Read what the experts have to say about Headwaters Academy:

“I love the idea of combining outdoor/entrepreneurial education. The concept is a bold one.”



Dear Mark, Barb, Simon and the Headwaters Crew,


I wanted to write this letter if it helps you in anyway in the start of your new school. I had mixed feelings about allowing another educational organization to run a school out of an Elephant Thoughts location.  It was a decision I did not make lightly.  We have very high standards in education and are very protective of our brand.  We need to fully believe in the quality of education being offered before we would endorse another program.  Over the course of the last few months, as I have gotten to know your team, studied your methods and curriculum, I have become more than impressed.


What you are offering to the community is something that does not exist elsewhere.  It is very, very special.  I believe in the small school approach and love the connection to nature that your school offers.  I strongly believe in the experiential learning methodology you are using and the cross-curricular method of approaching topics.  I also whole heartedly support your assessment, tracking, and reporting techniques as far superior to any system I have seen to date.  It brings a smile to my face to think that your approach is never to leave a child behind and teach children not that they failed or don’t understand but rather they just don’t understand yet and they soon will.


I am so impressed with everything that I see that I have decided this is where I would like my own daughter to go to school and have counselled my family members that it would be a good idea for them to consider the same with their kids.  That is a big recommendation considering I work with hundreds of schools worldwide and my profession is teaching schools how to reach a level of excellence.  So it is with considerable experience and confidence that I can say that I believe your school is already there.


It brings a huge smile to my face to think that an ideal school is in my own backyard and that my daughter will spend days exploring nature and exploring the latest in technologies.  Each day she goes to school her curiosity and love of learning will be ignited not dampened.  What a difference this is going to make for her life.


Thank you for the work you do. Highest regards,

Jeremy Rhodes

Executive Director, Elephant Thoughts

Headwaters Acadamy must be commended for their vision of and commitment to holistic environment-based education. Education that is delivered in natural settings such as the astonishing Kimbercote Experiential Education Centre, is rich with unique learning experiences that ignite a well consolidated love of learning and connection to the earth. This approach to education ensures that students’ physical, emotional, and intellectual needs are met. It inspires natural curiosity, problem solving skills, confidence, respect, and collaboration. In this way, nature-based education is a prerequisite for our future leaders. We welcome Headwaters Academy as a well respected partner in our learning community. Congratulations Headwaters Academy from Red-tailed Hawk Forest School.

Shannon Foley

Red-Tailed Hawk Forest School

When you visit the Headwaters Academy website, you are greeted by the saying “Learn, Do, and Be More.”  I’ve been fortunate to know Dr. Barb Smith, Headwaters Academy Curriculum and School Leadership Consultant, for almost a decade… she is always learning more, doing more and being more in the world of education.  I’m excited to see her fulfill a lifelong dream of opening her own ideal school focused on student engagement and STREAM.  In addition to meeting the Ontario provincial academic standards, the program seems promising in many areas.  I’m especially drawn to the project-based curriculum, experiential learning, opportunity for students to solve authentic real-world problems and mastery instead of moving students on when they haven’t fully grasped the content.  I wish Barb and her team the best of luck as they open their school in the Fall!



Love that you are building a high-performance mastery culture for all students. I also agree to begin innovative practice with pilot teachers to learn about “proof of concept” and pitfalls. Finally, cannot support you enough on your self-assessment and group assessment designs.



This is a powerful mandate for your new school. The goals are very clear, and your curriculum offers programs and opportunities unlike other schools that I have seen or read about. The breadth and width of the possibilities should attract parents who see education as a world force, a truly “citizen-based” grounding for their children. The locale is the heart of this endeavor, and directs our understanding towards a holistic, natural foundation of exploring where we are on spaceship earth and who we are as passengers. You have an amazing ability to articulate deep and complex educational theories in the light of child development. You aim towards the best of rigorous and significant learning, and always with the dynamic of interactive experience at the heart of all. Congratulations on this exciting project for being with children in a school that matters.