About Carlthorp School


Our Mission

Carlthorp School provides a strong academic foundation in a diverse and nurturing school community that emphasizes respectful values, responsible work habits, and excellence in order to prepare our children to achieve their highest potential in education and life.

A Focus on the Child

Carlthorp School, established in 1939, is the oldest independent school in Santa Monica. Though the breadth of our curriculum has radically expanded in the last seven decades, our basic philosophy remains the same; we focus on the child as a whole, helping each one to grow academically, socially, and ethically, all within the framework of a traditionally academic school.

A Reputation for Excellence

Carlthorp School continues to enjoy a reputation for academic excellence that is demonstrated by the high acceptance rate of our graduates to the secondary school of their first choice.

A Diverse Community

There is not one “type” of Carlthorp School student, just as there is not one “type” of Carlthorp School family.  What our school community shares is a focus on the character development of our students and a commitment to an excellent education. Today, the school reflects our multifaceted community, embracing diversity in all its forms.


We focus on character development in many ways across the grades.  You can read the Code of Conduct by clicking here, but you can appreciate how students live out the Code in our Kindergarten Buddies program.  Every year, every sixth grader participates in this program, designed to have the oldest students in the school help to make the youngest students comfortable in their new setting.  By “buddying” with them on a series of projects throughout the year and modeling the tenets of the Code of Conduct, our school values are reinforced, and the relationship between these students strengthens.  By spring, if not before, it is common to see spontaneous affection expressed between the Kindergarteners and their sixth grade buddies.  Long after these students have graduated, they remember their buddies fondly!