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School History

Providence was born out of a 2018 merger between Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School (PS-12) and El Montecito School at San Roque (PS-6). Five years earlier, in 2013, Providence Hall (7-12) and Santa Barbara Christian School (K-8) merged to form Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School. The school draws on 60 years of history of serving the community, providing academically excellent education in an environment that fosters the development of faith, values, and character.

The three schools share rich histories written by parents and community members who held a deep passion and conviction to provide children with the best education possible and built on a Christian foundation. The merger of these institutions is an answer to many prayers over the years for a seamless preschool through high school institution whose central and compelling mission is to provide students an environment and program in which they can flourish academically, socially, and spiritually.

A Brief History of El Montecito School (1958–2018)

Beginning as an outreach of El Montecito Presbyterian Church to meet community needs, a preschool was formed in 1958. Over the years, a missional aspect was included in the school’s design and satisfied parents saw the value of a school where students were encouraged to develop a deep love of learning about the world and our Creator, experience the love of Jesus, and grow in wisdom and character. They urged the church to allow the school to grow—first to provide a kindergarten and then some of the early elementary grades, changing the name from a nursery school to El Montecito Early School. As this growth continued, space at the church could no longer accommodate the students.  In 2002, a new non-profit was established and Partners for Christian Education assumed responsibility for the operation of El Montecito School and began to seek a larger location. The pilgrimage included a split campus when up to eighth grade was offered for a few years, then leaving Montecito completely for a sojourn on the Canon Perdido campus (currently housing our middle school and high school programs), and then in 2011 a move to the San Roque campus, offering excellent foundational education with a strong Christian focus for preschool through grade six.

A Brief History of Santa Barbara Christian School (1959–2013)

With a conviction that the education of a child is not limited to the mind, but extends to the heart, a group of parents formed Santa Barbara Christian School in 1959 with the purpose of providing an excellent, faith-centered education for their young children (K–6).

The doors first opened at Alamar Church in September 1960. Blessed with increasing enrollment over the subsequent years, the realities of Santa Barbara real estate and facilities led to several location changes and necessitated operating on more than one campus. Over the years, SBCS was hosted by St. Vincent’s, Shoreline Community Church, Grace Church, and Emmanuel Lutheran Church. 

A junior high program was added in 1973, with classes through ninth grade at one point. By 1982, the entire school was settled at the El Camino public school campus, where it remained for the next 15 years.

The years 1997–2003 brought more location changes until the school settled on a beautiful campus adjacent to Emmanuel Lutheran at 3723 Modoc Road. The Lower School remained there after the merger with Providence Hall, until the move to the San Roque campus in the summer of 2018.

A Brief History of Providence Hall (2006–2013)

The hopes and dreams of a number of Christian leaders in the Santa Barbara area led to the formation of a group to pray and consider the formation of a Christian high school that would be very strong academically and unapologetically committed to the historic Christian faith. This would be a new educational endeavor for the Santa Barbara community.

Providence Hall opened its doors in September 2007 with seven faculty members and 25 students. A portion of the beautiful Notre Dame School in historic downtown Santa Barbara was leased as the campus. 

Providence Hall received full accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in March 2009, after only two years in operation. The school offered a complete curriculum based on a core humanities program, mathematics, natural sciences, foreign languages, theater, visual art, music, physical education, and foundations of the Christian faith. It complemented the academic program with numerous co-curricular activities, such as Christian service opportunities, field trips, outdoor pursuits, concerts, and retreats. By its fourth year, Providence Hall tripled its enrollment to 75 students.

In December 2010, the school added grades seven and eight for the 2011-2012 academic year.

This growth and expansion led to the need for a larger campus.  During the summer of 2011, Providence Hall relocated to 630 East Canon Perdido Street, still in downtown Santa Barbara. The new campus, with some shared facilities with the Boys & Girls Club, provided additional access to field space, a gymnasium, and art and music rooms. By the 2012–2013 school year, Providence Hall enrolled just under 100 students, maintaining its commitment to small class sizes and a rich college-preparatory education. That same year, WASC renewed the school’s accreditation at the highest level possible, the California Educators’ Hall of Fame presented Providence Hall with their Outstanding Campus Award, and the Lions girls basketball team won the CIF Southern Section championship.