Mission, Goals, & Philosophy

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 We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction."


 -Malcolm GladwellBlink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005


Jefferson County Open School (JCOS) is the original Jefferson County School District option school. Since 1970, the Open School has provided a viable, vibrant, and life changing alternative to conventional schooling. JCOS features a Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade environment with multi-age groupings throughout the school. At all levels students work closely with their Advisor in the development of their personal curriculum. Both individually and in groups, Advising is about developing strong, caring relationships between adults and students, and between students and students. JCOS is committed to preserving educational choices for all students and parents. In the face of increasing standardization, our emphasis on personal, social, and intellectual development helps to prepare students for an ever-changing world. 


The Open School provides a dynamic environment that fosters the development of the unique potential in each individual by nurturing and challenging the whole person. There is an emphasis on self-direction, learning through experience, shared responsibility, and the development of life long-skills.


Students will be able to:

  • Rediscover the joy of learning
  • Seek meaning in life
  • Adapt to the world as it is
  • Prepare for the world that might be
  • Create the world as it ought to be


CURIOSITY - Continuous engagement in learning, exploration, and questioning in the process of discovering personal passions and understanding.

RESPONSIBILITY - Ability to be trusted and depended on as part of a supportive community. Honest about owning your own actions.

COURAGE - Confidence to take healthy risks and ability to do the right thing in the face of pressure.

PERSONAL BEST - Striving for personal excellence in personal, social, and intellectual growth. 

RESPECT - Appreciation for the value of each person in our community through words, attitude, and actions.



  • To create a positive, nurturing, and challenging culture where each person can experience the joy of learning;
  • To create a culture where the five goals of the Open School apply to all students;
  • To be a place where all are teachers and learners as we develop our skills and abilities as life-long learners;
  • To develop the potential of the whole child by striving for Excellence across the Open School Graduation Expectation continuum;
  • To assess student learning in ways that challenge students to demonstrate personal, social, and intellectual growth.


  • To create a community where each student is known and supported to achieve his/her potential;
  • To create an Advising program where each student understands his/her unique place in the larger community through personalized adult guidance;
  • To create a community that is truly centered on the five goals of the Open School and where personal, social, and intellectual growth are seen as interconnected endeavors, not separate;
  • To embrace the positive community created through a small school environment;
  • To actively encourage parents to partner with the Open School and play a significant role in the lives and learning of their children.


  • To instill in students the desire and knowledge to pursue self-directed learning through self-reliance, responsibility and shared decision-making;
  • To engage students in the creation of an individualized education plan in order to personalize curriculum that empowers the pursuit of passions;
  • To reflect on learning and personal growth through the development and assessment of personal, social, and intellectual goals;
  • To embrace the balance between the needs of the individual and the responsibilities of the community;
  • To celebrate the accomplishments of all students as they strive to achieve their potential.
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