About Our School School Vision & Mission General School Information Information for Parents Locate Us School Facilities School History School Safety Plan Schoolwide Safety Rules
School Principal Front Office/Admin Support Staff Teachers Grades K-5 Music Teachers
Positive Behavior and Support Program (PBIS) Character Counts! Program
Center for Student Success Learning Link Links Spanish Information Special Programs YMCA Afterschool Care
Student Links

Mural in the Multipurpose Room 1990's

Mural in the Multipurpose Room 1990's

Mural in the Multipurpose Room 2013

Mural in the Multipurpose Room 2013

School History

Historical Facts

  • The San Juan Elementary School District is the oldest in Orange County, having existed as one of five school districts of Los Angeles County in 1850. (Orange State College Foundation)
  • The first teacher in Orange County was Thomas J. Scully. He taught from 1854-1855 in both Santa Ana and San Juan. He was paid $100 and would teach 3 months in one area, then pack his books in his saddle bags and travel on his horse to the other district for 3 months. (A History of the San Juan Capistrano School District by Fred L. Newhart, 1966)
  • Back in the 1850's most of the land in the mission valley was ranch and farm land and most families spent their days working their land. In 1856, there were about 200 school-age children living in the area, but only about 15 attended school on a daily basis.
  • Most of the families were only interested in their children learning the basic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Most children only attended primary grades and then returned to work with their families.
  • In the early 1900's, the walnut crop was the valley's principal crop, and every school-age child was needed to help pick up the nuts.
  • There were four different school buildings on the current site of San Juan Elementary School. The first was an adobe building in 1850 where San Juan Grammar School was started. The second was actually two wooden buildings which were built in 1871.The third was a stucco building built in 1911 and the current brick buildings were built in 1963.
  • In 1947, the school board built The Teacherage, a duplex house which is still located on Spring Street, to provide housing for the principal and his family on one side and the teachers on the other side.
  • Harold Ambuehl, who eventually became superintendent, was also a teacher, secretary, coach, and principal of San Juan School.

On May 17, 2016, the Orange County Historical Commission hosted a ceremony to unveil a plaque designating San Juan Elementary School as a historical site. The school was established in 1850 and is the oldest school site in Orange County.

Watercolor School Building Prior to 1964 Original School Bell Building Plaque View of the Mission from the school Classrooms in 2010 Mr. McPhearson's Class 1905 Class Prior to 1900.jpg San Juan School in 1967
Status area
CIMG4179.jpg

Time Capsule

Time Capsule

Non-Discrimination Statement

The Capistrano Unified School District prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying in all district activities, programs, and employment based upon actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, color, religion, ancestry, nationality, national origin, ethnic group identification, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, pregnancy, age, physical or mental disability or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Reference: AR 1312.3, BP 1312.3 and BP 5183.

Rich Montgomery, Executive Director, Human Resource Services/Compliance
33122 Valle Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-9200

Website Disclaimer

ATTENTION: The Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) does not assume any responsibility or liability for the content that may be present within external Websites linked to and from this site that are operated or created by or for organizations outside of the CUSD. The linking to or from this site does not imply on the part of the CUSD or any of its schools any guarantee of quality, assumption of liability or endorsement of the organizations maintaining external Websites. Those organizations are solely responsible for the operation of their Website and quality of the content including advertisements, links, media, images and text that they may deem appropriate.