Our Values

Here, you’ll be seen, heard, and valued for who you are.

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Fair Play

Hawken’s character is found in our motto: Fair Play, a concept that has been at the core of our community’s collective consciousness since our founding in 1915. Our founder James A. Hawken believed that a school’s main job should be to develop each student’s character. His main goal for his new school: “That the better self shall prevail and each generation introduce its successor to a higher plane of life.”

At the Mastery School, we carry these core Hawken values with us and use them to build a community that places character — diligence, perseverance, initiative, responsibility, determination, integrity, fairness, humility — at the center of school life.

Agency, Belonging, Trust

Our highest goal is for you to thrive in every dimension of life so that, when you leave us, you’re ready to make a mark on the real world.

Together with our Founding Class, we’re building our school’s community around three core values:

  1.     Agency
  2.     Belonging
  3.     Trust


All of us feel more invested in our learning when we see that our views, ideas, and opinions matter. That’s why we’re building a school with student energy, ideas, and perspectives at the heart of everything we do.

The first groups of Mastery School students will truly be founders. Not only will you and other students design the clubs and activities you wish to lead, but you’ll also help create our community’s norms. For example: The first class of Mastery School students designed our Honor and Integrity Code.

Our culture is designed to help cultivate your role and identity as a change agent, a stakeholder, and an empowered thinker. We want every student to be able to trace their impact on our school culture.


Research shows that academic motivation, emotional stability, and self-esteem increase when young people find meaningful connections within their school community (Allen, Brodrick, Waters, 2016).  That’s why our second value focuses on relationships.

Lasting relationships are hard work. That’s why we foster connection through building layers of peer support into every learning experience, club meeting, and assembly.

You will have opportunities to learn about and find affirmation of your identity in affinity and ally groups while building upon your strengths and learning from blindspots in roundtable discussions. It is our hope to create many seams of connection in order to foster a deep sense of belonging in every member of our community.

Here, your teachers will walk alongside you, as you discover and cultivate your strengths. You’ll have room and tools to connect with your peers around shared interests and values in clubs and activities.

We measure our wealth by the degree to which every student from the broadest range of backgrounds can find and practice empathy, kindness, honesty, and commitment, creating a caring community.


We know that humans can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. We also know that we can’t reach the heights of our potential if we are limited by the fear of not getting it right the first time. That’s why the third value in our learning community revolves around trust.

When you announce your new club or invite your classmates to a roundtable discussion you are organizing during morning meeting, your healthy risk will be met with enthusiastic peer support.

In our Macros and Micros, we will encourage you to take risks while learning about issues that matter, while adult mentors will help you reframe the place of feedback in Wayfinding.

And, in restorative conferences, we recognize that no person is the best or worst thing that they have done, offering our community the opportunity to heal, learn and grow when one of our members makes a mistake.

But a caring community isn’t built by a few demonstrative gestures. It’s built through consistent cues every day that say: “We are safe, we are close, we share a future” (Daniel Coyle).

Our community relies on and builds trust one experience at a time.

In an environment characterized by trust and belonging where people feel safe to be who they are, these are the ideal conditions for young brains are ready to learn and perform to highest potential.

Zaretta Hammond, Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain

How do we build trust with people?…Trust is built one marble at a time.

Brene Brown

Our brains are wired for connection.

Zaretta Hammond, Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain