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Why Headwaters?

Headwaters School offers exemplary education for students from 18 months through grade 12. In addition to offering the programming people expect when they think of high-quality Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High Schools—early literacy, Literature, Science, and Math, as well as Physical Education and sports—the following aspects set us apart from other schools and make us “Headwaters.”

Purpose, Promise, and Principles

Headwaters School is deeply rooted in our Purpose, Promise, and Principles.

We cultivate identity formation, foster empathy, and embrace diversity to bring more peace to the world.

We guide our students to live authentically, think expansively, and create bravely.


  1. Minds On. Stimulating intellectual work is at the heart of our academic program, which incorporates social, ethical, and emotional development.
  2. Inner Source. We know and grow each student by tapping the innate wellspring of curiosity about themselves, each other, and the world around them.
  3. Expert Guides. Our educators design vibrant learning environments while following the lead of each student.
  4. Show Up. We seek students and guides who are drawn to inquiry, engagement, and self-expression, as they navigate learning within and beyond our classrooms.
  5. All In. When each of us models these principles, learning becomes lasting and deep.

Close and Meaningful Relationships Between Students and Teachers

Our biggest asset at Headwaters School is our phenomenal teaching staff. We attract teachers who teach because it is their life calling. They love teaching and working with their age group. People choose Headwaters because they feel the relationship between students and teachers is of utmost importance. They want a school that spends the time and energy to find the absolute right teachers for its mission and philosophy. At Headwaters, we have created a family of highly qualified teachers who view education as a sacred occupation.

Diverse Options for Highly Engaged Students

We believe that early, elementary, and middle school education is best organized in a multi-level classroom. We have structures set up for students to mentor other students. This integration builds camaraderie, leadership, and a culture of respect and inclusivity. We have options for High School students who need academic differentiations, including many independent projects and academic competitions for students who are hungry for more content and advanced curriculum. In addition, we find that students gain acceptances to highly competitive colleges when they are able to take college-level courses before graduation. We believe that this “staggered” approach to honors and gifted programming gives students a chance to develop emotionally before segmenting to advanced tracking.

A Focus on Outdoor and Ecology Education

We believe that students should learn respect for their environment from an early age. We begin in our Primary and Elementary programs with weekly gardening classes. Young students are delighted to build their gardens each year and care for them as their plants and vegetables grow. We have outdoor classrooms attached to each classroom so that certain lessons can be taught outside. In our Middle and High School, we offer an Outdoor Leadership Program in which students participate in monthly camping trips, rock climbing, and hiking. We offer Environmental Science in 7th grade and the option to take IB Environmental Systems and Societies over two years in 11th and 12th grades. Our Rio Grande campus is situated in 5 adjacent historic buildings connected by several decks and courtyards. Many of our classes take place outside, and students get fresh air throughout their day. Students engage locally with the Shoal Creek ecosystem and our garden plot at Deep Roots Garden. We have many opportunities for students to complete service projects focused on environmental awareness. At the end of the first quarter we take our entire Middle and High School on a 3-day retreat filled with community-building and outdoor activities.

A Value and Strong Infrastructure for Independent Learning

In our Early Childhood and Elementary programs, our philosophy and curriculum are strongly rooted in the Montessori method, which is designed to provide independent and student-guided learning. Students choose from various lessons in Math, Science, Language, Geography, and Practical Life, and have work periods throughout the day for independent learning projects.

As students move on to Middle and High School, our approach appears more traditional. Like most schools, students study English, Social Studies, Science, and Math every year.  However, unlike most schools, our students also study Foreign Language and the Arts every year. Every student is also required to participate fully in his/her advisory community and perform community service hours each year. We do not see these subjects as less important to a good education; in fact, we believe that a holistic education is what 21st century learners will need to be successful.

We also have a uniquely “Headwaters” program, Project Week, where all students design, develop, and implement an individual project. In the High School, students can earn credit for an internship, teacher assistantship, or a course of their own design through our Independent Study Program. Our overall goal is to engage students in a structured college-prep learning environment while also teaching them the confidence and maturity to guide specific parts of their learning.”

Curriculum for Character Education, Conflict Resolution, Peace Education, and Mindfulness

At Headwaters, we believe that community does not just happen on its own. Just as schools must implement standards for academic expectations, schools must also implement standards for character development, communication skills, and community cohesiveness. To accomplish these, we have a curriculum for character education, conflict resolution, and peace education. Our teachers are prepared to teach not only academic skills, but also these softer skills that make for a loving and respectful community of learners. In our Middle and High School, we require teachers start every class with a mindfulness exercise. Students take several minutes to meditate and heighten their awareness before starting the day’s lesson. These centering exercises help to focus the classroom on learning as well as increase student performance on presentations and tests.

Diversity and Global Awareness

We value diversity and global awareness at Headwaters School. In our Elementary program, students complete many country studies and presentations throughout the year as well as celebrate various global holidays and cultural events. In the Middle & High School, students take Sociology/Anthropology, Topics in “Big History” (including Ancient Civilizations), American History, and World Geography. We strive to instill a sense of democracy and patriotism in our Social Studies programs. Our students learn about the world and are hungry for more education on different cultures. They relate to themselves as global citizens who respect other cultures, and who are curious to experience other cultures first-hand.

Stellar Academics

SAT Summary Results for 2012-2016

Section Middle 50% Mean
Critical Reading 480-630 553
Math 490-640 556
Writing 470-640 539
Total 1490-1820 1649

National Composite Average: 1490

College Matriculation
96% of our graduates are accepted to at least one of their top choice colleges, with 93% of them matriculating. The Headwaters Class of 2017 has received $3.5 million in merit scholarship offers.

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