Sequoia Big Picture High School
SBPHS Students

Big Picture Learning schools are unique environments where students can flourish as individuals within a community of learners. There are many elements within our learning design that are uncommon and distinct, and set Big Picture schools apart from most schools. We call these common characteristics ‘distinguishers’, as they distinguish the Big Picture Learning design from other learning designs or models.

Big Picture Learning’s School Distinguishers, listed below, exist as a comprehensive whole. They are interrelated and inform one another – none work in isolation. It is the seamless integration of reflection-based action and the distinguishers that result in the powerful success of the Big Picture Learning design.


The Ten Distinguishers are:

  • Learning in the Real World: Learning Through Interests (LTI):
    A unique opportunity for students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore interests
    through independent projects and internships in the real world.
  • One Student at a Time: Personalization:
    Each student at SBPHS has a comprehensive, individualized learning plan that the student
    crafts with the guidance of the advisor, parent, and, where applicable, the internship mentor.

  • Authentic Assessment:
    Assessments include public exhibitions, weekly check-in meetings with advisors,
    weekly journals, yearly presentation portfolios, and transcripts. Students are prepared to
    perform at the proficient or advanced levels on the California Standards Tests and pass
    the CAHSEE exam.

  • School Organization:
    Small personalized learning communities that serve students of all abilities and interests.
    The school will have a ratio of one advisor to 20-30 students.

  • Advisory Structure:
    Each student works with an advisor who serves as a teaching catalyst. The advisor is a
    coach, mentor, teacher, manager, and often – friend.

  • School Culture:
    A vibrant and inclusive learning community that values diversity and respect.
  • Leadership:
    Is shared and spread between a strong, visionary principal and a dedicated, responsible
    team of teacher/advisors.

  • Parent/Family Engagement: Adult Support:
    SBPHS enrolls whole families and empowers parents to play an active role in their
    child’s education and in the school community.
  • School/College Partnership: College Preparation and Support:
    The focus is on preparing students for college and a meaningful career pathway. All students
    take college entrance exams and apply to at least one college or post-secondary
    school program.

  • Professional Development
    Principals and advisors receive extensive training and professional development through
    Big Picture Learning.