If you haven’t been on a tour of Alpha, picture a quiet local coffee shop, but with students at the tables.

Core skills is the first block of academic time in the day and starts at 9:00am.

The clock strikes 9:50am.

A student sits pancaked on her stomach atop a rolling piece of cloth furniture, and with a glance at the clock on her laptop display, she suddenly pops her head up and makes eye contact with her friend across the room.

“Q-break!” She sings out, and lofts herself up and out of the building to the playground, unprompted.

Q-break (qualified break) is a period of relaxation where kids take a moment to let their minds rest from serious thought.

They go outside to play for ten minutes and when it’s time for the next block of core skills, they come back inside and find their focus.

At Alpha, it can feel like students are on their own schedule. That’s because students are stakeholders here. They design their days. From what subjects they take on first, to what businesses to start, to what programs they build, to what movies they shoot, to plays they produce, to what workshops they participate in, students have a voice, a stake, and a significant buy-in to the structure of their lives. That’s true at age 5, and it’s true at age 18.

Daily Schedule

Morning Launch — 8:45am

Core Skills — 9:00am

Q-Breaks

Lunch/Freetime — 12:00pm

Lifeskills Workshops — 1:00pm

Closing — 3:15pm

Pick-up — 3:30pm

Take a peek at the schedule above, and you might find 2–3 hours of academic work per day. Learn more here.

Morning Launch is a time to find a center of balance as a community and laugh.

Core Skills is the coffee shop part. Students pull out their laptops and start working on adaptive software applications, which cover language, reading, mathematics and science.

Lunch features a farm-to-table hot food menu and a bento box style to-go option.

Workshops are designed to foster a variety of lifeskills. In almost all of our workshops, students collaborate with and lead one another.

Closing is a moment for reflection. Kids talk about the day, the week, and have conversations about how to best spend their time and energy.

As a guiding principle, our schedule attempts to meet students at their academic level, move them through a personalized pathway, and foster social and emotional development.

A large part of our job is to give students the space and confidence to learn self-care and achieve to their highest potential. The schedule helps us accomplish that.

And… there are no bells.