Sudbury Schoolhouse, with democratic model, now open in Kyle

Sudbury Schoolhouse, a private school where students run a direct democracy, opened its doors for the first time on Feb. 4 at 400 Old Post Road in Kyle.

The school is modeled after the Sudbury Valley School, which opened in the late 1960s in Massachusetts and continues to operate today. Sudbury schools, of which there are dozens across the nation, are all founded on the idea that every student can effectively govern themselves and their learning with proper adult guidance.

Sudbury Schoolhouse operates according to a direct democracy in which students get to decide what they want to learn and when they want to learn it. Students also get to set the rules that govern the school. All of these decisions are made in a forum environment where students and adults have an equal vote.

“The kind of core tenants of this school are the autonomy of the student and that they are empowered to make their own choices,” said Andy LaRusch, acting director of Sudbury Schoolhouse. “Really they have the opportunity to shape the environment that they’re in. And then in an informal way of just having the autonomy to do what they like.”

LaRusch decided to start Sudbury Schoolhouse after relocating to Texas from Arizona with his family. He said they moved to the Austin area so they could enroll their children in Clearview Sudbury School in Central Austin, but didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get to the school in the morning through traffic along I-35.

“Getting into Austin in the morning is a nightmare, and it would’ve amounted to about three hours of driving every day to be able to go to this really cool school, and it just wasn’t doable,” LaRusch said. “We still really wanted this environment where kids get to be social and learn from each other and they get to learn and be part of running their school.”

Six students are currently enrolled at Sudbury Schoolhouse. LaRusch said he’s looking to expand the school’s enrollment to about 25 students.

The school is currently serving students aged 5-12, but is prepared to serve students 5-18, he said.

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