Our History

International Academy for Continuous Education

Sherborne House meeting in the 1970's
Sherborne House meeting
in the 1970's

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, John G. Bennett, philosopher, scientist, and educator, founded the International Academy for Continuous Education (IACE) at Sherborne House in Gloucestshire, England, dedicated to teaching practical ways to bring balance to human life and spiritual development. Bennett taught from his understanding realized from his work with G. I. Gurdjieff and others; providing the know-how for preparing ordinary people for spiritual work and transformation, in order to serve the future.

Gurdieff/Bennett Work in Massachusetts

Many Americans attended Sherborne and returned to the United States after completing the program, with a large group settling in Massachusetts. One group began working together in "Marshfield House" in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Some attended a program similar to Sherborne at Claymont Court in Charles Town, West Virginia, and moved to the Boston area after the program.

Second Sherborne year course graduate Bill Bleak, together with other graduates and Marshfield House residents began a Work group on Pearl Street in Somerville, Massachusetts. During that time, another group house began known as "Cozy Cottage Corners", with most residents also participating in Pearl Street meetings. Initiated by Don O'Dell, first year Sherborne graduate, the Cottage Corners residents began an urban arts experiment, a store named the Art Ark in Somerville, Massachusetts. The center had a coffeehouse, art and craft gallery, and community arts gathering area.

During that time, Bleak relocated to "Hull House" in Hull, Massachusetts and was the first to move out to the Athol-Royalston area. Over the years, many from the Pearl Street group migrated to the central Massachusetts area creating an "invisible village," choosing a rural life with opportunities for a deeper connection to nature as a setting for group work. Members also attended from Boston and surrounding urban locations.

In the spring of 1989, this group incorporated as Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc., and founded the Village School, an independent elementary school guided by the ideas of J.G. Bennett.

In 1998, Millers River Educational Cooperative purchased the Camp Caravan property in Royalston, Massachusetts for use as the site for the future home of the Village School, and as an ideal campus for practical adult education.