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Mission - Vision - Philosophy

Synapse is a TK-8 independent school in Menlo Park, CA with a mission of Educating a Community of Change Makers. Synapse is a leader in the teaching of leading edge Academics, Innovation and Social-Emotional Learning and an aspirational and inspirational model of a learning community.

Leading-Edge Academics

Synapse inspires and engages students' love of learning through hands-on, project-based learning utilizing our HEARTS curriculum framework and brain-based research. 

Social-Emotional Learning

Social-Emotional Learning is the foundational pillar of Synapse and fully integrated in the TK-8 curriculum and community. Students learn 8 competencies of the EQ model of Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Give Yourself, empowering them for the future.


Synapse is an aspirational model of education that embodies the practice of innovation in the curriculum and culture. Using the Innovation model - Explore a challenge, Envision potential solutions, and Execute on their vision, students learn critical thinking and problem solving skills.


Synapse's caring community is inclusive and celebrates all differences. We love to connect and have fun with opportunities for all to participate in school activities, social gatherings and parent education. 

Change Makers

Synapse's mission is Educating a Community of Change Makers. Synapse empowers every student and community member to impact the world in positive and authentic ways.

Synapse Learning Outcomes

All Synapse students develop the practices and habits of mind: Communication, Creativity, Perspective, Feedback, Follow-Through, Inquiry, Iteration, Advocacy, and Risk.

What Sets Us Apart

SEL through Parent Education

Parent education is a central part of the Synapse family experience and it supports the school’s mission of “Educating a Community of Change Makers.” Parent education at Synapse aims to help parents navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys of parenthood. This is achieved through various opportunities for parents to learn from experts, each other and themselves.

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Change Makers

Our school's mission is Educating a Community of Change Makers. Synapse empowers every student and community member to make positive change in the world. 

Each year, the Synapse community identifies a Change Maker who embodies that school year's theme and can be a lens through which we view our curriculum and projects for the year. Every class, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) - 8th grade,  learns about the life and work of this Change Maker

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8th Grade exit ticket project of reusable bags decorated with protect the earth language.

The 8th Grade Exit Ticket is the culminating project for Synapse students. Each year, graduating 8th graders participate in a unique mentorship and reflection project that allows them to celebrate their learning, practice leadership, and prepare for their transition to high school. Working with a faculty mentor, each student designs and implements a leadership, passion, and/or service project.

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Our Engineering and Design Center team showing students the saddle project.

To enrich and elevate the TK-8 Synapse School experience through explicit practice of hands on and embodied learning, thinking big, and practicing maker mindsets. We go big, think differently, and are creating the most inclusive, integrated, and innovative Makerspace in any TK-8 school!

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Aspirational & Inspirational

Renowned Psychology, Neuroscience Expert: Thinking & Emotions go Hand in Hand

The optimal learning environment for children is one in which we co-create our context and give them opportunities to practice agency, said Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a distinguished professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California and director of the Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning, and Education (CANDLE).

Immordino-Yang — who has had a remarkable academic career focusing on the psychology of education and development of learning and is a star in her field — this week was our special guest speaker for Bold Ideas with Head of Synapse School Jim Eagen.

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Leadership Opportunities at Synapse

Community Based Learning (CBL) was launched as a new class for all Middle School grades this year in an effort to offer experiential learning that engages students in the needs and challenges of the wider communities that Synapse is connected to. For our 8th Graders, it includes direct service learning through supporting LifeMoves, a local organization that provides shelter and other services for unhoused people.

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Gender Literacy: A Primer for Parents and Educators

Referring to them as “our best teachers,” Dr. Diane Ehrensaft told a large group of parents and educators Wednesday that we can learn a lot from them about gender diversity and on how to become more gender literate.

Dr. Ehrensaft, a developmental and clinical psychologist, researcher, adjunct professor of Pediatrics at UCSF,  and director of Mental Health at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Child and Adolescent Gender Center, was the first 2024 speaker for the Common Ground Speaker Series — which presents distinguished speakers in education, parenting and health at venues across the San Francisco Peninsula.

Head of Synapse School Jim Eagen was delighted to moderate and host Dr. Ehrensaft at the SportsHouse Annex this week to discuss the very important topic of gender literacy — learning new concepts of gender and developing critical skills to evaluate all gender concepts.

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AI: 'An Internet-Size Big Deal'

Synapse this week welcomed back parent and CTO of Meta Andrew “Boz” Bosworth as our first Bold Ideas speaker of the school year! Head of School Jim Eagen and Boz engaged in a lively conversation about the benefits and challenges of new emerging technologies such as ChatGPT — an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that uses natural language processing to create humanlike conversational dialogue. The language model can respond to questions and compose various written content, including articles, social media posts, essays, code and emails.

ChatGPT is a great tool to help reduce our daily rote work — which Boz called “a horrible waste of human intellect — and help us focus on the bigger picture and more goal-oriented projects," he said.

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SEL through Middle School Expeditions

Each spring, Middle School students embark on a weeklong expedition with Middle School teachers. These trips are intentionally designed to create social and emotional growth opportunities for students outside of their home and school environments, and to create a rich, authentic learning experience that includes activities that may otherwise not be available to students outside of the trip. 

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