About Us
A History

A Shady Hill Timeline - 1950 to 1989

The Parents' Work Plan is established to raise money for the school by offering the services of parents — everything from splitting firewood or cooking to providing medical or legal services. Kathleen Raoul joins the faculty to teach in the lower school; she stays until 1974.

The school's first African American student graduates. 

A $25,000 deficit in the school budget necessitates a 10% increase in tuitions. 

The Shady Hill Fund is created to replace the Katharine Taylor Fund. Adelaide Sproul is hired to teach art; she stays until 1972.

Jane Prescott joins the faculty to teach second and then, for many years, fourth grade and the Greeks until her death in 1992.

The Shady Hill Thrift Shop, operated by parents to raise money for the school, opens in Cambridge.

Donald Mapel is hired to teach woodshop and stays until 1986. Agnes Hocking dies in the fall of 1955.

A new art studio is built. "Friends of the Library" is formed by the Board of Overseers to prepare for a new library in a wing to be added to what was then the Grade VII building. The Board votes to include a member of the Alumni Board as a voting member.

The first Summer Session for inner-city children in grades five to eight is held on Shady Hill's campus.

An evaluation of the TTC made by an independent educational consultant states: "The nature of the apprentice program is such that its results depend heavily on the quality of the total school program. That quality is exceedingly high."

A second Grade VII class is established.

Ed Yeomans leaves Shady Hill to direct the Peace Corps program in Puerto Rico and Mary Eliot is named Acting Director. The Alumni Board hosts a gala evening for more than 200 faculty, alumni, and parents to honor faculty members Ruth Abbott, Helen Bennet, Margaret Clark, Margaret Crane, Anne Kirk Dudley, Ruth Edgett, Alice Griscom, Helen Hayes, Ted Martin, Lillian Putnam, Everett Smith, Margaret Stout, Agnes Swift, Anne Longfellow Thorp, and Dr. Ruth Washburn.

John ("Jack") McKernan is hired to teach Grade IV and the Greeks, and stays until 2004. Oddvar Nordal is hired to teach upper school history. Mr. Nordal retires in 1984. 

The Assembly Hall floor is replaced due to buckling.

Joseph Segar is appointed Director. Marjorie Gatchell is hired to teach Grade II (she eventually becomes the Director of the Teacher Training Course), and Robert Lawler is hired to teach mathematics. 

William Bellows is hired to teach Grade VII and Vera Nordal is hired to teach upper school history. Mr. Bellows stays until 1985 and Mrs. Nordal stays until 1986. 

The first Student Board is established. Enrollment is now 425 students.

The school celebrates its 50th birthday and a capital fund drive is begun to raise money for a new field house and library. The 1964-1965 goals for the Student Board include: "outdoor crackers and milk for mixed classes at recess (to break down barriers between grades), running a book drive for an African school in conjunction with the Thanksgiving Assembly, a class-to-class project to introduce students to each other, and organizing a work and play day."

Sex education is added to the curriculum. The new science building (still in use) is completed.

Susan Walsh joins the faculty to teach Latin; she stays until 1992. Jane Hardy is hired to be the Girls' Athletic Director. She eventually becomes the school's Director of Athletics and Physical Education and stays until her retirement in 2012.

Di Forbes Droste Mcphail is hired to teach in the lower school. She eventually becomes the lower school music teacher. Carol Segar joins the faculty to teach kindergarten. She retires in 1989. 

The school establishes a Race Awareness Program. Parents and faculty members meet to discuss the goal of increasing the school's cultural and racial diversity. 

The first Shady Hill Country Fair raises $4,100. Parents create a Shady Hill Cookbook, sales of which bring in $11,000 for the school. The Shady Hill Bazaar (formerly the Shady Hill Thrift Shop) closes.

Lower school teacher Kathleen Raoul travels to Leicestershire, England after learning about a model of mixed-age classrooms. Joe Segar approves the idea of re-creating the model at Shady Hill and the school's first "Mixed Group" is launched with three ungraded rooms for 5-, 6-, and 7-year olds, modeled on the Leicestershire program.

Africa is established as the Grade VI Central Subject.

Faith Chase, the school's first African American teacher, is hired to teach kindergarten. She eventually moves to teach Beginners and stays until 1992.

Sarah Robey Hall '69 and some other students address the faculty to argue that girls in grades V-IX should be allowed to wear slacks to school. The faculty agrees and the first person to take advantage of this is a teacher.

Upper school students and faculty schedule May 8 as a work day and suspend regular classes to protest the U.S. invasion into Cambodia and the escalation of the war in Indochina. David Smith '59 joins the faculty; he stays until 1992. On May Day, the Grade IX maypole dance is held on the far field by the Gym and most of the students dance barefoot.

As a way to lower costs to parents, the hot lunch program for students is discontinued. The school purchases the Webster property at 62 Coolidge Avenue for $87,500 fir use as the Director's house.

Shady Hill students, faculty, parents, and alumni join with others from Buckingham, Cambridge Friends, and Cambridge High & Latin to present Benjamin Brittain's medieval miracle play Noye's Fludde. In the summer, the maintenance crew discover that a hugh snapping turtle has made a nest in a pipe that plugged the school's drainage system.

The enrollment is 448 and the school's budget for the year is $771,144.

Shady Hill's Teacher Training Course establishes a cooperative program with Lesley College (now Lesley University).

Sally Crissman is hired to teach science and Jonathan Evans and Jean Menapace join the mathematics department. 

The school completes the Beehive in December. The building was funded through a capital fund drive and named by Joe Segar. It contains the mathematics, foreign language classrooms, and library — and eventually the school's computer lab.

The Shady Hill Fair raises $11,000. The Summer Session program ends and the Educational Enrichment Program begins. This was a collaboration of public and private schools that provided summer learning opportunities for innrer city children.

Letter grades are resumed in the upper school, Grades VII through IX. Enrollment is at 480 students.

An extended day program is given serious consideration, but no action is taken. Bruce Shaw is hired to teach English in the upper grades.

The first Shady Hill Auction is held in April. The school celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Teacher Training Course. The Shady Hill Amateur Radio Club (SHARC) broadcasts daily from Building H (WB1CTX).

Katharine Taylor dies in March. 

Shady Hill receives a grant from a local foundation to purchase its first computer — a TRS-80 micro-computer, "complete with disk drive and line printer" — for student use. Jean Menapace of the mathematics department teaches a computer elective. In one exercise, students write a French verb conjugation program. "After doing an impressive job on parler, chanter, and marcher, the computer cheerfully went on to conjugate either, better, and computer."

The Grade VI and H Buildings are renovated during the summer.

The school offers a Summer Arts Program. There is a tuition increase of 12% and a faculty salary increase of 10%. The "Campaign for Shady Hill" capital fundraising effort is begun. The enrollment is 475.

Girls' showers are finally installed in the gym. Mary Eliot serves as Acting Director while Joe Segar is on sabbatical during the spring semester. Tuition is $1,800 for Beginners and $3,975 for Grade IX. The board debates adding a possible energy surcharge because of the energy crisis.

Parents organize the school's first Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly.

May Sarton '26 comes to Shady Hill in April to read her poetry. Edie Caudill retires and is named the school's first "teacher emeritus." Parent fundraising results are directed to financial aid for the first time.

Spanish is added to the upper school curriculum. Tuition is $2,500 for Beginners and $6,275 for Grade IX. A quiet reading period is instituted after lunch each day.

Bruce Shaw leaves the faculty to become Headmaster of Marin Academy. Grade V is divided into three sections. The first summer faculty fellowships are awarded with money from the capital campaign.

The school receives a grant to enhance the lower school art program. This support grows into today's Visiting Artist Program. The school's library collection increases to over 14,000 books, including 500 books related to the Civil War from Edie Caudill's collection.

The Independent School Association of Massachusetts (ISAM) institutes the Channels for Educational Choices program "to promote multicultural diversity as an educational imperative within member schools." Shady Hill is one of a number of schools to join the Choices program.

Chair of the Mathematics Department Robert Lawler receives a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in Mathematics. A girl joins the varsity soccer team.

The bell, a gift from the Glover family, is installed outside the Assembly Hall. The Alumni Board hosts its first breakfast for departing students. Grade IV is divided into three sections.

Shady Hill's board establishes a Long Range Planning Committee to address program, administration, governance, faculty, students, parents, alumni, and facilities. The Grade III building is remodeled to add a third classroom.

Shady Hill's first Alumni Day is held in June. Approximately 75 alumni and guests attend. At the end of the day, Dr. John Coolidge '33 unearths the small metal box that had been placed under the bricks int he hearth of the Assembly Hall 50 years earlier. Its contents included pictures of the school in the 1920s, Christmas and Thanksgiving assembly programs, and texts for many songs. The first Alumni Artsfest is held at school in November.

Grade VI is divided into three sections.

Diversity at Shady Hill (D.A.S.H.) is founded by parents and staff to support a more multicultural atmosphere in the school community.

Joe Segar steps down after 26 years as Director, and Jonathan Slater is appointed to succeed him. At a "Blue Jeans Brunch" in November, community members welcome Jonathan and his wife Karen and hear about the goals of the Shady Hill Development Fund capital campaign.

"The School has lived on these lovely acres since 1926. Visitors and newcomers still admonish us: "Shady Hill is not the real world." And, of course, they are right, for we try to teach our children not how the world is, but how it might be. We still believe in dreaming here."
- Jonathan Slater, Director, 1989 to 1994
  • Ghost Rules
    Helen Hayes, who came to Shady Hill in 1935 as director of the "PIay" program, invented the game of Ghost with the children who first played it. Click on the link at the top to see the official Ghost rules that are disributed to new teachers each year.

Kathleen Raoul

Jane Prescott

Donald Mapel

Art Studio

Mr. McKernan

Joseph Segar

Robert Lawler

Science Building

Jane Hardy

Faith Chase

The Beehive

The First Computer for Students

John Coolidge '33 Opening The Time Capsule

Jonathan Slater

617.520.5260      178 Coolidge Hill  Cambridge MA 02138           Association of Independent Schools in New England