The College School History
The College School began in 1963 as the Webster College Laboratory School. It was originally formed as a teaching school for undergraduate education majors at Webster College, a school where student teachers could try out different teaching techniques and test new educational theories. Despite the great student and teacher success that the laboratory school was achieving, Webster College officials decided to close the school in 1978, as part of a restructuring of the university. With enormous enthusiasm and support, parents and teachers rallied to keep the school open. Several Board members actually put their personal homes as collateral to keep the school open and made it possible for The College School to become an independent school. In 1979, TCS added a middle school and has continued its innovative and dynamic approach to education ever since. TCS currently is accredited by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) and NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), has an enrollment of about 270 students in preschool through eighth grade, retains some of the best teachers in the area, and is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest learning institutions in the country.
The College School History: A Snapshot
- 1963 - school founded at Webster College. Sister Jacqueline Grennan, a member of the President’s Commission on Education, founded the school with five goals: (1) develop new curriculum, (2) new teacher education, (3) professional development for practicing teachers, (4) experiment with new methods, and (5) psychological research into the learning processes of children. School receives a $350,000 Carnegie Foundation grant.
- 1965 - then director, Dave Roach, and then PE teacher, Jan Phillips, start outdoor education program for all grades; many activitites at Sherwood Forest.
- 1968 - Webster College announces that our school will close, but uproar from parents, protests, and local TV coverage encourage Webster College to keep school open.
- 1972 - Peter Wilson becomes Director from 1972 – 1990, and Jan Phillips becomes Experiential Education Director.
- 1973 - Peter Wilson, Jan Phillips, and Hank Schafermeyer, inspired by an Outward Bound Course, create a 3-day adventure experience for sixth graders that becomes The Wilderness Expereince, which remains today a cornerstone of our adventure education program.
- 1975 - block scheduling is introduced, in order to allow ample project time for interdisciplinary theme classes. Upper floor theme classes, such as The Wilderness Experience, Bones & Skeletons, Fur Trapper / Trader, Westward Expansion, begin in this time frame.
- 1975 - we construct a ropes course on campus. Project Adventure founder, Karl Ronke, comes to inspect completed course and comments that he had never seen a ropes course designed for elementary students before. In this same year, the first grade campout began as the youngest grade to have an overnight experience.
- 1978 - Webster University ends its funding forcing The College School to become independent. Garland Russell (friend and banker), Peter Wilson (Director), Cele Cummiskey and Jan Phillips (teachers) and many parents fight to keep TCS open.
- 1978 - Garland Russell becomes the founding President of the Board of Trustees.
- 1978 - we purchase the Lockwood School Building, erected in 1909, for $315,000. The loan was guaranteed by Board members and TCS families.
- 1981 - first 8th grade class graduates.
- 1982 - Nancy Miller starts the 4/5 play.
- 1986 - for the first time, TCS becomes accredited with ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) and later the national governing organization, NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools).
- 1987 - Wagon Train of Food Begins with the collaboration of David and Karla Wilson with the 2/3 team, Skyler Harmann and Margaret Rowe.
- 1989 - Tim Wood, Nancy Klepper & Jan Phillips start 8th grade Field Ecology expedition
- 1992 - we secure a 3-year Danforth Foundation grant, which brings Louise Cadwell and the Reggio Approach to St. Louis and our Early Childhood Program.
- 1996 - we purchase the "Big Bend Property," to be used as faculty, student, parent, Board break-out space, until it was demolished in 2006 in favor of our new, permeable paver parking lot.
- 1998 - our climbing wall is constructed in the old gym, as a gift of Nita van Der Werff and family.
- 1998 - completion of East Wing Addition and creation of an Apple computer lab, called 'The Exploratorium.'
- 1999 - 18 passenger school vans replaced with the purchase of two school buses in order to support experiential education program. Teachers train for Commercial Drivers’ Licenses.
- 2000 - with an exceptionally strong team of faculty, administrators, parents, and Board members, The College School marches into the 21st century, staying true to our historical roots of providing children with the absolute best education through a thematically integrated, experiential approach. In the years since 2000, we have seen the construction of a greenhouse and gardens, a Dining Room renovation, a new Early Childhood Playground, a Theater renovation of the Little Gym, and the acquisition of 29 acres of land in Pacific, MO, to be used as an outdoor education center. The school looks forward to its 50th anniversary in 2013.