The Network of Complementary Schools began in 1975 with the efforts of Jerry Foster of Phillips Andover Academy and Bill Berkeley of the Commission on Education to develop a network of schools that would organize short-term student exchanges among members. Early funding came from a variety of foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Edward John Nobel Foundation, and the Dewitt Wallace Foundation. Ten schools joined the Network in 1976 and an advisory board was elected in 1977. In 1978, the Network was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in Massachusetts. In 1981, the Klingenstein Foundation awarded the Network a grant for a teacher exchange program, which remains a part of the Network’s offerings.
The Network Today
There are approximately twenty member schools or school systems in the Network of Complementary Schools; they are located in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The number of student exchanges during a given year has ranged from 60 to 130. In addition, two or three faculty exchanges typically occur each year.
Each year advisors from each Network school convene at one member school for an annual conference. This conference allows the advisors to have first hand experience with each Network school and its surrounding community, as well as to maintain their relationships with one another that facilitate successful exchanges.