The Sharon Academy (TSA) began as a dream of its founder, Judy Moore, one afternoon on her back porch overlooking the White River. The idea was to open a school with high academic standards where students would feel safe; a place where students came first, were able to be themselves, to be accepted socially, and to be challenged academically. TSA would be a place where students were able to take responsibility and to thrive.
TSA opened as a middle school with 12 students in one classroom of an old schoolhouse in September of 1996. When students in the first class approached 8th grade graduation, and the prospect of transferring to high school, they expressed a desire to continue their education at TSA. The Vermont Department of Education approved the Academy’s application to expand to include grades 9 – 12 and The Sharon Academy was firmly established as a middle school and high school.
As the school’s good reputation spread throughout Vermont and New Hampshire’s Upper Connecticut River Valley, students continued to transfer to TSA, and enrollment numbers grew annually. The school had outgrown the old schoolhouse, and construction began on a new facility on a hill overlooking the same White River of its inception. The current middle school continues to offer integrated studies at The Old Schoolhouse in Sharon village, while the high school occupies a facility built between 2000 and 2006, which includes a beautiful full-sized gym, several outdoor yurt classrooms, art room, and science labs. The common area, Moore Hall, affectionately known as “The Pit,” brings in natural light through large windows which bring in the beauty of the campus and mountains. The Sharon Academy campus comprises 94 acres of valley and woodland, including many wonderful natural areas used by our students.
The staff at The Sharon Academy is composed of dedicated teachers who choose to work in a supportive atmosphere with small class sizes – where they are an integral part of students’ lives. At TSA faculty and staff members work to know their students as individuals and seek to help meet their academic, social, and emotional needs. Stemming from TSA’s early involvement as a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools, teachers are committed to offering personalized instruction, maintaining small class sizes, performing authentic tasks, encouraging equitable student outcomes, following democratic governance practices, and partnering closely with the surrounding community.
TSA prides itself on a significantly flattened hierarchy compared to most institutions. TSA faculty and staff are empowered to take ownership for the school’s running – and this ownership is often shared with students in significant and meaningful ways. Students are offered many opportunities that provide them with a wealth of leadership experiences, often of their own design.
As an independent school, The Sharon Academy has the flexibility to schedule the school year in interesting and unique ways. One of our yearly highlights is during November when the entire high school suspends classes for a two week immersion period, called Interim, to produce and perform an All School Musical. Every spring, the middle school does the same for a circus. The school encourages students to be actively engaged in their education and is dedicated to providing the support students need as they navigate this process. Trust and respect are the foundation of TSA’s work with adolescents as we help them to negotiate the challenges of their teenage years, and without these two essential ingredients, much of the school’s work would be impossible.