Sant Bani founder at Gibson's Friday

“What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.” Henry David Thoreau made this critique of schooling in America 165 years ago, and it remains relevant today as many schools spend more and more time preparing students for standardized tests. Thoreau and friends like Ralph Waldo Emerson, A. Bronson Alcott and Elizabeth Peabody were trailblazers in creating schools where students learned through doing and reflected on what they were learning in relation to the world around them.

Gibson’s Book Store in Concord will be hosting Dr. Kent Bicknell, founding head of Sant Bani School, on Friday, March 20, from 4:00 - 7:00 PM. Over the past 41 years, as Dr. Bicknell has been leading SBS, he has also been collecting an impressive array of materials from 19th century New England thinkers. Come see rare books and manuscripts that belonged to these famous authors, and experience first-hand how their thoughts are relevant for today’s educational landscape.

The exhibit will include an 1856 letter from Horace Greeley (“Go West Young Man!”) to Henry Thoreau on the ins and outs of education as Greeley tries to hire Thoreau to tutor to his children; an 1839 contemporary account of A. Bronson Alcott’s radical school in Boston, the Temple School; a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men (a fictional account of a progressive school based on her father’s teachings) that she inscribed to Henry Thoreau’s mother, and much more. There will also be a book fair during this time; just mention Sant Bani School at check-out and the School will receive 20% of all sales.

Dr. Bicknell looks forward to sharing more information about the many items on display, and notes, “These pieces underscore the importance of concepts like educating the whole child and the unique quality of each student. As they bring the presence of the past into the present they shine light on the enormous potential in each one of us. I am proud of our work at Sant Bani School, where our mission is to provide a high-level, comprehensive educational experience while also recognizing the value of the spirit.”

In 1973, Dr. Kent Bicknell helped found Sant Bani School, an independent K-8 school in Sanbornton, guided by a similar educational philosophy to that of Thoreau and Emerson. Sant Bani students are surrounded by 200 acres of woods, fields and streams that act as a living laboratory, and participate in a rich service learning program and student-centered, project-based learning.

Sant Bani recently completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan. New features for the 2015-2016 school year include a lower tuition rate of $7,500; an Extended Day Enrichment Program included in tuition; Spanish instruction in all grades; exciting campus renovations; and expanded, express bus routes reaching north to Plymouth, south to Concord, west to Andover and east to Gilford. Learn more about the school at