About Headwaters

American Rivers

The beginning of a river is called its headwaters. Even if a river becomes big and powerful, its headwaters often don’t start out that way. Some headwaters are springs that come from under the ground. Others are marshy areas fed by mountain snow. A river’s headwaters can be huge, with thousands of small streams that flow together, or just a trickle from a lake or pond. What is in the headwaters is very important to the health of the whole river, because anything that happens upstream affects everything downstream.

Headwaters School is an independent school in Austin, Texas serving students from early childhood through grade 12. Founded in 2001, we design vibrant learning environments across our three campuses: our Springs Campus (Early Childhood), our Creek Campus (Elementary), and our River Campus (Middle & High School).

Beginning with a Montessori foundation and progressing to the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme, we are inspired, organized, and guided by our Purpose, Promise, and PACT. These ideas serve as the foundation for our daily work.

Our Purpose

We cultivate identity formation, foster empathy, and embrace diversity to bring more peace to the world.

Our Promise

We guide our students to live authentically, think expansively, and create bravely.


We invite our students, guides, staff, parents, and trustees to be:

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  • Peacemakers

    As we learn to resolve conflicts, we demonstrate compassion, grace, skill, and courage. We take responsibility for our actions.
  • Advocates

    We strive to understand and value diverse perspectives, cultures, and faiths. We recognize our agency and act with integrity in pursuit of a more just and equitable society.
  • Creators

    Curiosity, wonder, and the creative process are essential to a fulfilling life. We discover ourselves and our voices by taking intellectual and artistic risks.
  • Thinkers

    As self-directed learners, we approach education with intention. We use observation, research, and reason to explore problems that matter to us, our community, and the world.

Learn More About Headwaters

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  • Accreditation

    Headwaters School is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS). ISAS, a member of the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), has voluntarily submitted to a rigorous and impartial review of its accreditation program and demonstrated its adherence to the Council’s Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices. ISAS is commended by ICAISA for the quality of the Association’s accreditation program for its Member Schools. We gained accreditation for the first time in June 2020.

    Headwaters School is also accredited by the Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools (TAAPS), which is a Texas Education Agency (TEA) endorsed State accreditation agency. TAAPS is a member of Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC), the State governing body of private school accreditation associations. Our most recent TAAPS re-accreditation was granted in June 2019 and expires in June 2024. We have been accredited with TAAPS since June 2006.

  • History

    Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year! This year, we opened another YCC classroom, expanded the River Campus, and brought even more staff support to each campus to support our student learning.

    This school year started bringing back traditions and events that were cancelled due to the pandemic. Our focus on community-building and our students was present each day.

    We taught through a pandemic with in-person and online classes. By the end of 2021, we were all back on campus.

    We hosted our first accreditation visit for ISAS (Independent Schools Association of the Southwest) and gained accreditation in June 2020. 


    We open the school year under our new name, Headwaters School!

    2015 - 2016
    We welcomed our new Head of School, Ted Graf, and began a strategic planning process in January 2016. We opened our new building and playground on the Elementary campus on Brodie Lane for our 2nd through 5th grade students.

    2014 - 2015
    After our three-year candidacy is approved in the spring of 2014, our high school launches the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. We begin the development and cultivation of The Bird's Nest, our new 10.7 acre wildlife habitat on Brodie Lane, which was donated to the school in the fall of 2013 for use by all of our students. Our Elementary program expands our Early Elementary and Upper Elementary programs with the addition of two new classes, and construction is planned for the additional two acres of the Brodie Lane property. Our Early Childhood campus continues to serve our 18 month to 5-year-old students, and further cultivate the Primary Garden.

    2013 - 2014
    Our Elementary School moves to our new Brodie Lane property in August 2013. With the help of a generous donation, we are able to hire a full-time learning specialist to support our elementary teachers. Our K-5th Grade program serves more than 150 students in six classes. A grant from Whole Foods allows us to double our gardening space and program. Our Early Childhood program serves 125 children and their families. Our Middle & Upper School campus, now serving nearly 230 students, add a robotics program, a new technology lab for arts and sciences, and a cross country team.

    2012 - 2013
    The newly merged school (adopting the name Khabele School for all of its campuses), serves ages 18 months through high school, and grows to 450 students on three campuses. Our Middle & High School campus in downtown Austin adds a library and cafe space at 809 Rio Grande. We also add 804 Rio Grande as our Headwaters Studio. Our 2nd-5th grade students are moved to a beautiful campus on the greenbelt off of South Lamar Blvd., while our Early Childhood and K-1 students remain on our Primavera campus on Menchaca Road. We work to find a permanent home for our growing Elementary program, and in the spring of 2013 we acquire a new 4-acre property at 9607 Brodie Lane.

    2011 - 2012
    The Khabele School grows to 215 students and continues to expand its campus, and Primavera grows to 190 students. Both schools announce the merger. The 10-year anniversary of Khabele School and of Primavera, the merger, and the growth of all programs was celebrated at a city-wide concert at the Moody Theatre in November of 2011. The schools partnered all year in a full integration plan to serve children 18 months old through 12th grade.

    2010 - 2011
    With 200 students, the Khabele School focuses on the Teaching Assistant Program, Project Week, the Character Education Program, and increased AP offerings. The international program expands with the addition of new students from all over the globe. Primavera grows enrollment to 160 students and is voted "Austin's Best Montessori School" by Austin Family Magazine. Each school contracts Greenlights to facilitate the due diligence and merger process. The Board of Directors of each school, as well as key staff, meet throughout the school year to discuss the benefits and risks of a potential merger. Both schools file the merger documents in the summer of 2011 and officially become one school.

    2009 - 2010
    With 190 students, the Khabele School's year is highlighted with the addition of many new AP classes and the expansion of the college-counseling program. Primavera acquires new space, grows enrollment to 142 students, and extends the elementary program up to 5th grade. Founders Moya and Khotso Khabele and Jennifer Tyson begin talking about the possibility of being sister schools or even merging one day.

    2008 - 2009
    With 170 students, the Khabele School acquires another new building and adds a science lab, art studio, counseling office, library, and a Mac lab. Khabele students win several district and state awards in the TAPPS music and arts competitions, the TAAPS athletics seasons, and the PSIA academic competition. Primavera stays at 120 students and outdoor classrooms are built onto every room, furthering the vision of outdoor education.

    2007 - 2008
    The Khabele School grows to 150 students and acquires a studio annex that houses martial arts, dance, yoga, music, and theatre programs. The First Annual "Khabele Forward" is founded, a 3-day all-school retreat that builds community and student engagement. Primavera grows to 120 students and further perfects the Elementary curriculum. The school is honored as the "People Fund Outstanding Entrepreneur" by People Fund.

    2006 - 2007
    The Khabele School grows to 100 students and acquires two adjacent buildings which house the middle school classrooms, a new science lab, and an art/music/film studio. An athletics program begins and the school gains accreditation through the Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools. Primavera begins its first Kindergarten/1st grade class, establishing itself as a preschool and Elementary program. Enrollment grows to 116 students, and resources are focused on arts education, gardening, and music.

    2005 - 2006
    The Khabele School grows to 68 students and uses this particular year to focus on science education, the integration of technology into the classroom, and the global immersion trip program. The Khabele School is voted "Austin's Best Holistic Approach to Education" by the Austin Chronicle and one of "Austin's Best High Schools" by Austin Magazine. Primavera adds an additional class and grows to 94 students, and focuses on developing a holistic physical education program.

    2004 - 2005
    The Khabele School's fourth year is characterized by student leadership, a new parent education program, and the historic move to the downtown location. Enrollment grows to 37 students. Primavera acquires a new building and grows enrollment to 70 students, focusing on perfecting the toddler and primary programs.

    2003 - 2004
    The Khabele School grows to 24 students and starts an arts and music program. Primavera grows to 26 students and begins to plan for future growth. A high-quality Spanish program is implemented.

    2002 - 2003
    The Khabele School grows to 15 students. Our Early Childhood & Elementary program was founded in 2002 as Primavera Montessori School by Maria Claus, John Martin, Jennifer Phillips, and Jennifer Tyson. It began at 6405 Menchaca Road with 15 students, ages 2 to 5. The founders set out to create a different kind of school-one that supported the learning styles, spirits, and emotional intelligences of all children.

    2001 - 2002
    Our Middle & High School program was founded in 2001 as the Khabele School by Lisa Dubuque, Khotso Khabele, Moya Khabele, and Hector Perez. It started as a campus in North Austin with nine students ranging from 6th through 12th grade. After a first year of learning and growth, the founders focused on developing the school's identity through mission and vision. The school gains its non-profit status and develops its values of "Freedom, Self-Expression, and Excellence."

James Dillet Freeman

Rivers hardly ever run in a straight line.
Rivers are willing to take ten thousand meanders
and enjoy every one
and grow from every one.

Spring Campus

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Creek Campus

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River Campus

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As a 501(c)3 non-profit school, Headwaters School does not discriminate because of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other classes protected by federal, state, or local law in its admissions, financial aid, hiring, or board membership processes.