Ransom Everglades’ merged history provides a firm foundation for its future. The blending of a migratory boys school that preached the values of service and the outdoors with a girls school that nurtured both innovation in curriculum and leadership has created an enduring institution. It is a school that builds integrity and challenges the intellect; one that fosters compassion and nourishes creativity. It is a school defined, as it has always been, by Honor and Excellence.
In 1903, South Florida was still one of the country's last frontiers.
Coconut Grove was a small village in a wilderness of pinewoods, oak trees and hammocks of mahogany where, according to local legend, panthers still roamed. It was here that Paul C. Ransom, successful lawyer and innovative educator, established the southern campus of the Adirondack-Florida School, the first migratory boarding school in the country. Ransom began his adventures in education by tutoring. He held strong convictions about the individualized attention between teacher and student and the importance of stimulating young minds. Ransom’s emphasis on this mentoring relationship became the foundation of the Adirondack-Florida School. Students were taught the importance of self-reliance and the advantages of utilizing multiple intelligences. Boys spent winters at Pine Knot Camp on Florida’s Biscayne Bay, and spent fall and spring at Meenagha Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Each of these spectacular settings allowed much of the boys’ education to occur in nature, fostering a harmonious relationship between the students and their environment. This combination of outdoor and classroom edification provided students with an unparalleled interdisciplinary education, creating a tradition that continues to define Ransom Everglades today.
Upon Paul C. Ransom’s death in 1907, his wife Alice assumed her husband’s work and under her passionate guidance, the school continued to flourish. In 1930, Mrs. Ransom entrusted her husband’s legacy to a board of directors, all of them former students. Following Mrs. Ransom’s death in 1935, the Trustees and the faculty pledged not only to pursue and preserve the Ransoms’ ideals and traditions, but also to expand the size and diversity of the student body. In 1949, the Trustees closed the northern campus, making Coconut Grove the school’s permanent home. They renamed their alma mater Ransom School for Boys in honor of its founder.
In 1955, fewer than two miles away from the Ransom School, Marie and Edward Swenson founded the independent Everglades School for Girls. The Swensons, together with the first headmistress Miss Gertrude Peirce, were committed to interdisciplinary and experiential learning. Together, these innovators created an environment conducive to academic excellence and individual achievement. As a professive school preparing girls for college and the professions, The Everglades School distinguished itself from more tranditional "finishing schools" of the time and stood out in the 1950s South by opening its doors to students without discrimination. The Everglades School encouraged its students to contribute to their local community and considered such involvement essential to a student’s development and growth. At Everglades School for Girls, a community service project inspired twelfth grade students to broaden their horizons by doing social work, exploring possible career paths and always continuing to challenge themselves. In addition to academics and community service, a commitment to the arts was stressed. Students performed operettas, dramatic productions and concerts.
From the outset, the two institutions shared impressive parallels, fostering a sense of camaraderie and respect between them, and ultimately facilitating a fruitful and successful merger. In 1974, these two prestigious college preparatory schools became one, drawing on the unique cultures and heritage of their predecessors to create a unified and dynamic institution. The merger joined two distinguished campuses, one lining the shores of Biscayne Bay and the other poised atop historic Silver Bluff. In the ensuing quarter century, Ransom Everglades School has built upon its rich traditions while responding to the changing needs of students in a contemporary society. Our legacy is more than 100 years of honor and excellence.
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