Educational Philosophy

Sussex Students at the Science Fair

Sussex has proudly served the Missoula community for 45 years as an alternative to the public schools. Our education is progressive and focuses on teaching students to become confident, skilled and curious while also teaching them to be good people. Learning at Sussex is student focused and driven, curriculum is authentic and deep in nature, and expectations for students are high with each teachers pushing their students to take risks and produce their best work, while forming meaningful relationship with others on the educational journey.

At Sussex our philosophy reflects these tenets:

  • Small class sizes – We strive for a small teacher to student ratio with a target class size of 14. In the younger grades we employ teachers aides to help lower the the student to teacher ratio to 7:1.
  • Personalized education – Each learner is unique and students posses different learning styles and intelligences. At Sussex we teach to the individual and provide challenges for all students and ways for everyone to express creativity and find success. 
  • Whole child education – We teach to the academic, social and emotional needs of students believing in creating lifelong learners and good people who can manage their emotions and create meaningful relationships. 
  • Experiential education – Real-world, project-based learning is at the heart of our lessons and curriculum. Student learn through hands-on activities so that they may understand the purpose and applicable nature of their subjects. 
  • Student directed – We value the input and decision making skills of our students.  From lessons to playground rules we give students choice and decision making power to increase their stake in learning and their stake in our school community.
  • Work/Play balance – Children need unstructured time to play and explore, and we balance this time with more structured academic time. 


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"The feeling that each child’s voice matters, that kids are smart enough to have a say in their own education, that everyone learns differently and shouldn’t be expected to learn in a one size fits all model, that elementary school is about learning how to get along with others, how to work together, and how to figure out how best YOU learn. These are the things that I come back to when I think about my awesome preschool through eighth grade years."

– Brette Pedrick ’92