1969: Gateway School was launched by Hannelore Herbig, an experienced Kindergarten teacher from Germany. Initially the school rented space in the Unitarian Church in Aptos and was called Aptos Creative Kindergarten. The first class had 10 students. By the end of the first year, Hannelore decided the school needed a bigger and more centrally located facility.

1970: The school moved to Trinity Presbyterian Church on Melrose Ave in Santa Cruz. At that same time, Hannelore renamed the program Gateway School. In her own words,

“I remember going through the phone books at the post office to find a new name that might fit any location and was easy for children to pronounce. That is how I found the name Gateway School (Gateway to learning).” (Remembered June 2012)

The school’s bird-on-the-gate logo was designed at that time by Cynthia Matthews, former Mayor of Santa Cruz, whose child was in the first Kindergarten class.

The school grew steadily through the 1970’s, adding both preschool and elementary classes and teachers. Hannelore’s vision of an enriched and beautiful learning environment that focused on the whole child guided the school through its early development.

1977: Gateway became a non-profit corporation and established a Board of Trustees. The Family Association was also created at that time.

1979: With no more space to grow at the Melrose site, the school added classrooms at Grace Methodist Church on Cayuga St, not far from the Melrose campus. At that time the school served grades K-6. Memorable purchases that year included the first school van, and six Commodore Pet computers for the library.

1982: The school experienced yet another expansion, adding three classrooms at the Baptist Church on Roxas St.

1987: Ms. Herbig retired, and she and her husband moved to Hawaii. Dr. Peter Lewis became the second Head of School at that time.

1990: The expanding elementary program consolidated from the Melrose and Roxis sites to the Eucalyptus campus, formerly the site of Marello Prep High School, while the preschool remained at the Cayuga location.

1991: Although the school had long been PreK-6th, the Middle School was formally established, with the addition of 7th and 8th grade cohorts.

1992: The Gateway Life Lab was permanently established as a quarter acre garden-based interdisciplinary program. Over time the Lab’s infrastructure was built out to include an outdoor kitchen, pond, wood-fired oven, greenhouse, biofiltration ponds, and much more.  Read more about our best-in-class offering here.

1996: The school received accreditation through both the California Association of Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which it has continuously held since. Gateway continues to be the only CAIS accredited K-8 school in Santa Cruz.

2000: Dr. Lewis departed for a headship on the East Coast, and Assistant Head of School Kathleen Warren served as interim Head of School. Gateway celebrated its 30th year with 400 students in preschool – 8th grade on three campuses (the Middle School had been relocated to Harvey West Blvd).

2001: David Peerless became the third Head of School. After a decade of rapid growth, under David’s leadership the school looked toward a sustainable future by consolidating the Middle School onto the Eucalyptus campus, and eliminating the preschool program. He enhanced academic standards to ensure an exceptional educational program, and introduced new school traditions based around the sowing and harvest in our Life Lab.

2008: David retired from a 30 year education career and moved to Indiana to be near his family. Dr. Percy Abram become the fourth Head of School. Dr. Abram guided the school through a strategic planning process, connecting with our expanding alumni community, and increasing our visibility as educational leaders in the Santa Cruz County community.

2010: Two major educational innovations were introduced. First, Mindfulness was integrated as a key program element, and second, the school adopted a consistent personal development program (Voices Literature and Character Education).

2010: The school marked its 40th year with “40 Acts of Kindness”, giving back to our community through community service and charitable support.

2011: Gateway established the Speaker’s Series to bring internationally known educational speakers to Santa Cruz for the benefit the larger community. Guests have included John Medina, Dan Siegel, and Wendy Mogul. Learn more here.

2012: The first one-to-one technology program was launched in the Middle School.

2013: The Discovery Center, our maker space and fabrication lab, was launched. Learn more about our first-of-its-kind space here.

2014: Dr. Abram took a headship at the Bush School (WA), and we welcomed our fifth Head of School, Dr. Zachary Roberts. Dr. Roberts is a committed educational leader who brings a wealth of administrative and teaching experience, a growth mindset and a passion for life-long learning.

2015: Gateway rearticulated its mission statement and created a new strategic framework. Learn more about our mission, vision and values here.

2016: The RULER program for emotional intelligence was introduced, with a focus on the Four Anchor Tools.

2016: We host the inaugural Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire. Learn more about this great event here.

2016: The Innovative Furniture Initiative is launched.

2017: The school began a major curriculum update. The math curriculum was replaced at all grade levels, with Bridges in the Elementary Division and College Preparatory Math at the Middle School.  The ELA curriculum began to integrate Writer’s Workshop and Word Study. Interdisciplinary projects and authentic service learning are emphasized.

2018: The Middle School implemented an Advisory program rooted in the Origins program from Developmental Designs.

Today, our founder’s vision of a school where children are passionately engaged in their learning, and encouraged to demonstrate critical thinking, creativity and personal responsibility is alive and well in every classroom.