South Mountain Co-op

SMC  is  a democratic home schooling co-op and community learning center for ages 5-18, located in Montclair, NJ. We facilitate an innovative, learner-directed, and democratically run space for young people in Essex County.

Democratic education empowers young people and their communities to create, transform and build an education model that addresses the diverse learning styles and emotional needs of learners.

Mission Statement:

South Mountain Co-op’s approach to education is individualized and curiosity driven: students are free to explore the world around them at their own pace and according to their own interests, with the support of the adult staff and co-op community at large. Co-op governance is collaborative and participatory: each member of the community, regardless of age or role, has an equal say in the consensus decision-making process and running of the co-op. We are dedicated to creating and maintaining an environment of trust and respect; supporting students on their individual learning paths; and fostering strong connections to fellow South Mountain Co-op members, to families, and to the surrounding community.


Education at SMC is:

Joyful, self-directed, and collaborative. It is supported by school staff and fellow students, and connected to the wider community.


Governance at SMC is:

Cooperative and democratic. Students and staff have an equal part in the consensus decision-making process and share in the responsibilities of the co-op. Conflict resolution is facilitated by coaching students in empathetic communication, mediation, and the support of the school meeting.


Staff at SMC is:

Dynamic and supportive. Adult staff members have varied backgrounds, experiences, and expertise; are committed to supporting students in their exploration of their world; believe that children are naturally motivated to learn and grow; and understand that all pursuits, interests, and passions are of value.