Montecito’s Founders, Molly and Jim Matthews, have a passion for teaching and a deep affection for the well being of young children. They dreamed of educating young children in a safe, warm and natural environment.
When they discovered the Grant Road property in Los Altos, they envisioned the idyllic setting would become a school for early childhood learning -- two acres in Los Altos with charming old buildings covered in ivy, canopied by sprawling 200-year-old oak trees. In 1960 Montecito Preschool opened its doors to the public and welcomed all children. The campus quickly became home to barnyard animals and park-like gardens, as the Matthews family understood the fundamental value of the human/animal/environment bond. The Matthews formed teaching teams of early childhood experts and nurturing teaching assistants. They soon pioneered “a play-based curriculum.” Self-directed play experiences were designed that encouraged children to develop imaginative minds, to problem solve, and to learn through discovery in the rich environment created around them.
Now, about 55 years have passed. When one walks through the gates they are transported into a natural wonderland, alive with the sounds of cooing doves and happy children. As a professional landscape designer, Molly Matthews has played an integral part in shaping the school’s garden-like grounds. Molly says, “Over all these years, I feel so blessed to be able to share this property with thousands of families who have joined me in the magic of the Montecito experience."
As the second generation, the Matthews’ daughters Erin Mobley and Megan Matthews have dedicated their careers to continuing Montecito’s legacy. Through ongoing study of current Child Development research and Early Childhood Education curriculum, they are ensuring that the learning environment and experiences for children at Montecito School continue to meet the founders’ original vision: "Providing a play-based curriculum in a rich natural environment."