The Clearwater School was started by a dedicated group of parents and educators who shared a commitment to the Sudbury model of education. They began meeting in the spring of 1994 and within two years had laid the infrastructure necessary to start the school. Through grassroots volunteer efforts, the organization incorporated and obtained non-profit 501(c)(3) status, created an introductory brochure and developed a structure for democratic decision making.
In the fall of 1996, the school began a twice-weekly homeschool cooperative in a founder’s home. This group quickly expanded from 12 to 25 students and continued as a homeschool group, meeting three days per week for two more years. The founders group became The Clearwater School Assembly—and the dream of starting a Seattle Sudbury school was realized.
In the fall of 1999, The Clearwater School opened a full-time independent school, authorized and overseen by the Washington State Board of Education, at a location near Woodland Park in Seattle. The school moved again in the fall 2000, to a larger site in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of North Seattle. This move was made possible through the same generous volunteer efforts that founded the school. Starting in May, the school was able to design, permit and remodel a building shell that opened in September. Clearwater remained in this site until enrollment pushed the boundaries of the building’s capacity.
In 2006, The Clearwater School purchased a campus in North Bothell that includes five buildings on 3.4 acres along the banks of North Creek, a salmon-spawning stream. The first school year in the new location was met with a surge in enrollment that has remained steady ever since. Each year the school has completed new campus improvements including creating an art room, music room and kitchen; building a rain garden; installing solar panels and participating in a major salmon habitat restoration project.
Several of the original founders are still involved with the school as staff and Board members. Most importantly, the generous volunteer spirit the original founders drew from to create the school remains a driving force today, evidenced by the school’s vibrant extended community.