History

This section provides a comprehensive look at the history of boarding schools in the US. We’ll cover the evolution of private schools, as learn the importance of school mottoes and explore the history of 15 schools and their founders.

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Boarding School Pros and Cons: History and Common Misconceptions

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Boarding School Pros and Cons: History and Common Misconceptions
We address common misconceptions about boarding schools, shedding light on the actual experiences versus perceived notions. Ideal for parents contemplating this educational choice for their children, the essay provides a balanced perspective on the topic.

We live in the misinformation and disinformation age. That applies to boarding schools as it does to anything you can think of. While I've previously written about boarding school misconceptions in Boarding School Myths, I thought it would be helpful to parents investigating sending their child to a residential school. After all, your child will hear a chorus of misconceptions on social media before you tell her the facts. That's the downside of our receiving information and opinion from social media. Journalism investigates. Social media postulates.

The History of Boarding Schools

The history of boarding schools in the United States is as complex as it is profound. They originated in the colonial period, but their importance grew significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first boarding schools were established by religious groups aiming to provide education to the children of the wealthy elite, often integrating religious teachings with a more traditional curriculum. Many of these early boarding schools were single-gender institutions, instilling a rigidly structured environment that shaped young people according to the societal expectations of the time.

President George Washington visited the Academy during its first year, and spoke in 1789 as part of his tour of New England.

Source: History of Phillips Andover Academy

The 19th century saw the emergence of Native American boarding schools, a less lauded chapter in the history of boarding schools in the U.S. This system was an attempt by the U.S. government to assimilate Native American

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The St. Grottlesex Schools

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The St. Grottlesex Schools
Generous financial aid and a commitment to diversity are hallmarks of the 21st century release of St. Grottlesex. More here.

There is, of course, no such school as St. Grottlesex. The name is a conflation of the names of five prestigious private schools, four of which are affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Middlesex is non-denominational. While these schools were founded more than 100 years ago, they have all moved with the times. Generous financial aid and a commitment to diversity are hallmarks of the 21st-century release of St. Grottlesex. First-rate academics, superb athletic facilities and programs, and an abundance of extracurricular activities complete the picture.

St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire

"St. Paul's School is committed to educating the whole person and preparing students to make contributions to a changing and challenging world. The philosophy of St. Paul's School defines education as all of the structured experiences in which students participate: course work, athletics, activities, and our life together as a fully residential school. These opportunities involve valuable interaction between faculty, students, and staff."

Founded: 1856

Religious Affiliation: Episcopal

Head of School: Michael Hirschfeld

Endowment: $433 million

Grades: 9-12

School Type: Coed

Number of Students: 536

Number of AP Courses: 12

Percentage of Students of Color: 39%

St. Mark's School, Southborough, Massachusetts

"St. Mark's School educates young people for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1865 as an intentionally small residential community, the School challenges its students to develop their particular analytic and creative capabilities by both inspiring their academic and spiritual curiosity and kindling their passion for discovery. We value cooperation over

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School Mottoes

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School Mottoes
Private school mottoes speak to the high-minded purposes for which most schools were founded.

Private school mottoes speak to the noble purposes for which most schools were founded. School mottoes typically are Latin phrases attributed to some of the great writers of antiquity. You will also find mottoes that are taken from scripture. What is special about a school motto is that it captures the essence of the school in a short phrase of just a few words. Here are some school mottoes and a bit about the schools to which they belong.

Admiral Farragut Academy, St. Petersburg, Florida
Admiral Farragut Academy's motto is Scientia Omnia Vincit which means “Knowledge Conquers All”. The Academy was originally founded in Toms River, New Jersey in 1933. It moved its campus to Florida in 1945. The school is co-educational and offers grades PK-12.

Choate School, Wallingford, Connecticut

Fidelitas et Integritas or "fidelity and integrity" is the original motto of Choate School which was founded by Mary Atwater Choate in 1896 as a school for boys.

Fenn School, Concord, Massachusetts
Fenn School, which was established in 1929, is one of several private schools which uses its motto as a powerful tool to guide its students. "At the heart of the Fenn philosophy is our motto, Sua Sponte. When boys begin to understand what it means, not just as a motto, but as a way of life, they are well on the way to embodying the Fenn character." The school's motto translates as "On one's own responsibility."

Foxcroft School, Middleburg, Virginia
Foxcroft's

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How Private Schools Evolved in the United States

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How Private Schools Evolved in the United States
Private schools came first. Then public education took root.

From the 1600s to the 1800s there was no such thing as public education. The 12 years of grade school through high school we are accustomed to in the 20th-century did not exist. Small private schools, not public schools, provided schooling for young people.

The Bible was the focus of learning in colonial times. Most lessons were practical ones learned in the home and in the fields. Robert Peterson's article Education in Colonial America explains how education worked back then.

Colonial education

Education in colonial days was quite stratified. Boys learned core subjects such as reading and math. Girls learned the domestic arts. Only white children received an education until slavery was abolished. Teachers were frequently well-intentioned men who themselves did not have much formal education. Yes, back then, most teachers were men. Colonial Era Education in the United States in K12 Academics offers a detailed look at schools in the late 17th and early 18th-centuries. Once again, it is important to note that there were no public schools or compulsory education in colonial America. Schools sprouted up where there was a need for them in the population centers of the day such as Boston and Philadelphia. Otherwise, education took place in the home.

This video offers an overview of education in colonial America.

Religious schools

Religious missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church established the first private schools

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5 More Schools and Their Founders

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5 More Schools and Their Founders
A private school in its infancy is quite different from the mature community it becomes over time. I wonder what the founders of these five schools would think about them today. I bet they would be very proud of their creations.

It is fascinating to delve into the beginnings of a private school. It's when the school is so malleable and strongly influenced by its founder's zeal and lofty goals. The community is tiny compared to what it will morph into over the years, indeed over the centuries, in some cases. The hardships and sacrifices that are endured are almost unimaginable in this day and age. when new schools seem to pop out of a delivery box that is fully funded and all set to go.

I hope you will explore these five schools against the backdrop I have set out above. They are unique, as private schools always are. They have great personalities, characters, and rich histories. Yet they share a common theme and purpose: to provide their students the best well-rounded education so that their graduates can make a difference in today's world.

Annie Wright School, Tacoma, Washington

  • Founded in 1881
  • Number of students: 436
  • Grades PK-12: Boys and girls day school PK-8.
  • Girls boarding and day: 9-12
  • Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian
  • Setting: Urban

Overview: The school was established by an Episcopal bishop. James Paddock with the financial support of businessman Charles Wright. Bishop Paddock named the school in honor of Wright's daughter, Annie. The school was a girls' school until the earthquake of 1949 damaged Lowell School, the local boys' school. AWS set up temporary quarters for boys. The coeducational program expanded to 8th grade in the 1970s.

AWS offers challenging academics, evidenced by

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Why Boarding School