Moravian Academy & Swain Explore Becoming One

July 14, 2020

To Our School Communities,

With a collective four centuries of experience educating students in our region, Moravian Academy and Swain School share an unwavering commitment to creating an extraordinary student experience. On our own, our schools have helped generations of students become lifelong learners and leaders.

Imagine what we could accomplish together.

After months of strategic and thoughtful planning, Moravian Academy and The Swain School are on track to sign, later this summer, a binding memorandum of understanding to formally merge our institutions. If the process moves forward as intended, we would become the region’s leader in education, extending a shared mission to the entire Lehigh Valley. 

We believe in the power of partnership, especially among like-minded schools. Partnership brings great potential for two schools already so enriching and so treasured by so many.  Partnership makes us stronger; it makes the experiences for our communities more exciting and rewarding, both in and out of the classroom. 

And with partnership comes resilience -- the wherewithal to adapt to an increasingly dynamic independent-school landscape. This bold move would preserve and foster educational choice for more families in the Lehigh Valley.

We have many details to work out, and a richer picture of our shared and promising future to paint, but we are thrilled to be exploring this partnership.  Taking into account our many strengths, we know that, together, we can become so much more. 

Common Values, Shared Vision

Our shared school values connect us as people and distinguish our schools as communities across a wide and diverse region. More than that, we prioritize educational excellence as well as the development of character. We exist because families throughout our region share these values and commitments. Our families choose to be a part of our mission-driven and mutually selective communities. 

That’s why, if the partnership is finalized, Moravian and Swain will continue to operate independently and provide small-school experiences that our families cherish. 

Our collective vision is fueled by a passion for perpetual improvement -- a partnership that solidifies a strong foundation to support students for generations to come while meeting the changing needs of families today. Benefitting both schools, this partnership allows us to develop new ways to extend our current philosophies to new programming. In fact, the Moravian Academy of today is itself the product of a fruitful partnership, so we know unequivocally that joining will make us stronger, enable us to continue to deliver a high-quality education, and will ensure future growth.

The Importance of Culture, the Advantage of Choice

Of course, while our schools share similar missions, values and educational philosophies, we are tremendously proud of our unique histories and will maintain each school’s customs and traditions. We deeply value and are committed to sustaining these cultural touchstones.

At Moravian, pursuing excellence is central to our identity. The traditions we inherit from our Moravian-Church connection are found throughout the environment in which we pursue academic challenges. Our school is distinguished by its culture of curiosity, but shaped by our inclusiveness toward all faiths and belief systems. As a school in motion, we welcome thoughtful change that cultivates a brighter future shaped by our strategic vision.

At Swain, close-knit, nurturing, and family-like hallmarks are the essence of who we are. We are proud of our progressive hands-on ideologies, and our loving, welcoming and joyful community is a unifying force on our campus. Our collaborative, inclusive, and diverse nature helps build confidence and develop future leaders.

As the new entity, the two schools will continue to offer distinct programming options for families across three campuses (Moravian’s two campuses plus Swain’s campus) in the Lehigh Valley. Each location will continue to maintain its own focus, including Moravian’s downtown campus in Bethlehem’s historic corridor with its focus on Moravian-inspired character education; Swain's warm and nurturing PS-8 campus in Allentown with its progressive ideology and a focus on a developmentally appropriate program, public speaking, and leadership; and Moravian’s high school campus in Bethlehem Township, with its pre-collegiate curriculum, full co-curricular program, and individual research opportunities for students.

We also know that school choice is essential for families in our area. Many of our families wish to stay in our community, and this partnership will streamline the process, allowing Swain’s rising students the opportunity to transition to Moravian Academy naturally and seamlessly for their high school years.

At both schools, school pride radiates from our students, families, faculty and staff. We all feel a sense of belonging here and are empowered by an unwavering sense of purpose. At each of our schools, we know we have limitless potential. 

What’s Next?

As we look ahead to the upcoming school year, we see much to which we can look forward. Each school will continue to operate as you know them. Current and incoming families can review the academic calendars for Moravian Academy and Swain School. Many strategic developments are also underway at each school, including Dr. Webster’s first year as Head of School at Swain and renovations at the Downtown Moravian campus. Separately, both schools are continuing to monitor COVID-19 in order to create reopening plans that ensure the safety of everyone within our communities.

Later this summer, each school’s board will vote on the plan to formally merge. If approved, this partnership would go into effect for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

We understand that you may have questions about what this collaboration could mean for you and your family. To learn more about this, we encourage you to review the frequently asked questions on our website. Following an affirmative board vote, we will be hosting a series of family conversations to answer your questions and to share more about our strategic vision for the next 3-5 years. 

Thank you for your continued trust and confidence in our schools.

Here’s to an even brighter future. 


Jeff Zemsky
Head of School
Moravian Academy

Dr. Armistead Webster
Head of School
The Swain School

Christopher E. Weiler
Chair, Board of Trustees
Moravian Academy

Lori Schoeneman
Chair, Board of Trustees
The Swain School 


What we're curious about