Skip To Main Content

Toggle Close Container

Triggers Container

Toggle Schools Canvas

Toggle Site Info Canvas

Mobile Translate

Mobile Main Nav

Mobile Utility

Header Holder

Header Right Column

Header Right Top

Toggle Schools Canvas

Toggle Site Info Canvas


Utility Nav - Desktop

Header Right Bottom

Toggle Search Canvas

Toggle Canvas Menu

Canvas Menus

District Canvas Menu


school & Program

Site Info Canvas


Get in Touch with

contact us

640 Humboldt Avenue
St. Paul


Get In Touch Navigation

Search Canvas

Horizontal Nav


Open Philosophy

St. Paul Open School on the Today Show, 1971

Soon after opening its doors, the Today Show came to learn more about this innovative school. Following are other videos made about the school over the decades.

Our Founding Philosophy: More about the “open” model
Open World Learning Community (OWL) was founded as St. Paul Open School in 1971 by a group of parents and community members to create a truly child-centered school.  This ground-breaking school philosophy – still vital and relevant after over 50 years – remains the foundation of our school today:

  • Small-by-design:  OWL is welcoming, family-like school of about 480 students.
  • Student-centered learning:  All students are known and respected as individuals.
  • Self-directed focus:  Students take an active role in their learning plan.
  • Multi-age classes: We that respect each child’s unique learning style and recognize that everyone learns at different rates. OWL students learn in multi-age environments where they can excel at their own pace and where all students have the opportunity to be leaders.


  • We understand that nurturing social and emotional growth creates happier, healthier students who are better able to soar academically.
  • We use authentic assessments that go far beyond test scores to give a rich picture of student learning.
  • First names:  Everyone at OWL goes by their first name.  Removing the formality of titles reinforces the fact that while teachers guide student learning, we all learn from each other.
  • Recess!: Everyone needs a break, time to be outside, time to be active. Free time at lunch gives all students time to recharge. Because our school is small, students spend very little time in the lunch line, giving them more time to            eat and play.
  • Service Learning opportunities,  which nurture all of us to become responsible world citizens who are engaged in our communities, are  woven into the curriculum.                           
  • Interim: Each spring, students spend a few days engaged in an experiential learning activity of their choice, including:  theatre, museum visits and art exploration, engineering, fishing, biking, animal psychology, urban design, landscaping, sports design, and service-learning at an Outward Bound basecamp.
  • Our Expeditionary Learning model provides a framework for a structured yet highly creative and individualized education under which all students can can thrive.

Did you know…

Open School was the original magnet school in the district!

Our school colors are blue and white, because ours was the first school in the district to eliminate the dress code so that students and teachers could wear jeans and t-shirts to school.