The Village Free School was founded in 2004 by a group of parents and community members who envisioned a new option in Portland's education landscape. Inspired by the Free School movement of the 1970s, in which children are given real power and honored as individuals, the founders worked countless hours to create a place in which students are free to be themselves.
Over the past decade, our program has evolved and our community has grown. In all that we do, we center ourselves around the three rules established in the beginning: Take Care of Yourself and Others, Take Care of Our Space and Things, and Respect the Freedom of Others. Our students are happy and confident. They are comfortable interacting with peers and adults. They are discovering who they are on a daily basis, and who they want to be in the world.
Our mission is to empower tomorrow's leaders to become independent, creative, and conscientious citizens capable of thinking for themselves and collaborating with others to create a better world.
Our learning environments honor freedom, promote responsibility, and nurture the well-being of each student and the community. Students are supported and challenged to find meaning in their lives, adapt to the world as it is, and prepare for the world in which they want to live.
Our school operates democratically, with the student body exercising considerable power over their daily lives, and with parents and staff members working together to build the community we want to have.
Our school is committed to restorative justice, honesty, self-direction, and promoting and practicing values of life, liberty, and happiness.
1. Freedom is for Everyone
Regardless of a person's age, credentials, or resources, everyone deserves freedom. Students own their daily routines by deciding what, when, and how they want to learn. They enjoy freedom from manipulation, coercion, and physical or emotional violence. Each student, with guidance from an advisor or mentor, determines their own requirements for success.
Adults at the Village Free School are released from the limitations of being an “authority figure” and allowed the joy of interacting naturally with students. They are free to share wisdom, offer classes, make mistakes and just be themselves.
2. Freedom Cannot Exist without Responsibility
With increased freedom comes the increased responsibility to ourselves, one another, our community, and the planet. We share the responsibilities of upholding community agreements, using resources wisely, and maintaining a healthy and sustainable school. We share a commitment to co-create and preserve a place where all are welcome and free to thrive.
3. Community Requires Ownership and Participation
As a conscious learning community, we strive to model a cultural shift which broadens and deepens our concept of education. More than developing a set of skills or acquiring a body of knowledge, education is a life-long process which honors the journey of the individual while defining a larger purpose in the world. True knowledge is the result of meaningful engagement with the world around us.
Ownership is reflected in the belief that everyone matters here, in word and action, and is respected unconditionally. Each member of our community has a role and responsibility to the whole; we must be in conversation, aware of each person's boundaries, working to care for one another genuinely and with compassion.
The Village Free School admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. This public benefit corporation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs, employment policies, election of officers, membership, or election to the Council