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“Vista Del Mar School has a rich history of bringing families and community together.  I appreciate all the learning and achievement that this school fosters.”
-Joan Hartmann, Santa Barbara County Supervisor, Third District


“The family-like culture, natural setting, and unique learning opportunities I received at Vista, provided me with an education that has been the foundation for the successes I’ve been afforded in my life, family, and career.  I feel so fortunate to be able to offer my children these same opportunities, as 4th generation Vista Del Mar students. “
-Nicole Alegria Jones, Class of 1994, Board of Trustee, President


Quality education is the cornerstone of any vibrant and prosperous society. Our schools must continue to build on their history and traditions while pushing for bold new ideas in student instruction. I look forward to seeing Vista Del Mar’s leadership in reshaping educational programming.   Congressman Salud Carbajal, 24th Congressional District, Santa Barbara, District Office
-U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal, California’s 24th Congressional District


“Vista Del Mar’s legacy has been built by generations of students and families, teachers and staff, who genuinely and deeply care for one another and Vista as a community.   The wonders of Vista are enhanced by the surrounding ranches, mountains, valleys, and beaches.  However, it is not the geography alone that makes Vista a treasure -- it is the remarkable people connected to Vista who make it what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.”  
-Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools


“Our adult children, Elise Cossart-Daly (’99) and Nole Cossart (’02), would not have become the complete, loving adults they are today, had it not been for their rural K - 8th Vista experience."
-Kit Boise-Cossart, Board of Trustee

“I grew up in the Refugio Pass community and attended Vista Del Mar starting in the 4th grade. I graduated from Dennis Kittel’s 8th grade class in 1978. Vista Del Mar was much the same then as it is now- a small family-oriented school with an emphasis on excellent education, character, and citizenship. The values I learned helped guide me through many life choices. I am excited to see the school working through recent challenges and am confident the future is bright for this great school.
-Rob Hazard
Division Chief/ Fire Marshal
Fire Prevention Division
Santa Barbara County Fire

Vista de las Cruces has been a special place for my three children to receive their elementary education. Although it is a public school, there is a deep sense of family and community here. The school is almost 100 years old with a rich history, so many families, including mine, have had students attend Vista for multiple generations. 
The school is noted for its beautiful architecture, including courtyard classrooms and gardens, all surrounded by oak forests, ranch and farmlands, ocean and coastal mountains. This unique location allows for outdoor nature-based learning and activities that most other schools aren’t able to provide. One of my favorite events has always been the Thanksgiving Feast, where our students spend the week cooking together, followed by a feast and the Thanksgiving hike, typically up Gaviota Peak.
The incredible group of dedicated, involved parents and teachers work together to provide a wealth of specialized field trips, activities, programs, events, and fun - all of which stimulate learning, curiosity, leadership and discovery. 
Vista prides itself on providing a safe and inclusive environment that fosters growth and creativity. It’s a place where the whole child is developed with goals of not only learning enrichment, but also the child’s overall wellbeing. The small class sizes allow for individualized attention and learning paths for each child. I’ve always loved that at Vista children of all ages play and learn together, as a tight-knit group of peers of all elementary ages.
My oldest child has now transitioned to middle school, and I feel that she was prepared academically, socially, and had developed the self-assurance needed for the next level of learning.
I consider our family so lucky to have been able to experience a school like Vista and would highly recommend it to families looking for a nature-based school and supportive community.

-Katie Cota, Parent and Vista Volunteer

Vista de las Cruces School, nestled among the mountains and oak trees at the junction of Highways 1 and 101 in Gaviota, is the single school in the rural Vista Del Mar Union School District, and the only community center in a far-flung area of mostly farms and ranches. I came there as a new teacher in the early 1990s, and it didn’t take long to key into its magic.
It was a place where older kids helped younger ones, where language and cultural barriers were bridged through work and play. Students will long remember walks up to the wind caves and Gaviota Peak, learning the names of native plants and their ancient uses, and interviewing elders on nearby ranches. There were tree plantings and poetry contests, potato sack races and Renaissance fairs, pottery baked in a kiln in the bus barn. There were adaptations of Shakespearean plays held on the auditorium stage, Thanksgiving dinners for neighborhood elders, and Los Posadas celebrations at Christmas, one of which culminated in a local cowboy throwing his lasso to free a piñata that was caught in the rafters, and the cheers and applause of all.
I have now lived in Gaviota for thirty years, and I am delighted at the prospect of our little school being restored to its rightful place as a center for learning, meeting, and creativity. Its potential as a center for environmental awareness has yet to be tapped, its beautiful library awaits revitalization, and the campus is shining with possibilities. Like a family, Vista alumni speak of their school with love, and our community has an awareness of its own colorful history across generations. It’s a story still being written.

-Cynthia Carbone Ward
Gaviota Resident and Former Vista Teacher


My name is Bruce Robertson and I was hired by Vista Del Mar in 1993 as a Bilingual Aide. I continued in this position until 19996 when I was hired as a credentialed teacher. For over 20 years, I taught Middle School Spanish, History, Math, P.E., Language Arts, and Science. For the last 2 years I have been teaching Math, Science, Spanish, and P.E. to grades 2 through 5. Vista is more than a career to me, it's part of my family.

-Bruce Robertson

"I have had the good fortune to be a member of the Vista del Mar family for over 25 years as a parent, instructional assistant, and teacher. Vista de Las Cruces school is a truly unique entity that provides its students with a beautiful rural environment, programs that focus on the individual needs of each child, and a strong sense of community."
Caroline Esdaile, Elementary Teacher  

Vista De Las Cruces School: Creating a Community in a Beautiful Coastal Landscape

    My first memories of Vista Del Mar, and some of the earliest memories I possess, are
participating in a school play in the old auditorium.  I remember it seeming huge and full of echoes.  The play was Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, I performed as a kindergarten belly dancer.  Mrs. Hazard directed an over the top version complete with musical numbers and fight scenes.  My husband and I recently watched a video of the performance and through peals of laughter were in awe of how complex and long the production was (over 3 hours).
    I grew up in a very rural area in Gaviota.  Our closest neighbor was almost a mile away.  There were other kids in the area, but I did not feel a real sense of community.  Vista Del Mar and then Vista De Las Cruces made me feel connected to greater civilization.  There were kids whose families were ranchers, farmers, immigrants, or who just wanted to live in a beautiful area.  The Halloween and Winter Holiday fairs were epic, and I remember having so much fun.  The tradition of the first and last days of the school year celebrating at Refugio State Beach were gloriously fun.  Spending most of my time with people living in similar rural conditions made me feel like I belonged.
My first-grade teacher, Mrs. McGalreth, made it so fun to learn how to read and write.  There were several ESL students in our first-grade class, and she was able to get us all on the same page.  In second grade we were able to access the school state-of-the-art computer lab in 1992, even in the middle of nowhere.  The teachers at this school have always been extraordinary.  

    Vista De Las Cruces was opened when I went to third grade.  I remember it being so beautiful with such a fun playground.  Mr. Brownelle, my fourth-grade teacher, would take the class on walks in the wilderness and creeks surrounding the school for natural history lessons.  He was so passionate about nature and Native American history.  I have a bachelor’s degree in biology that I believe was inspired by these memorable lessons.  Sixth grade was a wonderful year, that was when I was taught by Mrs. Ward.  Her love of poetry, writing, and art was balm for my angsty, sixth-grade soul.  That was the year I started writing for pleasure and I have never stopped.  Our class was so united, we choreographed and performed a very silly dance to Weird Al’s, “The White Stuff” all by ourselves.
-Mary Krempa

    I decided to leave Vista in seventh grade to be closer to my Ballet Studio in Goleta, but I always felt it was a step down in my education.  All the classes I attended after leaving Vista were so easy and basic in comparison.  I was a lot further ahead than my peers.  Not only is Vista De Las Cruces an excellent school, but it is a gathering place for all the families of the Gaviota area.  There are so many timeless moments on that campus that I will never forget.  Whenever I run into anyone I went to Vista with, there is a special bond that persists to this day.  We experienced the magic of a unique group of people surrounded by wild landscape.  A childhood attending small classes with your neighbors (even if they relatively live far from you) is a lovely experience that is rare in the modern age.  I would not change my experience for the world, and I hope future generations of Gaviotans will be able to benefit from a Vista De Las Cruces education. 
-Mary Dooley Krempa  (1989-1996)


Vista de las Cruces is an asset to our community and our kids. As a Vista student from 1990 to 1999, I received a rare and invaluable public school experience.

Vista taught me to be curious and intellectually engaged in the world around me. I learned about ecology and biology by tromping through the local creek with my teachers and peers. Physical Education often consisted of afternoon hikes. I absorbed local history and honed writing and communication skills when I interviewed elderly ranchers, school bus drivers, and community members with my classmates. 

At Vista, every student had a chance to shine. Because there were so few of us, each kid had a place in our school plays, students always had an opportunity to speak in class, and everyone had the chance to be a leader on our small campus in some way.

Vista’s small community also connected me to peers who came from varied socio-economic backgrounds in a way that I may not have at a larger school. When I graduated from Vista in eighth grade, I had eleven classmates. Eight of us had been together since kindergarten. Some of my peers were wealthy, many had parents who were middle-class, and others came from low-income and working class families. Many of my classmates’ parents were cowboys or ranch hands. Some had parents that were monolingual Spanish speakers. Some classmates lived with disabilities. As a child, I saw the challenges that my classmates faced because of their economic status, disabilities, and/or racial or ethnic backgrounds day in and day out. I also witnessed how they survived and persisted through these challenges. My peers felt like extended family, and my relationships with them imparted early lessons about the importance of diversity and of challenging inequality. In many ways, my Vista classmates fundamentally shaped my life-long commitment to social justice and laid a foundation for my current work as an anti-discrimination, civil rights, and environmental lawyer. 

For these, and so many other reasons, I am grateful for my experience at Vista and deeply appreciate the staff, educators, School Board members, and volunteers that have supported Vista in the last several years and continue to invest in the future of our little school.

-Elise Cossart-Daly


Vista has been a role model school that provides a comfortable environment filled with love, respect, and high standard quality education. My kids first attended year started in pre-school. Our first memories were helping in the pre-school, attending fundraiser auction dinners, year-end beach days and getting to know the kiddos. It's a pleasure being part of this small tight-knit community near the ocean. Thank you Vista!

-Karen Cherry, Parent

Students at Vista

6th Grade

Vista is special because the teachers are so nice and cool and they have really fun activities, good P. E.  and good lunch.I love going to school at Vista because everything is better at Vista, the teachers, the students and the toys.

-Wyatt Holsted

Vista is special because it has very few people and because of how old it is. If you count the old school, and the school we were supposed to stay in when this school was getting built, it is almost 100 years old!!! I love going to school at Vista because my family has been going to this school for as long as my grandpa, and the students and teachers are super nice.

-Nathanael Jones

My favorite thing about Vista is that they have so much to do. For instance on the soccer field you can do so much like tag, soccer, football and a lot more games.I am lucky that I attend Vista because Vista is like a family school for me because most of my cousins went there and know that I go here. I feel even more part of my family. It's like a necessity to go to  Vista  in my family. It's like If you didn't go to Vista you didn't go to a cool school.

-Jacob Nungaray

My favorite thing about Vista is that it is a small school. I am lucky that I attend Vista because the people that are at school are very nice.

-Gwen Bonham

I love going to school at Vista because I get to see all my friends when I get to school, and I get to see my amazing teachers.  I love going to Vista. 

-Jacob Herrera

5th Grade

I love going to school at Vista because it has a lot of super nice teachers  who are super helpful. They help you do your math.

-Philo Bonham

Vista is special because we get to do Spanish class with Don Bruce and because we get to do recess. I love going to school at Vista because There's amazing teachers and we learned a lot of amazing things. My favorite thing about Vista is that there's a lot of good food and we have a great Principal.I am lucky that I attend Vista because I learn more and because I have a small class.

-Mariana Rodriguez

I think Vista is special because it's a school full of friends, fun teachers and wonderful cooks.
I love going to school at Vista because it's a fun school and everyone there is respectful.
I love Vista because it has lots of fun field trips and fun people. I am lucky that I attend Vista because it’s a great place to be.

-Clara Cota


4th grade

My favorite thing about Vista is that we get to do so much homework that's so fun to do. I am happy to be at Vista because we get to do so many cool things. The best thing about Vista is to have fun!!!

-Eric Clavin

I love going to school at Vista because Vista is a great place and it is the only school I have been at. I love Vista. I am so happy to be at Vista because it is the best school in the whole world.

-Clara Jones

3rd Grade

I love going to school at Vista because Vista is a great place and it is the only school I have been at. I love Vista. I am so happy to be at Vista because it is the best school in the whole world.

-Virginia Harrington

My favorite thing about Vista is to do homework. I also like reading. This is the best school. 

-Emily Rodriguez