Mission & Philosophy

Our mission

Educating a Community of Change Makers


We aim...


To be an aspirational and inspirational model of a learning community.


To be a joyful, grateful, and humble community, “walking the talk.”


To be a world leader in the teaching of innovation and social and emotional learning.


Synapse's Philosophy


Change Makers

Change Makers & Themes
  • Impact the world in positive and authentic ways.
  • Are robustly prepared for real-world challenges that require the integration of academic, creative, and social-emotional domains.
  • Are not defined by numbers or scale: To make a positive change in the life of one person brings positive change to the world.


9 year cycle of change makers and themes to date, 2010-2018
9 year cycle of change makers and themes to date, 2018-2019 Noble Goal, Fred Rogers


Innovation Joined with Actualization
  • Innovation, creativity, and design-thinking shall be practiced in core academics as well as fine arts and technology.
  • Innovation studios & mentors shall support students in concept exploration, iteration, and the pursuit of projects to completion.
  • Computer Science, an essential new medium for innovation in the digital age, shall be integrated into the curriculum.


Outstanding Academics that Fulfill Individual Promise
  • Maximize academic potential through continuous improvement, a growth mind-set, and knowing students as individuals.
  • Utilize a constructivist, integrative, and project-based approach that deeply engages students and has real-world relevance.
  • Support the development of core academic skills with focused instruction, deliberate practice, and consistent feedback.

Synapse History


Like many Silicon Valley start-ups, Synapse School began as a great idea in a Palo Alto garage. In 2009, with just 8 students, Bay Area educational pioneers, Karen McCown, founder of The Nueva School, and Anabel Jensen, president of Six Seconds, set out to create a school that would truly blend academic and social emotional development. They created a lab school that would showcase the impact of a program that fully integrates an emotional intelligence program and a robust constructivist curriculum. Karen and Anabel redefined education by combining the latest neuroscience research with social emotional learning and the practice of innovation. Ten years later, and after much iteration and perspiration, Synapse has 265 students spanning four buildings on its campus in Menlo Park. And in many ways, it still feels like we are just getting started.