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About Us


The Cottonwood site-based High School is a FREE public charter school located in the Buckeye Union School District in beautiful El Dorado Hills. At Cottonwood, we prepare students for the 21st century using a very different approach and methodology from traditional schools. We use project-based learning, interdisciplinary studies, coupled with Montessori principles of teaching and learning.

In conventional public schools, teachers lead the learning in front of the classroom. Students sit in rows and are forced-feed information, tested on their memory, and their level of understanding of the presented subject. We are completely different. At Cottonwood, students lead their own education by choosing topics that interest them, creating a love of learning.

Also, what makes us different is each student is provided a Learning Coach who stays with them for the 4 years of High School. With their coach, students work on their goals, projects, and assignments. By the time students graduate from Cottonwood, they can transition into college life or career that they are passionate about.

Lastly, at Cottonwood, we look at the individual child and personalize their learning experience in a collaborative environment. With a 10:1 student to teacher ratio, there are many more opportunities for interactions between staff and students during class time than in a traditional school.

We are WASC accredited and we follow all the guidelines of the California State Standards with all needed graduation requirements to enter College.

Read more about how we are different here.

Our Vision | The Why

The Cottonwood School’s vision is to guide our student community to love learning, to profoundly contribute to our diverse world and to lead lives of achievement.

Our Mission | The How

The Cottonwood School, influenced by Montessori principles, provides an innovative, rigorous, self-exploring education through experiential learning, design thinking and meaningful interdisciplinary studies cultivating a growth mindset.

Who We Serve | Cities and Areas

We serve students within El Dorado Hills, Shingle Springs, Folsom, Cameron Park, and the surrounding communities. We serve Sacramento, El Dorado Hills and Amador counties.