Our Guiding Principles and Helios Learner Outcomes are the foundation for our thinking about program design and curriculum for gifted children.

Helios Guiding Principles

Excellence and Rigor 

Learning is rigorous, meaningful, and authentic.  It requires perseverance, questioning, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline and significant achievement.  

Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, think critically, problem solve, make decisions, and be accountable for the results.  

Educators engage learners intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully, and physically.   

Having Wonderful Ideas

"The having of wonderful ideas” is the essence of intellectual development.  Students’ ideas, thoughts, questions and insights are valued and integrated into daily teaching and learning.  

Learning situations provide compelling, and intellectually rich matter to think about, multiple and varied opportunities to explore and experiment, and sufficient time to reflect, synthesize, and make sense of what is observed and experienced. In this way, knowledge is constructed, deepened, and transformed by students.

Success and Failure

A primary job of the educator is to design learning experiences where students learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.  Educators work to help students overcome their fear, take risks, and discover they have more in them than they think. 

All students must experience a fair measure of authentic success in learning in order to nurture the confidence and capacity to take risks and rise to increasingly difficult challenges. 

Similarly, it is important for students to experience failure, to overcome negative inclinations, to prevail against adversity and to learn to turn challenges into opportunities.

The Responsibility for Learning

Learning is a personal, individually specific process of discovery, and a social activity. Each of us learns within and for ourselves and as a part of a group. 

Every aspect of our school encourages young people and adults to become both increasingly responsible for directing their own personal learning and to participate in the collective learning.

Collaboration and Community

Students take responsibility for working together, building knowledge together, changing and evolving together and improving together.  Learning becomes a transaction between all participants.  

Respect and Kindness

Learning is fostered best in small groups where there is trust, sustained caring and mutual respect among all members of the learning community. Relationships are developed and nurtured;  learner to self, learner to others, and learner to the world at large.    

Meaningful community service is integrated into the curriculum, fostering a heightened sense of community and civic engagement, while valuing compassion, kindness, and personal responsibility.


Educators present opportunities for learners to explore and examine their own values.  

Educators help students develop self-knowledge, as it is important both in and of itself and also as a foundation for having strong relationships with others. 

Educators come to know themselves as multilayered persons in a diverse context. 

Empathy and Perspective 

Educators teach in such a way that students learn to better appreciate others’ values, perspectives, and motivations, and so that they can develop the ability to take another person’s point of view into consideration even when it conflicts with their own.   

Educators strive to be aware of their own biases, judgements, and preconceptions, and how these may influence the learner.   

The Natural World

Educators model caring and respect for the environment. 

Educators provide students with direct and respectful experiences in the natural world that shape lifelong attitudes and values toward natural environment.  

Educators teach about recurring cycles and cause and effect.  

Inspired by Expeditionary Learning, Kurt Haun, founder of Outward Bound, and tenets of project-based learning

Helios Learner Outcomes

Curious and Knowledgeable

Curiosity drives Helios learners to explore and make sense of the world. They inquire, think critically, synthesize, acquire deep knowledge, and internalize their findings. They understand that learning is an ongoing cycle, rather than a finite event. By persevering through challenging problems, the students demonstrate craftsmanship, self discipline, and flexibility.


Imagination stimulates creativity, innovation, and inventiveness. The students acquire skills to transform the ordinary into limitless possibilities. They conceptualize solutions, see new meaning and significance for themselves, find personal connections to their learning, and envision how they might initiate innovation in the world.

Risk Taker

The students grow in confidence to take academic, social, and emotional risks. They choose challenge over comfort and approach unfamiliar situations with courage. Risks are approached with forethought and deliberation.

Self-Directed Learner

The students take ownership for their learning, both independently and collaboratively. The students are able to assess and understand their strengths and growth areas as they relate to the process of learning and personal development. They seek and utilize appropriate resources, can break large ideas and projects into manageable steps, and are accountable for their results. The students are open to integrating feedback from others and recognize that outside input is an important part of growth.


The students listen to and effectively exchange thoughts, feelings, and ideas with others. They understand the importance and value of mutually beneficial exchanges. The students take responsibility for articulating their needs, strategizing with others to get them met, and respond with resilience to develop mutually satisfactory outcomes. The students have the necessary skills to effectively communicate to various audiences and for various purposes. Equally critical, the students possess the capacity to consider and understand other perspectives.


The students have a clear perception of their own strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, needs, and emotions. Self-awareness is the foundation of social and emotional intelligence. The students understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how this connection influences their choices.

Respectful and Empathetic

The students understand and appreciate their own cultures and experiences, and are open to the perspectives, values, and traditions of other individuals and communities. The students seek and evaluate a range of points of view, with compassion, and grow from the experience. The students act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and respect, for the dignity of the human and non-human world.


Through engagement with the human and non-human world, the students understand their interconnectedness with, and impact on, their environment. The students are aware of the value of, and seek out opportunities for, positive action. They demonstrate respect and care as contributing members of their school, community, and the world.