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About Anneliese

A Life-Long Dream,
A Colorful and Inspiring History

Since 1968, Anneliese Schools have provided a very unique and inspiring environment for education of the whole child. To fully understand the history of our school, it’s also necessary to appreciate the background of our founder, Anneliese Schimmelpfennig.

Raised in post-war Bavarian Germany by a loving family of modest means, Anneliese Krempl was an intelligent and strong-willed child who rebelled against the dictatorial structure of her school at an early age. In her heart and spirit, she nurtured a life-long love of learning and a dream: to found a very special school in America one day. For many years, she diligently gained her basic education as intern teacher at an orphanage, a pediatric assistant at the University Clinic of Munich, and as a private governess. She then studied pedagogy at the teacher’s college of The University of Munich by day, working as a chef at an elegant restaurant by night.

During this time, she met an American scholar, Paul Schimmelpfennig, a graduate student from Princeton University who had been awarded a study-abroad fellowship in Munich. Paul was offered an assistant professorship at the newly established University of California at Irvine, while Anneliese was offered a prestigious position as Director of the GieBen School for troubled children, administrated by the Red Cross.

Paul and Anneliese decided to marry and live apart until Anneliese could join Paul in California, after fulfilling her one-year contract at GeiBen. It was at GieBen that Anneliese further developed many of her trademark approaches to teaching, helping troubled children from all walks of life overcome inner traumas and realize their own unique potentials. Upon completion of her term at GeiBen, Anneliese came to Laguna Beach in 1967.

In 1968, Anneliese’s lifelong dream of founding her own school was realized in a small studio garage on Brooks Street in downtown Laguna Beach. The school quickly outgrew the space, and Paul and Annelise bought the house next door for expansion that same year. Enrollment quickly increased as more parents heard of this wholesome, earthy daycare.

By 1971, word about Anneliese’s School was spreading throughout Orange County.  The Los Angeles Times featured an article on the school, “A Preschool in Tune with the Times,” (link) describing the budding enterprise as a perfect match for the philosophical and practical values of southern California. Once again, the school was expanding.  Anneliese and Paul found a beautiful 17-room Mediterranean revival estate on a half-acre lot—and the Manzanita Campus was lovingly created.

The public response to the Manzanite Campus was glowing. The Los Angeles times featured an article on the school, “A Small World,” (link) saying that Anneliese and Paul had quickly “transformed the grounds into a fairytale world that send the memory reeling back to walks in Bavaria, to stories about Huckleberry Finn and the adventures of Robinson Crusoe.”  Within two years, Anneliese’s School at Manzanita became the most sought-after preschool in Laguna Beach.

The demand for Anneliese’s School continued to grow.  By the 1980’s, the Manzanita campus was no longer large enough. Coincidentally, a former elementary school on Wesley Drive in South Laguna became available. Various clients, including local artists, aerobics classes, Regional Occupation Programs and Anneleise Schools leased the classrooms. In 1983, a local group headed by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church sought to purchase the school in order to convert it into 71 low-cost senior housing units.  With her signature insight and creativity, Anneliese made a strong argument for allowing the pre-school and the senior housing to co-exist. And so the Aliso School came to be.

During the 80’s, the beauty and uniqueness of Anneliese Schools continued to draw a large following and generate long waiting lists. Keeping with the times, the staff expanded and the course of instruction became more formalized, structured and organized—including a unique foreign language program. By the late 80’s, the demand for Anneliese Schools once again exceeded the available space. 

For some time, Anneliese had her eye on a magnificent five-acre compound property in Laguna Canyon called the Utsava Rajneesh Meditation Center, also known as the Bhagwan Temple. Anneliese called the Bhagwan Temple upon finding out that the group had sold the property to a Newport Beach based developer. The property was still in escrow and she pleaded with the group to sell it to her instead. They were open to Anneliese’s plea and gave her a specified price. If she could raise the money within a few days, she could have the property. Gathering savings and a few strategic loans, Anneliese and Paul purchased the Willowbrook property in 1986.  Within months, the Willowbrook Campus was ready to open.

Today, Anneliese Schools continue to set the standard in Orange County for private “whole child” education. With a unique curriculum that cultivates all nine intelligences, as well as inspiring environments and seasoned educators to help young hearts and minds come alive, Anneliese Schools lead the way in helping children realize their full potential as human beings.