Mission & Principles


Empower children, families, and communities by cultivating connection to the local ecology and culture and by practicing and promoting progressive, place-based education.


Children secure in themselves, engaged in their communities, active in their world

Educational Philosophy

At SOLID GROUND SCHOOL, we are inspired by each child’s inherent capacity to investigate, to ask questions, and to explore the world around them. We recognize that children are intrinsically motivated to learn by this powerful inner curiosity, by an enthusiastic drive to play, and by a fundamental desire to be part of an accepting community. Attuned to these basic tenets and utilizing the supportive guidance of reflective and engaged educators, we set out to cultivate in our students the confidence to realize their own creativity and to develop a strong internal sense of self and place. In doing so, we ultimately enable them to discover their own agency, conscience, voice, and purpose, supporting them as they come to more fully understand who they are and what they have to offer their communities.

We are guided in this work by several essential pedagogical principles and goals


  • Children are capable, whole, and autonomous.

  • Each child’s inherent enthusiasm for learning is powerful in its potential.

  • Time in nature is essential for the human spirit and a profound understanding of our interconnected world.

  • A deep sense of rootedness in ecological, historical, and cultural place empowers people to give back and feel connected to the communities in which they live and work.

  • Play is a fundamental right of children and is a necessary part of optimal learning and creativity.

  • A rich, varied, stimulating, and thought-provoking physical environment challenges children to construct new understandings and supports deep learning.

  • An educational community reaches its full potential when all learners are treated with care and respect, when active engagement in learning is the norm, and when all members have a real voice in the community.

  • Supporting children in asking their questions, in exploring their interests, in communicating their ideas, and in finding their creative voice leads children to come to know themselves as skillful and passionate learners, opening the door to life-long success in learning.

  • In giving children tools to examine and understand their inner lives, we support children in becoming grounded and in developing self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

  • Experiencing risk develops our capacity for resilience and our tolerance for making mistakes, which is essential to creative, intellectual, and emotional development.

  • Thoughtful documentation and assessment of student growth has the potential to transform assessment into a rich, transformative process of reflection and growth for both students and teachers alike.

  • High quality education is responsive to individual students and local contexts and seeks authentic connections among students, teachers, family, and community.

In order to honor students’ natural love of learning and to help them develop a sense of ownership of and engagement with their learning, we believe that children should have input in their education. To this end, we implement an emergent curriculum that empowers our teachers to create rich educational experiences that are guided by our students’ interests. By giving children a voice in their educational path and trusting them to engage in decisions about their learning and their lives, we support children in developing a sense of themselves as capable and deeply engaged in the world around them.

For more details about the how and why behind these principles, please see our Learn More page.