Who We ARE


A Brief History of Desert Academy

A modern education for a changing world.


Desert Academy has served the Santa Fe community for 25 years. As the first accredited IB World School in Santa Fe,Desert Academy offers an academically challenging, socially engaged and culturally rich education. We consistently benchmark ourselves against international standards for school improvement through our accreditation by AdvancEd. a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of educational institutions and systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential.

The school community is what makes Desert Academy unique. There is something truly special about Desert Academy, described as “Desertness” by faculty and students. Maybe it's the energy, enthusiasm, commitment, acceptance, and empathy of the students. It might be the way the faculty comes together to encourage risk-taking, innovation, and collaboration, celebratethe individual, and learn from everyone's experiences together. Maybe it's the incredible level of parent involvement and support. Most likely Desertness is a mix of it all, with strong relationships that extend beyond the traditional roles of school-sanctioned ties.

Desert Academy was founded in 1994 to provide a caring environment where students could thrive without the typical educational constrictions inherent in public education. The school was first located in Lamy, a small community about 15 miles south of Santa Fe. About 30 students took the train from downtown Santa Fe. In 2001, the school moved to Camino Alire, in the city of Santa Fe. During those years, the school earned a reputation for academic excellence and a nurturing, inclusive culture. The core values of open communication and of trust in the school’s administrative leaders have remained intact and enabled the school to thrive. As the school’s enrollment grew, Desert moved one final time in 2012 to26 acres on the historic Old Santa Fe Trail.
In 2008, Desert Academy adopted the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (grades 11-12) and in 2011 became the first high school in New Mexico to be authorized as an International Baccalaureate World School offering both  the Middle Years Program (grades 6 – 10) and the Diploma Program. In recent years, 100 percent of our graduates go on to four-year colleges with an average of $20,000 in scholarships. In 2018, all of our IB diploma graduates were awarded their diploma with scores far above the international average.  Currently, we are a school of 130 students, including international students. At present, over 50% of our population receives some form of tuition assistance, which helps us maintain a high level of diversity.

Our parents share the school’s commitment to collaboration, open lines of communication, mutual respect, and a common vision of the school’s goals to be reached. Our faculty and staff are highly educated and experts in their fields, helping students become passionate, serous scholars capable of effective communication, independent thought, meaningful collaboration, and original expression. They also reflect our commitment to global education and international-mindedness; former Peace Corps volunteers, faculty with extensive international teaching, or hailing from England, Denmark, France, Italy, China, Croatia, and Mexico. We offer French, Spanish and Mandarin. Our students travel to Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas and beyond, with our athletic and speech and debate teams and abroad with their language teachers or through the Leos Club. We are truly global citizens with Santa Fe hearts.

In the past two years our graduates were accepted to and attend:  

Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Arts London, Washington University, Duke University, Smith College (2), Brown University, Lehigh University, University of Rochester (2), Barnard College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Goucher College, Savannah College of Art and Design (2), Oberlin College, University of Colorado Boulder, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University, San Francisco State University, Lewis and Clark College (2), Columbia College, Champlain College, UC Santa Barbara, Whitman College (3), Pitzer College, Trinity University, Parsons School for Design, University of Wisconsin, Mississippi State University, University of Southern California, Santa Barbara City College, Universidad Camilo Jose Cela Madrid


Desertness (noun) : a quality specific to the Desert Academy school community of being friendly, generous, supportive, resourceful, and open-minded.