Mission & History

The Vanguard School is an independent, co-educational, boarding and day school for students who learn differently. Vanguard strives to ensure each student aspires to higher educational opportunities and independent life.

School History

In 1960 Dr. Milton Brutten, an expert in dyslexia, led the way in education for students who learn differently when he partnered with Dr. Henry Evans, and founded The Vanguard School in suburban Philadelphia. The private school was one of the first in the country to identify and serve children with learning disabilities.

By 1966, The Vanguard School Residential Program expanded to Lake Wales, Florida with six students at Bon Aire Lodge on Lake Pierce.

From 1968-69 The Vanguard School acquired 75 acres of property on US Highway 27 in Lake Wales, and began the initial construction of the Upper School and other amenities. By 1971, the campus was consolidated to the Highway 27 location where we currently reside.

In 1975, we were accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools. The Vanguard School of Lake Wales, Florida was incorporated as an Independent Florida Non-Profit Organization, and was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools by 1983.

Our endurance was tested in 2004, when the school sustained a direct hit from three hurricanes within a span of six weeks. From 2006-10, dormitories, classrooms, the dining hall, and administration building were just a few of the facilities overhauled during campus-wide renovations. That year, the class of 2010 was the largest in the history of Vanguard, with a total of 42 graduating seniors.

Today we continue to improve the campus with a new Performing Arts Center, and upgrades to various facilities and the technology infrastructure to support a 21st Century learning environment. Although our campus has evolved over the years, our purpose has remained constant – to individually prepare students who learn differently for a successful future

The Vanguard School is fully accredited through FCIS and SACS - AdvancED.

At Vanguard a person’s worth isn’t a result of achievement, popularity, or athleticism; value is automatic. Many of our students arrive with a deflated sense of self and a lack of confidence to accompany it. They’ve spent years unsuccessfully navigating a system of education whose subtle, or not so subtle, messages scream “you don’t belong”. At Vanguard, everyone belongs. Most of our students understand first-hand the difficulties of a learning challenge. We welcome students from a plethora of cities, states, and countries. We do not discriminate based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, sexual preference, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. We employ a diverse staff and incorporate diversity training into residential curriculum, as well as academic curriculum. Trips, activities, and curriculum actively strive to expose students to a wide array of cultures.