Educational Approach

The Trillium curriculum is self-directed, meaning that students have both the opportunity and the responsibility to shape their own education. This means that staff do not control the environment or dictate student activities. Instead, they are available as resources to students whenever they are needed.  In an environment where one’s actions are constantly directed, it is easy to become reliant on such direction. In contrast, Trillium students learn to resolve their own conflicts and problems without depending upon adults to “fix” things for them. Like all adults, students have the chance to learn through both success and failure. Through this process they learn the incredibly valuable skill of identifying and following their own interests and passions, and they are able to reach depths in these areas that might not be possible in more “structured” environments.

The vital, and challenging, task of direction is left in the hands of students. Having learned how to manage their own time and direct their own activities, students leave Trillium with the ability to direct their own lives as competent, independent adults.

Education in a Democratic School.


In a democratic school, students participate first hand in real decision making with real consequences. All members are welcome to participate in School Meeting, the democratic body that debates and votes on day-to-day operations of the school. In this environment, Trillium students gain the skills, confidence, and experience necessary to pursue any future they  choose. 

Although the school includes people of many ages, abilities, interests, and levels of experience, it is understood that these differences do not entitle anyone to act as an authority figure or dictate the actions of another. Only the School Meeting and its sub-committee, the Judicial Committee (on which all students and staff serve in turn) have the capacity to direct the actions of school members, and these bodies go to great lengths to make sure that their decisions are made with respect and compassion foremost in mind.

What is Community-Sourced Education?

Community-Sourced Education evolved from the practice of tapping into our greater educational community to find ideas, projects, and classes that students wanted to explore. Four times a year we invite our friends, families, neighbors, students, and staff to an evening where individuals are given an opportunity to pitch ideas for classes, clubs, and projects. This sharing of inspiration and passion is what creates Community-Sourced Education.

hoto Credit: Peter Hellberg

Photo Credit: Mitya Ku

What does it look like?

The day after our community pitches their ideas, Trillium students are given the opportunity to vote on which projects, classes, and clubs they would be interested in. Two weeks following voting day students are given opportunity to sign up for any classes they feel drawn to. Classes run eight weeks long.


Recent Classes

Below are some examples of classes that have been recently offered at Trillium School:

  • What Does the Clock Say?                            
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Reading and Writing
  • Large Scale Junk Art
  • Game Design
  • Biology
  • Screen Printing
  • Beginning Robotics
  • Conversational French
  • Tutu Making & Rainbow Loom
  • Jazz Dance
  • Dueling
  • Knitting
  • Cookie, Tart, and Cake Baking
  • Public Speaking
  • Nail Design
  • Happy Class
  • Rainbow Loom