History and Heritage

Where Thacher began isn’t so far from where it is today.

Here, ambitious students take on challenging academics while learning a thing or two about resilience, and living a balanced life under the wide open skies and rolling mountains of the Ojai Valley.

List of 2 items.

  • Trail to Ojai

    Sherman Day Thacher didn’t travel from Connecticut to Ojai with a school in mind. In search of a rejuvenating environment for his ailing brother, Mr. Thacher arrived with him in 1887 and developed a deep appreciation for the stunning landscapes and open, resourceful, and informal attitudes of Western life. When a New England friend asked Mr. Thacher to tutor his son for admission to Yale, he accepted—as long as the boy could come to Ojai for his lessons. The friend agreed, and in 1889 Mr. Thacher’s School was begun.

    But while his counterparts in the East were scratching their heads over what to do with the boys during blizzards and mud season, Mr. Thacher wondered only, “Which trail to take the lads on today?” He simply turned the mountains and meadows into a vast classroom without boundaries, one with limitless opportunities for lessons and growth. And the horses? In them he found some of his best teachers.
  • Go West

    Sherman Thacher’s education, from his high school years at Hopkins Grammar School to his college days at Yale, included strict academic schedules, classics taught by dedicated scholar-teachers, and seated meals in coat and tie. But with the West as their backdrop, Mr. Thacher and his students forged an expansive path, combining academics with horses and mountain trails, inspiring resourcefulness, perseverance, and the conviction that some of life’s most lasting lessons are learned outside the classroom.

    Today, Thacher takes inspiration from its founders vision, but also continues to adapt to meet the needs of today's students. What remains are the timeless and unique elements of a Thacher education. Students and faculty still sit down to family style meals each week, and our innovative curriculum, talented faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities and programs are models for other schools around the country. 

- Sherman Day Thacher

The aims of the place are thus in three directions: toward health and happiness, toward unselfish character, and toward accurate, thorough, and self-reliant habits of thought and study.


Land Acknowledgement

At The Thacher School, we acknowledge that the land on which we live, labor and experience deep community was stolen from the Chumash peoples, and that their descendants who survived Spanish Colonization remain in their homeland which extends past what we know to be Morro Bay to the North, Malibu to the South, Bakersfield to the East, and the Channel Islands to the West. 
We also acknowledge the unique role educators and student-centered practitioners play in teaching histories that reflect the nation’s founding, which includes reflection on the policies that led to the enslavement, massacre, removal and forced assimilation of the Indigenous peoples across what we now know as the United States. 
Together, we must remain curious as we explore the connection between the current social, economic, environmental, and political inequalities experienced by current BIPOC communities and their roots in historical colonial violence that has been exerted for centuries against Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, including Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, Inuits and Indigenous Caribbeans, and forcefully marginalized communities around the globe. 
Even as we work to dutifully steward the land, water, and resources in the Valley of the Moon, we remember that the Chumash have been separated from the spaces we call home. While this statement is brief, it reflects the commitment of The Thacher School in supporting efforts that center inquiry and healing, with ourselves, others, and spaces we inhabit. 
We celebrate Indigenous Alumni and students, welcome Indigenous scholars, faculty and staff celebrate cultural relations with local Chumash elders, appreciating the faculty and staff who have paved the way and the Chumash elders who have chosen to engage with this relational spirit of the institution.
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.