The Independent School Health Association (“ISHA”) aims to support the development and sustainability of health and health education in independent schools. Our mission is to equip independent school communities with the information, skills, and resources to navigate emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially their health and well-being. We are also committed to illuminating the relevant associations between health and academic achievement, and how they influence student motivation and potential.
ISHA is dedicated to promoting health through:

  • partnerships with independent school communities;
  • creation and sustainability of a forum dedicated to the discussion of healthy schools and health education;
  • professional development through conference coordination, active website, listserv, social media, and a newsletter;
  • providing a resource library with content related to health curriculum and health program development;
  • creating awareness around social causes of health and disease, and;
  • promotion of evidence-based and other best practices.


The Independent School Health Association (ISHA) was founded in 1979 as the Independent School Health Society (ISHS). Its founding members included the medical directors of several independent boarding schools in New England. Inspired by the unique environments of these schools and discontented with the professional isolation of boarding school health services, ISHA’s founding members devoted much of their limited free time to developing the first organization of its kind.

Ahead of its time, ISHA was intentionally interdisciplinary. An inaugural meeting at Choate Rosemary Hall, was attended by nine counselors, five nurses, four physicians, two psychologists and one psychiatrist. ISHA was founded with an awareness that school health education programs were frequently disconnected, with input from many nonrelated sources, from trustees to parents to students themselves. As the definition of “health” continued to evolve, ISHA’s founders agreed that good health was “a state of well-being arising out of the harmonious integration of an individual’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual sides”. They further agreed that the primary objective of the organization was to contribute to the “good health” of independent schools. This definition of “good health” continues to influence ISHA’s work today.
ISHA began at a time when independent schools were beginning to devote considerable energy to the promotion of moral and ethical values within their own communities. With the value systems and missions of independent schools in mind, ISHA remains an organization focused on improving health and character in independent schools.

Adapted from:
  • 1989 ISHA Spring Newsletter, p. 3, ISHA’s Beginnings—A Personal Perspective, Excerpts from a February 1981 Speech by David B. Connell, MD
  • 1986 ISHA Spring Newsletter, p. 10, The First Seven Years of ISHA by David B. Connell, M.D. School physician at Choate Rosemary Hall and past president of ISHA 
  • 1981 ISHA Spring Newsletter, p. 1, ISHA: Past and Present, David Connell, M.D.
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