About Us

Gibson Ek High School is a choice school open to any Issaquah School District student looking for a more independent, project-based approach to learning. Students may apply in eighth grade. We opened our doors on Sept. 1, 2016, to freshmen and sophomores, and now host a 9-12 student body of just under 200 that reflects a wide diversity of goals, from college to entrepreneurship to careers in a trade or the arts.

With no traditional classes or grades, Gibson Ek students learn through self-directed projects, incorporating reading, writing, science, social studies and math along the way. Certificated teachers guide and assess students as they work independently. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students intern with regional businesses and organizations to explore career interests.

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Read our Student Handbook to learn the nuts and bolts of our innovative model.

View our Frequently Asked Questions page.

What Is Gibson Ek?

Gibson Ek High School is a community of creators, thinkers, makers, artists, engineers, thespians, writers, collaborators, friends, mentors, activists, programmers, builders, advocates, scientists, marketers, designers, learners creating a place where students find and develop their passions, and use this discovery to make a difference in the world. We know this world is complex and dynamic and needs people who are critical thinkers who can engage with diverse people. As a Big Picture school, we develop students to live lives of their own design, supported by caring mentors and equitable opportunities to achieve their greatest potential. Students graduate from Gibson Ek with the skills, knowledge and qualities necessary to be activists in their world. 


Students commit to a personal vision through authentic new learning that empowers them to contribute their knowledge and skills to meaningfully influence the school and community.


To thrive through personal discovery, interest-based learning and real-world experiences in a vibrant and supportive community

Core Beliefs

Commitment to a Personal Vision: Students and staff leverage their interests, strengths and talents to set meaningful, challenging and realistic goals, and they pursue these goals through failures and successes.

Authentic New Learning: Students and staff pursue learning that is real, personal and lasting, taking risks in a variety of settings while they acquire in-depth knowledge.

Application and Influence in the World: Students and staff are positive influences on their peers, school and community. They develop supportive relationships to solve problems and make contributions to the world.

Mastery-Based Learning: Students are prepared to thrive in college, career and life. Mastery learning is deep and enduring learning that can be applied across context and time for meaningful impact. Students gain the enduring knowledge, lifelong skills, and critical dispositions to succeed on a path of their choosing.

Statement of Community

Students and staff of Gibson Ek believe the best learning happens in an environment that values

Inclusion: We support each other through kindness and understanding, creating an inclusive environment that respects individual identities and differences.

Perseverance: We find inspiration to pursue our interests and lead our own learning by staying focused, working hard, and learning from our failures and challenges.

Collaboration: We collaborate and engage in conversations by listening to each other, suspending judgment, and encouraging others to share their ideas. We ask for help when needed and offer to help others.

Respect: We value others’ work and take care of all of our materials, tools, and equipment. We clean up and reset the spaces when we’re done.

Community: We create an environment that values and celebrates personalized learning by respecting the needs of those around us.

Commitment to Equity

Gibson Ek staff acknowledge systemic racism exists and are committed to ending these practices as we examine our own structures, institutions and practices. We are committed to doing all we can to support students who experience racism either overtly or implicitly. This year we commit to forming a student and staff equity team that is committed to learning better, teaching better, loving better and fighting better. 

Big Picture Learning

We are not only members of the Gibson Ek High School community, but GEHS is part of the Big Picture Learning network of schools. BPL was established in 1995 with the sole mission of putting students directly at the center of their own learning. Today there are over 65 Big Picture network schools in the United States, and many more schools around the world in places such as Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada. While the design of each network school uniquely fits its own students, the rationale for student-centered learning is consistent: when you learn about what you’re interested in, you learn more deeply; when you connect with experts and do work in the real world, you become better prepared for life after school; when you’re deeply known by multiple adults, you have better outcomes. To this end, Big Picture network schools, including Gibson Ek, are committed to achieving these purposes through an advisory model; Leaving to Learn program; and inquiry-based, project-based learning. 

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