Open Connections

  • Sandpit and Tire Swing Environment
Mission and Values


. . . is a world where all young people develop the foundation for a self-directed life of purpose and fulfillment.

  • choice I lab


 . . . is to help young people and adults develop the tools needed to create the life they want, full of purpose and fulfillment.


We do this in two ways: 

  • by providing an Open Education environment (the Open Connections Village) which fosters the guiding principles of Respect, Freedom, Responsibility and Natural Learning; and 
  • by working with others who share our principles and values in order to tip the balance from the traditional model of compulsory instruction over to a more organic, learner-directed approach based on self-motivation and the creative process. 
  • GT4 CD

We believe in the PRINCIPLES of 

  • Respect—for oneself, others and the environment; 
  • Freedom—to learn and create; 
  • Responsibility—supporting the foundation of a nurturing and positive social, physical and intellectual environment; and 
  • Natural Learning—the belief that all people have an innate desire to learn, grow, communicate, nurture and create. 
  • SYL team game

And we VALUE . . .

  • Process Consciousness—paying attention to the way we do or say something so that the effects serve our highest goals and intentions; 
  • Creative Process—the way we move from the present to a desired future state, using various tools to build on current reality in order to achieve a chosen goal; 
  • Conceptual Development—the process of understanding, achieved by figuring things out, rather than by rote memorization of answers and techniques; 
  • Collaboration—working with others synergistically, with the belief that none of us is as smart as all of us; 
  • Real Work—work that is done for its own sake, rather than “busy work”; 
  • Community—building meaningful connections both within OC and the community at large; 
  • Connection—with ourselves, with others, and with the natural world; 
  • Personalization—helping families create personalized educational and life journeys; 
  • Exploration and Innovation—creating opportunities to engage in hands-on experiences that foster innovation and exploration; 
  • Life-long Learning—where our natural curiosity guides us to continuously seek new experiences and learning opportunities; and 
  • Facilitating (vs. teaching)—OC staff serve as mentors and guides. 


Our vision and mission combined with these principles and values guide the Open Connections Process. 

  • clay studio youth GT1

featured program type

Choice Programs

Choice I, II and III offer young people the chance to explore eight different content areas of their choice each year over the course of four 8-week segments. For example, a youth might spend the...

featured program type

Open Programs

All of the Open Programs reflect the essence of the Open Connections philosophy: a belief in Natural Learning, curiosity and the primacy of self-motivation, collaboration and the creative process....