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We are an independent K-8 school focused on student inquiry and social-emotional development. We develop critical thinkers, problem solvers, and productive, engaged citizens.

We are inspired by the work of SF Brightworks, the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the #StartEmpathy movement, and TEACH through Love. We believe all children are intrinsically motivated learners and constructors of knowledge, and enjoy being productive. This is the foundation for everything we do.  For a peak into what learning looks like at IDEA, visit our Blog!

The next Prospective Family Information Night is Wed, March 8th at 6:00 pm.  If interested, please contact co-director David Higuera at david@explorebuildlearn.org or 520-589-4933.


“We like the idea of happiness being emphasized as a measure of success…
the IDEA School’s philosophy fits with the educational experience we envision for our daughter.”
– Cecelia and Daniel, parents of 2nd grader

We currently go from Kinder through 6th Grade, and will add 7th and 8th next year.  Our students learn in mixed-age groups with multiple collaborators (teachers), with plenty of opportunities for smaller group and individual work through our projects, workshops, research and explorations.

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  • Children of all ages are intrinsically motivated learners, capable of extraordinary insight, passion and joy in their learning.
  • We have the opportunity to truly nurture our children’s intrinsic motivation to learn.  It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
  • Collaboration is central to learning, and children who feel a strong sense of community do better – in school and in life.
  • Authentic assessment allows us to truly measure what children know and can do, and partner with them to help them push their learning further.


We are proud to be a member of the Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network, 200+ innovative schools around the world (70 in the United States) who make empathy and changemaking — “empathy in action” — a core pillar of what we do.  Onward to more shared learning and collaboration as we reinvent what school can be!

Our students are engaged in learning inspired by: their ideas and questions, experiences in the community, teacher-generated provocations, and expert visits/field studies.  Our work focuses on real-world challenges with a real audience, and we use projects as a jumping off point for deeper exploration of academic concepts and the development of 21st Century Skills.




We built the IDEA School on the basic premise that when children are engaged, amazing things happen. We want kids to still be as engaged by school when they’re in 8th Grade as they were when they were in Kindergarten, because school is still relevant to them and they see that their ideas have an audience, their work matters, and the sky’s the limit in terms of what they learn and how they apply it.

For a look at our program, click here.

To apply, click here.


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Thank you for your interest in the IDEA School. We’re glad you’re here!

Policy of Non-Discrimination

The IDEA School admits students of any race, color, national original, ethnic origin, socio-economic status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status and physical ability to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national original, ethnic origin, socio-economic status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status or physical ability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship/financial aid policies and programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.

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