History and Traditions

Over the years, The Riviera Ridge School has grown and changed in many ways.

List of 6 items.

  • 1930-40s

    • Originally founded in 1938 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RHSM) as Marymount School, the campus opened in Montecito with a small student body of 17 students from 4th through 11th grade and a faculty of four nuns and two lay teachers. 
    • Marymount was originally founded by Mother Marie Joseph Butler of the RSHM in Tarrytown, New York, in 1908 to provide both strong academic education and sound spiritual training for young women. By the time Marymount was founded in Santa Barbara, there were also Marymount schools and colleges in New York City, Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles with others to open around the globe over the next several years. The first class from Marymount Santa Barbara graduated at the end of the 1939-1940 school year. 
    • In 1942, Marymount moved to its current location of 2130 Mission Ridge Road. The new campus was an estate called “El Cerrito” in an area known as the Riviera and had been seriously considered by Franklin D. Roosevelt for use as his Western White House. That same year, Marymount Junior School officially opened along with a boarding program. Several new buildings were built as enrollment approached 200 students in the mid-50s and 60s, including Battistone Hall, Gerard Hall, Marian Hall, Pitman Library, the multi-purpose room, and the conversion of the stately grounds and 9-hole golf course to the current athletic facilities and play spaces.
  • 1960-90s

    • Marymount was first accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 1968.
    • In 1972, the RSHM decided to sell the school to its first volunteer Board of Trustees consisting of current parents and to be repurposed as a co-educational K-8 independent Catholic day school. The School formally changed its name to Marymount Academy, Inc.
    • By 1976, the property was subdivided with the home, and several acres sold off. Marymount was now a Catholic school with a non-Catholic majority in its student body and emphasizing moral development and community service in its curricular programming.
    • In 1977, Dolores Pollock was named Head of School until she retired in 2002. Many wonderful accomplishments were made during her tenure.
    • In 1986, Marymount joined the California Association of Independent Schools with the most recent successful evaluation in 2019 resulting in a full seven-year accreditation.
  • 1990-2000s

    • The School’s largest fundraising initiative to date began in the late 1990s for a new Middle School building. Pollock Hall was named after Dolores Pollock and was completed in 2004. At this same time, Marymount had transitioned to a fully independent day school while still honoring many of its Catholic traditions.
  • 2000-2010

    • In 2007, in partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara Religious Studies Department, Marymount developed and implemented its signature world religions study program, Kaleidoscope, to fully incorporate the study and understanding of all religions.
    • In 2008, a Junior Kindergarten classroom was added for younger 3- and 4-year-old students, and Marymount Academy, Inc. formally changed its name to Marymount of Santa Barbara. 
  • 2010-2020

    • Over the next several years various endowment campaigns and campus improvement projects took place including the renovation of the historic pool, expansion, and updating of the lower campus field, and Lower School classrooms, the conversion of St. Cecilia Hall to the Center for Creative Design & Engineering in 2016, and the purchase of the Head of School’s residence in 2018.
    • In July of 2018, Christina K. Broderick began her tenure as the current Head of School. In 2019, the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, parents, and alumni volunteers embarked on an 18-month strategic planning process, resulting in a 10-year Strategic Plan. Presented to the School community in the fall of 2020, the School adopted its new Mission, Vision, and Values to reflect the importance of personalized learning, philanthropic studies, and instilling the importance of seeking a “purpose beyond self” in all that we do and learn. 

    In 2021, the name of the School changed from Marymount of Santa Barbara to THE RIVIERA RIDGE SCHOOL. The new name even further embodies the School’s academic programs, particularly the signature Kaleidoscope Program, in which the study of historical, cultural, ethical, and moral perspectives are prioritized through a reflective view of world religions. With a focus on inclusivity and educating the whole person, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Belonging (DEIJB) are the cornerstones of academic excellence at The Riviera Ridge School.

    With a future-focused Strategic Plan in place, The Riviera Ridge School continues to be a model of how an independent school should reflect social and emotional intelligence, ethical responsibility, and a global awareness for different values and beliefs. While the name of the School has changed, throughout the evolution and growth over the last 83 years, the special spirit of the community has not changed.