History and Legacy

Located in the Lamoille Valley in the heart of the Green Mountains, Johnson State College has a heritage in educator preparation. Its roots go back to 1828 when John Chesamore, a cobbler, gave his shoe shop to the village of Johnson for a much-needed elementary and secondary school.


Dr. Carpenter, a preacher from Chelsea, Vt., became the first schoolmaster, and the new school was chartered in 1832 by the state as Johnson Academy. In 1836, five communities incorporated as the Lamoille County Grammar School Association to support the school.

Old common school in Johnson

In 1866, when the state created three normal schools, the academy's focus changed from community education to teacher education. The Johnson Normal School would offer one-, two- and three-year teacher education programs until 1947. In 1947, the state Legislature transformed the normal schools into state teachers colleges, and a four-year teacher education program was approved as the school became Johnson Teachers College.

Growth and expansion of the state teachers colleges led to the creation of the five Vermont State College systems in 1961. The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees assumed control from the State Board of Education in 1962, and the institution became Johnson State College.


This new name signaled a change in the college from a single-purpose, teachers college to a multi-purpose, liberal arts and professional school. During the next 10 years, the college's curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences grew alongside the professional programs, and its facilities expanded dramatically to meet this new mission.

The college has come a long way from its first class of 16 students in a converted cobbler's shop. Today the college campus spreads over 330 hilltop acres, and JSC is a fully accredited college serving approximately 1,570 undergraduate students and 283 graduate students from Vermont as well as across the county and around the globe.


The college offers 25 undergraduate majors in a variety of liberal arts and sciences as well as professional areas and three graduate professional programs leading to master's degrees. The college supports numerous clubs, organizations and sports teams. Throughout its history, the college has maintained a commitment to preparing educators for Vermont schools and communities.

The college is accredited as a multi-purpose institution by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Educator Preparation Programs are accredited through the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators, and the college is approved as a degree-granting institution by the state of Vermont.