"To understand life
is to understand ourselves,
and that is both the beginning
and the end of education.”

-Jiddu Krishnamurti


Who we are

ALC Mosaic is a Self-Directed Education collective anchored at our urban campus in East Charlotte. We provide an environment for liberation where: personal growth flourishes when directed by an individual’s own interests and talents, social responsibility emerges from intentionally designing and evolving our culture, and community results from diverse people of all ages practicing consent, conscious communication, and radical love.

What we’re creating

Our vision is to be a transformative community that reflects Charlotte’s diversity of races, ages, physical abilities, ethnicities, religious and spiritual groups, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, and gender expressions. We use our practices of Self-Directed Education to name and disrupt racism, classism, ageism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression as we care for ourselves, one another, our wider communities and all humans through expressions of radical love.  

For us, radical love is community members caring for others and spaces beyond the lines of the nuclear family and private ownership through a range of practices including empathy-based communication, trust centered decision making, shared and visible workload to keep the community thriving, and the cultural work of deschooling towards the transformation of self and the collective.

As we liberate ourselves from stories of domination, we will become an image of possibility for others in our broader community to trust their own path towards collective freedom. We believe the medium is the message so our community organization is intentionally agile, utilizing tools for visibility and transparency and and inviting all members into authentic forms of leadership.

All community members, from children to elder adults, staff, parents, and adult non-parent members, are actively engaged in Self-Directed Education and support the community as a whole in their own unique ways.



Some things are central to what ALCs are about, while other elements are flexible and may vary between communities. We use a metaphor of a tree to illustrate this aspect of the ALC model more clearly.

The soil we grow from is trust: in children, in each other, in you.
The four assumptions—roots—which ground us are as follows:

  • Learning: Learning is natural. It’s happening all the time.

  • Self-Direction: People learn best by making their own decisions. Children are people.

  • Experience: People learn more from their culture and environment than from the content they are taught. The medium is the message.

  • Growth: Self-awareness and collective intelligence is catalyzed through cycles of intention, creation, reflection and sharing.



The ALC model was developed in New York City’s Agile Learning Center, formerly Manhattan Free School. By adapting leading-edge practices used in Agile Software Development and other Lean Management techniques, the ALC model is optimized for ongoing evolution to keep pace with a fast-changing world.

In 2013, Nancy Tilton and a group of families started The Mosaic School as a democratic free school. In November of 2013, Nancy found the Agile Learning Center in Manhattan and saw how powerful these practices could be in this community. Throughout 2014, Mosaic gradually integrated the ALC tools and became the second school operating as an Agile Learning Center.

In Summer of 2014, ALC Mosaic hosted the first Agile Learning Facilitator training in partnership with ALC founders, and has been a major anchor and catalyst for the rapidly expanding international network of ALCs.



ALC Mosaic operates a North Carolina State recognized private school for ages 5-18 and a half-day option for ages 2-4.

Our “school” functions more like an intentional learning community, providing a daily rhythm and a safe and empowering starting point for the Self-Directed Education of our youngest community members.


Our Roots program serves ages two through eight, though there is no firm age cutoff. The Roots program is all about free, open-ended, and imaginative play.

Our Branches program is generally for children seven through eighteen. The Branches program provides lightweight structures to support young people in their self-directed education.


Self-Directed Education is not something that we can fully offer to our children without choosing for ourselves, first. ALC Mosaic is comprised of community members of all ages who co-create programming that enrich our lives and catalyze our continued self-education.


For self-directed adults and parents of children in the Roots or Branches programs

For adult community members who want more integration between work and play