HISTORY / PHILOSOPHY

In July 1972 Tom Culhane fulfilled his dream of establishing a school where troubled adolescents would be educated and supported while they set about the task of realizing their own dreams. Tom was especially interested in helping aggressive youngsters properly channel and redirect their energy into healthy outlets and positive activities.

As a young man growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Tom was educated and influenced by wonderful teachers who helped the reluctant learner that he was, feel like learning. Often he reflected that while his teachers were molding a learner, another institution in Cambridge, the YMCA, was guiding him in ‘spirit, mind and body.’ Although the YMCA said ‘NO’ to a seven year old many times (he was too young for enrollment), eventually they relented and allowed him to enter the youth division. It was there that Tom was blessed to meet many adults who “took him under their collective wings” and served as positive role models.

It was also at the Cambridge YMCA that Tom first met Jim Farr, the man who became a significant long-term influence in his life, always willing to provide the guidance and encouragement that helped Tom not only establish goals, but to dream just a bit. Through high school, the military, and college, Tom could always count on Jim Farr to remain steadfast in his support. In 1972 when Tom opened his school for troubled youngsters, he named the school James F. Farr Academy to honor Jim Farr.

In the ensuing years, the program evolved through the shared efforts of many staff, most notably Bonnie Kramer Culhane whose belief in the benefits of non-judgmental, non-punitive problem solving became a mainstay of the program. The collaborative environment created by Tom and Bonnie encouraged staff involvement and the spirit of community that is such an important aspect of Farr Academy. Their work has shown that the frustration and anger felt by many youngsters who are unable to successfully negotiate the essential aspects of their lives - school, home, community - can be redirected through positive outlets and systems that respectfully teach and support success.

Today Farr Academy continues its commitment to the task undertaken so long ago. Aggression, whether directed at self or others, is seen as a positive force. When properly channeled it becomes the drive, persistence, and motivation that fuels success. For over thirty years Farr Academy has witnessed this channeling of aggressive energy into positive pursuits by innumerable youngsters who become successful productive members of their families, their communities and of society.