The Anneliese Schools – Manzanita and Aliso Campuses


At our school, students learn a multidisciplinary curriculum featuring American Sign Language (ASL), German, French, and Japanese languages. Questions from students are welcome as teaching using the Socratic method is utilized. Field trips and guest speakers also form an integral part of education at our institution.

Administrator Lisa Thomas remembers being forced to stay adaptable as COVID-19 protocols were altered daily during pandemic closures in order to create a safe space for children. Now, she prioritizes creating this space.

The Manzanita Campus

Manzanita campus students take advantage of a curriculum that prioritizes process over product, multilingual development, animal care, and gardening. Classes take place in beautiful classrooms adorned with one-of-a-kind art and wood carvings to provide a stimulating learning environment. Teachers employ various teaching methods – music and art complement academic subjects – in engaging their students; Taekwondo and cooking classes also enhance education at this school.

At this facility, students have access to a multi-purpose auditorium, two-story learning center, and cafeteria; nine multimedia classrooms and a student newspaper lab; a double-height gallery and lounge, offering stunning views of Oviatt and Sierra Quads; Living Learning Communities such as Rainbow House and Women in STEM House allowing for group living experiences; package lockers are also provided 24/7 package pickup service at this facility.

Anneliese Schools is an innovative independent school offering children from nursery through 6th grade an exceptional educational experience. Their curriculum promotes curiosity, social relationships, multilingual development, and critical thinking skills – qualities that Anneliese Schimmelpfennig pioneered upon founding it over 40 years ago. Over that time frame, it has received many accolades, including being featured in films like John Tucker Must Die.

The location of Campus on Laguna Canyon’s Edge in Southern California offers a peaceful place to study. Buildings boast glass walls and doors, which bring in plenty of natural light for optimal study conditions; additionally, there is an outdoor classroom and vegetable garden on-site, as well as sustainable practices used to reduce waste production by students and reduce food miles by serving organic locally produced meals and using sustainable methods that minimize their carbon footprint.

The Manzanita Building houses the central administration offices, Student Services department, and dining hall for students at Manzanita College. This two-story structure forms the heart of campus life and hosts nearly one-third of employees. Currently, it is being renovated to support student services better and increase efficiency.

Bana initially joined Anneliese in 2014 as Special Programs Lead Teacher, overseeing all aspects of the development and implementation of learning plans based on curriculum instruction. Three years later, she transitioned into her current position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction at two Anneliese campuses. Bana is passionate about making an impactful educational contribution and helping empower her students to reach their fullest potential; creating safe and supportive environments is crucial to student success, and she looks forward to joining the Manzanita campus team and furthering their mission.

The Aliso Campus

Aliso Campus of Laguna Beach’s Aliso School boasts the best of both worlds: breathtaking ocean views and refreshing breezes that infuse our school with an atmosphere that fosters feelings of security while nurturing creative development in children ages two through kindergarten. Our campus features interactive gardens and exquisite play structures designed to encourage interactive learning while celebrating individuality in children of all ages.

The campus is located within the Laguna Park Wilderness Preserve area and easily accessible from major highways, offering students easy access to natural environments rich in biodiversity, including an abundance of indigenous plant life abounding on this five-acre property. Class sizes at this school are kept small to provide personalized instruction while simultaneously building close relationships between teachers and their pupils; this enables instructors to tailor curriculums and lesson plans specifically to each child’s learning style and interests.

Anneliese Schools recognizes that each child’s learning styles and needs differ, providing a diverse selection of academic experiences as well as enrichment classes tailored specifically for them. Students benefit from an experiential classroom utilizing research from neuroscience, education, and psychology; students participate in daily language (Spanish, German, and French starting at daycare and continuing through elementary school); American Sign Language studies; music & the arts lessons; gardening animal care eco-literacy mindfulness programs are also offered as part of its curriculum.

Bana first joined Anneliese as Special Programs Lead Teacher, overseeing all aspects of curriculum instruction development and implementation for learning plans based on curriculum instruction. Within three years, she was promoted to Director of Curriculum and Instruction at two Anneliese campuses.

Students at this school are empowered to become leaders within their communities through various service-learning programs and extracurricular activities such as Taekwondo, Cooking classes, Flag football, Soccer, and Basketball. At our school, there is also a student-run CSA farm producing food for local families while teaching children about sustainable living practices. The school ethos centers around principles of peace and harmonious coexistence between nature and humanity. Focusing on holistic development for all children, this school seeks to nurture curiosity, self-confidence, social relationships, creativity, multilingualism, and critical thinking skills in its students with its holistic approach to learning and teaching, resulting in multiple awards over time.

The Willowbrook Campus

Willowbrook State School was initially meant to provide children with intellectual disabilities with a haven; at that time, it was the most prominent American state-run institution dedicated to serving these populations. Unfortunately, however, over time, it turned into a “human warehouse,” with thousands living in poor living conditions and being neglected by those meant to care for them; abuse was rampant while dehumanization practices were implemented, even being used as subjects in experiments such as creating the Hepatitis vaccine.

Public outrage finally forced the state government to act, eventually closing down in 1987 and reconverting the buildings for other uses. College of Staten Island (CSI) moved into Willowbrook Campus in 1993 and named it after its location; today, this campus remains one of New York City’s most favored educational spots – offering classes to students ranging from nursery through 6th-grade courses as well as featuring a Farm School with educational plants and animals for exploration; these students also help out at chores at the Farm and recycling waste to instill environmental consciousness within themselves and society as whole.

Senator Robert Kennedy made headlines when he visited Staten Island Asylum for Children (SIAC) in 1965 by labeling it a “snake pit.” Upon his visit, Senator Kennedy discovered thousands of residents living in filth and dirt with clothing worse than animal cages in zoos; his outrage, along with several journal articles from Staten Island Advance reporter Jane Kurtin, brought attention to these horrific conditions. New York State created five-year plans intended to address them, but they failed miserably.

Willowbrook State School and the horrors it represented will never be forgotten by those who lived through its turbulent history, nor their families. Stories of abuse, starvation, and neglect left lasting traumatization among many individuals with disabilities who survived it; healing will take years before fully taking place from that tragic chapter in New York’s past.

Many former Willowbrook State School residents now reside in community residences or attend day programs throughout New York State, assisted by an advisory board and two legal groups to protect their interests. Some former residents have even been granted guardianships by courts that prohibit relatives from seeing them; other former residents now adult residents live in group homes while some have joined class action lawsuits against New York to gain more independence; their efforts helped pave the way for legislation such as Protection and Advocacy System legislation and Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act legislation, both of which created frameworks leading directly into Americans With Disabilities Act legislations.