Frequently Asked Questions
Socratic Discussions

What Are They?

Socratic discussions are the basis of much of the learning at Vail Valley Unbound. We start our days with a “launch” that is a discussion used to launch into our day. We also use them in our civilization lessons in upper elementary as well.

An example morning launch looks like this:

Intro (delivered by the Guide): Stevie Wonder, a famous musician with an eye disorder, once said, “Just because someone lacks the use of their eyes doesn’t mean they lack vision.”

We then follow that with a question where we ask the learners to take a side and support it.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with this quote?

The discussion continues with additional questions, maybe some additional information that might sway decisions and finally a conclusion.

Conclusion: This discussion was meant to bring your attention to how grateful we should be to have all of our senses working. You can do anything you set your mind to!

Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Vail Valley Unbound Unique?
While it is important for children to learn the basics of reading, writing, and math, it is even more important for them to develop skills such as critical thinking, adaptability, problem-solving, and social-emotional skills. In a rapidly changing world, these skills will be essential in order for our children to be successful. At Vail Valley Unbound, we are committed to preparing our children for the future by teaching them the skills they need to thrive. We believe that by equipping our children with the ability to think critically, solve problems, and adapt to change, we are setting them up for a bright future.

  • Focus on building skills through Socratic discussions rather than lectures
  • Multi-age classes
  • Self-paced, mastery-based learning – public exhibitions instead of grades
  • Student (learner) driven
  • Deep respect for the child and their individual journey
  • No homework
  • Guides rather than teachers, shifting the knowledge source away from teachers and empowering learners
  • Utilization of community resources (parks, rec centers, local businesses)
Who is behind Vail Valley Unbound?
The school was co-founded and supported by successful entrepreneurs, a veteran educator in the valley, a pediatric psychologist, community members, and loving parents who wanted an education experience that was fun, engaging, community-oriented and ultimately prepared their kids for the real world.

  • Zak Boca: serial entrepreneur, 10x Inc 500 CEO, parent
  • Cassie Boca: serial entrepreneur, parent
  • Heather McMahon: veteran educator, founder of Youth Enrichment School, parent
  • Dennis McMahon: founder of HyFyve, parent
  • Nichole Swann: pediatric psychologist, entrepreneur, parent
  • Kim Tofferi: 30+ year Vail Valley community member
  • Deana Brewer: International educator, entrepreneur
What is the Socratic method and why does Vail Valley Unbound use it?
The Socratic method is a way of questioning in order to stimulate critical thinking and encourage independent learning. In our studios, this usually takes the form of discussions where students are asked to make arguments to support their beliefs. The guide will set up scenarios and ask questions, rather than lecturing on the topic. By actively taking part in discussions and making arguments, learners hone their critical thinking and speaking abilities and gain a deeper understanding of the topic than they would by passively taking notes during a lecture.

Outside of discussions, guides use the Socratic method throughout the day to reinforce the idea that students are capable of answering their own questions. This encourages them to be independent learners who are not reliant on the guide for information. Consequently, the Socratic method is an important and proven pedagogical tool that helps learners to think critically and learn independently.

Where will you be located?
We will be in Edward’s Riverwalk.
What are your school hours?
Monday – Friday 9:00-3:30 pm, with special before school programming, such as mindful movement, beginning at 8:30 am and special afterschool programming ending at 4:00 pm.
How much homework is there?

We believe that children need time to play, relax, and be with family and friends. Homework is not assigned.

What is Vail Valley Unbound tuition?

2023-24 school year tuition is $15,000. We offer financial aid for all families that have been accepted using the TADS financial aid system. Once accepted, families will have access to our financial aid application.

What is your application process?

First step is to fill out our application in the upper right corner of the website. We will officially open enrollment in January 2023, the families on our waitlist will be the first we are in contact with to schedule family interviews. Please take the time to read Courage to Grow by Laura Sandefer while you’re waiting! Once we have worked through our initial waitlist of families, if there are still openings we will open enrollment in March.