About Us

Alverno Heights Academy is an independent, Catholic, TK-8th grade for girls and boys and a college preparatory school for young women in grades 9-12. We are dedicated to preparing our students to function in a society as informed, knowedgeable persons, who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. Join us for the Lower School Virtual Open House to learn more about our youngest learners!

Dear Friends and Family ,

I am so honored to be the Head of School of such a unique and amazing institution. Alverno Heights Academy was founded by the Sisters of St. Francis in 1960 and was later sold to Immaculate Community in 1978 which continues to sponsor Alverno to this day. The charism of both these religious orders is alive and well at Alverno. Alverno has always been more than just a progressive, independent, college preparatory for girls. It is a place where girls live out our mission and are “empowered to become exactly the person they want to be.” I began working at Alverno in 1990 as an English teacher. Throughout the years, I have assumed many roles: Chair of the English department, drama teacher, Dean of Students, Director of Activities, Assistant Head of School, and now Head of School. 

At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Alverno will be embarking on a new journey as we add a TK-8th grade, creating a lower school and upper school all under the name of Alverno Heights Academy. The lower school will be co-ed while the upper school will remain all-girls. We will be one of the few schools in the area offering TK-12 on one campus and the only one in Sierra Madre. The upper school will hold a maximum of 200 girls and the lower school will hold a maximum of 200 students.

The Board of Trustees has been considering expanding the school for several years. In fact, we began doing our investigations way back in the late ‘90s. The benefit of having a lower school on our campus will help to bring a cohesiveness to the educational experience that is hard to find, yet very beneficial. Alverno is a family and we want to extend that special and unique connection to students at a younger age. 

For the past 60 years, our amazing young women, under the tutelage of a devoted and committed faculty, have thrived academically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Diversity in many different forms is celebrated at Alverno; academic, religious, socio-economic, and ethnic/racial. Alverno is known for its rigorous, yet inclusive academic program which serves the needs of all types of learners – from the extremely gifted (as evidenced by our Academy for Gifted Girls) to those who may struggle academically in a more traditional college preparatory setting. Our teachers use differentiated instruction in order to meet the academic needs of all of our students. Alverno is a Catholic school and embraces the teachings of Gospel. However, we welcome and respect students of all faiths to be part of our student body and recognize that everyone is precious in God’s eyes. We look forward to extending this same philosophy and vision to the children of the lower school in the years to come! 

Because Alverno is small our students are given individualized attention. Students are known by name by teachers, staff, and administration. Because they are so much a part of all that happens at the school, they connect to the school in a special way. This not only applies to the students, but to the faculty and staff. The average tenure of faculty and staff is 10+ years and the new lower school will include faculty and staff with long ties to our community. We are excited about the new members of our campus community and look forward to witnessing the growth, excitement and change they can bring to the already rich tradition of Alverno Heights Academy. 

As you can see, I am very proud of our school and our students. For those of you who are already part of our community, welcome back. For those who would like to know more about our awesome school, we would love to have you complete an inquiry so we can share more about us!. When you do, be sure to stop by and say hello.


Julia V. Fanara, M.A., M.Ed. P ’01, ’03, and ’05
Head of School of Alverno Heights Academy