Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Alpine Valley School different from other private and public schools?
We follow the Sudbury Model philosophy, pioneered by Sudbury Valley School for over 50 years in Massachusetts. At our school, we emulate the adult world where individuals have a choice about how they spend their time, have a vote in what laws govern their society, and are fully responsible for their own actions. Students at our school are not forced into a curriculum, an age grade, or a classroom. They are free to move about the campus and to spend their time on the activities that have the most value to them. They are also equal members in the school government and active participants in the justice system. Students are free to explore their interests in a safe environment full of diverse individuals with the full support of adult Staff Members.
Do you really have no grades, no classes?
Classes can and do exist, though they do not always look like what you might find in another school. When students have an interest and want to hire an instructor, they have resources available to do that. However, no one grades their performance except themselves. Students are also free not to take a single class the entire time they are enrolled at Alpine Valley School - they learn by experiencing life rather than by sitting in a classroom.
Do you allow personal electronic devices (like cell phones) and video games?
We do. Students are free to bring most anything to school, including toys, electronic devices, and personal computers. For more information on our philosophy concerning video games, take a look at this blog post: Why Video Games Are So Important.
Why does Alpine Valley School charge tuition?
The state of Colorado has certain requirements that an organization must meet in order to receive state education funding. Given that our school will not ever require testing, grading, or any coercive evaluative measures, we do not qualify for status as a charter school and therefore must charge tuition. We work hard to keep our budget conservative and our tuition low (you can see here a comparison with other private schools in the area). We also recognize that not every family can afford to pay tuition and so we have created as many resources as possible for grant and scholarship opportunities. For more information on our current tuition and financial aid options available, please see our Enrollment page.
Are you a homeschool umbrella school?
We are not. Alpine Valley School is an independent private school, and we do require physical attendance.
How many students do you have and what ages?
Our enrollment typically varies from between 25-30 students. We accept students from ages 5 to 19 and you will usually find each age group represented in our current student body.
What are Staff Members and what do they do?
At our school we do not have “teachers”, we have Staff Members. Staff Members are the adult employees of Alpine Valley School elected every year by the School Meeting (the majority of School Meeting are students). Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds and hold an assortment of elected positions within the school. In addition to fulfilling official functions, and ensuring the safety of our students, Staff Members are here to uphold the values of Alpine Valley School and to model effective adult behavior. Staff Members are caring, supportive adults who believe that children are capable, whole individuals and who are worthy of respect exactly as they are.
How do students at your school learn to read, write, do math, or any other essential skill if no one is helping them or tracking their progress?
There is a great article along these lines by Dr. Peter Gray called “Children Teach Themselves to Read”. This article captures what has also been our experience - children teach themselves what they need to know when they need to know it. They may not do it with their “grade level” or even when we, as their parents, want them to, but it does happen. Learning happens in unexpected ways, and we embrace that at Alpine Valley School. Each child is unique and will need to learn things their own way - at our school they have the opportunity to figure that out and to learn how they learn best.
How can I find out more?
We have found that the best way to learn about our school is by visiting us. You can schedule your own informational tour by visiting this link: Tour Alpine Valley School. We also maintain an active social media presence, which you can view by clicking one of the icons below.