Small is Beautiful: Vermont Academy Embraces Community | Joel Backon | 10 Min Read

April 20, 2023

After a two-hour drive due north from the Hartford, CT, area, one exits the highway and winds through the hills to Saxton’s River, VT, the home of Vermont Academy for the past 147 years. Many well-established independent schools embrace a narrative of evolving from a traditional boarding school to a more modern and innovative school that preserves their most treasured traditions, and the more they strive to be unique, the more similar their story is to that of their peers. Notably, that’s not the case for Vermont Academy. Their mission statement is simple, brief, and crystal clear. Rather than the puffed-up promises that graduates will become paragons of human perfection, Vermont Academy creates “a nurturing home that inspires trailblazers to advance our world.”

I’ll use the mission statement to characterize the school. The facts and figures are all on their website, so I’ll focus on what I learned while visiting. I’ll talk about creating a nurturing home, sparking inspiration, and developing trailblazers to advance our world.

A Nurturing Home

Yes, I can hear you telling me that all independent schools nurture—a key quality that justifies the price of admission. I agree, but there’s nurturing and…

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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.