Our History

As we near our 100th year, Curtis School continues to work toward achieving our vision.
By pioneering programs that inspire engaged, healthy, and empathetic young learners to embrace the next phases of their education and lives with joy, confidence, and purpose, Curtis School sets the standard for elementary education in the Greater Los Angeles area and beyond.


List of 8 items.

  • 1925

    Carl Curtis founded Curtis School, and the school was reorganized in 1937 by his nephew, Carl F. Curtis. At its founding, Curtis School focused on creativity, citizenship, and personal sacrifice for the greater good.
  • 1964

    Willard E. Badham became headmaster and ran the school for three decades, during which time, Curtis grew from a school of less than 100 students to one of the largest and most respected independent elementary schools in Los Angeles.
  • 1983

    Curtis School moved to its current site on Mulholland Drive.
  • 1992

    Clay V. Stites became Headmaster when Willard Badham retired. Formerly Headmaster of Friends Academy in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Stites revitalized the academic programs and oversaw the Curtis 2000 campaign that enabled the school to build many of the modern facilities Curtis enjoys today.
  • 1997

    Stephen E. Switzer, former Headmaster of Le Jardin Academy in Hawaii, became Headmaster and led Curtis for twelve years. Headmaster Switzer spearheaded the Securing Our Future campaign that made it possible for the school to build an additional Developmental Kindergarten classroom and security booth, to increase its endowment, and to expand its programs.
  • 2009

    Peter W. Smailes, who had previously served as an English teacher in Curtis’s Upper School, as Dean of Upper School, as Head of Middle School, and as Curtis's Outplacement Advisor, was named the sixth Headmaster of Curtis School. During his 19 years at Curtis, he made many of the structural and programmatic improvements that Curtis is known and loved for today. His leadership is also notable for his work to create a more diverse and inclusive school community.
  • 2015

    Meera Ratnesar was welcomed as our current Head of School. Dr. Ratnesar came to Curtis from Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar, California, where she was Head of the Upper School (Grades 5-8) for six years. Prior to that, she worked at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the Trevor Day School in New York, and the Collegiate School in New York. Dr. Ratnesar has taught every grade from Kindergarten through high school and is a curriculum expert with a particular expertise in mathematics. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr and was a prestigious Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia's Teachers College. She holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ratnesar has 20 years of experience in independent school education and administration. She has implemented a number of initiatives that are designed to keep Curtis on the leading edge in all areas of the school's administration, programs, instructional strategies, and curriculum. She is passionate about leading Curtis's vibrant and joyful school community.
  • Curtis Today

    Central to our mission is our commitment to providing an exceptional and well-rounded education for the whole child. We place an equal emphasis on academic, physical, social-emotional, and character education and instill a growth mindset modeled by Faculty and Staff who are the best in their craft. Curtis children have space to learn and play on their campus, safe and secure as they encounter and consider perspectives, people, backgrounds, and experiences other than their own.

Curtis School

15871 Mulholland Drive  ·  Los Angeles CA 90049