The Schoolhouse was formed in 1970 by a group of parents who wanted their children to continue to experience the child-centered philosophy of their preschool in the primary grades. Since the pre-school did not wish to expand, the parents decided to form a separate elementary school.
Until 1975, The Schoolhouse was located on Mt. Philo Road in Shelburne. On the average, 20 children were enrolled during each academic year. During this period, The Schoolhouse’s educational philosophy was formed. It stressed an individualized open classroom format with an emphasis on basic literacy skills and self-directed learning. It also placed importance on the active and continuing involvement of parents in the administrative support and instructional components of the school. The Schoolhouse was approved by the State of Vermont as a private school in 1973.
In 1975 The Schoolhouse moved into rented space in Burlington, beginning a long era of nomadic living during which it made its home in various rented spaces throughout the city. Through its many moves, The Schoolhouse demonstrated its flexibility, vitality and ability to remain constant.
In 2000, a generous donation from MBL Associates enabled The Schoolhouse to acquire the Ramsey Barn and 28 acres of surrounding wetlands and fields at Dorset Farms. With money raised by the community and many hours of labor, the barn was renovated and turned into classrooms, a community room, gymnasium, library, office, art room, afterschool program room and a playground. The 2001 school year began in this new space and it quickly became a vital center for learning and families.
The Schoolhouse made a different sort of transition in 2009, from being a parent cooperative to being a Board of Directors-led school. Many parents are on the Board, and the school remains family-centered, with myriad opportunities for parents to be involved both day-to-day and in planning for the future.
In 2012, The Schoolhouse began its preschool program for children 2-4 years old. Our Kindergarten class has always included 4 year olds who are ready for a new challenge but miss the public school cut off for Kindergarten.
Finally, The Schoolhouse realized a long-standing dream in 2014 and expanded its program to include a middle school (6th – 8th). The middle school gives older students exciting new independence and learning opportunities as they mature, while maintaining a thoughtful and supportive community connection.