All about IDEA


MISSION: The IDEA School provides a child-centered education that nurtures competence, creativity, collaboration, and compassion through work that is meaningful to students and promotes lifelong learning. 

VISION: IDEA School students grow to take charge of their learning and therefore their lives, both in and out of school. 

PURPOSE:  To prepare students for a world we cannot yet envision. 


Competence: Daily practice in reading, writing, and math, with developmentally appropriate benchmarks and intensive 1-on-1 support.


Creativity: Daily opportunities to create with mixed media, digital tools, science and math tools, story-making, and more. Students learn how to think outside the box, how to make, and how to innovate.


Collaboration: Students regularly collaborate with each other, with staff and with outside experts to achieve their goals. Students learn from each other’s creative strategies and diverse perspectives.


Compassion: We focus on bringing underrepresented voices to the center of the curriculum, and help our students build empathy toward themselves and others.



“We know there are many ways to succeed and contribute in the world, not just one. Our job is to help every child find his or her way.”








Located in the Dunbar Pavilion

As a tenant of the historic Dunbar Pavilion, we aim to make sure that our community, in its composition, its values, and practices, upholds and reinforces the mission and vision of the Dunbar Coalition — to honor the history and contributions of African-Americans in Tucson, be a community space that furthers the educational, cultural, health and economic well-being of our communities, and create a space for all people to come together to forge a more inclusive, brighter future for everyone. IDEA School students learn the history of the Dunbar School and related issues of segregation, civil rights, and social justice, including the work of the African American community in Tucson to save the Dunbar from demolition and bring it back to life for the benefit of us all.



“We need to build a more empathetic society, and it starts with our kids.”


What Sets Us Apart?

  • Strong emphasis on social and emotional learning -- a cornerstone of healthy living

  • Extremely low student-teacher ratios

  • Every student well known

  • Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum and pedagogy

  • Inquiry-based learning, both individually and in groups

  • A focus on collaboration and creativity

  • A focus on autonomy and self-direction in learning

  • A commitment to restorative justice and discipline through love

  • A commitment to learning and improving as an organization

  • Grounded in honoring the history of the Dunbar

  • Working with partners to reverse the effects of segregation by promoting access and equity -- and lifting up all students.


Curriculum Highlights

  • Daily Reading and Writing Workshops: encourage creativity, a love of reading and a personal connection to writing

  • Writer’s Craft: students learn to put their ideas on paper, edit and revise, and publish their work using different media

  • Hands-on Math Workshops based on Contexts for Learning Mathematics (Cathy Fosnot, City College of New York) -- excite students about math and build on students’ motivation to learn from their peers

  • Studios: daily choice-based workshops that range from engineering and coding to visual arts and music, to science, Capoeira and more

  • Workshop model: students learn and practice new skills and apply content area knowledge to real-world problems and challenges.


“We believe children are intrinsically motivated learners. Our job is to nurture their intrinsic motivation to learn.” 



Focus on Inquiry

At IDEA School, we spend time exploring topics deeply. Students learn to ask questions, explore solutions, and think critically. We model inquiry and always look for those “aha!” moments that fuel deeper questioning.


Why is Creativity so important?

So when they’re STUCK with something they’ve never SEEN before, they choose to THINK instead of REMEMBER. 


Policy of Non-­Discrimination

The IDEA School strongly values diversity in our student body, staff and Board of Directors, and aims to be a reflection of the Tucson community.


The IDEA School admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, socio­economic status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status and physical ability to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities of the school. The IDEA School does not discriminate on any basis.