History of Wyndcroft
The year nineteen-eighteen reflected a growing concern within the educational community to provide not only for academic excellence, but also to provide for the healthful wellbeing of a child. In the midst of nationwide epidemics of measles, mumps, flu and tuberculosis, a few parents in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, members of the prestigious Hill School faculty, chose to provide a superior education for their younger children by founding a progressive "open-air" school. So began Wyndcroft's first incarnation in the sunlit porches and an open garage of a residence on the Hill School campus under the name of "The Pottstown Open Air School."
Within four years the school had changed its name to "The Wyndcroft School" and gained such popularity within the community that the parents purchased a "delightfully situated" rural property on which to expand. Here they constructed "scientifically designed buildings built for the comfort and convenience of the children," in which to hold their school. At this new Rosedale Drive address, (the present site of Wyndcroft), The Wyndcroft School flourished and by 1925 consisted of 50 pupils and 5 teachers. The buildings soon expanded to include "five outdoor bungalows, a school building with a large assembly room, office, classroom, [and] well-equipped kitchen and dining-room where the children have their noon meal."
For 23 years, from 1925 to 1948, Mrs. Mabel Day Steele focused her considerable talent and energy on the development of the small school from a curriculum based on fresh air and physical activity to one that emphasized sound academic training. Her goal? To prepare students for the best secondary schools and colleges through highly individualized instruction in small classes and a flexible curriculum. Plenty of physical activity, the stimulus of team sports, and the creativity of plays and pageants written by the students offered a diverse schedule for blossoming minds and bodies. The tradition of concluding the academic year with a May Fete including a May pole dance and other festivities flourished under her watch.
In the first year of Mr. Carlisle Snively's tenure, (Headmaster from 1948 to 1980), he enhanced Wyndcroft's reputation by bringing it into the fold of the Pennsylvania Association of Private Academic Schools and by expanding the facilities with a new building to house offices and 4 additional classrooms. A year later, athletic fields were designed and landscaped. In 1959, he oversaw the building of an addition including the first indoor area for athletics, and in 1969 he provided the upper school with 8 new classrooms. One of these rooms was a state-of-the-art laboratory, which he used as a springboard to introduce an innovative science program for kindergarten through upper school grades centered upon hands-on experimentation by individual students.
The modernization of the Wyndcroft facilities was not Mr. Snively's only contribution to Wyndcroft. He also ushered in the modern spirit of education based on freedom of inquiry and freedom of faith. In a non-sectarian environment, he sought to guide the mental, moral and religious growth of pupils. Through small classes and individual attention he encouraged students to learn through both independence and discipline, by freedom and responsibility, and by teaching each child to discover a balance between regard for self and respect for the rights of others and the common welfare.
These two Heads of School, Mrs. Mabel Day Steele and Mr. Carlisle Snively, through their many years of dedicated service, have exercised great influence over the shape and character of The Wyndcroft School. Each succeeding Head of School, taking her (or his) place at Wyndcroft, builds on the hard work and visions of those who have come before. Each helps to prepare new generations of children to compete actively within and to contribute to the world in which they will be taking part. The evolving history and tradition of the Wyndcroft School echoes through the generations. Their legacy is seen in each successive generation of students--from the Jazz Age to the Nuclear Age--whose voices still resonate in Wyndcroft's evolving tradition and vision for its future.
The world has changed over the ninety years since the first class met on the porch of a home on the Hill School campus. Life at Wyndcroft today reflects those changes, of course. Our physical campus and our curricular materials bear no relation to those of the early twentieth century. But in essence, we like to think the heart of Wyndcroft has not changed at all. Excellent academics, non sibi, and happy children still abound in Wyndcroft life. Join us here for a glimpse of Wyndcroft today, and see for yourself how, in an up-to-date setting with thoroughly modern children, Wyndcroft continues to reflect the same essential values imbued by our founders, ninety years ago.
Click Here to see the video Wyndcroft Now.
Dau House Dedication
Trustees and administrators of Wyndcroft gathered on a crisp fall night to welcome the Dau family to the school. The happy occasion was the dedication and naming of the home at 1301 Wilson Street, as the Dau House, now an official part of the Wyndcroft School. This facility now houses the Development and Business Offices of the school, and affords us some elegant meeting spaces.
A very generous gift from Jack Dau and his family made our ownership of this house possible. Purchased in the summer of 2007, the adjoining property is a wonderful addition tor Wyndcroft, and after extensive renovation, we were excited about showing it off to our benefactors.
Jack’s daughters and two grandchildren accompanied him to the dedication. Barbara Dau Southwell and her son Michael Hoffman traveled from Concord, Massachusetts, and Ann Dau Conway and her daughter Keely Conway came from Long Island. Using the new accessible walkway to approach the front door, Jack cut through a bright ribbon in Wyndcroft blue and gold to allow entrance to the house, as the family and guests looked on. Inside, the warm, brightly lit house was decorated with pumpkins, fall flowers and shining candles. Jack, Ann and Barbara inspected the new development and business offices and admired the two spacious meeting rooms. Delicious hors d’oeuvres were served by Bause-Landry Catering of Pottstown.
Ann Dau Conway, Jack Dau and Barbara Dau Southwell
Preparing to hang a plaque honoring the Dau family gift, Jack spoke movingly of what Wyndcroft has meant to his family. He related how successful his daughters had been as they moved through some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country, asserting that the foundations for this success had been clearly and strongly laid in their Wyndcroft years. “There is nothing more important than that early education before eighth grade” he said, “That is the seed and everything else grows from there.” Barbara Dau Southwell echoed her father’s sentiments saying that Wyndcroft had played a huge part in her life and meant a great deal to her. She said that a loving family and a good school were the greatest blessings any child could have. Ann Dau Conway noted that her older sister voiced her feelings also.
The Wyndcroft School is lucky to have some wonderful guardian angels holding it close through the years. Everyone at Wyndcroft is overwhelmingly thankful for our all benefactors. And we warmly invite you to visit our facility, the Dau House, when you are in town.
Click here for photos from the Dau House Dedication