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There's something about the atmosphere at DVS that makes you want to do what's most challenging.
- Alyssa, graduate

How It Works

When given the time and the space to decide what they want to do, students look deeply within themselves and discover just what it is that they need to be doing at any given moment. They learn to trust themselves and their own needs, so that they are able to make decisions about their actions throughout the school day. Without the constant barrage of adult agendas placed on them, students learn what it is like to be responsible for knowing themselves and finding out what their individual passions are.

Students at Diablo Valley School are free to do anything they find interesting as long as the activities do not infringe on the rights of others or endanger the school. All rules are written and enforced democratically, giving students a true sense of ownership over the rules and the school itself. The need to rebel is reduced, and the opportunity to lead is increased, by the experience of having control over the environment. Respect becomes a natural part of everyday life.

The Results

At Diablo Valley School, we have nearly two decades of experience seeing the successful outcome of this philosophy. With students who started with us at age 5 or 6, as well as students who joined us at older ages, we see them develop as happy, relaxed, confident and responsible people pursuing their personal goals in life, careers, and further education. The Sudbury Valley School, on which we are modeled, has been operating continuously since 1968 and has published follow-up studies of its former students: Legacy of Trust and The Pursuit of Happiness.