The traditional school system was built at a time when children were just beginning to be protected by labor laws. Based on a factory model of learning, traditional schooling seeks to expose the most students to the same information at the same time for the sake of efficiency. Traditional schooling was not designed to feed teenagers’ neurological hunger for meaningful social, intellectual, creative, emotional, and physical experiences. In fact, it removed students from the very classroom that could best deliver: direct contact with experts, within community, and in nature.
The Sage School reflects an ancient evolutionary truth- our brains are built by the experiences we have, and the quality and type of those experiences matters. We learn from people, from stories, and from doing. We are creators, designers, and meaning-makers.
Adolescence provides a unique opportunity in human development- it is a sensitive period of massive brain growth, a time when we develop our identities, when our autonomy matures, and when we practice the reflective problem solving and advanced social skills required to function fully in the adult community.
Adolescence is at once a distinct stage and also the beginning of our adult lives. Teenagers seek meaningful work that connects them with their community, that develops their sense of place, and, ultimately, that helps them understand who they are.
The Sage School began as an idea- the outgrowth of two careers in teaching, and the product of experience, observation, reflection, and conversation surrounding adolescents. Harry Weekes and Chris McAvoy spent the better part of a decade examining and working to guide students to know themselves, engage their local community, and enrich their global understanding. As a result, Chris and Harry sought to construct a new system- a school designed around teenagers; a school designed to honor adolescence as a central and critical window in human development.
The Sage School grew from seeds of urgency, opportunity, possibility, and hope. The Sage School is founded on the importance of adolescence as a critical developmental window, the need for a curriculum focused on the central importance and combination of ecological and humanitarian topics, the desire to build a place where the students are active and engaged in their community, and the goal of creating an intensive, experiential education that honors teenagers and helps them become truly engaged citizens.
Founded in the late spring of 2009, The Sage School opened with 16 students in grades 8 through 12 in September of that year. In six years, the school has grown to 90 students across grades 6 through 12. The Sage School is a privately funded, coeducational day school located in Hailey, Idaho on 1.6 acres, with three buildings and an attached greenhouse.