The Bement School provides an education based on time-honored school traditions and values for children in kindergarten through ninth grade, day and boarding. From the classrooms to the dorms, we live and learn as a family, while encouraging responsibility for our own work and actions. Bement actively seeks an academically diverse, international, and multicultural student body. Students and adults at Bement work together to create a climate of acceptance, kindness and challenge which nurtures each child intellectually, creatively, physically, and emotionally.
Diversity Mission Statement
Guided by the Bement School mission, the school is committed to creating a diverse coeducational community of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees representing a breadth of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, family structure, socio-economic status, and religious affiliation. The school seeks to provide an inclusive environment in which to foster mutual respect and understanding within our school and the world around us.
Grace Allan Power Bement was born in New York in 1880. She graduated from Vassar College in 1903 and married Lewis Denison Bement in 1906. In 1920, Mr. and Mrs. Bement and their three children moved to Deerfield when Lewis Bement became the president of the John Russell Cutlery Company. Grace “Menty” Bement was deeply interested in all aspects of education and was active in the struggle for women’s suffrage. She spent the first few years in Deerfield working as a tutor and drama coach at nearby Deerfield Academy. In 1922, two local families urged her to teach their children—six in all. This led to the beginning of The Bement School in 1925.
The school grew as word spread. Menty’s educational philosophy was revolutionary for those days. She was deeply convinced that education should be tailored to the needs of an individual child and devoted to strengthening the integrity of each one. But the rights of the individual included a strong emphasis on the responsibility for the rights of others. In her time, this theory was new and considered uncommon, but its success was attested over and over by the loyalty and deep affection her students and faculty had for her.
The campus began to expand outward from Bement House. "The Barn" was renovated first to be a place for social gatherings and later to house drama and the arts. A stable was converted into Keith Schoolhouse. In 1930 the school acquired Barton House to establish a boarding department. Snively House, the site of today's Alumni and Development Office, was moved from the town of Dana when it was flooded to form the Quabbin Reservoir. Menty retired from the school at age 67. In 1947 Katharine "Kay" Bartlett and Mary "Gug" Drexler bought the school from Menty and incorporated it a few years later.
During the next two decades Kay and Gug continued to build upon Menty's philosophies. They bought Wright House at the north end of town and acquired Stebbins House, which, along with Wright House, would become dormitories for older boarders. In 1967 they initiated a fund drive that led to the construction of the Polk Building. Kay and Gug retired in 1971 and were followed by Charles Hamilton, John Butler in 1974, and Peter Drake, in 1985. A capital campaign funded the construction in 1991 of the new Drake Building for grades 2-5. A fine arts wing, completed in the fall of 1992, expanded the Barn for theatre and physical education, along with adding art and music rooms.
Shelley Jackson, our most recent former head of school, came to Bement in 1999. A capital campaign, launched the same year, provided a new upper school facility, the Kittredge Building, complete with eleven classrooms, two science labs, school meeting space, and locker rooms. In the same campaign, the Polk Building was renovated to provide the school with its first all-school library, named in honor of the Clagett/McLennan families. The Polk Building now features the Haas and Flynt Computer Rooms, a multi-purpose dance studio, and a reading room dedicated to Grace Bement's love of literature. In 2010 and 2012, the school completed its first two residential dorms. These facilities have become a model to other schools because of its use of solar power in a structure which remains true to the architectural features of colonial Deerfield.
Bement's curriculum has remained responsive and fluid, and faculty continue to demonstrate unflagging devotion to their students. Bement currently maintains an enrollment of approximately 220 students, including 40 boarders, who come from many different states and countries.
It is unlikely that Menty envisioned the Bement School that exists today. However, she would undoubtedly be pleased with the nurturing philosophy that has been retained, along with the continuing commitment to assisting students in reaching their personal and academic potential.
“Menty” was a rare person who provided unlimited strength and inspiration to all those with whom she came in contact. Children were her first and most vital love; adult friends, a close second. For all seasons, for all times, this remarkable woman and educator gave of herself to people. We voice our thanks that we were privileged to have had her friendship, to bask in her confidence in us, to benefit by her experience which she shared with us, and to have had the opportunity to follow her here at The Bement School.
Bement stands for a home away from home where
both day students and boarders develop their abilities to
the full — abilities, not only academic, but also primarily
as constructive citizens of the world. It is a home where
love and discipline are wisely mixed, where adults and
children care one for another. May the philosophy of a
Bement education continue to reflect Menty’s spirit!
—Katharine F. Bartlett and Mary H. Drexler