History of Our School

Montecito School historical photos

The Beginning

Montecito’s Founders, Molly and Jim Matthews, had a passion for teaching and a deep affection for young children. They dreamed of educating children in a safe, warm and natural environment. They discovered the Grant Road property in Los Altos, – two gorgeous acres, with charming brick and ivy covered buildings all tucked away in a peaceful neighborhood. The Matthews understood the importance of the child/animal/environment bond. They designed a campus that would feel like Grandmothers home with Towering trees, forts, special nooks for play, barnyard animals and lush gardens. In 1960 Montecito Preschool opened its doors to its first preschoolers. Click here to read our brochure from 1964.

The Matthews formed teams nurturing teachers who are early childhood experts. They pioneered a “play-based curriculum.” Self-directed play experiences were designed that encouraged children to develop their imaginative minds, to problem solve, and to learn through discovery in the rich environment created around them.


Now, almost 60 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 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 Education curriculum, they are ensuring that the learning environment and experiences at Montecito continue to meet the founders’ original vision: “Providing a play-based curriculum in a rich natural environment.”