Mission & Values

Our Philosophy

Catlin Gabel is a catalyst for lifelong learning. We fuel curiosity with courage to prepare our students with the confidence and ability to advocate for themselves and others, so they can rise to the challenges of life and change the world for good.

We foster in every student a wellspring of curiosity, courage, and empathy—three characteristics that cultivate a lifelong love of learning. Because we champion an experiential model of learning in which education is centered on experience, students encounter valuable lessons in real-world settings. And our commitment to progressive education doesn’t stop at our students, it extends to the school itself, as we continually adapt what we do to enhance the learning experience and motivate individual growth and success.

Our Mission

Catlin Gabel fosters compassionate and curious citizens of the world by inspiring in every student a love of learning and the courage to take responsible action.

Our Core Values

We see learning as initiative, as a conversation. And every day we embark upon that experience in community together based on these core values.


We hold ourselves to high standards, both in the way we work and in the way we interact with each other. We believe that we are at our best when we are honest with ourselves and others. Our aim is to give students the freedom to explore their own core beliefs, then test and revise them—all within the context of a supportive environment.


We are stronger when we lean into our differences, when we not only listen to each other and explore assumptions but when we create space for new ways of thinking and understanding together. A community of diverse learners with different perspectives and life experiences is essential to deep learning and cultural competence in a global society.


We are committed to stewarding positive relationships with each other and the natural world. By treating every person with respect that we each deserve, we can encourage the development and growth of every person. By practicing and teaching sustainable practices, we as a school and as individuals can help protect our environment for future generations.

Principles of Progressive Education

Catlin Gabel School was founded on the four principles of progressive education, which remain the foundation for teaching and learning across all divisions and grades.

Inquiry Based

Inquiry based education incorporates student questions, fosters curiosity, and fuels the desire to keep learning. It’s based on the belief that asking good questions leads to success and happiness more than having all the answers.

  • Creative, multiple perspectives, and original thinking
  • Generative (students generate questions and paths to pursue them)
  • Iterative process through which students learn
  • Reflective (analyze outcomes and process, incorporate into next learning cycle)

Educating for Democracy

Educating for democracy equips students with the mindset and skills to increase their self-awareness and understanding of complex issues, with the goal of taking responsible action in their communities.

  • Creative, multiple perspectives, and original thinking
  • Generative (students generate questions and paths to pursue them)
  • Iterative process through which students learn
  • Reflective (analyze outcomes and process, incorporate into next learning cycle)
  • Fostering empathy and awareness of others, including those with differing experiences and viewpoints
  • Developing a sense of agency and voice
  • Building the knowledge and skills necessary to be informed, participatory, and engaged community members
  • Engaging in discourse about power and privilege

Teaching the Whole Child

Teaching the whole child means knowing and nurturing individual children and designing learning opportunities that honor and develop their full identities so they can thrive now as children and grow into happy and fulfilled adults.

  • Teacher curiosity and interest in students’ whole selves
  • Children and families are known and valued
  • Safe and trusting relationships are nurtured
  • Differentiated and responsive approaches with opportunities for student-directed learning
  • Children are represented in the curriculum, in the classroom, and in the adults on campus
  • Growth and support of students’ physical, emotional, academic, ethical, and interpersonal skills is cultivated
  • Opportunities are provided for children to learn in a variety of settings and modalities

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a process by which students learn through a cycle of direct experience, reflection, analysis, and experimentation. It encourages deep learning, inspires personal growth, and promotes active citizenship.

  • Student-directed, teacher-guided, student-choice
  • Students apply knowledge and skills
  • Trial and error, and failure as part of the learning process
  • Authentic purpose and meaning-making in real world context
  • Rubric and demonstration-based assessments
  • Opportunities to reflect and make sense of the experience