I was fortunate to receive a tour led by two admissions officers, including the head of admissions who had formerly been at Poly (Pasadena) and Harvard-Westlake. I learned that EF stands for Education First, the same company that has been around for decades (since 1965), running Washington DC and study abroad programs for high school students. EF also has high school campuses under their EF Academy umbrella. EF Academy Pasadena is the newest of the three campuses, with the other two located in Oxford, UK and Westchester County, NY.
EF Academy Pasadena opened last fall (2022), with about 120 students from more than two dozen countries entering grades 9 through 11. Next year, they will have students in all four high school classes (9-12), with a long-term enrollment target of up to 1,000 students. The Pasadena campus is in a quiet, suburban neighborhood in the unincorporated community of Altadena on the grounds of what was previously a small university. The existing buildings were renovated in a way that retains their original architecture, while also modernizing them. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, with several small gardens, lovely drought-resistant landscaping, and California palm trees.
International and out of area students board full time, but local students have the option of attending day only, boarding full time, or boarding weekdays only. I was impressed by the attractive dorm facilities, which provide comfortable private and communal spaces for students. Most students share a dorm room with two other students.
The main academic building has classrooms lining the outer walls, which provides good light, and there are comfortable study pods in the center of the building. The science facilities seemed well equipped with no less than 11 fume hoods on campus, enabling the addition of organic chemistry and other advanced courses in the coming years. I was told that the head of school carefully evaluates prospective teachers for their ability to engage students in their own learning process, using hands-on, project-based approaches.The Pasadena campus offers AP curriculum supplemented with advanced college offerings, such as the prospective organic chemistry class noted above.
Student support seems to be a high priority, with a low student to counselor ratio and a mental health counselor who was part time this year but will be full time going forward. Students also have access to a nurse on campus when they are sick or injured.
I enjoyed having lunch in the campus cafeteria sampling the tasty cuisine, which was fresh and healthy. There is so much more to mention, including a Model UN program, outdoor recreational swimming pool, well designed athletic and arts facilities, and more. Families who are looking for a personalized educational experience with a global focus might just want to check out this interesting new high school here in the San Gabriel Valley. For more information: