Upper School

phil teaching

opportunity and challenge

An Upper School education at Community School is defined by academic rigor driven by a spirit of inquiry, meaningful outdoor experiences, and athletic and artistic opportunities.

Our exceptional program provides a framework for students to explore and pursue their passions and develop an authentic sense of self.




Upper School students continually build qualities of self-confidence, awareness, and independence. As they progress through the Upper School, development in these areas rewards students with increasing levels of autonomy and responsibility. Leadership opportunities abound academically, athletically, and in the Outdoor Leadership Academy.

Whether playing varsity soccer as a freshman, leading the ninth-grade river trip as a senior, or singing a solo in the fall musical, students are also regularly challenged to exceed their perceived limits and seek out new experiences.






The Upper School promotes a culture of mutual respect and trust between teachers and students. Experts in their subject areas our faculty values the art of teaching. Beyond the classroom, teachers are regularly involved in students' lives—as student advisors, trip leaders, coaches, community service leaders, and friends. These strong student-teacher relationships are often cited by graduating seniors as the most important element of a Community School education.

This culture of care and respect fosters a learning environment that is open, accepting, and curious. We cultivate independent thinking and support students as they step beyond their comfortable boundaries, both academically and individually.

We encourage all students to participate across the spectrum of interests and activities, including athletics and the fine and performing arts. It's not unusual to see a student playing competitive soccer, acting in a school play, and devoting time to community service projects in the same week.

Meet the Upper School Head

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes joined Community School as Upper School Head in 2015.

Prior to joining Community School, Matt served as principal of El Dorado High School in Placerville, California. During his 13 years at the school, he also worked as an English teacher and as Assistant Principal. Matt began his career as an English teacher at East Anchorage High School in Alaska.

In addition to his extensive classroom and administrative experience, Matt arrived at Community School with a strong appreciation for outdoor education and athletics: he guided and taught kayaking trips and classes in both Alaska and California and served as an alpine ski and snowboard coach for El Dorado High School.

Matt holds a BA in history from University of California, Berkeley, a MAT from Lewis & Clark College with secondary endorsements in language arts and social studies, and a MEd in Educational Leadership from the University of Alaska.

When Matt, an avid distance runner and cyclist, leaves campus for the day, you might catch him running or biking on local trails and spending time with his three kids: Jackson '22, Molly '25, and Elliot '28.

The interpersonal relationships between students and teachers here have been transformative. Our daughter considers the school an extension of her family.

Annie Kaiser, Current Parent