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To provide an individualized learning environment where each child’s unique intellectual, creative and character gifts are recognized and nurtured, enabling them to reach their highest potential. Our graduates are tenacious learners and compassionate humanitarians who engage their world with humble confidence.


A world where all children are inspired and empowered to fulfill their individual potential.


We believe the best education programs put children’s needs and interests at the center. Spring Hill School is set apart by what we call Individualized Education by Design. Our small class size allows the teacher and student to work together and set goals that can realistically be achieved. It also encourages students to forge strong classroom relationships and develop a sense of security while teachers gain an accurate insight into each child’s abilities and interests.


  • For kids to LOVE to come to school!
  • For students to become tenacious learners, compassionate humanitarians, and walk with humble confidence.
  • To design educational programs that fit each child, including but not limited to acceleration, support, 21st century skills, and a broad array of options to fit their passions.
  • Acknowledge the needs and abilities of each child and encourage him or her to be proud of his or her achievements.
  • Offer students a balanced, personalized curriculum.
  • Create an environment where children can feel free to be themselves.
  • Welcome and embrace diversity.
  • Enable students to see learning as a continuing process throughout life.
  • Provide a safe, secure and caring environment built on honesty and respect for one another.
  • Encourage the involvement of parents, business and the community as partners in the work of the school.
  • Promote community and global awareness.
  • Create awareness and confidence in the areas of STEAM (science, technology,  engineering, art, and math).


In the mid-1970’s, Lewis Keizer came to the realization that one of his children was profoundly gifted. He was dismayed to discover that local schools were ill-equipped to provide gifted education and there was simply no place for gifted children in Santa Cruz County. So, he joined with Tess Popper to found Popper-Keizer: The Advanced School for Gifted Children with this mission:

  1. To provide a challenging and rewarding education for bright and gifted children.
  2. To make this education opportunity available to bright and gifted children of all races, creeds, colors, and religions by providing scholarships.
  3. To sponsor cultural events that generate funding for scholarships.

In the ensuing twenty years, Popper-Keizer created and fine-tuned a very successful curriculum and teaching methodology for bright and gifted children.

When Popper and Keizer departed in 1997, teacher Sylvie Hill took over as Principal. In keeping with Santa Cruz’s strong egalitarian culture, Sylvie and her staff sought to broaden the diversity of the student body while still honoring the founding commitment of the school: to provide a much-needed place where teachers understand how to enable gifted students to reach their fullest potential. The school was renamed “Spring Hill – The Advanced Elementary School of Santa Cruz.”

Now, almost twenty years later, the Spring Hill community is taking stock of its core principles, vision, and mission once again. Our founding commitment to provide for the needs of gifted children remains a element of our identity and mission. But today with the deep lessons of nearly forty years, we understand more than ever that gifts, talents, aptitudes, and learning styles come in many forms, not just those measurable by an IQ test; and all of our students benefit from learning in the company of this diversity of strengths.

Spring Hill does not claim to be able to address the needs of all students, as many students need forms of learning support that Spring Hill may not be equipped to provide. But our differentiated instruction program, small class size, and warm family environment empower and inspire all types of bright, motivated and creative students to flourish and meet their highest potential. Today more than ever, Spring Hill School is a diverse and inclusive community of learners, and we’ve updated the Mission, Vision, and name to reflect this.