The Journey of TSS
Similar to our very own students' journeys, The Southport School has been on a strong path of growth to fulfill its potential.
Thirty-eight years ago, we began as a fledgling school led by the strong leadership of founding Head of School Leonard Tavormina, residents of the Southport community, and the programmatic and leadership support of Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is how we formed our original name, Eagle Hill-Southport. With the success of our Pilot Program launched in 1984, it was shortly thereafter that we became autonomous of Eagle Hill School, and established our own identity, curriculum, governing structure, individualized programs, and foundation in the Southport community that has remained resolute.
Our Campus History Starts at 214 Main Street
The Southport School campus is on 2.5 picturesque acres in the historic Southport Village, steps from the harbor. The Southport School's Academic Building is on the same site where Southport’s former Pequot School building was built in 1854. The original wood- framed school building for elementary-aged students was outgrown in the early 20th century. The Town School Board voted to demolish the old building and replace it with a larger, more modern school.
The Academic Building We Know Today
The wooden Pequot School building was replaced in 1918 by the classic brick building, which TSS occupies today. Architect William H. McLean designed it. "The school is a unique design in the classical revival realm, but capped with a cupola and stunning green tile roof." The school closed in 1972, and the historic Pequot School building was acquired by the Southport Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring unique and historic buildings and property of the Southport community that might be otherwise lost forever as historic landmarks. The year was 1984 when the building saw its rebirth as a school after founding Head of School Leonard Tavormina directed the school's Pilot Program and, with its success, then opened the school officially in Fall 1985.
Academic Program Validated in 1992
A Deeper Look Into Our Purpose
In 2012, Dr. Benjamin N. Powers was appointed as the school’s second head of school, and in a collaborative effort with the Board of Directors, faculty and staff, and various community members, they endeavored to ask challenging but important questions about the school’s strengths, opportunities for growth, its vision, and mission. The process fostered deep conversation and helped TSS identify its purpose in the LD community, its connection to and partnership with professionals in the field, and, most importantly, defined what success looks like for the school's students, their families, and the greater school community.
In 2017, the school adopted a new name, The Southport School, in recognition of its unique strengths and strong presence in the LD/ADHD community and from the strong support of residents and businesses in the historic Southport Village.
2018 Renovations on Main Street
In the spring of 2018, the Board of Directors at The Southport School announced the completion of its new building renovation for the recently acquired property 226/228 Main Street that was purchased in April 2017. The new building’s location is adjacent to the original Pequot School and was formerly home to the Southport branch of People’s United Bank. The new building is the school’s Main Entrance on campus and features two of its largest student learning spaces including an Art, Music and Movement classroom, a Communications Center, and The Southport CoLAB. The School began renovations on the building in May 2017 in collaboration with Peterman Architects, Inc. and C.E. Floyd Company Inc.
History of "One of Southport's Most Important Surviving Buildings"
The original Southport Savings Bank was deemed one of Southport's most important surviving buildings in the 1966 Historic American Buildings Survey. The Southport Savings Bank's Board members purchased property to build a new bank building adjacent to the recently-completed Pequot School. The bank was completed in 1865 at the cost of $11,625 and is thought to be the oldest continuously-operated bank in America until People's Bank closed the branch in 2016. The school's decision to purchase this 150+-year-old historic landmark in was an unprecedented opportunity to expand our campus footprint and programs.
The Southport CoLAB Founded
In fall 2018, we officially introduced The Southport School's exciting initiative with its launch of The Southport CoLAB. The CoLAB provides the highest quality programs in training for professionals, educators, and families using a collaborative, partnership-based approach with like-minded organizations and experts in the field. Our mission is to integrate research, practice, and advocacy to effect positive outcomes for people with learning and attention issues. We currently offer three specialized training programs: structured literacy, executive functioning, and assistive technology. The Southport CoLAB is proud to be an Orton-Gillingham Training Program, accredited by the Orton-Gillingham Academy.
The Village is our Campus
Often memories and feelings are associated with school experiences and link to the buildings in which classes, programs, and events take place. Our two historic buildings within our campus offer such space. However, we also find and feel that our campus extends further into Southport Village. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to utilize the quality facilities available nearby with student field trips to Pequot Library, local art galleries such as Hollis-Taggert, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, Perry's Green, Spic 'n Span, and Sammy's Pizza, to name a few.
The Challenges Surrounding a Pandemic
Despite the many obstacles with the current pandemic, we have successfully kept our students on-campus with in-person learning throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, and again this year. Our management and response to the COVID-19 protocols allowed us to keep our doors open, classes in session, and learning together through present day.
In spring 2020, we recognized the immediacy to make changes and hired NYC-based Perkins Eastman, a global architecture firm with specific experience helping organizations respond to health-related emergency circumstances like our current health crisis. The core area of focus for TSS was to create instructional and common spaces that adhered to the CDC standards related to social distancing and safety for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors while on campus. We also established a COVID-19 Response Team to oversee all CDC and Fairfield Department of Health regulations and guidelines which remains active today.
Welcome to The Southport School
On behalf of all of us here at The Southport School, we welcome the next chapter of the school’s journey, and hope you're a part of it – our doors are always open and conversation always welcomed. It continues to be an exciting time to be part of The Southport School -- there are big things on the horizon.