Frequently Asked Questions

What about their social life and friendships?

A parent's biggest worry, after academics, is the social life of their teen. But even in a large, diverse high school, most students have just a few close friends. Some, even, are the target of painful bullying. Think about your own high school experience. Frankly, it is easier to form close relationships in smaller schools.

At Living Wisdom High School, no one is lost. Everyone is recognized and heard. We have a strict no-bullying policy, something that is hard to achieve in a larger high school. Also, being a small school gives us the flexibility to take adventure-filled field trips and to perform service projects together. These bonding experiences help build deep connections and trust among teens. We find that our students form deep friendships that last long into adulthood.

Do students really perform well in a high-stress college after attending a school like yours?

Yes. In fact, our students tend to perform better than most, because they've developed healthier learning habits, and greater self-confidence in their ability to move through challenges. They have acquired resiliency skills that many other students lack when they find themselves in unfamiliar new environments. Take a look through our Successful Students section to discover what happens to our students after they leave Living Wisdom Schools—in college and in careers.

Is that true of your high school experience?

Some students thrive in a large, competitive environment. But the vast majority struggle to be heard, or find any recognition for their unique gifts. How often did a teacher reach out to you, personally, during your high school education, to find out how you were doing? At our school, this is the core of our mission. We are teachers and coaches, helping to bring the best out of each student, which will vary greatly, depending on the student.

Small class sizes enable us to give each student a personalized education. It gives us the ability, the time, and the energy to devote to every student. Learning is centered around personal interests and goals so that the student is challenged and engaged. How much more we learn when we are interested in the subject matter. How much do you remember of what you learned in high school? Our students find the experience unforgettable.

What is your homework policy?

Each school day is built to include both individual study time as well as time for tutoring.  LWHS follows a “university model.” See our Weekly Class Schedule. There will be projects and assignments that have some elements of homework. Our policy on homework is individualized and is designed to help students learn discipline, responsibility, and time management. Learn more

Is Living Wisdom High School accredited?

Yes. LWHS is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This accreditation term will be renewed in 2028 in accordance with the ongoing self-reflection process of accreditation. 

The WASC visiting committee of our most recent accreditation cycle noted the following areas of strength in the LWHS program: 

·      LWHS has a strong sense of community and unique structure of organized mentorship among faculty, staff, and students.
·      LWHS has an extensive network of advisors and off-campus partners which leads to a wealth of opportunities for Living Wisdom students.
·      LWHS students are empowered to take ownership of their learning and have a strong voice in the development of their personalized learning plans. 
·      LWHS is a member of the Mastery Transcript Consortium and is moving towards greater incorporation of mastery learning and the use of portfolio-based mastery transcripts. 
·      LWHS creates a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary culture with an ability to approach problems from different perspectives and with a wide array of resources. 
·      The Living Wisdom School Board of Directors is deeply dedicated to our philosophy of learning which goes above and beyond the school’s mission and vision. 

The Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a world-renowned accrediting association and one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States, works closely with the Office of Overseas Schools under the U.S. Department of State. WASC provides assistance to schools worldwide, especially in California, Hawaii, Guam, Asia, the Pacific Region, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.  Accreditation is a collaborative self-reflection and evaluation of all aspects of the school’s program and its impact on student learning and well-being based on the WASC research-based criteria. Furthermore, accreditation is a certification to the public that the school is a trustworthy institution of learning and well-being that is committed to continuous improvement. 

WASC accreditation demonstrates:

·      the school is substantially accomplishing its stated purposes and functions identified as appropriate for an institution of its type, and

·      the school is meeting an acceptable level of quality in accordance with the WASC criteria adopted by the Accrediting Commission.

Through the ongoing WASC accreditation cycle, our high school conducts an in-depth self-study, normally every five or six years; hosts an accreditation visit by fellow educators; and engages all community members in a follow-up process of implementing, monitoring, and refining the resulting school-wide action plan. The visiting committee’s report and recommendations are submitted to the WASC Commission for review and action on accreditation.

What is particularly of note about our partnership with WASC is their commitment to support each school in manifesting its unique vision and mission. As such, we are able to hold the principles of Education for Life in the central light of this educational partnership! If you would like to learn more about WASC, here is their contact information:

Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges

533 Airport Blvd., Suite 200

Burlingame, Ca 94010 

These are a few of statements made by the officials supervising the accreditation process for LWHS, Nevada County:

“If you could put what you are doing in the public schools, it would change the world.”

—School Superintendent at initial accreditation visit

“This school is the best-kept secret in Northern California.”

—WASC official at renewal visit

What is the relationship between Living Wisdom School and Ananda?

Though Ananda is a spiritual organization, it established Living Wisdom Schools as non-sectarian school open to anyone, regardless of their personal religious beliefs. (That is true of Ananda, as well, but especially so for the schools).

No religious dogma is taught at Living Wisdom Schools. Instead, universal principles and practices are shared with the students.

Students are encouraged to relate to others with kindness, to strive for one’s personal best rather than to compete with others, and to discover the potentials that reside within each of us. They learn meditation, yoga and breathing exercises to develop emotional and mental self-mastery skills (these techniques are commonly taught in corporate America today). Over the years, we have found that when these principles inform a school culture, academic excellence and happiness are deeply realized by the students.

What is the history of Living Wisdom School?

The Living Wisdom philosophy was first articulated by Paramhansa Yogananda, best-known for his spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. He began schools based on this model in India which attracted thousands of young people. He provided an education very much like what we do now, based on strengthening character and self-mastery in young people, experiential learning, as well as excellence in academics. But when he came to the United States in the early part of the 20th century, his ideas for the education of young people didn't take root. They were perhaps too far ahead of their time.

In the early 1970s, during a time of educational innovation in the US, the first Education for Life school began at Ananda Village, a community of people who were students of Yogananda's teachings. The school and Ananda were founded by a direct disciple of Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda (James Donald Walters).

In 1986, Walters wrote Education for Life, which expanded greatly on Yogananda's brief writings, providing a model for the development of more schools of this type. There are many teachers throughout the world now who are teaching by these principles in their classrooms, whether in public or private schools.  In 1992, Living Wisdom School of Palo Alto (K-8) began for young children and has become one of the most highly rated and regarded private schools in the Bay Area. There are a number of Living Wisdom Schools now on the West Coast, and a sister high school at Ananda Village near Nevada City, CA.

At any Living Wisdom School, there is no expectation that any child, parent or teacher be involved with Ananda. For example, out of 72 children currently enrolled in Living Wisdom School of Palo Alto, only two or three families have an ongoing connection with Ananda. LWS, like most schools, public or private, has families and teachers from many different religions, nationalities and spiritual traditions.

4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, California 94303
(send snail mail to: Box 29)
© 2021 Living Wisdom High School in Palo Alto, an alternative, holistic, private high school serving the Peninsula, Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area (Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Atherton, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, East Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Milbrae, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos). Focusing on mastery-based learning, self-discovery, service learning, adventure, academic excellence, and supportive community.

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