reality in the educational lives of students—no matter their grade, background, talent, ability or interest.

In what ways is Viewpoint School extraordinary?

Mark McKee: Beyond our legacy of academic distinction and college preparedness, Viewpoint School is dedicated to the ideals and drivers of exceptional future readiness. We see in students the leaders they are becoming—ready to serve and fulfill a purpose beyond themselves.

Among Viewpoint’s core values, honor connects to our founding commitments to educating for character and instilling the values that will build one’s identity and support one’s growth throughout a lifetime. Every day, we engage in conversations about what honor means—for individuals and to our school. Our team is also working to ensure each member of our community experiences a deepening sense of belonging, which creates the conditions for academic and personal success and fosters the connections that promote happiness and well-being.