The Circle School

An Introduction

The Circle School: An Introduction

Children have a natural impulse to grow toward healthy and effective adulthood

This tour provides a quick introduction to some of the principles at work at The Circle School, and how they are reflected in the school’s daily program. Some of these ideas might be familiar, and some might be new. All are rooted in the basic premise that children have a natural impulse to grow toward healthy and effective adulthood.

As you explore The Circle School for your family, you’ll likely find other themes and principles that underlie the school’s program. For now, though, we’ll focus on the following ideas:

  • Successful childhood is a journey to independence.
  • Good citizenship skills are best cultivated in a democratic environment.
  • In an age-integrated community, adults and other children provide powerful examples of effective life skills.
  • Freedom is best mastered when balanced with responsibility.
  • School should be about practicing life.

If these principles, and their application in our daily program, are intriguing to you, after you’ve finished your tour, give us a call at 717-564-6700, or request an information packet online.

Children have a
natural impulse
to grow toward
healthy and effective
adulthood

Childhood is a journey
to independence.

In wholesome growth, children become progressively less dependent on their parents, ultimately functioning as independent adult members of society. Throughout childhood, young people are gathering the skills they’ll need to be healthy, effective adults, through play, study, conversation, and more. School should be structured to support children’s growing independence.

At The Circle School, children practice life as members of school society, independent of family. Empowered by the school’s structure, governance, and culture, and free to pursue self-chosen challenges and opportunities, children develop new competence and become increasingly self-reliant within a community of support.

The Circle School can be seen as a microcosm of the larger world, where children develop and practice the skills they’ll use later in life.

Two tween boys walk through a green field

Good citizenship skills are best cultivated in a democratic environment.

Students and staff at The Circle School work together to make laws and manage the school’s day-to-day affairs, including administration of a peer-based judicial system. At School Meeting, each member is entitled to one vote –- 4-year-olds, teenagers, adults. Alleged rule violations are heard by the Judicial Committee comprising five rotating members and bound by due process and the rule of law.

Democratic education cultivates originality, leadership, and an empowering sense of creative control in one’s life. On the other hand, traditional top-down school governance instills apathy, passive compliance, lack of initiative, and dependence on external authority. Traditional schooling does little to prepare children to become active creators of their lives and civically engaged adults.

No staff member or committee can override or veto the actions of School Meeting.

At The Circle School, students are fully empowered citizens, and active creators of their community and their lives.

Adults and other children provide powerful examples of effective life skills.

By powerful impulse of nature, children strive to grow up, to become competent functioning adults. Through observation and experimentation, they test a variety of ideas and behaviors to discover what works and doesn’t work for them. Adults and other children provide vital examples and possibilities, offer organic feedback as friends and equals, and allow for opportunities to consolidate growth through sharing.

Students at The Circle School freely associate with others, based on attraction, shared interests, and circumstance. The school is a buzzing laboratory of ideas and behaviors.

Constant, intense interaction accelerates transmission of knowledge, culture, and technology, providing endless fuel for life and growth.

At The Circle School, children experience great freedom, and take on great responsibility.

The freedom to choose what to do when, where, and with whom carries with it the responsibility to follow, create, and enforce rules duly enacted through the democratic processes of School Meeting.  Students are responsible both for themselves and for their community. They also often take on more formal responsibility, such as serving as trained and certified Medical Responders, serving on School Meeting committees, or holding elected office.

Immersed in the joys and burdens of responsible freedom, children become experts at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Given freedom to explore and practice among people and resources, children find individual ways of being effective.

Children learn best through direct experience and example.

The Circle School is patterned after American government and life, founded on many of the basic tenets of our larger society — self-determination, equal voice in governance, freedom of association, and civic responsibility. At The Circle School, children and teens have the opportunity to experience and master these realities in a safe, wholesome environment, learning engagement and empowerment rather than apathy.

Immersing children in a free and democratic school from an early age helps to grow happy, effective, and productive adults equipped to navigate their own lives in a democratic world.

We want to meet your high expectations.

Being a student at The Circle School carries substantial freedom and substantial responsibility. Willing participation is essential. Family support of the student and the school’s program are also vitally important to the student’s successful experience.

At any time of year, admission is open to students who meet two criteria:

  • The student chooses to join the school community.
  • The school and the family believe that the student can thrive in The Circle School’s program.

Learning about the school is vital to a successful experience. Here are some ways to learn more:

Keep reading to learn more about admissions criteria and enrollment, tuition and financial aid, and more!

Request a free information packet, including Practicing Life, chock full of stories, answers, and more.

Come to a public information event, if conveniently scheduled.