The IDEA School provides a child-centered education that nurtures competence, creativity, collaboration and compassion through work that is meaningful to students and promotes lifelong learning.  Our vision is simple: IDEA School students grow to take charge of their learning and therefore their lives, both in and out of school.

We are an independent, non-profit K-8 school located at the Historic Dunbar Pavilion.  We have a diverse student body from across Tucson, with half our students qualifying for Free or Reduced Lunch. We are committed to 100% inclusion and accessibility. We make it work financially for EVERY family. If you feel this is the right school for your child, we want to talk.

Last spring, as COVID-19 closed our physical classrooms, the fact that our students are growing to take charge of their learning, both in and out of school, was apparent every day. By and large, our students successfully navigated the transition to remote learning, established routines and schedules for themselves at home that ensured they spent their time productively, got their schoolwork done, and made time for daily self care.

As we prepare for the Fall Semester, with remote learning still in place, we are confident that our more robust planning, our focus on social-emotional learning, and our students’ well developed communication and interpersonal skills will lead to even deeper and richer learning for all. We’re proud of and impressed by how well our students have adapted to this unprecedented situation, but not at all surprised. 

We are still accepting applications for grades K-6 for the 2020-21 school year. You can apply online hereNOTE: We will begin the new school year with 100% remote learning, and transition to more and more in-person learning (a hybrid model) as COVID-19 data in Pima County allow.

NOTE: While we are a K-8 school, we enroll new students through 6th grade only, and then support their growth over the middle school years. This policy supports the integrity of our model and ensures an exceptional experience for students at all grade levels. Questions? Call us at (520) 589-4933.



In 2018 we moved into the Dunbar Pavilion, site of the historic Dunbar School, at 325 W. 2nd Street.

We feel blessed to be in our beautiful home at the Dunbar, alongside such great community partners.

Check out the story on Arizona Illustrated about the rejuvenation of the Dunbar Pavilion and IDEA School’s role.

As a tenant of the historic Dunbar Pavilion, we work to make sure that our community, in its composition, its values and its practices, upholds and reinforces the mission of the Dunbar Coalition — “To increase awareness and understanding of the historic and cultural impact” of the African-American community, and “serve as a gathering place for diverse voices and cultures to dialogue about the past and create vision and direction for a more unified future.”

Questions? Please email Head of School Bahne Kuehne at:


“We like the idea of happiness and engagement being emphasized as measures of success…
the IDEA School’s philosophy fits with the educational experience we envision for our daughter.”
– Cecelia and Daniel, parents of 5th grader




  • Children 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 built the IDEA School on the basic premise that when students are engaged, amazing things happen. We want our students 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 can learn and how they can apply it.

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

To apply, click here.



We are proud to be a member of the Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network, 200+ innovative schools around the world who make empathy and changemaking — “empathy in action” — a core pillar of what we do.

Policy of Non-Discrimination

The IDEA School strongly values equity and inclusion in our student body, staff, and Board of Directors, and aims to reflect the diversity of the Tucson community.

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 the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship/financial aid policies and programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.


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