Founded in 1990 by reading specialist Doris J. Bower, Dartmoor began as a reading intervention school. Mrs. Bower saw a need for alternative approaches to education. She started Dartmoor School to ensure success for all types of learners by developing the one-to-one model of instruction that Dartmoor continues to provide to this day.
Dartmoor's success in teaching reading fundamentals soon led to requests for a greater variety of academic subjects. Demand for credit courses and the desire to graduate from Dartmoor increased, prompting Dartmoor’s accreditation and, ultimately, its transformation from a learning center into an alternative school in the early 1990s.
Dartmoor’s ability to work effectively with a diverse population also attracted school districts needing to place students in an individualized educational setting. To facilitate these placements, Dartmoor became a Non-Public Agency (NPA) in the 1990s.
Today, Dartmoor is still pervasively informed by its founding principles of student respect, commitment to diverse learners, and cultivation of its students' self-realization. Though student needs have encouraged Dartmoor’s growth in unforeseen directions, the school has remained faithful to its founder’s vision of a place where students, rather than abstractions, center the educational experience.