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Intro to Bozeman

What Are the Private and Independent Schools in Bozeman?

by Liz Nitz

Gallatin Watershed tour elective course for Bozeman Field School students.

What are the private and independent schools in Bozeman? There are plenty of options when it comes to private and independent schools in Bozeman. How does your child like to learn? Do they need structure? Are they better suited for independent learning? Do they respond to an exploratory, experiential education model? Every child is unique. Luckily, Bozeman has a few great choices for families.

Christian-Based Schools

Petra Academy An accredited member of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS). Petra has an impressive 20-acre campus that houses 180 students, Pre-K-12. This highly structured and academically rigorous school follows a Christ-centered curriculum focused on a three-way approach to education: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Students are organized into “houses” and compete for Petra’s House Cup in areas of drama, sports, art and academics—they believe this builds camaraderie, healthy competition, and interaction among different age groups. Petra has scholarships available and 33% of students receive some kind of financial assistance based solely on financial need.

Heritage Christian Day School Committed to providing a well-rounded education from a Christ-centered perspective for grades Pre-K- 12. Core curriculum consists of Bible, math, English, science, and history, as well as instruction in Latin, music, art, physical education, foreign language, and more. All materials are selected for their Christian content, as well as being highly effective and research-proven in producing student achievement.

Mount Ellis Elementary A Pre K- 8 school owned and operated by the Montana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. It is accredited by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Office of Education and the National Council for Private School Accreditation. Christian characters, strong intellect, critical thinking and a heart of service are nurtured at MEE. There is also Mount Ellis Academy—a boarding high school that prepares students for college. Both schools are focused on bible-based education but they accept students regardless of religious affiliation.

Flexible-Learning Schools

Emerge School Follows a unique, K-12 university model where students attend class twice a week to allow flexibility for pursuing outside interests. K-5 is a multi-grade classroom has a maximum of 20 kids in each class and assigns homework customized to each student’s learning level. In grades 6-8 students are welcome to enroll full or part time and may enroll in any middle school class. Classes are Mondays and Wednesdays.

Experiential-Learning Schools

Headwaters Academy This is Bozeman’s only independent middle school. Students are exposed to advanced academic skills in critical analysis, public speaking, written communication, math, science, and technology. There is also lots of exploratory outdoor learning through the Outdoor Education Program where students learn in a wilderness setting and the Field Study Tour, an experiential week-long field trip to explore places like Ecuador and Mexico. Students do a public presentation of their findings back home. Headwaters also hosts a bi-annual speaker series with award-winning authors, film-makers, and scientists.

Explore Academy This school follows the Acton model which really focuses on the individual child. Students learn in an open, self-paced environment with the help of a Guide. They are encouraged to set their own learning goals and hone their emotional and observational intelligence through Socratic discussions. School days are a mix of core learning and hands-on quests for science, entrepreneurship and the arts that will prepare children for apprenticeships and real-world challenges. Currently K-6.

Bozeman Field School This school offers truly unique experiential learning for high school students. The emphasis is to get outside and learn through field trips to cultural sites, extended overnight expeditions, and field study activities in all subject areas. There are also six-week immersive block courses where students can take rotating classes in visual and performing arts, cultural studies, STEM, music, social sciences, and other disciplines. Some past courses include Karate, Branding and Marketing, Introduction to Guiding, and Bouldering Wall Design & Construction.

Specially-Focused Schools

Cottonwood Day School Montana’s first and only private, non-profit elementary school for students with learning disabilities. Cottonwood employs a multi-sensory approach to learning by using visual, auditory and kinesthetic-tactile methods. It recently launched an online programs for students who are challenged by traditional instruction; easily overwhelmed sensorily; have severe focus and attention challenges; or have limited support services, like those in rural areas.

Both private, as well as public schools in Bozeman are currently enrolling students for the 2021-2022 school year. You can also check out my previous post on summer programs for kids in Bozeman. If you just moved to Bozeman or have any questions about Bozeman real estate or about visiting, feel free to contact me at


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