Our Founder & History
In 1949 John Corlette conceived Aiglon on foundations that have ensured our school and its students continue to evolve and thrive. Now 70 years later, our founder’s vision continues to influence us.
For seventy years Aiglon has benefited from a founder whose classical ideas joined with progressive philosophies continues to inspire our development. From the school’s very beginning with just six pupils to the thriving school we are today, John Corlette is the creative and committed root from which each of our individual journeys has grown.
Mr Corlette’s own formative years placed him in an excellent position to relate to the students he would go on to teach and the school he would found. Born in London in 1911, at the age of 16 ill health brought him to Switzerland to recuperate and continue his education at Alpine College in nearby Arveyes. Much like present-day Aiglonians who have followed him up the mountain, Mr Corlette came to understand how the mountainous environment of Villars and the inspiring vistas hold the potential to influence not only each day of our education but impact our wider understanding of the world.
Though he followed his father’s footsteps and trained as an architect, Mr Corlette later discovered a passion for inspiring young minds. He taught at various schools, but it was at Gordonstoun School in Scotland that he connected with the experiential education philosophy promoted by Kurt Hahn.
Mr Corlette then struck out to create an educational experience of his own - blending this radical philosophical approach with traditional English boarding school structure, hosted in an incredible mountain location. To Mr Corlette, this was an opportunity to craft an approach that wasn’t completely reliant upon textbooks yet supported the merits of classical education. His commitment to the curious minds of students is maintained today through Aiglon’s dedication to experiential learning alongside its robust programme of expeditions and service activities.
An enduring aspect of Mr Corlette’s legacy throughout Aiglon’s history is the incorporation of the Meditation into our daily lives. He deeply understood the importance of personal reflection, and of utilising these contemplative moments as a tool to explore new avenues and seek out challenges both internally and externally. These periods of quiet contemplation are just as central to Aiglon life today.
Our founder died in 1977, yet his influence still runs through so much of today’s Aiglon. His fierce commitment to ensuring school should benefit the whole student is reflected in the guiding principles that form the core of life at Aiglon and has benefited the lives of generations of alumni. John Corlette was committed to a belief in education that is alive, robust and diverse, and we remain loyal to his vision today.