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Our School

A culture of courtesy and common sense. A liberal arts education drawing connections among artistic, historical, literary, and scientific fields of knowledge. An outdoor and environmental program. Stellar athletics. These are some of the integral parts of The Northwest School. Set in an urban campus that is housed in an historic landmark cared for by our students, we provide a curriculum for grades 6–12 that offers an international perspective and encourages independent and creative thinking in every class. We educate and shape our students into global citizens who will one day shape our community, nation, and world.

The Northwest School: outstanding college preparatory and much more. Come see for yourself.

Welcome from Mike McGill: Head of School

From its founding over thirty years ago, the Northwest School has been an idealistic, optimistic, and forward-thinking place. Led by an extraordinary faculty, we firmly believe in the power of ideas and trust that education can make a difference in the world. Our teachers are deeply passionate and knowledgeable about their disciplines, of course, but also innovative, provocative (in the best possible way), and committed to helping adolescents discover their own strengths and passions—while inspiring them to use these to make a positive impact in their communities.

That’s why our kids are excited to come to school. When visitors walk through the majestic front doors of Northwest’s historic building for the first time, they’re often struck by the infectious energy, the enthusiasm for learning that emanates from every classroom, lab, and studio. And because our students care so deeply about what it is they’re learning—because it has meaning and relevance—they end up pouring themselves into their work.

There are a few other important distinguishing characteristics I’d like to share, qualities that, as both educator and father, inspired me to join The Northwest School community last year:

  • The quality of intellectual engagement. Though virtually all of our graduates go on to higher education—where they excel—we aspire to much more than college preparation. We are a school that fosters a love of and respect for ideas, a place that teaches its students to think. This is perhaps most evident in our unique integrated humanities program. Comprising history, literature, philosophy, political science, and art history, this stimulating series of courses, taught by teams of dedicated scholar-teachers, has been a central part of the Northwest experience since its founding.
  • Its global reach. Northwest has an international student body, supported by the only high school boarding department in Seattle, and a network of partner schools stretching from Asia to Central America. We’re not merely paying lip service, then, to the imperative of preparing our students to live and work in an increasingly interconnected world—we’re meeting that challenge every day.
  • An historic commitment to diversity of all sorts. From its earliest days, the school recognized that our excellence as a learning community was dependent on our gathering as rich a mix of people as possible who would be willing to bring their unique experiences, perspectives, and voices to the conversation.
  • An art program unlike any other in Seattle. We embrace what research tells us about the value of an arts-rich program: namely, that it nurtures important habits of mind—risk-taking, problem-solving, cooperation, perseverance—and improves student performance across all subject areas. Our program’s range (over 50 electives from mime to advanced photography), quality (all of our faculty are both skilled teachers and practicing artists), and high expectations, infuses our community with a creative energy that is very special.
  • The dedication to environmental stewardship. We are not simply grasping at the most recent educational trend: the conscious commitment to caring for our planet runs deep at Northwest. Informing virtually every aspect of our curriculum and operations, the belief that we have an obligation to educate our students to live sustainably has been an integral part of the Northwest School’s identity since our founding.

A dynamic place like Northwest is impossible to capture on a website. We hope that, having studied ours, you’ll decide to visit in person and see first-hand how we challenge students to grow in an environment that celebrates individuals, fosters a powerful sense of community, and nurtures in everyone a lifelong love of learning and a commitment to change the world.


Head of School
August, 2012