Walden School’s philosophy and curriculum are rooted in a program for creative music education developed by the late Grace Newsom Cushman, founder and director of the Junior Conservatory Camp, Walden’s predecessor, which flourished from the 1940s until 1972 and was held annually each summer in various locations in northern Vermont. Mrs. Cushman held the conviction that creativity is the primary purpose of education, and that the most successful program is one through which students discover new materials and concepts for themselves and learn to think independently. An outgrowth of her original work, the Walden Musicianship Course is a cornerstone of The Walden School’s academic program.
Following Mrs. Cushman’s death, the Walden School was founded in 1972 by the late David Hogan, Pamela Layman Quist, and Lynn Taylor Hebden. The School had operated in a few different locations in Maryland and Vermont before settling on the campus of the Dublin School (Dublin, New Hampshire) in 1983. David Hogan and Pamela Layman Quist served as the school’s first directors from 1972 until 1994, when Pamela Quist and Lynn Hebden retired. At that time, Stephen Coxe became the Executive Director, and he enlisted the help of Patricia Plude (Academic Dean), Seth Brenzel (Director of Admissions), Anne Deane (Director of Development and Public Relations), and Laura Mehiel (Business Manager).
In 1996 Patricia Plude became Executive Director, and she was assisted by a team that continued to include Anne Deane, Seth Brenzel, and Laura Mehiel. Under Patricia Plude’s direction the school formed a Board of Directors that was, for the first time in the School’s history, separate from the administrative team. The School also opened a year-round administrative office in September 2001 in San Francisco, while maintaining its programmatic headquarters in New Hampshire. At that time Anne Deane and Laura Mehiel joined the Board of Directors, and Seth Brenzel became Associate Director.
In 2003, Seth Brenzel became Executive Director. During his tenure, the School has launched two new programs, the Teacher Training Institute and the Creative Musicians Retreat, and has garnered national recognition for its programs. He is currently assisted in The Walden School office by a stellar team, including full- and part-time administrators, both in San Francisco and around the United States.