At Cottonwood ALC, kids design their own education.  Learners at Cottonwood are motivated because they pursue what interests them, they are passionate because they engage in and explore what they love and they are independent, making choices that are meaningful and relevant to them every day.  At Cottonwood, kids are free to learn.

Learning is natural.  It is happening everywhere, all the time.  We have intentionally woven our school into the fabric of our community where our cultural and natural landscapes are as much a part of our classroom as the walls of our physical school.  We believe the future of education looks local, community-focused, democratic, nature-inspired, and project/play based. Each day, students at Cottonwood define what school looks like.

People are curious and engaged when they are self-directed. Kids are people too.  Curiosity is innate and is the catalyst for all learning. We empower learners to make their own informed decisions and pursue their individual interests. We trust kids and support their self-direction through an evolving set of agile tools and practices.

Experience is the best teacher.  People learn more from their culture and environment than from the material they are taught.  At Cottonwood we continuously adapt our tools for communication in order to facilitate the creation of a supportive and inspiring school culture.  Our learning environment frees learners to be themselves and to see the world around them for its limitless possibilities. We intentionally open our doors to the community and use the world as our classroom as students accumulate meaningful experiences to compose their individual curriculum.

Self-knowledge and success are achieved through the cycle of learning;  Intention : Creation : Reflection : Sharing. We are creating an environment that values the principles of choice and freedom along with the development of meaningful connections between peers, facilitators, and the community.  The cycle of learning scaffolds this work as students set personal intentions, opt in to group offerings, and team up with fellow learners over shared interests each day.


Cottonwood ALC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or ethnic origin in administration, admission, or any associated activities.