Despite the tremendous physical growth of the Academy, the core
philosophy has not changed. In the pursuit of excellence, the
Academy decided long ago not to try to please everyone, at the risk
of thereby pleasing no one. With the guiding values of Intellect,
Character, Truth, Individuality, and Heritage, a demanding program,
small classes, and texts and materials chosen for their consistency
with time-proven Judeo-Christian values, the Academy provides
students and their parents with an unparalleled education,
preparing students for college and for life.
In the early 1960s, a few Milwaukee-area families were worried
-- It seemed to them that the "progressive" education sweeping the
country was adrift, hesitant to challenge the intellect, and
increasingly afraid to enunciate traditional values. This
determined group of like-minded parents gathered to discuss the
intriguing possibility of starting their own school. This school
would use traditional methods and texts; it would instill in
students a reverence for character values and the search for truth;
and it would hire teachers who both loved children and appreciated
the freedoms of Western Civilization.
Those dreams gave birth to the Academy of Basic Education
(A.B.E.). The founders purchased a quaint, brick, ranch-style home
on a 12-acre hilltop site in Brookfield and set about converting
the house into a school. They hired William Beye Smeeth as
headmaster. Mr. Smeeth's passion was to encourage each child's
intellect, which he often referred to as "a lamp, brilliantly lit."
Smeeth hired six talented teachers and the new independent school
was born. When the doors opened on September 10, 1962, 33 students
in grades 1-8 eagerly set about the task of learning how to
The second year, the Academy opened with 65 students, eight
teachers, a new 9th grade class, and a waiting list. By 1964, three
new classrooms were added onto the building to accommodate the
growing enrollment. In 1967, a second classroom building, Freedom
Hall, was built to house the Upper School program, called College
Prep School. The Academy celebrated the graduation of its first
senior class in 1971.
Dr. Nyle Kardatzke was named Head of School in September 1978. A
witty and engaging leader, Kardatzke believed "the life of the
school is the life of the mind." He nurtured the Academy's
development for 15 years and instituted the name change to
Brookfield Academy, reinforcing the concept that the Lower, Middle,
and Upper School programs constituted "one school, three
Enrollment growth meant more new buildings: Independence
Hall (1976), additions to Freedom Hall (1986-87), the construction
of Constitution Hall (1986-87) and, in 1992, the purchase of a
bowling alley bordering the south edge of the campus. This bowling
alley was converted into Liberty Hall.
When Dr. Kardatzke left the Academy in 1992, a long-range plan
was in place and the school had established itself as one of the
top college-prep institutions in the Midwest.
Long-time Brookfield Academy teacher and coach Robert Solsrud
was named Head of School in 1993. In 1995, as enrollment crept up
to nearly 600 students, a new opportunity surfaced: the
purchase of a 100-acre farm on the west side of Brookfield Road.
Over the next 15 years, the land was developed into a premier
athletic complex and crowned by Patriots Hall, a state-of-the-art
home for the Upper School completed in 2010. Along the way, a
12-classroom addition was made to Constitution Hall (2001) and
Independence Hall was remodeled into a Lower School fine arts
Today, 97outstanding faculty members educate more than 860
students in six superb buildings on a picturesque 117-acre campus.
Brookfield Academy annually graduates classes of more than 60
students who are accepted by the top colleges and universities in
the world. Upper School students have the opportunity to choose
from 18 Advanced Placement courses. Athletics are competitive in
the conference and region. Opportunities to explore interests in
performing arts, fine arts, music, writing, volunteer service, and
a host of club activities abound in all three divisions.