Updated 2018-11-14

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

A center in Sunderland, MA that supports teenagers to find ways to learn and excel outside of conventional middle school and high school. A Liberated Learners member center.
Kenneth Danford executive director
click to see email
(+1) 413-582-0193
45 Amherst Road
Sunderland, MA  01375
United States


North Star: Self Directed Learning for Teens is a self-directed learning center in Sunderland, Massachusetts, founded in 1996. North Star’s mission is to help teenagers find ways to learn and excel outside of conventional middle school and high school. It offers a noncoercive learning environment without required classes, grades, or tests. Most North Star members range in age from 13 to 18 years old, with younger members considered on a case-by-case basis. Both previously-schooled teens and long-time homeschoolers attend the center. North Star has over 500 alumni from all over the Pioneer Valley and beyond.

North Star was founded by two Massachusetts middle school teachers who were frustrated with a system that forced students to attend their classes. In contrast, North Star supports teenagers to self-direct their own education, offering a program of optional classes, tutoring, trips and community events, taught and organized by North Star’s professional staff and an extensive network of volunteers. Each North Star member is paired with an advisor who supports and encourages the teen as they transition to self-directed learning. The center is funded through sliding-scale tuition and donations.

North Star is open 4 days a week from 9am-4pm and runs on a traditional academic calendar between September and June.

SDE Optimizing Conditions

ASDE surveys all SDE communities/programs about how they provide, enhance, or align with each of the Six Optimizing Conditions for young people to succeed in SDE.  Survey answers:
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