What is a School of Living Arts?
Located just west of Asheville, NC in beautiful Pisgah National Forest, SOLA School of Living Arts is a holistic, Pre-K through high school learning environment situated in a pristine natural setting. Our 90 acre campus hosts orchards, fields, gardens, wild forests, and is home to horses, rabbits, sheep, and other animals. We define ‘Living Arts’ as an enlivened re-imagination of the classical Liberal Arts, which originally sought to educate the whole individual- hands, heart, and head. SOLA’s curriculum is inspired by a deep understanding of child development, and perpetually renewed by living relationships with ourselves, others and the natural world around us. We believe that real education is a life-enriching endeavor and should support the learner to thrive as a whole human being, heart, hands, and head.
SOLA’s approach challenges the intellect (head) through thematically presented, relevant academic studies; nourishes the heart through compassionate and contemplative participation in Earth's living community, and engages the hands with meaningful, practical work and service. Through our abiding reverence and understanding of child development, we are deeply child centered. Our curriculum and faculty are agile enough to meet a diverse community of learners through a truly holistic understanding of each child’s unique physical, emotional, intellectual and neurological relationships with learning.
In addition to our Pre-K through 12 program, School of Living Arts also hosts farm and forest based homeschool enrichment programs, summer camps and classes for all ages, infant to elder. Our many classroom structures and areas of activity function together much like an 'educational ecology', supporting meaningful work, study, and skills that are essential to the lives and wellbeing of our own, and the greater community.
SOLA's Forest Kindergarten is a nature centered learning and exploring environment for ages 3 - 6, offering a gentle, rhythmic early childhood experience, presented by wise and compassionate child-guides, in a beautiful setting of fields, farm, and forest. Our program allows for deep, participatory experience of seasonal cycles and the rhythms of the natural world. Each day is is enriched with seasonally inspired songs, movement, stories, simple crafts, and plenty of free, imaginative playtime, both indoors and outdoors. Click here to learn more.
SOLA's elementary grades program combines a full academic curriculum with daily nature immersion in a pristine environment of fields, farm and forest. Our daily rhythm begins with contemplative time caring for the animals, then morning circle, thematic academic lessons, lunch, and afternoon enrichment classes such as handicrafts, gardening, music, games, horsemanship, archery and movement. SOLA currently hosts 3 mixed-age learning circles, grade 1/2, grades 3/4, and grades 5/6. Click here to learn more.
SOLA offers a unique secondary schooling experience for grades 7-12, which provides ‘heart-hands-head’ integrated learning that encourages students how to think, not what to think. SOLA middle and high school students are invited into deep inquiry and understanding of themselves and the world around them through thematic studies, internships, expeditionary learning experiences, and a challenging, relevant, enlivened academic curriculum. Click here to learn more.
In addition to offering programming for SOLA students, School of Living Arts provides Living Arts Discovery Days, homeschool enrichment, summer and all season camps, equine arts experiences and more to regional private, public schools and homeschool families. SOLA also welcomes program hosting partnerships with other educational organizations who are aligned with the SOLA vision and mission and can be supported by our campus and amenities. Click here to learn more.
What makes SOLA different?
School of Living Arts provides an education that nourishes life through artfully presented, deeply meaningful learning experiences. We strive to offer a truly holistic educational journey that allows each learner to discover the the truth of who they are and to confidently carry that with them into a complex, ever changing world. Essential elements of our approach include, but are not limited to:
Enlivened academics taught by passionate teachers with deep knowledge in specific or multiple fields of study, and an abiding love for teaching
A deep and expansive understanding of child development that informs what we bring to learners, when we introduce new concepts, and how we meet each learner’s unique approach to learning
A recognition of the importance of embodied learning through the presentation of practical, fine, and performing arts; outdoor activities games, and movement
A holistic presentation and experience of the sciences that honors the integral qualities of the living universe through reverence, observation, experience, practice, and phenomenological understanding
Deep and daily engagement with the animals that live on our campus and the land that sustains us and our learning
Cultivation of reverence and relationship with Earth’s community of life- our fellow humans, animals, plants, the mineral kingdom, and the visible and invisible threads of vitality that encompass it all
Internships and meaningful service learning opportunities
Personal and interpersonal development supported through mentored individual and group contemplative activities
A focus on relational learning and life skills that nourish physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing
How is sola organized- a private school, charter, home school co-operative?
SOLA is part of an emergent movement called Community Supported Education. The CSE approach was inspired by Community Supported Agriculture programs, where members pay a fee for services/farm products, while providing economic and participatory support to the the farm- purchasing, picking, planting,sorting, etc. Working within the CSE framework, SOLA and its programs provide the learning environment, and our member-families reciprocate by gifting their time, energy and resources to SOLA. Click here to learn more about micro-schooling, homeschooling, and co-operative learning in NC.
Our vision and mission
To create a sanctuary for learning in which we support learners of all ages and abilities to:
~cultivate a love for learning~
~collaborate with others~
~connect with one’s own inner guidance~
~commune with the natural world~
The illumination and refinement of each individual's native gifts through enlivened education for hands, heart and head