School for International Training, MAThe Evergreen State College, BA
email: janet.durgin [at] sonomaacademy.org
phone: (707) 636-2461
When we asked Janet what her favorite part of working at Sonoma Academy is, it’s clearly impossible for her to narrow it down to just one thing. “Right this minute, it’s the beginnings. Not just the beginning of the school year, but the beginning of the whole process. I felt that standing in front of the first Open House of the year—it reprises the excitement we felt at the very beginning of the school. We’d show up in someone’s living room, ready to share our vision for this extraordinary school in Sonoma Academy... Now, we host hundreds of prospective students and their families on our beautiful campus, sharing a vision that is now a reality. It’s so meaningful to catch families in this moment, at the beginning of a new phase of their lives, and to guide them into this incredible four-year journey of transformation from childhood to young adulthood.”
Janet has over twenty years of teaching experience and thirteen years experience as a House Director at Northfield Mount Hermon. At NMH, she became the Chair of Modern Languages Department, the Director of International Programs, and eventually Dean of Curriculum. During her time as Dean of Curriculum, she was responsible for re-engineering the entire academic program for the school of eleven hundred students. Before NMH,Janet had lived and studied in France, and she and her husband, John, lived in and worked in the Congo, after which they spent a year traveling the world.
When the founders of Sonoma Academy found Janet, they tasked her with bringing the vision and mission of the twelve founding families into reality. Sonoma Academy's compelling mission provided an exciting roadmap for her as she set out on this grand adventure. She began working with the founders in the summer of 2000. It was a huge change from her previous position; she still remembers the day she walked into her “office,” little more than a dream of the trustees at the time. “It was a tiny room with a computer in a box on the floor... I remember going home that night to tell John I was afraid we had made a big mistake!” Of course, it was anything but that. Janet set about recruiting inspiring faculty and began to develop the school's curriculum, enroll the first students, and find a temporary site and renovate it. The school opened in September of 2001.
Throughout Sonoma Academy’s development, she has been a stalwart proponent of an educational environment and methodology that maximizes the transformative time of adolescence. Under her leadership, Sonoma Academy has become the premier independent and college preparatory high school in Sonoma County—shepherding students through their teen years, matching each individual student’s talents and potentials with unique opportunities for growth, exploration, challenge, and support.