Principal's Welcome


Welcome to our website! We hope you will soon take the next step and visit us in person, if you  are not already part of the Manzanita family.


Our special school provides a unique, educational environment that promotes and expects learning excellence, while also providing individualized support.  Manzanita gives its students generous boundaries. The boundaries we provide scholars are intended to empower their learning. As a staff, we believe in our scholars, forgive their mistakes, provide growth paths, praise effort, ask them powerful questions, and work, every day, to earn trust.


In response to these efforts, we expect, from all our scholars, a consistent classroom effort and a healthy dose of adult respect.


As the school leader, I believe the Manzanita teaching and support staff  is a committed group of professionals who fight tirelessly for our scholars. We fight to ensure all scholars are achieving at grade level with our re-teaching periods, after school math learning camps, and AVID program. We fight to help emotionally struggling students find healthy ways to deal with issues with our social-emotional programs, including DESSA and Peacemakers. We fight to make sure that scholars experience creativity, beauty, and passion in their learning, with our music, drama, Spanish, and fine arts programs.   


Each year, Manzanita Public Charter School has drawn its student body from an ever larger and more-diverse applicant pool. Since August 2008, enrollment has increased to the current 425 students. Manzanita’s demographics are quite diverse, including 20% military dependents, 33% English Language Learners, 60% socio-economically disadvantaged, and 10% GATE/Honors students.


This diversity is something that makes us special…and strong. Over time, MPCS’s instructional model has evolved and established a Strength-Based curriculum Workshop model (“SBW”) which is designed to both build learning independence as well as to help scholars develop individual learning strengths.  As scholars are taught to recognize and accept their own learning strengths and challenges, this internal acceptance often transfers to the larger community.  Manzanita scholars come from all walks of life; it’s truly inspiring to see children seek to not only understand their differences, but actually celebrate those differences with unlikely friendships that continue into middle, high school and beyond.


The Manzanita school experience is designed to empower our scholars to find the best version of themselves.  We look forward to traveling this developmental journey with each child and encourage our community to partner with us whenever possible!  After all, the power of words has historically shown that a life can be launched with as little as a single phrase, an uplifting word, or an act of kindness. 


Come join us in making that difference for our scholars.


Warm regards,


Suzanne Nicastro, Superintendent/Principal

School Mission 

Manzanita's mission is to provide an enhanced educational environment that promotes learning excellence while allowing scholars to thrive in a 21st-century world. 

Vision Statement
Kids in Art Class

Our vision shapes and develops a school culture that promotes creativity, deep development of learning independence and strengths, while providing personalized services in a results-driven environment. 

Manzanita's Academic Programs

Manzanita is a tuition-free public charter school and our curriculum is aligned to the Common Core Math and English Language Arts Standards, and is aligning to the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). 

Visual & Performing Arts, Spanish, Physical Education

Manzanita provides every child with weekly Spanish, Visual & Performing Arts, and Physical Education. 

Special Education

Our public school provides every student with the supports, plans, and resources that they need to be successful. Our team of dedicated special education professionals serve our special education students, and the entire study body.

Computer Technology

All 3rd-6th grade students have a Chromebook to use in class for writing, reading, research, and computer coding. 

Next to Nature

Our campus is one of the largest for a local elementary school. Large playgrounds and fields, tall trees, and proximity to the Los Padres forest create a special environment for learning.


An accelerated and appropriate education is provided to all students at Manzanita, and identified GATE students receive a differentiated instructional approach.

Making a

Manzanita scholars will learn essential standards from world-class teachers. Along with high expectations, students have high levels of support from dedicated professionals.

Students who do not master essential standards are given opportunities to achieve those goals during dedicated time during the day, and after school. Boot camps, aides, and instructional coaches provide our teaching team with extraordinary opportunities for support.