Using an educational model that blends rigorous academic instruction with community-centered project-based learning and liberatory design thinking, the Social Justice School creates an educational space where students across difference engage critically with the world and interrupt systems of inequality toward designing equitable systems with equal outcomes: liberation for all and a non-hierarchical society.


The adoption of standards-aligned curricula that is evidence-based and focuses on problem solving, application of learning, and the production of high-quality work. We adapt Common Core standards into instruction that explicitly teaches students the skills needed to become successful graduates, disruptors of inequity, and social change agents. Combining rigorous academics with real world application via community activism increases student engagement and understanding of the content. We intentionally adopt curricula that reflect the cultures of our students and families. Our curricula is designed to ensure that all students can access the learning targets within the curricula. We provide scaffolds, group students heterogeneously,  explicitly teach vocabulary and background knowledge to ensure that all students can access our curriculum.

Social Justice Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary learning is an “approach to teaching and learning in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. These EL projects  result in high-quality products or performances for audiences that extend well beyond the classroom”. Community Project Based Learning is an approach to teaching and learning in which students investigate and respond to questions, problems and challenges that are based on local issues. Project based learning supports all students as it allows students to work at their own pace and also the projects lend themselves to heterogeneous collaboration.

Liberatory Design Thinking:

Design Thinking is a process for creative problem solving. The liberatory design thinking process ensures that designers reflect on their identity as well as the identity of others when tackling complex problems. Problem-based tasks that are centered in local community issues catalyze the designer in all students to engage with complex problems through systems design, and collaboration.


Crew, sometimes known as advisory, is a key component of our model. In order to provide support and choice, every SJS family will be paired with a school educator who will stay with the family throughout their years at the school.  In our school, “every student is known”.  Students are most successful when they have at least one close, long-term personal relationship with an adult on campus who guides the student through all aspects of their schooling — academically, socially, and emotionally. The crew meets twice daily for 30 minutes each time and holds conferences twice a year with each family.  Students refer to and view advisory as a team, or “crew,” synonymous with a team working together to all achieve their collective goal of being prepared for college and citizenship.  In the words of the EL schools, “There are no passengers, only crew.”