Norris Academy is proud to share a rich history with the Norris Adolescent Center, including a firm belief that every child in our care deserves to have a voice in his education and care.

Since 1924, Norris Academy has been open as a public school – the smallest district in Wisconsin – to serve the the needs of underserved boys within the district boundaries and beyond. Learn more about who we serve through enrollment and about how we serve them through our Academy design.


1917 – On May 23, Niel opened his first camp and began the Norris Farm for Boys.

1924 – A separate school district was authorized by an act of the state legislature.

1930 – Rainbow Lake was completed during the summer. The lake was made because the Fox River was dirty.

1941 – Niel received the Distinguished Award Medal for his untiring and outstanding efforts in working with boys “beyond the call of duty.”

1948 – Niel died on Nov. 20.

1960 – A full time social worker was hired.

1968 – Michael Landon of Bonanza and Little house on the Prairie visited the boys at Norris.

1970 – Ryan Duren, former Yankee pitcher, joined the Norris counselor staff and coached the Norris Land O’ Puddles squad.

1974 – The Norris boys tapped the trees for maple syrup and bottled it for sale.

1977 – Norris school began its special education program with certified learning disabilities and emotional disabilities teachers.

1982- Norris began enrolling day students from surrounding school districts.

1983 – In June, the herd of 43 head of Angus beef cattle was sold to mark the end of the farming program at Norris.

1983 – In September Norris began an on-grounds Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Treatment unit to help the boys understand the causes and consequences of substance abuse.

1984 – The first group of youth care workers were certified by the Wisconsin Association of Child and Youth Care Professionals.

1985 – The Aftercare Program, which helps boys make the necessary adjustments when returning home, began.

1987 – The Nurturing Program and the Sex Offender Program were introduced at Norris.

1988 – The Aggression Reduction Unit was begun for boys in need of help with their aggressive behavior.

1989 – December issue of The Youth Care Learning Center, the Norris Adolescent Center was recognized as a leading agency having a professionally trained youth care staff.

2000 – Three group homes were developed on the Norris campus to provide a continuum of services to the youth and families that entered Norris.

2003 – A Cognitively Delayed Sex-Offender unit was developed, housing 5 to 6 youth with special needs.

2007 – Norris celebrated its 90th anniversary with a special message from Niel Norris: “I am very pleased… keep up the great work you are doing with youth and families.”

2009 – Norris honored their founder by unveiling a life sized statue of him on Jan. 22.

2017 – Norris celebrated its 100th anniversary with a joint community event with the Academy. Families of current and past youth from Norris came to the farm.