Berkshire School | Elyse Harney Real Estate
Elyse Harney Real Estate

Berkshire School

Berkshire School is a private, co-ed boarding school for grades 9 through 12 located in Sheffield,Massachusetts,

Berkshire School (for boys)was established in 1907 at the foot of Mount Everett, one of the highest mountains in Massachusetts, by Seaver Burton Buck, a Harvard graduate who had previously taught at Hackley School.Buck led the school until 1943.
His educational philosophy is reported as a “Victorian disciplinarian [who] was sometimes subverted by apixieish manner.”
It is also reported that during this period the school “lacked the prestige of top-drawer prep schools.”

Nonetheless, when Albert Keep became headmaster in 1943, the school instituted its pioneering Education with Wings program, which enabled students to gain a high school diploma and simultaneously to prepare for World War II.  In 1943, Delano de Windt, a 1911 graduate of the school, became headmaster.  He was soon followed by John E.Godman in 1951, who increased the school’s enrollment to 330 boys and expanded the faculty to 35 teachers. In 1964, an arts and science wing was added to Berkshire Hall.

In 1969, Berkshire also enrolled nine girls as day students in what Godman described as “an experiment” in coeducation. This led to full-scale coeducation.
At the beginning of the 1970,s, Robert Minnerly took over as headmaster.  Under his leadership, the school restructured its scholastic mission and added
new programs in computer science, ethics, health, and environmental science.  His successors built on these changes and added new programs of their own.
Under James Moore (1979 – 1987), Berkshire constructed a 35,000 square foot athletic center and renovated the gymnasium to house a modern library which today boasts 40,000 volumes.
In 1991, Richard Unsworth whose previous experience included being the headmaster at Northfield Mount Hermon School became headmaster.  During Unsworth’s  headmastership,  the school introduced co-curricular programs in Chinese and outdoor education though the school’s “reputation for being lax about drugs” remained an issue.  While Unsworth incorporated drug-awareness and counseling programs after a series of drug-related incidents he resigned his post.  The board of trustees turned to Paul Christopher (1996 – 2002), an ethicist and previous head of philosophy at West Point, New York, as the next headmaster to address the renewed public embarrassment around drugs.  Drug and alcohol use “declined dramatically” under Christopher.
In June 2002  Christopher resigned as headmaster “amidst sexual harassment allegations.”  A year later, the board of trustees turned to Larry Piatelli (2003), a Harvard graduate, to reverse the school’s decline. The Harvard Crimson described Piatelli as a “strong leader” and noted that Piatelli “caused two
administrators and two faculty members to follow him to the Berkshire school from their former positions at Albany Academy.”  After being headmaster for only three and a half months, Piatelli died of a heart attack while playing hockey in Albany, New York, on October 19, 2003.

Michael J. Maher became head of school in 2004. During his tenure the school’s admissions applications doubled and the endowment rose to upwards of $110 million.  In 2008, the school’s main academic building was reopened after undergoing renovations. A year later, the Jackman L. Stewart Athletic Center was also completed. In 2011, Berkshire added a new music center and renovated its performing arts facilities.  Along with those new facilities, the school also instituted a week long pro vita program and a pioneering math and science research program that gives students the opportunity to study subjects not normally offered in a regular high school curriculum.