Nurturing Our Children at Laguna’s Anneliese Schools

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In 1968, the original Anneliese School opened in downtown Laguna Beach in a studio garage on Brooks Street. Today, the Anneliese Schools have grown into three unique beautiful campuses: the 17-bedroom revival estate in central Laguna known as the Manzanita Campus, the Aliso Campus on Wesley Street in South Laguna, and the Willowbrook Campus located on five acres just off of Laguna Canyon Road. 

Amongst the Anneliese campuses are numerous hidden storybook worlds where children are nurtured and given the freedom to explore and embrace their unique gifts. 

Maria Bashaw, Director with the Anneliese Schools, describes their programs as project-based. “We seek to nurture the emotional and intellectual development of children, while also instilling an independent drive for learning and success. During their time with us, we work to help students practice mindfulness and cultivate social-emotional intelligence."

One of the many facets of the Anneliese Schools is their Farmer’s Market. All of the children help in the garden, with the older children also participating in tasks like marketing and selling produce and art materials from small businesses.

Another unique aspect of the schools is mealtime, as the class and teacher eat together over a buffet, family-style. All food is hand prepared on campus and is mostly vegetarian with the occasional humanely-raised/organic meat. Waste is recycled, instilling in students a desire to protect the earth's ecosystems.

Students are required to take three foreign languages (Spanish, German, and French) from the beginning of their schooling. In 3rd grade, children choose the language they wish to continue studying and take classes four times per week. Additionally, all children learn sign language and how to sign to various songs. Music is a very important part of the schools' curriculum and all 4th to 6th grade students choose between orchestra and marching band, culminating with the Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade. 

Animal care is another major tenant of the trio of schools, with students helping to care for three miniature horses, as well as goats, chickens, and alpacas -- the latter also used to teach students about wool shearing and crafting with alpaca wool. 

After school, students are urged to participate in an array of activities, including Taekwondo, cooking classes, flag football, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. 

The Anneliese Schools have received many accolades since first opening in 1968. Most recently in 2018, they were named winners of the Golden Psi Award by the American Psychological Association, which showcases schools that use psychological science in their academic and social growth.

Director Bashaw states, “We work hard to help students push themselves to advance, to work beyond their expectations. Our students often join GATE and Honors programs after leaving our schools. We help children become in charge of their drive for learning, and how to compete against themselves, instead of against others.”

Indeed, parents can rest assured that students graduating from the Anneliese Schools are well prepared for middle school, and beyond. 

Angela Kelly is the founder of GutsyMother, a health and wellness site and blog exploring the microbiome as it relates to personal health, fitness, and family. She is currently a graduate student at USC, a freelance writer, mama to three small humans, and a gut health enthusiast. You can find her drinking an obscene amount of tea, running, writing, or enjoying the beach with her tribe. Check out her site at