About KUA
Vision and Leadership

Head of School

Michael J. Schafer
Welcome to Kimball Union Academy.
As you navigate these pages, picture yourself immersed in a forward thinking educational institution set in a historic village.  Would you like to join a vibrant learning community? Are you interested in pursuing your own passions and interests, growing as a student and leader, and being supported by a determined peer group committed to your success? Through a rigorous academic curriculum and enriching social advising programs, we prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow’s world.
At Kimball Union, learning and discovery are not merely pre-determined routes to follow. In every area of our school, we work actively with students to equip them with 21st century skills. Individual growth, engagement, and the development of interdisciplinary academic tools, social skills, and habits define our program. For most students, this leads to the discovery of passions in new areas of study. We provide a breadth of educational opportunities and allow for a deeper dive into the knowledge and mastery that enables each student to be a contributor in their chosen field. Our students are confident, life-long learners who are successful communicators and leaders.
Welcome to the best environment for learning.

List of 2 items.

  • About Mike Schafer

    As an educational innovator and skilled fundraiser, Mike believes strongly in a student-centered approach in creating the ideal environment for learning. Through Mike’s vision and leadership, new academic initiatives including an award-winning S.T.E.M. program, Kimball Union’s signature Writing Across the Curriculum initiative, an integrated advising system, K-Term, Scholar Programs, and the interdisciplinary approach that distinguishes KUA’s classroom experience, have been implemented. A beautiful new campus center was completed in 2008 and a fully re-purposed and renovated humanities center opened its doors in 2010. Student-athletes of all abilities now have a 40,000 square foot indoor turf facility completed in 2013, while a new girls dorm and faculty home was dedicated in 2017 to help us attain our objective of 50/50 gender balance, as outlined in Ascent, the school’s strategic plan. In addition to substantial campus improvements, the future of Kimball Union is further secured by an increasing endowment, which has nearly tripled during Mike’s tenure.
  • Philosophy of Education

    As a lifelong professional educator, Mike Schafer, the school’s 18th Head of School, has created a vision and provided the leadership to firmly plant establish Kimball Union as a leader among peers. Fully and totally committed to the healthy growth of each student, the school is guided by the following philosophy of education.

    Education begins, evolves, and endures through positive relationships that build connections to self and others, to ideas and principles, and to the work at hand. In the best schools these relationships are in abundant evidence in the diverse faces and spaces of the school where mission and goals are intentionally woven deeply into the fabric of the learning community. When students and faculty are engage in mindful interplay to develop cognitive, behavioral, and affective aspects atributes, active learning through individual and community expression and performance is everywhere.

    Educational Philosopher, John Dewey wrote, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.” Carl Jung wrote, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by this intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” Problem solving and critical thinking are not new ideas, yet given what we know today in a far more complex society and during dynamic economic times, we must adapt how we approach the learning process in the classroom and beyond to equip students with skills, competencies, desire, and a mind-set for success and contribution.

    “Brain research is posing challenging questions for education for in a changing world, asking us constantly to reimagine how to design a school to develop knowledge and skills, integrate emotions and thoughts into coherent actions for today’s new world to help each child under our care reach his potential,” wrote G. Christian Jernstedt, Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College.

    Community, culture, and environmental factors such as attitudes and perceptions significantly influence learning. The best schools foster an intentional, coherent culture of applied learning, where expectations of purposeful “learning by doing” are the norm. Curricula designed around relevant, experiential learning, and active questioning, are the building blocks to fuel natural curiosity and the habit of reflection for continuous improvement. Today, teachers and students are discovering that questioning is of equal, if not of greater importance than “showing and telling.” In highly competitive schools, desired outcomes can interfere with process and can conflict with better practices to meet long-term learning objectives. Competition is good when the challenges are exciting, not stressful. Students feel safe to dig deep, take healthy risks, as they apply what they know. Students discover they can influence, lead, and effectively shape the world around them.

    Collaboration is an essential component of a sound curriculum. Active independence and interdependence form the basis of the student’s relationship to the learning process. Data show us that students and faculty perform more effectively when they are free to design the classroom experience and its connections to the co-curricular environments together. When students are able to apply skills and understandings according to their individual needs and interests, they discover themselves, and that they can make a difference. Student-centered teaching builds respect and trust.

    Sound fundamentals, knowledge and skills, are critically important for success. Yet we know, if we win their hearts, their minds will follow. Interpersonal and intrapersonal engagement builds confidence and competencies, a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose, empathy, and joy. Positive relationships are paramount in a human ecology that inspires learning and growth, creativity, and invention. Education that transforms and sustains is not measured by what we know or what we can count, and not by how far we go, but how we go far together.


Kimball Union Academy

603-469-2000  · 603-469-2040 (fax)  · info@kua.org
Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.