KLS Family Voices
The KLS Difference
How do KLS families feel about being a part of our community of learners?
We recently asked several of our current families to share their perspectives, and the response was loud and clear—KLS is a school community that nurtures a love for learning for the sake of learning, encourages collaboration over competition, and prepares students to navigate their own path at KLS and beyond.
- Nurturing a Love of Learning
- Making Time + Space for What Matters Most
- Adapting to Remote Learning
- Collaboration Over Competition
- Prepared to Navigate Their Own Path
“After participating in a shadow day at KLS, Abhi was convinced that it was the place for him: the kids all seemed genuinely happy to come to school, students and staff were universally welcoming, classrooms and open areas had plenty of places in which to lounge comfortably, and the classes held plenty of interactive discussions instead of one-way lectures.”
“Our daughters loved KLS from the first moment they joined.”Lower School Parent
The MacAskill family, whose three children began at KLS in 2018, echoed JoAnne’s excitement about our unique learning environment. Don and Liz MacAskill’s students, Audrey, Leia, and Logan, began their time with KLS in the Lower School, and all three are now Upper School students. “The adaptive, mastery-based learning approach and smaller community at KLS is what drew us here. Our kids are surrounded by similar-minded students to themselves: curious, growth mindset, and intrinsic learners.” Our faculty and administrators foster a community of students who love to learn and share a commitment to meeting students where they are. When it came to choosing the right learning environment for their children, the MacAskills shared that “they needed to have a safe environment where it’s okay to take risks, okay to make mistakes, and to have the ability to learn from those mistakes. They needed KLS.”
Put simply, our students love being learners at KLS. This was one of the first qualities the Kravchicks noticed when they were new to our school community in 2017. “Our daughters loved KLS from the first moment they joined,” shared Dana Kravchick, parent to two Lower School students, Ariel and Eden. “They always ask to be early and stay late, and can’t wait to be back to school after every holiday and school break.”
Our families also shared that our mastery-based approach to education made a difference as they searched for the right school for their children. Our mastery-based model, inspired by Sal Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse (2012), set KLS apart. This stood out to the Thapliyal family, whose student, Parinita, joined KLS in 2017. “We chose KLS because we believed our child would thrive at a school that values and cultivates independence and self-directed learning,” shared Upper School parent Elizabeth Thapliyal.
Our educator team strives to create a learning environment that encourages this student agency and ownership of learning. With the support and guidance of our faculty in classes and in group Advisory, our students are able to move at a pace that’s best suited for their learning and to dive deeply into the topics that they find most interesting.
“At KLS, you can find fourth graders doing eighth grade math, and high schoolers taking college-level courses,” explained Dana. “KLS truly provides a springboard to those students who seek to learn more in one subject or another.”
"...students work in small teams and go into depth on relevant and current topics, gaining important skills in areas like collaboration, presenting and time management, to name a few.”Upper School Parent
Families also noted that the KLS difference manifests beyond the classroom for our learners. Our model enables us to make time and space for what matters most for the whole student. In group Advisory sessions, for example, our faculty work with students to develop Executive Skills and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). At KLS, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the means by which we formally address and embed the relational aspects of holistic child development for all of our students.
JoAnne shared that Abhi’s growth as a person is a testament to the benefits of SEL. “Through KLS, Abhi has also learned to prioritize his mental and physical well-being,” JoAnne explained. “He takes time out of each day to meditate, reflect, exercise, and socialize.”
Our approach to project-based learning (PBL) was also a key aspect of the KLS model for our families. PBL provides our students the interdisciplinary learning space to collaborate with each other and think creatively as they apply learning to real-world problems over an extended period of time. “Another thing that sets the school apart for us are the semester-long projects that the students work on in addition to the standard classes,” Elizabeth said. “In these projects, the students work in small teams and go into depth on relevant and current topics, gaining important skills in areas like collaboration, presenting and time management, to name a few.”
Our families have found that PBL makes learning more engaging for their children, breaking the mold of traditional education methods while preparing their students to solve the problems of the future. Rakhi Singh and Rajesh Punn, parents of two students in our Upper School, have been impressed by how PBL impacts their children’s learning. Their son, Vivek, first joined KLS in 2018, and their daughter, Pooja, joined in 2020. “These projects break the monotony of studying material from textbooks and online sources,” shared Rakhi and Rajesh. “[Projects] provide an avenue for practical solutions and approaches to learning that reinforce the subject material to the students.”
An adaptable learning environment and school community was also a common highlight for our families, which became particularly important during a school year like no other.
“The pandemic further affirms my absolute enthusiasm for KLS.”
Lower School Parent
Following guidance from Santa Clara County to practice social distancing in response to COVID-19, KLS transitioned to remote learning on March 16, 2020. The health and safety of our community is paramount, and so we decided that the best course of action was to transition to remote learning. Since then, KLS has followed a Community Return-to-School Plan to safely bring Lower School students back to campus in phases.
“The KLS community culture adapts very well to change since it is, in the end, a lab school, constantly trying to improve and strive for better ways of learning,” Rakhi and Rajesh explained. Flexibility is one of our core strengths as a lab school, and when it came time to transition to remote learning, our families felt KLS was prepared to rise to the challenge.
“When the pandemic hit, KLS's thoughtful leadership, anticipatory planning along with organized execution for both remote and in-person learning have been absolutely amazing!” Lower School parent of two Olivia said. “KLS staff have seemingly begun calling out plays from the playbook while everyone else is still trying to digest the information. The pandemic further affirms my absolute enthusiasm for KLS.”
Rakhi and Rajesh shared similar sentiments about our community’s quick response to COVID-19. “Even with the challenges COVID-19 poses, the KLS community continues to grow and adapt to the changing times. The KLS community quickly and seamlessly adopted a virtual learning environment without difficulties.”
KLS continues to adapt to the evolving health situation with regular updates to our COVID-19 Resources & Updates page.
“To compete is to assume that the size of the pie is fixed. At KLS, we have the ability to make the pie as big as we want.”
Abhi V., Upper School Student
Our families shared an appreciation for our school’s emphasis on community-based, collaborative learning. “What sets KLS apart is the strong community, composed by families who care for each other and truly believe in the importance of creating an educational system that centers students,” Lower School parent Dana said. At KLS, our model encourages collaboration and community building among students and families in a society that often emphasizes competing with one another.
Upper School parent JoAnne felt our mastery-based approach to education, which provides our students a mastery-based transcript instead of traditional letter grades, is a key reason why KLS is able to nurture collaboration instead of competition. “Silicon Valley can breed an unhealthy focus on academics and competition among middle and high school students, which is exacerbated by grades,” JoAnne explained. “Because KLS is mastery-based, Abhi and his peers do not compete with one another for the best grades or highest test scores.”
“As Abhi described to me, ‘To compete is to assume that the size of the pie is fixed. At KLS, we have the ability to make the pie as big as we want.’”
Families have noticed how being in a community of learners has influenced the way their children learn and develop authentic relationships with other students. “As parents, we see our two children seeking help from their peers and giving help to others,” Rakhi and Rajesh shared. “When a problem arises, they work together to make a situation better.”
Collaboration is embedded throughout the KLS model—weekly group Advisory sessions, project-based learning, and our mixed-age learning environment create space for students to develop skills and habits of mind that will help them thrive as part of a larger community.
“We are among the first hundreds of families who are part of this bold mission: raising independent thinkers and problem solvers.”
Lower School Parent
As a mastery-based community of learners, our students are not singularly focused on chasing high marks—Instead, they take agency in their own learning, seek to understand course content, and demonstrate their mastery in various contexts. Our students are trailblazers of mastery-based education, of the Mastery Transcript, and, most importantly, of their own futures.
Our families shared that they, like their students, feel like trailblazers as members of the KLS community. “We are among the first hundreds of families who are part of this bold mission raising independent thinkers and problem solvers,” Lower School parent Olivia said. Olivia’s older daughter joined our Lower School in 2017, followed by her younger daughter in 2019. This is what KLS strives for—to empower every student with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate their own path and become lifelong learners.
“KLS prepares students not just for college, but for life.”
Upper School Parent
Our families shared a sense that their students are being prepared to navigate life beyond KLS. “After our daughter joined KLS, even after a few months, we saw such a significant difference in her intrinsic motivation, how she articulates her thoughts, how she manages her time,” Upper School parent Elizabeth shared. “We believe she is learning life-long skills not just about academics, but in softer skills including building confidence to ask questions, holding herself accountable to deadlines, planning out long-term projects, and reflecting on areas she wants to improve upon.”
KLS strives to prepare each student with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate their own path, and our families noted this as a highlight of the KLS community. “KLS attracts students who are caring, compassionate, and value education for the sake of learning, not just a means to get into college,” Upper School parents Rakhi and Rajesh explained. “Like real life, the students are continuing to learn and have projects which require extensive cooperation among the students to form a team. We have seen our children learn resilience in different situations and we believe that this is a skill that will serve them well in life.”
JoAnne felt similarly about her family’s experience as Abhi prepares to graduate from KLS. “KLS prepares students not just for college, but for life. KLS’s integrated approach to SEL and mastery-based education have instilled in Abhi the independence, grit, critical-thinking, and time management skills necessary for him to succeed in college and beyond.”
As our first graduating class prepares to navigate their next steps beyond KLS, and as we continue to lead the way with our adaptable, mastery-based, collaborative community of learners, it is a particularly exciting time to join the KLS community.
Our founder, Sal Khan, shared in this excitement in a recent message to the community:
“Take heart in the fact that you’re part of an experience that I think you’re going to tell your kids and your grandkids about; that there was a time that a school was different, I was a part of that KLS journey, and we helped to reshape it.”
Are you considering joining the KLS community? Learn more about our Admissions process, application deadlines, and more here.