Foundation Principles

Education for a hopeful sustainable future.



Universe Story  ~  ecological literacy  ~

natural world as teacher

Universe Story is the vision coming to us through science which suggests that we and all that surrounds us are the continuation of an immense and integrated unfoldment of matter, energy, space, and time that began nearly 14 billion years ago. This emerging cosmic perspective offers a way to integrate scientific, spiritual, personal, and cultural viewpoints and gives us a practical ground for our human existence as cosmic beings on an evolutionary journey.

Ecological literacy asserts that Earth is our primary teacher, and that humans’ birthright is to feel at home in the natural world. Comfort in and love for the outdoors enhance attention, appreciation, belonging, presence, peace, participation, economy, beauty, interdependence, joy, and satisfaction.

Sustainable living asks us all to consider: Why do I/we do this? How do my actions impact myself, other humans, other species, and the planet we share? Which individual and group actions contribute positively to a hopeful sustainable future?


mutually-enhancing relationships  ~  

non-hierarchy  ~ circle practice

Mutually-enhancing relationships imply a commitment and effort to accept and improve our impact on each other, including inanimate “others” and those of different species. As humans, we commit to the guidelines of respectful and open communication. The Family Handbook guides: if there’s an issue, consider how words and actions promote positive resolution. Talk to the individual first; listen with attention and curiosity. Assumption of others’ good intent can transform interactions and relationships.

Circle collaboration, non-hierarchy practices of the Circle Way gather people into a circular shape with participants at the rim and the purpose in the center. Each person has a voice and everyone can see and hear one another. Social agreements and practices help facilitate respectful conversation. Circle supports a leader in every chair.


outdoors  ~  experiential  ~  integrated

Experiential and integrated learning develops skills of presence, focus, curiosity, inquiry, analysis, and connection. While students may not realize they’re studying biology, chemistry, and language arts as they investigate the Paulinskill River and compose poetry about their discoveries, integrated, natural learning through experience begins for all of us in infancy and continues throughout our lives.

differentiated  ~  learner-centered

Differentiated learning acknowledges people are different and learn differently. The concept fundamentally challenges cultures that value some modes over others.

Lifelong learning is an approach to learning—whether in personal or professional contexts—that is continuous and self-motivated.