To understand is to invent.


Our vision is a community of learners inspired to create, collaborate, and contribute, both in and out of school settings, for their entire lives. We hope to “cultivate the experimental mind,” as Piaget says, and “lead the child to construct for himself the tools that will transform him from the inside.” 

The mission of the LEAF School is to provide expanded educational opportunities for all students, through an intellectually rigorous STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) curriculum and strong partnerships with creative professionals. Our name embodies the major tenets of the charter:

Learning from Local Leaders will include a variety of opportunities for students and community members to learn from one another, such as:

  • School visits – Creative professionals talk with students about their life’s work
  • Tours of local businesses – May include studios, workshops, offices, job sites, etc.
  • Job shadowing – Each student teams up with a professional for a workday
  • Mentorships – Community members offering guidance & insight to like-minded students

Experiential Education will build on these community relationships, while also offering students the choice of pursuing interests independently:

  • Internships – Students commit to a semester-long work-study relationship
  • Apprenticeships – Long-term, mutually beneficial, training initiative
  • Taking or leading a “Skills Intensive” workshop
  • Individual or team participation in a variety of state or national design competitions
  • Overlap and mutual support of existing programs such as the Scouts, 4-H, Interact, Habitat for Humanity, NH-VEX Robotics, Project Lead The Way, etc.

Engineering and Technology can be seen as real-world applications of Math and Science, while real-world application of the Arts often translates to essential, transformational design. 

Arts Integration and Academic Achievement

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities….the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.”

— Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft


Participation in the arts engenders confidence, curiosity, persistence, resourcefulness, and self-discovery – all necessary for true academic achievement. The artist’s passion to develop his or her work leads to research and skill-building: for example, the playwright or filmmaker who seeks content and meaning in history or philosophy, the architect who relies on sound knowledge of physics and trigonometry, or the dancer who is fascinated by anatomy and physiology. Conversely, a deep understanding of academic subjects requires a means by which to express that understanding. Standardized tests and formulaic essays may limit a student’s capacity to express more than rote knowledge and simple concepts.

Freedom & Flexibility

“…Children come into the world exquisitely designed, and strongly motivated, to educate themselves. They don’t need to be forced to learn; in fact, coercion undermines their natural desire to learn. What they do need is opportunity.”

— Peter Gray, author of Freedom to Learn

  • Threads of inquiry, rather than conventional subject-specific classes, empower students to explore topics of personal interest and make important intellectual connections
  • Online courses, including AP & foreign language classes and other distance learning options, allow a small school to offer a wide range of courses and credits
  • Powerful educational resources, such as MIT’s Media Lab, give students access to state-of-the-art technology and a global community of forward-thinking learners
  • Fridays are “Flex Days,” for guided independent work, open studio or lab access, online coursework, or external programming like museum, job-site, or library visits
  • A school culture of respect, intellectual rigor, & high expectations means that flexible time is used productively by all staff and students

Dakota Benedetto
Chair & Founder, LEAF

The LEAF School provides a much-needed opportunity for students and our larger community
— Ken Burns, Filmmaker