The Sage Choice

At its core, The Sage School recognizes and honors that adolescence is a critical developmental window. Adolescence is a time of intense physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. The adolescent mind is undergoing rapid rewiring, while simultaneously preparing for the challenges of adulthood. This ripe neurological stage holds enormous potential, as the student experiences the world with new eyes and a refreshed sense of wonderment. As educators, parents, and concerned adults, we must ask what kinds of experiences we want this growing brain to have.

We believe that traditional education does not adequately provide today’s adolescents with the experiences they need in order to thrive as adults. In fact, schooling has changed little from the industrial era through the age of information, even though both our society and our understanding of adolescence have been revolutionized. According to a teen “Developmental Assests” survey conducted locally and nationwide, today’s students often feel alienated, worthless, not cared for, and unprepared for the future.

The Sage School combines modern brain science with an understanding of the developmental tasks of adolescence to create a more personally meaningful and rich educational experience. Our curriculum focuses on Human Ecology and we value social, emotional, ecological, and interpersonal intelligence.

We use a vast array of resources- teachers, texts, technology, community action experiences, local experts, mentors, outings, travel- to assist students on their journey towards self understanding. As teenagers work on figuring out who they are, they amass an understanding of their local and global communities, and begin a journey of discovery that ultimately leads to self-awareness, knowledge and wisdom.

The Sage Approach is:


In this active and social environment, students experience themselves as significant and appreciated members of a community. Each is safe to explore his or her emerging identity and to express individuality. By experiencing the strength of their own voices within a social and academic context, the students develop a sense of self, a sense of place, and a sense of meaning that is integral to their education. This awareness of self, place, and community manifests in the students’ eagerness to identify their passions and take responsibility for their individual and community lives.


While engaging in meaningful work, students are exploring who they are in relation to their peers and community, and are developing social awareness and social intelligence. Sage students are part of an intimate collective of learners and teachers, and engage with adult professionals through community action, mentorships, and visiting experts. Our curriculum extends beyond the classroom to incorporate the cultural, human, and natural resources of the Wood River Valley and surrounding areas.


We integrate core academic skill and content into real world experience. These experiences yield important journeys and products, which serve as authentic, real world “tests.” From using individual family histories to construct and perform the story of America as a theater production, to creating and curating a professional photography exhibit around adolescence and identity construction, to growing and selling food while studying the origins of agriculture, the Sage student is immersed in active learning. The tangible consequences and rewards of active learning inspire students to take on responsibilities with pride and enthusiasm.

Changing the Currents of Adolescent Schooling,
a TEDx Talk by Sage School co-founder Chris McAvoy