Ten Questions Parents Ask About Living Wisdom School

Helen Purcell, Director, Living Wisdom School, Palo Alto, California
Helen Purcell

LWS teachers answer parents’ questions about Living Wisdom School. To learn about research that supports LWS teaching methods and philosophy, continue to the Education Research section below. The questions were answered by Helen Purcell, school director, and Gary McSweeney, middle school teacher and Education for Life board member.

Gary McSweeney, Middle School teacher at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California
Gary McSweeney

We’ll be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Please feel free to contact us one of three ways: (1) Call the school office at (650) 462-8150 to schedule a call-back from Helen or Gary; (2) call to schedule a guided tour of the school during which we’ll answer your questions; or (3) email us your question(s):

Thank you for your interest in Living Wisdom School!

10 Questions Parents Often Ask About LWS:

  1. When students graduate from Living Wisdom School, how well do they do in high school and college?
  2. In traditional elementary and junior high schools, most of the day is spent on academics. With so many other activities at Living Wisdom School – field trips, theater, music, art, etc. – how do you find time for academics?
  3. In the classroom, how much individual attention are you able to give each child?
  4. Is the student body at LWS skewed toward families from a wealthy, highly educated demographic?
  5. Do you give the students an education that will support them with a sense of meaning in later life?
  6. How well do the children make the adjustment from a school with fewer than 100 children, to a high school that might have 2000 students?
  7. You seem to emphasize helping children find their own energy and enthusiasm. How important is that for their academic success?
  8. Parents are concerned that their child get a good education in math and science. Does math strike more directly toward the intellect, and require different teaching methods?
  9. In big schools, with big classrooms, the teachers can find themselves teaching to the lowest common denominator, and spending more time with the students who are slow. How do you deal with students who are less talented, without holding back the gifted ones?
  10. What about the spiritual aspects of Living Wisdom School? Is the instruction truly nonsectarian?

Financial Information

2022 – 2023

Tuition – September to June

  • TK – Fifth Grade: $24,400 (Sibling Discount: $18,300)
  • Middle School (Sixth – Eighth Grade): $26,400 (Sibling Discount: $19,800)
Teacher with young students, Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California
LWS offers parents a 40-year record of preparing children for academic, personal, and career success in high school, college, and beyond. (Click to enlarge.)

Enrollment Fee

At the time of acceptance, a $1,500 enrollment fee is due.  This fee is in addition to the tuition and must be submitted along with the signed contract in order to hold a place for the child in the class. The enrollment fee is non-refundable.

Tuition Payments

Tuition may be paid in ten (10) monthly installments, due on the first of each month. The first payment is due on September 1, 2021, and the last payment is due on June 1, 2022. If necessary, other arrangements can be made.

Sibling Discount

A 25% sibling discount is available for younger children in the family attending Living Wisdom School.


Partial scholarships are available on the basis of need. Financial documentation is required. Inquire at the school office for the tuition assistance procedure.

Annual Giving Campaign

Living Wisdom School families are expected to help make up the difference between the cost of tuition and the real cost of their child’s education by contributing according to their means to the Annual Giving Campaign. These donations are tax deductible.

Application Process

  1. Parents attend an Open House.
  2. Parents submit an application, along with school records and any other pertinent information.
  3. Parents meet with the school director.
  4. Prospective students meet with the classroom teacher.
  5. Kindergarten students participate in a small group visit.
  6. First – eighth grade students come in for a shadow morning or day.
  7. The school director may connect with the applicant’s current teacher.
  8. Letters of acceptance go out in March.

*The process as described above has been adjusted to reflect the current Covid-19 reality. Until further notice, Open Houses will be on Zoom, along with meetings with the director, the teacher, and other students.

Application Process

Application Process — Step by Step

Parents can begin to familiarize themselves with school by reviewing the website and watching the school practices videos.

  1. Parents attend an Open House or Information Meeting.
    Call school for an updated schedule.
  2. Parents submit an application, along with school records and any other pertinent information.
  3. Parents meet with the School Director.
  4. Prospective students meet with the classroom teacher.
  5. Kindergarten students participate in a small group visit.
  6. First – eighth grade students come in for a shadow morning or day.
  7. The School Director talks to the student’s current teacher.
  8. Letters of acceptance go out in March.

We do require parents to review the LWS website and view the school practices before coming to an Open House or Informational Meeting. This makes a more in-depth, informative discussion possible and will help you decide if the unique LWS educational methods are what you want for your child.

LWS Application Form

Living Wisdom High School Admissions Page


Ways You Can Support Living Wisdom School

Help More Children Find Joy —

  • In Learning

  • With Others

  • In Themselves

Teachers & Staff

LWS is a nonprofit. Our largest expense is compensating the wonderful teachers and staff who make the school possible. For all of us, the unique Education for Life philosophy is a mission to which we have dedicated our lives. We receive salaries that are roughly 70 percent of the average for teachers and staff in this area’s public and private schools. Yet, because of our low student-teacher ratio, tuition covers just 80 percent of total expenses. So we must rely on yearly donations to cover the rest.


LWS teaches children to interact, respect, and engage with people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. This requires that LWS have a student population of children with diverse ethnic backgrounds, academic abilities, and economic levels. We give scholarships to students who would otherwise be unable to afford our tuition. How many scholarships we are able to give depends entirely on the donations we receive.


We at Living Wisdom School have a vision of offering these teaching to new and existing schools everywhere, so that children can begin benefitting from them everywhere. This broad outreach requires that we train teachers in the Education for Life principles and offer them opportunities to gain skills through their own, direct experience. Our school trains interns who work under the guidance of experienced Living Wisdom teachers. The number of interns we are able to accept depends entirely on donations earmarked to fund this effort.

New Campus

The number of students we are able to accept is limited by the size of our school building. Our classes fill quickly, and have a waiting list each year. Our long-term vision is for a much larger school that includes the high school grades. Naturally, this will require a much larger campus. To accomplish this goal, we will need to purchase a location, or secure a large enough endowment fund so that we can securely sign a long-term lease.

This is, obviously, a long-term quest that will require major funding. If you, or a foundation you work for, would be like to take part in this effort, please contact us (see below). Our children’s and their children’s lives will benefit greatly from having Education for Life spread through society.

A larger campus will enable many more children to benefit from our proven methods of helping children achieve success in academics and in life. And a larger school will give parents and educators a more visible example, and hope that a truly uplifting education for children is possible. Last, but not least, it will enable us to train teachers who can carry this inspiring system elsewhere.

Thank You

If you would like to discuss opportunities to help in any of these areas, please contact us directly at the school: 650-462-8150. Thank you!

Helen Purcell, School Director

Eric Munro, Development Officer

Donations by check can be made out to “Living Wisdom School” and sent to the school at: 456 College Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306. Thank you.

Living Wisdom School is a tax-exempt corporation organized under Internal Revenue Section 501 (c) (3). Your contribution is tax-deductible.



Sister Schools & Living Wisdom Websites

Young girl with lamb in arms, Living Wisdom School, Nevada City, California
The original Living Wisdom School in Nevada City, California offers children a rigorous academic education in a safe, beautiful rural environment.

Nevada City, California
Living Wisdom School

14618 Tyler Foote Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 478-7640

Portland, Oregon
Living Wisdom School

4855 SW Watson
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 671-9112

Seattle, Washington
Living Wisdom School

2800 NE 200th St
Shoreline, WA 98155
(425) 772-9862
(425) 673-4888

Ananda College of Living Wisdom
An Education for Life College

14618 Tyler Foote Road #114
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 292-3024

Other Living Wisdom Websites:

Education for Life
A large website dedicated to the philosophy and practice of the Education for Life principles of Living Wisdom Schools. See also: Education for Life Products and Resources.

Living Wisdom Schools
An “umbrella” site covering the Living Wisdom Schools curriculum and philosophy