The Anneliese Odyssey


Building Autonomy through the Power of Choice

Freedom is one of the core values of an Anneliese Schools education. The tenet of freedom takes on particular meaning during adolescence, as students explore their growing autonomy.

At TAO, we encourage students to be fearless learners, giving them the freedom to explore their ideas and interests with confidence. We recognize that choice empowers students, teaching them to trust themselves and to lean into their innate curiosity. In this way, choice itself becomes a powerful teacher – a validation of our students’ blossoming independence.

At TAO, we teach our students to see learning as an expansive, explorative process that is not defined by the four-walls of the classroom, and to view the potential of their environment as an additional teacher in life. 

Below are some examples of how we put these concepts in practice at TAO:


  • Students have freedom to formulate, design, and implement their own projects, and freedom of choice (“learning menus”) for how to demonstrate learning and mastery. 
  • Students are free to utilize peers and staff as resources for self-directed learning. 
  • Students have the freedom to access learning resources within both the city and state-wide communities to expand learning and exploration. 

Self-Directed Learning: 

  • Our curriculum is designed to provide many options for choice so that students can define their own learning, and direct their coursework and projects to deepen their exploration of subjects they are passionate about. 

Leadership in Practice:

  • Through the freedom and power of choice, students experience the joy of leadership as they participate in guiding the organizational infrastructure of their own curriculum. 
  • Within Community Meetings, students are given freedom to experiment with self-governance. For example, the student body may engage in democratic decision-making on matters that affect the student body as a whole.  
  • Students have the freedom to exercise leadership through field or service projects within the extended community of Laguna Beach and beyond.