Darrow goes out of its way to make sure all its students find their place in the community. The school and the classes are small, the teachers are smart, innovative and passionate about teaching, and there is a strong sense of family. Our daughter spent her last two years of high school there after struggling in public high school. Both her teachers and her fellow students found so much in her to celebrate that the experience transformed her idea of herself, and she will always treasure her time there. The weekly community service block (called "Hands to Work" from a traditional phrase of the Shakers who were the original inhabitants of the school's location and remain a major influence on its philosophy) became as important to our daughter's experience and development as the academic component. The visual arts program is terrific. Performing arts could use a boost and is getting one in the form of a major facility overhaul. On the plus side for performing types, theater counts as a sport and is offered in two out of three of the sports seasons. The campus is a national historic site because of all those original Shaker buildings, and their simplicity blends beautifully into the mountainside setting. Darrow is not for kids who would be perfectly happy in public school, or for those who are in lockstep to become exact replicas of their parents and are OK with that. But for those who are having trouble finding their way and could benefit from a combination of intellectual challenge, personal attention, and encouragement to explore all of their interests and talents, Darrow should be on the short list.
Two of my daughters attended Darrow between 2003 - 2007. I was so impressed about Darrow's philosophy of how they accept students with diverse background. In Japan, no school accepts individuality. Students need to behave same as what teachers told them to do. So when I met ex Admission officer, Kirk Russell, his warm words touched us. My daughters enjoyed school life especially with variety of art classes and Hands to Work project. Darrow allowed them to be just the way they are. Teachers were very supportive and communicate well through emails as I lived in Tokyo. We still keep Darrow's fundamental philosophy in our heart. I am so happy that I sent my daughters to Darrow.
Two of my children have attended Darrow - one graduated a few years ago and another is currently enrolled. The educational experience at Darrow is exceptional -- engaged and creative teachers and staff, small classes, meaningful and innovative curriculum are all part of the educational atmosphere of the school. My older child was very well prepared for success at a competitive liberal arts college and my younger child is being intellectually and creatively challenged each day both in the classroom and beyond. The community at Darrow makes the school what it is. Faculty, staff, and students all create an environment rich in opportunities and support.
Darrow is a school for creative young people with high but unconventional aspirations who have not been well served by traditional private and public schools. Over my years of association with the school, I saw student after student experience the joy and fulfillment that comes with success in academics and the hands-on projects that are the hallmark of the Darrow experience.
I went to Darrow in the 70s and it was the most formative educational experience of my life. I left a very traditional, well respected private school in New York City for what I hoped would be a more progressive, intimate approach to learning, and that's exactly what I got. The teachers were very engaged, educated and creative, and they took a very active interest not only in imparting knowledge, but in making me the best version of myself. In fact, they were the first to identify my talents and guide me toward what became a very successful career. I am only writing this review because the same educational values are very much at work at Darrow today. Great teachers, great traditions in their Hands to Work program and an absolutely gorgeous campus combine to make this a gem of a boarding school.
I went to Darrow years ago as I was unchallenged in public school and my boredom was impacting my studies. My arrival on campus was a turning point, as I found an environment that cultivated intellectual curiosity both inside and outside of the classroom, and critical thinking that put me ahead of my peers when I got to college. I'm happy to find that the school is even more solid now than it was then. I'm six years into my 2nd Presidential administration and I owe it to my time at Darrow.
I was a student at Darrow about 5 years ago. It remains one of the fondest memories of my life. I was inspired by truly fabulous teachers to pursue new interests and to excel both academically and socially. I'm not sure why there are so many reviews on here that are ultra-critical. Darrow is NOT right for everyone--no school is. Parents that are overly concerned with bragging to their friends and neighbors about the number of AP courses their child takes and the Ivy League placements they get are going to be bitter about the equally if not more wonderful education Darrow gives compared to a more traditional preppy school. The progressive nature of Darrow's educational philosophies mean that AP courses aren't offered, because why teach to a test? The parents who base their judgment of a school's quality on those types of things are the same parents who think standardized testing is a sound indicator of intelligence or capability. They're wrong, and quite frankly, behind the times. Don't listen to all of the haters. Darrow is a wonderful place for the right kind of kid. Visit it, take a tour, sit in on a class or two. It changed my life, so why not see for yourself?
I graduated from Darrow in the 70s, and our son graduated in 2011. The school boasts the best of many worlds: rigorous academics taught in a way that works for each student; a supportive community that gives kids the room to grow; lots of adults who mentor each student and encourage their exploration of topics that interest them. When you go to Darrow, it changes you in a way that stays with you for life. It is located on a gorgeous campus, infused with history and natural beauty. Kids that go to Darrow are the lucky ones.