The History of Out-of-Door

In 1924, Fanneal Harrison and Catherine Gavin founded a school with the vision to establish a uniquely progressive school committed to high academic standards and to nourishing the minds, bodies, and spirits of children. They envisioned a school where some of the most important lessons would be learned “out-of-door” or outside the classroom.
Established in 1924, The Out-of-Door Academy college-preparatory school is the second oldest private school in Florida. Although the School has evolved continually over the last 99 years, it has honored the vision of its remarkable founders. Their uniquely progressive mission was to nourish the minds, bodies, and spirits of children. They did so through hands-on learning experiences. From the earliest days, the importance of the greater good was instilled in students as they participated in two hours of community service each week.

Today, The Out-of-Door Academy serves more than 830+ students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade on its two campuses. Out-of-Door remains dedicated to its longstanding commitment to the development of self-confident, responsible young people. The School has continuously implemented new programs and strategies to meet the emerging educational needs of the next generation while staying true to the mission of its founders.

List of 12 items.

  • 1924

    Co-founders Ms. Fanneal Harrison and Catherine Gavin establish The Out-of-Door School. Ten students attended at a tuition rate of $300.
  • 1930s

    Esteemed guests including Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt visit The Out-of-Door School to learn about its progressive educational program.
  • 1934

    The Catherine Gavin Memorial Library, built by students and faculty, is dedicated to ODS co-founder. The school’s first “Stepping Stones” formed a path to the building.
  • 1950s

    The Out-of-Door School is accredited by the Secondary Education Board and becomes a member of the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and a founding member of the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS).
  • 1976

    The School becomes a nonprofit entity and is renamed The Out-of-Door Academy.
  • 1980s

    Roots of Spirit Day tradition begin under Headmaster Mr. Gordon Davis with Mr. Mike Young.
  • 1986

    The School’s first capital campaign funds the construction of the Science Building (now known as the 3-story building).
  • 1994

    ODA’s Siesta Key Campus is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1997

    The Uihlein Campus at Lakewood Ranch opens, adding grades 9-12.
  • 1999

    Twelve seniors become the first graduating class from The Out-of-Door Academy.
  • 2000

    Seventh and eighth grades move from the Historic Siesta Key Campus to the Uihlein Campus at Lakewood Ranch.
  • 2017

    ODA demonstrates commitment to sustainability with installation of more than 550 solar panels throughout the Historic Siesta Key Campus, one of the biggest solar projects in the region.

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
444 Reid Street, Sarasota, FL 34242  |  941-349-3223  |  Fax: 941-349-8133

LOWER SCHOOL |  Lower School Campus on Clark Road  |  Pre-K – Grade 1
11011 Clark Rd, Sarasota, FL 34241   |  COMING SOON

  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
5950 Deer Drive, Sarasota, FL 34240  |  941-349-3223  |  Fax: 941-907-1251
The Out-of-Door Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, physical ability, religion, sex, age, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin.
The Out-of-Door Academy is an equal opportunity employer.

© 2023 The Out-of-Door Academy