The Meaning of Mercersburg


Strategy that honors our past while boldly embracing our future

In 1918, the student editors of the Karux dedicated the edition of that year’s school yearbook to founding headmaster Dr. William Mann Irvine, describing his philosophy for the school as follows:

Lofty ideals, great faith, noble integrity, and a ceaseless devotion to a mighty task, these are among the things which account for the meaning of Mercersburg.

Today, the school remains true to our founding values, which have endured over our 125-year history, while boldly embracing a future in education that will reflect a complex, changing world.


Mission

At Mercersburg Academy we embrace the values of hard work, character, and community while learning to balance independence with interdependence and individual humility with collective pride. Our students commit to a life of learning, seek to understand the spiritual nature of human existence, and develop a determination to lead and serve the world.

Vision

First Horizon (3-5 years)
We are the school that moves students into their journey to profound meaning and mastery.

Second Horizon (5-7 years)
We will become the pioneers for brave learning, exploration, and belonging. 

Values

LOFTY IDEALS

We welcome and accept all in the tradition of our egalitarian spirit, expecting everyone to contribute fully to our community and to the world with imagination, gratitude, and love.

GREAT FAITH

We believe in cultivating a faith in self (confidence); in others (trust); and in the future (hope).

NOBLE INTEGRITY

We build strength of character that inspires generosity, authenticity, and responsibility—when no one is looking and when everyone is looking.

CEASELESS DEVOTION TO A MIGHTY TASK

We nurture the desire to dream, the courage to persevere, and the will to achieve.

Bold Moves

EMPHASIZE MEANING AND MASTERY

Our first move is to commit to meaning and mastery in most aspects of the student experience. Growing evidence emphasizes how essential a self-determined, meaningful connection is to long-term retention of knowledge and to finding joy in learning. Decades of study support the various elements of mastery learning, including formative, often low-stakes feedback; iterative “desirable difficulty”; and the time and resources each learner needs to absorb and apply new knowledge.

INVEST IN OUR EDUCATOR CAPACITY

Our second move is to maximize the strengths of our teachers and develop skilled, adaptable educators who can guide our students in their pursuit of meaning and mastery. We will expand the scope and reach of our Summer Institute, develop a master teacher program, and provide ongoing access to experts, resources, and training to further ground our educators in the art and science of learning and knowledge. 

SERVE THE WHOLE LEARNER

Our third move is to intentionally teach the whole learner, helping them to find their purpose, feel belonging, and discover meaning. Our commitment to wellness will nurture the head, hand, and heart of our students. This move will involve not only a renovation of the dining hall and fitness center, but also new programming to develop learners with lifelong habits of the mind and the skills for intellectual, emotional, and physical fitness.

PRIORITIZE FINANCIAL AID

Our fourth move is to further prioritize our use of financial aid and to consider a “need blind” approach to admission (the term “need blind” can evoke a range of definitions, so articulating its meaning for Mercersburg is critical). This entire effort will enable us to better identify, recruit, admit, enroll, and re-enroll the absolute best and brightest students from around the world to contribute their strengths at Mercersburg.