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About Independent Schools

At independent schools, you’ll find extraordinary teachers, small class sizes, and an environment where teachers nurture and stimulate students’ intellectual curiosity, personal growth, and critical thinking skills. Even though different independent schools have their own unique educational mission, all independent school share common values put forth by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS). All members of Puget Sound Independent Schools are either accredited members or candidate members of NWAIS.

NWAIS Core Values (taken from

In living the mission of NWAIS, the following core values guide the Association’s interactions, services, and accreditation standards. These core values are essential to assisting schools in providing high quality education for children.


NWAIS schools believe that the latitude to determine their own missions and philosophies, to select their faculty and students, and to develop their curricula is an essential prerequisite for their success. Accordingly, NWAIS schools are self-governing and self-supporting without substantial dependence upon government, other entities, or individuals. Maintaining this independence requires an outreach to and appreciation by a variety of audiences, including policy makers, the media, prospective parents and students, and prospective teachers.

Free and Open Inquiry

NWAIS schools actively encourage students to explore diverse points of view and to engage in lively and respectful discourse with their teachers and peers about any ideas, cultures, and values different from their own. NWAIS schools teach students to think critically and to challenge their own perspectives as they grow in their knowledge of the broader world. NWAIS schools create and sustain a culture in which students are free to express their own ideas and to hear and seek to understand the ideas of others.

Commitment to Diversity

The inclusion of diverse perspectives and backgrounds strengthens the quality of a school’s culture and educational program. A commitment to diversity acknowledges and honors the diverse perspectives and backgrounds within the school community and makes every member feel that he or she belongs and is equally valued. NWAIS believes that this commitment to diversity is essential for free and open inquiry to flourish. NWAIS believes that schools whose geography or mission limits the diversity of the school community must still provide their students with access to, knowledge of, and opportunity for open discourse about different perspectives and backgrounds in ways that are meaningful and that clearly demonstrate commitment to the NWAIS core values of commitment to diversity and free and open inquiry.

Ongoing School Improvement

NWAIS schools are expected to engage in a continuous process of research, reflection and on-going improvement that enables them to stay relevant to their missions and to the students and families they serve. Schools demonstrate this commitment by working continuously to improve their educational programs, actively participating in professional development opportunities and pursuing and maintaining accreditation by NWAIS.

Collegial Relationships and Ethical Leadership

NWAIS has benefitted from a long tradition of collegial relationships and ethical leadership manifested by our schools. To sustain this tradition, schools voluntarily operate in accordance with good independent school practices and NWAIS accreditation standards. Schools support their employees in serving on accreditation visiting teams, in attending professional development conferences, in serving as NWAIS volunteers on committees that help guide the development and delivery of association services, and in assisting other schools with building and strengthening their programs. This active participation and willingness to serve the greater good contributes to the overall success of the Association and benefits our schools and the individuals within them as they appreciate and learn from the diversity of experience that each school brings to the Association.