Our History


The outlook is bleak for homeless kids looking for help in San Diego. Recognizing a desperate situation, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) funds a drop-in center where homeless kids can go to get off the streets and into books. Called The P.L.A.C.E. (Progressive Learning Alternative for Children’s Education), it is staffed with a single teacher, Sandra McBrayer.


Needing a larger facility but lacking funds, the school is relocated to a low-income neighborhood in downtown. Despite challenges, the program grows.


Teacher Sandra McBrayer is selected San Diego County and California Teacher of the Year.


In recognition of her dedication and achievement in education, The P.L.A.C.E teacher Sandra McBrayer is chosen United States Teacher of the Year.


After a moving presentation by Sandra McBrayer, the Rotary Club of San Diego (Rotary 33) becomes very involved with the school. The Club responds by forming the Young Adult Homeless Outreach (YAHO) Committee.


Sandra McBrayer goes on to serve as a national educational ambassador. With new leadership from Susan Armenta, the school expands the academic program for junior high and high school students. Tutoring, mentoring and ancillary support programs are instituted.


Students rename The P.L.A.C.E., and Monarch School is born.

The school faces a challenge. To make room for downtown development projects, Monarch’s lease is scheduled to expire in 2001.

1999 – 2000

Initial funds are provided to upgrade the school’s facilities by San Diego Padres Wives and members of the Young Adult Homeless Outreach Committee.

The Monarch School Project is formed as a California nonprofit corporation and locates a new building for the school on Cedar Street in Little Italy. SDCOE agrees to fund a 15-year lease.

The Monarch School Project raises over $1 million to fund renovations, furniture and fixtures. Bycor General Contractors leads the way, quietly providing gracious support both with funding and development.


Rotarians and other volunteers help move the school to its present site in Little Italy. The new 10,000-square foot Monarch School facility opens with 48 students. It includes a computer lab, three classrooms, a small health clinic, library/conference room, lunch room, kitchen, laundry room and shower.


The Monarch School reaches its capacity of 150 students in May, four years ahead of growth projections.

Ralph Rubio, founder of Rubio’s Baja Grill, opens Cabo Café and Grill on the school’s campus. Students have the opportunity to work in the restaurant and gain job training, learn management skills, and earn income for further education.


Sarita Fuentes, Principal/CEO, joins the Monarch team and boosts the academic standards for students. Fuentes continues to be an exceptional leader as the school grows and student/family demands increase.


Community partners help to secure a permanent home for Monarch School. Monarch acquires ownership of the Cedar Street property and building with generous support from the Centre City Development Corporation and major gifts from Nat Bosa, with Bosa Development and San Diego National Bank.


Monarch makes the difficult decision to close the popular Cabo Café in order to gain space for a much-needed classroom for second and third grade students.


Building modifications are made by Bycor Construction in order to add a kindergarten and first-grade classroom. Monarch School is now able to serve children impacted by homelessness in grades K-12.


The school has outgrown its current location, with enrollment between 150-160 students. Monarch identifies a new site for the school that will accommodate at least 300 students daily. This 51,000-square-foot warehouse in Barrio Logan will be remodeled and equipped to provide the space and features that are essential to a modern, effective learning environment.

In November, Monarch gains unanimous approval from the City Council to purchase and remodel the Barrio Logan site.


Retired Admiral Ronne Froman joins the team as Monarch’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. Monarch plans to break ground for the remodel in Spring 2012, with completion by year end 2012.


Ronne Froman becomes the president of the board of directors and Erin Spiewak joins the team as Monarch’s Chief Executive Officer.


The Monarch School Nat and Flora Bosa Campus opens its doors for business. Students begin taking classes at the new campus in May 2013.