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Within NC, we have a woodshop, a maker space, an art room, a kitchen, lots of prepared materials (similar to those found in a progressive classroom), and raw materials (cardboard, recycled materials, lumber, plastic tubing, etc) for imaginative play or creative design and building work.  We have books all around the space, a 3-tiered play environment, a dance floor, lots of comfortable seating and workspaces, whiteboard walls, and more.  Generally speaking, all of this is available to all young people with few exceptions.  We aren’t looking to exclude young people from work with real tools - they use hammers, saws, sewing machines, ovens, microscopes, chemistry sets, and robotics - but to help them develop the capacity to take on increasingly advanced work in areas in which they are interested.  We like to think in terms of exposure to new ideas and tools, exploration of these areas for interest or passion, and engagement in ways that build on developmental milestones and growth

Philadelphia, PA


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More about Germantown...

"As one of the oldest settlements in Philadelphia Germantown has played a significant role in American history; it was the birthplace of the American antislavery movement, the site of a Revolutionary War battle, the temporary residence of George Washington, the location of the first bank of the United States, and the residence of many notable politicians, scholars, artists, and social activists". Today, it serves as an arts and culture hub, attracting the movers, shakers and forward thinkers of tomorrow.


Germantown was intentionally picked by our co-founders because of its rich cultural diversity, history, green spaces, and high numbers of families seeking alternatives to conventional school. They picked well! 

We love partnering with Germantown and Philadelphia organizations, artists, individuals, and everyone in between.

Want to join our network?


Self-directed education includes the idea that learning is not solely housed in a building but that it is actively happening anywhere the young person goes. At NC, we intentionally journey into our neighborhood and into nature to have new experiences including engaging with new materials and people. This speaks to learning as a result of active participation.

Education is possible anywhere a person feels comfortable and safe, as well as intellectually stimulated.  We do not ascribe to the belief that there are specialized learning contexts, but that learning and development are processes that happen within people as they move about their world.  If one believes the purpose of education is to prepare a young person for adulthood, then it makes sense that the young person has as much meaningful engagement with the world in which they will ultimately exist.  This means being with people of different ages, beliefs, and backgrounds.


The natural world is a critical part of a young person's education and development.  We regularly venture outside during program hours to nearby green spaces, including Cloverly Park, a nearby community garden, Historic Rittenhousetown, and the larger Wissahickon Park. In warmer weather, parents lead hikes through the Wissahickon.

During the COVID year (2021-22), we ran our programs completely outside, in Blue Bell Park, Awbury Arboretum, and all around Philadelphia.

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