REAL School Marin

Relevant Experience and the Art of Learning

A unique, private, middle school located in central Marin County, California. 

We offer a personalized, intensive and integrated education for exceptional students as they navigate the crucial transition from childhood to adolescence.



is a hands-on experience in the lab and in the field. We emphasize critical thinking, conceptual understanding, scientific drawing and scientific nomenclature. Field trips are frequent: we go frequently to the California Academy of Sciences, we wade in the tide pools at Duxbury Reef to identify sea urchins, and we watch newts mating in a stream on Mt. Tamalpais. We go into the field with black lights at night in the Mojave Desert and spot scorpions in their habitat. In the lab, we do both real and virtual dissections of sharks, frogs and small mammals. Under the microscope, we look at human tissue and blood cells.


from pre-algebra through algebra, geometry, and calculus, is individualized and self-paced. Students master standard textbook material as well as exploring specific areas of interest.  Students may move through math levels as fast as they can acquire mastery.



is writing-intensive and draws on world literature, current events, and personal growth issues. Each week students write essays developed through one-on-one editing conferences. We build vocabulary through studying the etymology of words across all subjects as well as reading and working in traditional textbooks. Students follow the Wordly Wise vocabulary program self-paced online.  As a group students study grammar using The Winston Grammar Program and in-class games and competitions.


is taught in a lively, oral-intensive style. Foreign language also is sprinkled liberally in conversation throughout the day.  Accelerated language independent study is offered to qualified students (Spanish or French).

World & United States History

includes student presentations of international news, map-making, writing, and public speaking. Frequent field trips create tangible links from our studies to the real world. We may visit a Greek Orthodox Church or an Episcopalian cathedral. During our study of medieval Japan, we are guests at a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. As we study the Renaissance, we visit the Legion of Honor Museum where each student adopts a painting and becomes an expert on it. At the Asian Art Museum, students take a brush painting class as part of our survey of art through the ages.  During our study of U.S. History, we focus on civics literacy and how U.S. government works.  We follow Supreme Court cases through articles in the New York Times. Students travel to San Francisco to watch criminal or civil court proceedings and later discuss the justice system with a Superior Court judge.

Life Skills

are reinforced every day. All students do household maintenance, participate in our formal problem-solving and decision-making Council, and work daily on physical fitness. We cook communal meals, prepare trip budgets, calculate mileage and trip expenses, plot itineraries for wilderness travel.  We practice daily etiquette, work on table manners and write loads of thank you notes. We also take every opportunity to develop skills often overlooked in today's schools, such as how to beautifully wrap a package, sew on a button or tie a knot.

Public Speaking

is practiced every week with students preparing speeches in the classic categories: dramatic interpretation, exposition, humorous exposition, persuasion and impromptu.  Students compete in regional speech tournaments.  Public Speaking in integrated across the curriculum. 

Field Trips and Travel

are integral to our program. We begin the year with a backcountry trip that creates a group bond and establishes respectful criteria for interaction. Frequent day trips interspersed with longer overnight trips punctuate the year. Destinations include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, Mono Lake, the Sierra Nevada backcountry, Mt. Shasta, Black Rock Desert, Big Sur and Washington, D.C. We believe in travel: a great deal of growth occurs on the road.

Yearly Highlights (2011-2016)

  • Community Service ongoing at Marin Food Bank, California Coastal Cleanup every September
  • Geology/Zoology/Biology Hiking Trips include ---  Death Valley, Mono Lake, Eureka Dunes, Obsidian Dome and the Bristlecone Pines in Eastern California, Big Sur, Black Rock Desert, Safari West, Lassen Volcanic National Park peak summit and backcountry
  • Day Field Trips to the de Young Museum, Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Duxbury Reef tidepools, Mt. Hamilton Observatory, U.C. Berkeley Botanical Gardens,  Urasenke Foundation in San Francisco
  • Monthly book talks by Librarian Sue Campbell
  • 5-day trip to Washington, D.C., including laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a Arlington National Cemetery
  • St. Vincent de Paul High School Speech Tournament 2015: 1st place trophy in Humorous, 2nd place trophies in Humorous and Dramatic Interpretation, 3rd place trophy in Humorous. The RSM team placed 2nd overall among all teams entered.
  • 4-day Southern California "city" trip including Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, The Huntington Library, behind-the-scenes veterinary tour of Santa Ana Zoo, the Bird of Prey Center and cooking/housekeeping adventures at a beach cottage in Laguna Beach
  • High school acceptances in the past two years: Marin Academy, The Bay School, Stuart Hall High School, Brewster Academy, The Marin School, St. Andrew's College (Canada), Choate-Rosemary Hall
    • St. Vincent de Paul High School Speech Tournament 2013: 1st place trophies in Dramatic Interpretation and Serious Exposition, and 3rd place in Dramatic Interpretation
    • St. Vincent de Paul High School Speech Tournament 2014: 1st place trophy in Humorous Exposition and 3rd place in Dramatic Exposition
    • Margie Burke Speech Tournament 2014: Of RSM's 9 entrants in the contest, we won one 1st place trophy and 3 trophies for 2nd place
    • Margie Burke Speech Tournament 2015:  Of RSM's 8 entrants in the contest, we won 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal
    • Margie Burke Speech Tournament 2016: FOUR GOLD MEDALS, 1 silver medal, 2 bronze medals

Tuition and Expenses

Tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year is $30,000, and covers field trips and multiple-day overnights.

For more information on applying, please see Admissions Page:     REAL School Marin has a personalized, hands-on admissions process.  We select students for intellectual potential and with an eye to putting together a balanced and diverse group.  We are highly selective in the students we admit.  Of those who go through our admissions evaluation, we accept only about 40%.  We maintain a rolling admissions calendar.


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