New Approach to Education Comes to Loudoun

An innovative approach to education is coming to Loudoun that promises to provide options for students that struggle with traditional schooling. The Embark Center for Self-Directed Learning is slated to open in Loudoun and is now accepting applications for the 2017 school year. Utilizing a self-directed approach to learning, the Embark Center provides an alternative for learners that have grown increasingly frustrated by the constraints of traditional schooling.

“Embark Center is NOT a school. Attendance is voluntary, classes/workshops/tutorials are optional, there are no grades or assessments. At Embark, learning is experiencing and, eventually, knowing. Learning is life.” says Embark Director, Andrea Cubelo-McKay. “Embark Center is a community of learners and serves as a resource center for youth and families who wish to have more autonomy in their learning and lives.”

The organization is a member of Liberated Learners, a national network of self-directed learning centers with member programs across the United States and Canada. Embark Center provides youth with an alternative option for creating a meaningful, relevant life. It is based upon the groundbreaking work of NorthStar: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. The NorthStar model supports youth in their desire to live and learn without school.

The rise of this alternative education movement has been fueled by an increasing dissatisfaction with a one-size-fits-all approach that is prevalent. While the current “school” paradigm works for the majority of learners, an ever increasing number of students are becoming marginalized by it. Many young people who are miserable in school—academically or socially—stay because they believe that leaving school will ruin their prospects for higher learning opportunities. But Andrea Cubelo-McKay points out that, “New data has been released which suggests learning outside of school, while increasing personal well-being and independence, has no negative effect on long term educational or career outcomes. The article ‘What Happens to Self-Directed Learners?’ published in Tipping Points: The Online Magazine from the Alliance for Self-Directed Learning, provides anecdotal evidence collected by NorthStar: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, which demonstrates there is nothing teens can do with a traditional high school diploma that they can’t do without one.”

Embark Center for Self-Directed Learning will open its doors to Loudoun County teens ages 12-18 in the fall of 2017. Embark will provide a host of academic, non-academic, and social supports to make the idea of leaving the traditional educational path and taking control of one’s own education a realistic option. For more information visit their website at



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Posted by on May 18 2017. Filed under Education, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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