Frequently asked questions

What is a democratic school (theory and practice)?

In a society supposedly based on participation, empowerment, and democracy, shouldn't education be participatory, empowering, and democratic? Democratic education infuses the learning process with the fundamental values of meaningful participation, personal initiative, equality, and justice for all our society. Democratic education sees young people not as passive recipients of knowledge, but rather as active co-creators in their own learning. They are not the products of an educational system, but rather valued participants in a vibrant learning community. Democratic education begins with the premise that everyone is unique, so each of us learns in a different way. By supporting the individual development of each young person within a caring community, democratic education helps young people learn about themselves, engage with the world around them, and become positive and contributing members of society. By doing this project collectively, in a group setting, we also educate on living intentionally, in community, and how to learn to get along. Uniting democratic values with the educational process is not a new idea. Over the last 120 years, leading thinkers from John Dewey to Marian Wright Edelman and Margaret Mead to Paulo Freire have articulated the basic hypothesis that: If living in democratic societies committed to human rights creates well-being, AND If people learn primarily based on the people and environment that surrounds them, AND If culture is transmitted from one generation to another, THEN We need to create environments where people of all ages, especially youth, are immersed in the values, practices, and beliefs of democratic societies and human rights. To that end, rules at school are about safety and cooperation, rather than obedience and control. In fact, all rules are created by the community as a whole, and enforced by the community in the Justice Committee, made up of students and adults alike. We operate as a true democracy- those who show up and participate get input and decision-making. Those who opt out are free to do so, but lose their freedom to choose the rules that govern them. Imagine a school where children and teenagers are accorded all the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship; where students truly practice, rather than just read about, the principles of free speech, free association, and freedom to choose their own activities; where students vote on the rules that affect them, and serve on juries to try those accused of violating those rules they reated together. What better training than this to prepare students for true democratic citizenship? Many people are skeptical that such a school could work. They wonder whether children and teenagers, given such power, would make reasonable decisions, either for the school as an institution or for themselves as individuals. Yet many such schools exist, and by all reasonable measures, they have proven successful. Some of them have existed for decades, and they serve students from as young as four, all the way through the teenage years. Such schools have produced many hundreds of graduates, who have gone on to success in all walks of life. In a school like this one, children choose daily activities as well as larger projects to be a part of on a continuing basis. Offerings are made by community members (on a given day, there may be outdoor education, sewing classes, helping cook lunch, or farm activities- all which teach academic subjects in order to succeed) and children can choose them or choose an activity of their own making. Read an article about governance at Sudbury Valley School, the oldest such school in the USA. Embed: Sudbury Video: Summerhill Video: Democratic School Primer: Transforming Schools In to Democratic Communities:

What does democratic education look like at Liberigo?

Once a week on Wednesday afternoons, there is a School Meeting. It is optional, but all rules, regulations, policies, programming, and financial decisions for the school are made here. All community members participate, regardless of age. So if a student wants input into School projects and priorities, attendance would be necessary. All adults and children/youth from the community are invited to attend. The meeting is run by Robert's Rules of Order, so everyone learns how to run an effective meeting. We hear from committees on their work and requests, hear old and new business, and then adjourn. We have Committees doing the smaller bits of delegated work throughout the week as well. Students and adults are free to join (or not join) committees as well, but it where work gets implemented that may affect the community. Committees are also in charge of giving out certifications and training people to get certifications. Permanent committees include the Justice Committee (which helps students resolve conflicts and also determines causes and consequences of breaking the rules we created together) and the Fundraising Committee. Temporary committees are formed and dissolve as community members want/need them. Certifications are for dangerous, highly skilled, or safety laden tasks that someone may want to do: sterilizing dishes, using dangerous tools, etc. We have general rules regarding safety: no hurting another person's body or feelings, no harming property that does not belong to you, and we require gaining certifications for skilled work that could be dangerous or impact others. These rules are enforced by the Justice Committee, which is a body of rotating community members who help members work though conflict, dole out logical consequences for rule breaking, and make sure every voice in the issue is heard. All participation in School Meetings and Committees other than the Justice Committee for a term is voluntary and not coerced. However, all decisions are made in meetings and students are informed that they lose their ability to vote or create ideas and solutions for the school if they opt out. Justice Committee attendance is mandatory for anyone involved with a conflict and serving on the committee is chosen by lottery, month-by-month.

You are also creating a pre-school, yes?

Currently, our preschool program, Dandelion, is under construction and part-time- limited to days where adult mentors with smaller kids are doing work share. Check with the school administrator to find out which days currently have preschool aged children.

Our vision is to have a fully running pre-school alongside Liberigo in the fall of 2020.
Preschool aged kids co-exist with Liberigo students in the same space and the older kids are welcome to interact with the younger ones if they wish. Thinking about having a family member join Liberigo? Preschoolers are currently welcome on days that their adult participates as a mentor (for both schools). As we grow and become licensed as a childcare facility, dropping off preschoolers 5 days a week (or part-time) without parent supervision will become an option. We are not there yet, however.

How does such a school operate?

A democratic school, as the term is used here, is a school where students are trusted to take responsibility for their own lives and learning, and for the school community and property. At such a school, students choose their own activities and associate with whom they please. If courses are offered (and we plan to offer outdoor education, farming, entrepreneurship, "home ec" or life skills style classes and field trips), students are always free to take them or not. We will be polling kids/youth to see what they want to learn as well and finding folks to facilitate those classes, too. Our school will accept students across a wide range of ages (age five through the late teens) and will not segregate students by age, so that students can learn from interacting with others who are older and younger than themselves. Like in the real world. “A radical change is going to be needed to get a learning system fit for a democracy. It needs to get away from domination and its endless stream of uninvited teaching. It needs to recognize that, in a democracy, learning by compulsion means indoctrination and that only learning by invitation and choice is education.” Roland Meighan The adult community members at a democratic school are there to help, not direct. They are the adult members of the school community. They bring to the community their experiences, wisdom and long-term commitment to the school and its students. In some democratic schools, the staff are hired and fired by a procedure in which each student and staff member has one vote, so that those who do not serve students’ needs can be voted out. Staff members teach, in the broad sense of the term, but generally don’t call themselves “teachers,” because there is recognition that students learn at least as much from one another—as they play, explore, socialize and work together—as they do from the adults. Democratic schools are governed democratically, usually at weekly school meetings at which each student and staff member has one vote. The school meeting typically legislates all rules of behavior at the school and works out procedures for enforcing them, typically involving a jury composed of school members of all ages. There are also committees which oversee ongoing or long-term projects that community members create. Students can choose to participate in these or not, knowing that in order to get results they desire, participation is likely required. In short, a democratic school is a democratically governed setting for self-directed learning, in which students have the advantage of an age-mixed community of friends and colleagues with whom and from whom to learn. Here's an entire page with videos about how Sudbury operates:

How does this differ from homeschooling or unschooling?

"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child."- George Bernard Shaw First, some definitions: Homeschooling is when you do not send your child to a centralized school system for mass education. You opt to DIY, and sometimes you collectivize this effort with other like-minded families. Sometimes you use a curriculum for academic subjects, sometimes not. But homeschooling still has a dynamic of an adult teaching a child about the world. Unschooling is an educational philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. The child chooses interests and projects, and by pursuing those projects or interests, the academics follow. For example, a child decides to open a lemonade stand and learns about measurement (recipes), finance (costs and budgeting), marketing (getting the word out about the stand), reading (reading recipes and tips), and so much more by pursuing that project. While considered a subset of homeschooling by school districts (which are government entities), unschoolers may be as philosophically separate from other homeschoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling. Not all homeschoolers allow children to lead, so while all unschoolers are homeschoolers, not all homeschoolers are unschoolers. Democratic schools, in our opinion, are collectivized unschooling projects with an overlay of democracy, so that everyone is truly free to learn. They crowdsource supervision, metorship, and resources for the benefot of the students. In his acceptance speech for the New York City Teacher of the Year award (1990), John Gatto said, "Schools were designed by Horace Mann ... and others to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population." In the interests of managing each generation of children, the public school curriculum has become a hopelessly flawed attempt to define education and to find a way of delivering that definition to vast numbers of children. The traditional curriculum is based on the assumption that children must be pursued by knowledge because they will never pursue it themselves. It was no doubt noticed that, when given a choice, most children prefer not to do "school work". Since, in a school, knowledge is defined as schoolwork, it is easy for educators to conclude that children don't like to acquire knowledge. Thus, schooling came to be a method of controlling children and forcing them to do whatever educators decided was beneficial for them. Most children don't like textbooks, workbooks, quizzes, rote memorization, subject schedules, and lengthy periods of physical inactivity. One can discover this - even with polite and cooperative children - by asking them if they would like to add more time to their daily schedule to play. (Play is the natural way all animals, including human animals, learn.) Unschooling dismantles that system of education, not only by keeping children and youth out of schools, but allowing them to determine what they wat to learn and help them pursue that- with facilitation rather than "instruction". In essence, our democratic school is a collective project of unschooling. Unschooling is usually done in family units, and often, that puts a strain on the time, energy, and resources of that one family. Our school collectivizes this effort and as a result, unschooled kids and their families get more resources to pursue their passions and more community members of all ages.

What's the difference between education and schooling?

We believe the mission of education is to build free people who can discern, analyze, criticize, propose, and enact solutions. Our idea of education is separate and distinct from schooling, and often families that come here go through a period of adjustment and must "de-school". This school has no worksheets, annual assessments, grades, or homework. This school assesses growth individually by the student, not comparing them to one another. Each year, to stay in legal compliance, our students register as homeschoolers (as the government sees unschooling as a subset of homeschooling), and throughout the year, we document for each student their work at the school and their growth for their families and their school districts. We help families file the necessary paperwork to keep their kiddos "homeschooled". It is an adjustment learning to trust that children will learn without schooling- especially for parents (who were likely brought up in a schooled mindset themselves). No homework and no formal academics in the younger years often looks like a lot of play. Play is how intelligent creatures learn- regardless of species. We have taken a time where children should be learning through play and forced them to sit still in rows, doing menial labor, and having to ask permission to get their physical needs met. This is not preparing them for anything in life that has meaning or passion- rather it prepares them for a life of unquestioning servitude and drudgery. We want more for our children. So we created this option for them. In the older years, we see youth starting to take interest in specific topics and starting learning projects. Perhaps they want to dismantle and rebuild an engine, learn baking, or play an instrument. We give them the space to do these things and provide guidance and support where needed for our youth to do these things. Academics follow when children learn in a meaningful, project-driven way. It's like potty-training. You can try and get your kid to use the toilet for months. But until they are ready, there will be no "click" and the results will be inconsistent. Then, one day- the child is ready and diapers are no longer needed. It wasn't your training that made it happen any sooner. It was the readiness of the child.
De-schooling for a child that has experienced curriculum-driven school looks a lot like blowing off (a whole lot of) steam: play and no sign of academics for a good while. That's OK- trust the process. Let it unfold and trust that after a de-schooling period, your child will experience that spark of curiosity again and will seek out learning. They always do, they cannot help but be the curious learning sponges that they are. Sui Juris (Pronounced soo-eye juris; from the Latin, meaning of his or her own right.): Rather than treating children and youth as second class citizens with some kind of legal disability, we believe that kids possess full social and civil rights and should be treated as such. While they may not have as much life experience as an adult, its is our work as adults to provide them a safe space to explore and gain that experience. Rather than being under the power of adults at Liberigo, adults provide guidance and mentorship when requested. Children have the capacity to self-regulate and manage one's own affairs; given time and opportunity to do so. So you will not see children asking permission to eat or use the bathroom here. Unschooling and democratic schooling is about trusting that children love to learn and try new things. Kids are learning sponges and want to explore and learn and create. Unfortunately, schools often take those impulses and beat it right out of them. At a common school, you must learn academics in a far-removed, abstract scenario of worksheets and tests and learning loses its larger meaning.

De-Schooling, a necessary process for families.

Most likely, you grew up in a schooled mindset. (Most of us did- public or private schools, then we entered college and possibly grad school, Several of us at Liberigo have even worked as public or private school teachers or tutors!) But that education and experience showed us many things that are wrong with our educational system. What if we told you that grades, standardized tests, and sitting in rows were about making schooling easier and more quantifiable for adults and had nothing to do with children and their education? What if we told you that your child is a learning sponge and will absorb all kinds of knowledge (including academic subjects) without sitting at a desk in a neat row and doing worksheets all day? Lily, the school administrator and founder says: "My child learned to read (and I helped) because he wanted to play adult board games with his parents. My child learned and practiced math and reading by doing projects and cooking with us at home. He readily does fractions, percentages, ratios, and measurement daily while cooking with us and knows about money and telling time because of life skills at home- not academics at school. My child loves animals, especially ocean creatures, and dreams of being a marine biologist. He watches documentaries and reads books about oceanography and marine biology. None of this was picked up at school. In fact, he has to forgo this education in order to learn academics divorced from his passions in a classroom environment. But what was "picked up" at school were anxious tics that self harm and get worse when he has to stay indoors, sitting still for 5+ hours a day. Something had to change. I was tired of academic success at the expense of his emotional well-being." Parents often have to learn to trust that their kid, after an adjustment period that celebrates freedom (that we call de-schooling), will WANT TO LEARN. And that their child will learn because they are motivated to do so. While we do not issue grades or do standardized tests, we will compile a portfolio for each child at Liberigo and offer a year-end assessment of how your child has learned and grown each year. This is suitable for submission to local governmets. But the different school paradigm takes some getting used to. This article about how to run a democratic school (and this school will be a community that includes everyone in families) is super important for parents to read before enrolling a student at a democratic school. You need to truly be behind this idea in order to fulfill the school's destiny of true democracy- and that means allowing your child (and other people's child/ren) true freedom and choice, within the boundaries and container the school sets up for itself (and you and your child will decide the rules with everyone else). Excerpt: "All that said, I want to digress a bit more before I launch into how to sustain a democratic school. I want to talk about parents for a minute. I don’t think parents who bring children to enroll, or to visit a school with an idea of perhaps being interested in enrolling, are generally looking for democracy. I don’t think that’s in their heads at all. Parents bringing in their children to consider our school are looking for an alternative to what is mostly available. They are also sometimes – but far from always – looking for real freedom. More often, they are only looking for more flexibility. Sometimes, but rarely, they are looking for respect for their child. Basically, if they have very young kids, they are seeking what we are: a place for people to build their own lives from scratch; a place where each person has no choice but to become self-actualized and competent; a place where children can be in control of their lives. Parents of older children want something else. They usually want a refuge for their children. At no point have most of these people thought to themselves, “I want a democratic school for my children.” Far from it. They generally think, no matter what their political persuasion, that democracy as a form of government stinks. Winston Churchill said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

Outdoor access is important.

We provide safe places for children to be indoors when they choose, however- the emphasis of this school is access to the outdoors at any time. A marked change from most schools. Our current location has a large fenced-in yard that students can use at any time during their day. We will take walks and do field trips on the regular. We plan on moving to a farm in the future to increase this possibility and teach life skills and give students exposure to the natural world and animals. Why? Read on! “The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. . . The scholar must needs stand wistful and admiring before this great spectacle.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson We are working on creating this school to have access to the outdoors most of the time, in all seasons. While students will have access to indoor learning and play areas, access to the outdoors is a crucial part of the vision. Why? 1. Students who get to experience an outdoor learning environment tend to be more attentive and, therefore, have a better recollection of the information, communication, and experiences shared. 2. Consistent exposure to nature decreases stress and anxiety, helps elevate mood, and helps with emotion regulation. 3. Children often have too much exposure to digital screens via televisions, computers, and cell phones. This can result in a “nature deficit disorder,” which may lead to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle and possible psychological and learning issues. Outdoor learning allows students to put their focus back on nature. 4. Outdoor environments naturally inspire children to be more physically active. 5. Exposure to bright sunlight found in nature is also healthy for vision. Bright sunlight is necessary for the eyes to develop properly, lowering the risk of nearsightedness. 6. Studies show that in outdoor settings, children are more motivated to work together in groups, which can improve their social skills. They learn to manage conflicts, communicate, and cooperate with their peers in a more effective manner. 7. Outdoor learning provides children with hands-on experiences in nature. Most children learn better by using their senses. Outdoor environments provide the perfect place to do this. Instead of viewing different types of plants or wildlife on a computer or TV screen, they can see, smell, hear, and touch them in nature. Students can start and maintain a garden in our current location, interact with nature, and ultimately, once we relocate to a farm, learn where food comes from. These hands-on experiences cultivate a love of nature and get them interested in protecting the planet. 8. It builds community. When the community has shared experiences in the out-of-doors, it builds relationships that last a lifetime. 9. Getting hands in the dirt increases beneficial bacteria colonies in and on the human body, leading to better health and wellness.

Isn't this "playing all day"?

Gods, we hope so! You see, playing is how all young animals (including humans) learn best. (Well, playing and making mistakes.) If kids acquire literacy and mathmatical prowess through play, we should be encouraging that! Here is an article from the New York Times on why children need more play for their mental and emotional well being than what they are getting these days. Here is also a great video that talks about the importance of play: We encourage students to determine their futures AND we facilitate potential learning outcomes with a structure that can contain it- this is the beauty of a well-functioning democratic school. Adults can offer workshops on a topic: sewing, cooking, building a computer from scratch, or creek restoration (for example). Kids decide if they wish to learn about that, or do their own thing/project at any given time.
Children are natural learning sponges. They want to know about the world around them and how to do stuff. Our jobs as adults (and learning facilitators) is to turn desire into action: My kid wants to build a treehouse at the new school. I said, "Great! What are some of the things we need to know before we can make that happen?" and this started a conversation about site placement and safety, materials and tools needed, how to make the treehouse accessible to everyone, budgets, and much more. And because he is motivated to make this project happen, he is willing to serve on a committee to make it happen. So not only is he getting a desired outcome, but he will learn even more than simple academics in the process- he'll learn about negotiation, working in teams, project management, and so much more. This makes him a more competent adult than a kid that learns academics only in a mainstream school from computers and worksheets, in my opinion. And because the school is a true democracy, if students want an outcome- they need to actively participate. So there are school and committee meetings to attend if they desire something. So don't belittle play- it's really important.

What about academics, college, success?

The fact is, mainstream schools do not motivate students to learn and achieve and often do the opposite. Children do not learn self-regulation or motivation in traditional schools. They are told what to do and how to do it, day in and day out. This does not prepare them for adulthood.

In a democratic school, students find a passion and pursue it, learning what they would in an academic setting along the way. There are studies (like this one) that show success (however you define that- including academic and livelihood outcomes) from democratic school graduates.
Here is a great article from the Sudbury school on this topic, called But What About Academics? And another from the Open School called Kids Learn Academics Without Being Taught.
It takes some getting used to, but children are natural learning sponges. They learn effortlessly and do not need to be forced. Learning to trust that children will explore, learn, and get whet they need to be successful adults without compulsory school, tests, and assessements is more of an adjustment for adults than kids. And frankly, we think there are critical skills that we can facilitate that a mainstream school would not- our school teaches how to make good decisions, participate as an equal citizen, discernment and analysis, and active participation in its very model. Using play as a model for learning, students tend to retain lessons more readily. And we will offer mentoring from adult volunteers on plenty of subjects not offered or no longer offered in an academic setting: financial compencency, entrepreneurship, farming, outdoor education, life skills (sewing, cooking, laundry!), and much more. These will be offered and children/youth will be free to pick them as offerings (or not). The experience of a democratic school is that younger children tend to choose play, older children start developing passions (creating music, marine biology, Shakespeare, quantum physics) and learn about those subjects independently, with mentors there to help provide guidance and resources to further that interest. Sudbury Valley School and The Circle School, two of the largest & oldest self-directed democratic schools in the US that our school will model, do not encourage or discourage college education and still have a 85% college placement rate, from elite to community colleges. Many colleges are eager to enroll self-motivated learners who know why they want to go to college. Students from schools like this tend to be very impressive in an interview situation because they have had so much practice socializing and talking with people of all ages. Here is a page to help with that process. Further, if a student expresses interest and passion to pursue college, adult mentors at the school help them discover what they need to do to achieve that goal. We are there to assist if a student wants it. Students graduating from our school will not have grades or a transcript; however, there are many ways to demonstrate their readiness for the college of their choice if they choose college. They can get letters of recommendation from mentors at the school. They can decide to study for and take the SAT or ACT, construct a portfolio, and write a convincing personal essay. Most graduates of Sudbury schools go on to college, and have pursued higher education at a variety of institutions including: state universities, liberal arts colleges, art schools, cooking schools, Ivy League schools, and community colleges.

Location, Hours, Tuition

Current Status: This is on hold til after the pandemic subsides. We were meeting at a youth center in Gahanna, now we are likely to meet at a farm in London once we are able. All other info here is a placeholder from the past until we are able to gather again: Tuition: Tuition covers actual school expenses (rent, food for students, infrastructure and maintenance, filing fees with the state, web hosting, administrative costs, bookkeeping, insurance, trainings for mentors, and tax preparation help. Our adult mentors are unpaid, work share is part of tuition. We plan on writing grants for paying staff for specific programs such as art, math enrichment, and outdoor education in time. Money above expenses each month is placed in a fund for the community to decide what we are using it for at School Meeting. Current Tuition: All tuition is paid in advance of the month it covers by the 15th of the prior month.
FT students pay $25 per day + 10 work share hours, PT students pay $30 per day + 10 work share hours, and Homeschool Enrichment students pay $35 per day. Additional work share is possible and defrays tuition costs. Meals, Beverages, Snacks: We hope to provide group vegan meals in the future (once we are on the farm). For now, please have your child bring a mid-day meal and as many snacks as you feel they need for the day, along with a water bottle. Children may bring any food they choose- vegan or not. Please be sure to indicate any food or other allergies on our enrollment form. There are some mainstream snacks and beverages (soda, chips) available for 50 cents per at 254 Youth Center as well. Tuition Assistance: We want all families to find Liberigo affordable. In addition to offering one of the lowest tuitions of any alternative school in the area, we also keep costs low by requiring work share of each family. We will value additional work trade at a specific dollar amount per hour (TBD, along with all budgetary line items) that will be deducted from tuition costs. Please check out what kinds of work we especially need. Permanent Location: We are in process of developing the school, and are seeking a location that will allow building infrastructure, outdoor access, a working farm, and space to build what the school determines it needs. We are in talks with such a farm in London, Ohio- 30 minutes west from downtown Columbus. We hope this will be our location and will post more details as we have them. In the meantime, we meet at 254. So we do not have a permanent location yet! Have a lead for a wonderful location? Contact Lily.

What is the legal status of the school? Is it accredited?

The school itself is a non-profit educational organization (and intends to register as a childcare facility as well (to help with tuition tax breaks for our community). We also seeking 501(c)3 federal non-profit status. There is a board of directors (consisting of legal adults, which is a federal requirement), an advisory board (of students), and bylaws and governance rules written for this organization (all these documents will be written by committee that include all ages). No "accreditation" is needed for such a school, because we are not getting government funding. That is a regulatory standing that is unneeded. All students of the school register with the state of Ohio as homeschoolers. We help facilitate that process if desired, and the forms are included with enrollment papers. We provide all the forms and knowledge a family needs to register with their school district and maintain their status from year-to-year. This includes a collection of work (portfolio) at year-end.

What's the school culture like?

Liberigo is an alternative for kids that:

  • Is deliberately secular so to make everyone welcome. Religious expression is welcome, but there is no overarching religious, political, or other agenda coming from Liberigo.
  • Values autonomy instead of conformity, and teaches children and youth to question things and not simply blindly obey.
  • Walks its talk on issues of freedom and consent (while simultaneously teaching the responsibility that comes from and the consequences of choice and freedom).
  • Gives freedom of movement and choice instead of sitting still doing worksheets and screen evaluations all day.
  • Has several rooms and areas for children to be, so those that have sensory issues have a calm place to recharge and those that need to run and fidget have places to be as well.
  • Facilitates love of learning and exploration instead of coersion and compulsion with an agenda that makes learning a chore.
  • Values diversity of all kinds, embraces it, and works hard to maintain it. Community members of all races, ethnicities, income levels, genders, sexualities, religious philosophy and belief, neurology, or country of origin are welcomed here.
  • Is willing to do the hard work of maintaining a community and its projects.
  • Teaches equality and social justice by example and values all community members.
  • Values time outdoors and playtime as education.
  • Offers life skill training as well as academics for children/youth that choose it.
  • Actively builds a community (for families to be a part of).​
Liberigo is: 1. A school that values each and every person in the community and respects them as equals. While we may all have different life experiences or knowledge we are all worthy of respect and kindness. A school community that welcomes people of all races, sexual orientations, genders, ages, physical abilities, and traditions. A school that does not tolerate racism, sexism, transphobia, elitism, ageism, ableism, or any activity based in bigotry and othering. One whose overarching value is kindness. Any person engaging in repeated acts of bigotry, bullying, hostility, or harassment will be asked to leave by a committee of people (without a refund). We also want to actively build a culture that is anti-othering, going beyond "tolerance" and "acceptance" to genuinely embrace difference and celebrate our diversity together. A school that actively maintains a safe space for our community is very important. If an issue arises in the community, we will discuss the issue with those involved, and seek to rectify the situation through our Justice Committee. Open and honest communication and a dedication towards resolution is key to working together and building something greater than any one person. 2. A consent culture school. We want the community to seek proactive, positive, and confirmed responses of “Yes” before touching anyone or their property, taking anyone’s picture, or otherwise entering another person’s physical or energetic space.We welcome feedback to help us continue to grow a culture where all participants feel safe, heard, and valued. Let us respect each other and look after one another. 3. A true democracy: active participation and a balance of freedom and responsibilities. With freedom comes responsibility: With freedom of speech, we have the responsibility to listen. With freedom of belief, we have the responsibility to accept. With freedom from want, we have the responsibility to serve. With freedom from fear, we have the responsibility to act. With freedom of choice, we have the responsibility to accept consequences. When people believe the myth of "absolute freedom" (freedom without responsibility), no one truly has freedom. We encroach on others and in reality, there are no "others". We live in community and must value others as we value ourselves. More links and resources R.E.S.P.E.C.T.- What Kids Get in Democratic Schools by Daniel Greenberg Class Dismissed (Article in Psychology Today on Sudbury Valley School) Playing in the Zone of Proximal Development: Qualities of Self- Directed Age Mixing between Adolescents and Young Children at a Democratic School by Peter Gray Children Educate Themselves by Peter Gray How forced schooling harms children Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) Akilah Richards, Unschooler.

You call yourself a community. How so?

We do indeed, and we are constantly defining and re-defining what that means to us. Here are some of the ways that we are a community: 1. We are helping shape the culture in which our children are brought up (no small task!). We are ensuring their equality and participation now so that as adults they are better prepared to take on the challenges of the world they inherit. We encourage FT participation at school for students and as much time as possible on the art of adults not just because it keeps tuition low. But also because it forges bonds of community. 2. We are constantly finding ways to add social bonding between the community members (of all ages). We host regular social and work activities to build and strengthen the bonds of our relationships. bonfires, hayrides, gardening projects, fundraisers, game and movie nights are all regular features that helps us stay in right relationship to one another. 3. We decide together the projects, rules, and running of the school. Rather than a top down hierarchy, we make decisions at regular predictable meetings. Those who show up for the meeting (in-person, digitally, or by written carried proxy) make the decisions for everyone. We are a true democracy that realizes with freedom comes responsibility. 4. We host a bulk natural foods buying coop. Families are automatically eligible and the public is also welcome to join. We get food (that we do not grow ourselves) for the school this way. Deliveries come from Azure Standard monthly (regular ordering date TBD). If you become a member and join our drop, you are welcome to place your orders with them and get free shipping. You would then pick your food up within 2 days of delivery for shelf-stable items, within 24 hours for perishable items (we can store in freezer or refrigerator, but please be mindful we do not have a ton of extra space). 5. There are more ways we are a community- and they are constantly changing and evolving. If you join us, you will have a say in what we do together!

Collectivism: sharing the load

We are an unusual school in that we have some paid staff (to ensure continuity, legal compliance, and quality) and a lot of work share staff (to make tuition affordable and to build bonds of community). We firmly believe in the coop model that active participation means a project is closer to the participants' hearts and means more to them than simply paying tuition and dropping a kid off at a building. We also know that many of our families want to be able to unschool as a family, but life circumstances get in the way- be it the need to hold down a job(s), caring for other family members, or running a business. Collectivizing the school helps families like these! Adults are welcome to schedule their work share so that they get that quality time with their kiddos (and the other students, of course) and be secure in the knowledge that their kiddos are also safe, happy, and free on days that unschooling is not possible for them the rest of the week.

We also have other work share opportunities in addition to mentoring 10-4, M-F. This website and our logo were created by work share, for example.