Our Mission & Guiding Principles

Students outside holding a picture of the colleges they will be attending

From our campus to the wilderness, our mission is to inspire students to think critically, engage confidently, embrace challenges, and lead impactful, purposeful lives.

Desde nuestro campus hasta lugares remotos en la naturaleza, inspiramos a los estudiantes para que piensen críticamente, se comprometan con confianza, acepten los retos y lleven una vida impactante y con propósito.


Sun Valley Community School is a dynamic academic environment that prepares our preschool through twelfth-grade students for a world that is forever evolving. Our students actively acquire a proven body of knowledge and develop a useful array of skills and abilities.

The principles articulated here derive from our experience as educators and lifelong learners. They are drawn from state-of-the-art research about schools, human development, brain development, teaching, and learning. They shape what happens educationally in our classroom and beyond. They constitute a standard by which we assess our success in fulfilling our mission.

Although the impact of a Sun Valley Community School education varies from student to student, with these ambitions at the forefront, this common set of educational principles guides and unifies us as educators, students, and families. The principles apply to all grade levels, pre-kindergarten through twelve, and they constitute a commitment to our students and their families.

Shared Principles of a Sun Valley Community School Education

(1) Inquiry-based learning and the application of critical thinking are our prevailing modes of instruction. We foster mastery of content and logical thinking based on authentic situations, relevant questions, and valid assessments. We facilitate innovative student generated solutions to challenging problems relevant to their lives.

(2) Within the framework of a college-preparatory curriculum, we encourage students to pursue their personal interests and passions with energy and conviction. We believe that learning is more enduring when it connects to the identity and values of a student. As a result, each student’s interests are recognized and reinforced by our faculty and programs. We foster a readiness to pursue a deep level of understanding, because experiences in depth have the greatest impact on learning.

(3) We encourage a global perspective and learning that derives from different traditions and ways of thinking. Students develop the skills to function comfortably and effectively in a global environment. Through our curriculum and programs, we expose students to diverse cultures and traditions, and we use the whole environment to foster learning and personal growth. Our classrooms are dynamic places that draw on the outside world through innovative uses of technology, visitors, simulations, and real-world projects. Further, our learning environment is not restricted solely to the classroom. We extend the classroom to wherever our students are exploring and learning.

(4) We foster intimate and inclusive learning environments, defined by small classes, informality, close faculty-student relationships, respect and compassion toward others, appreciation of differences, collaborative learning, and classroom participation. While maintaining high expectations for each student, we meet students where they are, intellectually and developmentally, while nurturing intellectual, emotional and moral development. We guide students to create their own definition of personal excellence and to take personal responsibility for their education. We define success by progress made as well as by established indices of achievement.

(5) We encourage and share a love of nature and environmental stewardship. By taking students to the natural environment of mountains, rivers, deserts and ocean, we teach students to be comfortable, knowledgeable and competent in the natural environment. Through the Outdoor Program and our curriculum, we foster leadership skills by our commitment to the preservation of our natural world and by modeling sustainable practices.

(6) Whether in the classroom, in the theater, on the athletic field, or in the outdoors, we encourage students to seek new challenges and to push beyond their comfortable limits. We encourage a student’s sense of adventure and exploration; students are asked to try new things, to take on and manage risk, and to embrace setbacks as an integral part of growing and learning. Through these challenging experiences, we help our students develop the capacities of resiliency and grit so that they are better prepared to meet whatever challenges they may face while achieving excellence in their lives.