Sierra Canyon School | Chatsworth, CA
At the northern edge of Los Angeles, Sierra Canyon School has always embodied its founders’ entrepreneurial, “go for it” spirit, growing from a summer camp into a thriving elementary and middle school. Since 2005, Sierra Canyon’s new Upper School has attracted educators and families from all over the city who value bold innovation.
The ethos of shooting for the stars—and reaching them—is highly visible in the Upper School’s athletic success, which draws national attention. However, the reputation for athletic prowess at times overshadowed Sierra Canyon’s other considerable strengths. The school needed to reframe the athletic program as part of an intentional educational philosophy fostering high achievement and courageous risk-taking in all areas.
Dina Skrumbis, Director of Admission, Pre-K – Grade 6
Our CRANE team’s visit to Sierra Canyon clearly revealed that students with a wide range of talents and interests flourish here. The Lower and Upper Campuses abound in lively and enlightening classes, enthusiastic faculty members, grateful parents, and—most notably—some of the most confident, friendly, optimistic, and diverse students we’ve ever encountered at an independent school.
Yet the school’s trailblazer mindset also seemed to result in the rapid development of many elements at once, preceding an overarching framework for sustainable growth. It was time to reconsider and reframe some pedagogical, operational, and communications practices that had come to impede further progress—especially in the Lower School, where enrollment had fallen over the past several years.
The “go for it” spirit remains the driving ethos of this exciting place. However, the school needed to articulate and implement a unifying philosophy, so that teachers, administrators, and coaches could continue innovating in their own ways, while also building an intentional, grade-by-grade program that propels students forward from Pre-K through graduation.
Lower school applications have more than doubled each year with a total application increase of 324% over the last three years.
Sierra Canyon’s new tagline, Learning forward, expresses both the philosophy and the lived experience of Sierra Canyon School. This deceptively simple, memorable phrase conveys the school community’s entrepreneurial, momentum-building program: The Lower School’s nurturing environment and challenging curriculum prepare students for the intensive intellectual laboratory of the Middle and Upper Schools, and the entire Pre-K-through-Grade-12 arc prepares graduates to shape purposeful futures.
Learning forward consists of five essential “ingredients”—ingenious teachers, intrepid students, intensive academics, inspiring athletics, and insightful artistry. Together, they produce Sierra Canyon’s transformative mindset: invincible optimism, which empowers students to envision and create ever-greater possibilities during their Sierra Canyon years, in college, and throughout their lives.
Combined with bright, light-filled photography; energetic graphics; and clean, bold fonts, the Learning forward concept enables Sierra Canyon to correct misperceptions while celebrating the school’s most compelling characteristics—inspiring best-fit families from all over Chatsworth, Los Angeles, and beyond to seek out and happily inhabit this one-of-a-kind learning home.
Since 2016, lower school applications have more than doubled each year with a total application increase of 324% over the last three years. But more importantly, the school is attracting more families who are self-selecting into the funnel early because they not only have a better understanding of what Sierra Canyon offers, but they experience it first hand during the highly personalized admissions process.