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History & Archives

A History of Innovation

From 1896 when Laurel’s founder Jennie Prentiss embraced the need for superior education for girls, to our ongoing commitment to a rigorous college-preparatory program comprising a research-based curriculum, to becoming a national leader in girls’ development, our illustrious past demonstrates a tradition of innovation.

List of 10 items.

  • 1896

    Inspired by her own classical education, Jennie Warren Prentiss founds Miss Prentiss’s Home School, hires teachers who studied with leading educational experts, promotes the “study of all problems which...concern character building, physical health, and the actual training of pupils in all such subjects of vital importance as shall best fit them,” and trains girls’ voices for the “expression for [their] noblest thoughts and feelings.” Prentiss offers two programming tracks to meet the aspirations of college-bound girls and those who will manage homes.
  • 1904

    An ambitious visionary, Sarah E. Lyman builds Laurel Institute at 10001 Euclid Avenue. She adds a gymnasium, Chapel and Primary Division. The program, “progressive without being radical,” integrates literature, history, and the arts and grants graduates direct admission to Vassar, Smith and Wellesley. An annual Essay Contest fosters clarity in writing and the development of voice. Lyman emphasizes teaching “character, culture, accuracy, and the power to work cheerfully and continuously.” The Alma Mater is written.
  • 1928

    The city’s growth inspires Mrs. Lyman to move the school to Shaker Heights where she supervises the design, fund raising and construction of a Tudor building on Lyman Circle. Through Chapel talks, she advocates high ideals and service to the community.
  • 1931

    Edna F. Lake updates the curriculum by adding Spanish to German, French, Latin and Greek; she broadens science offerings, expands athletic options, and plans trips to University Circle cultural institutions to enrich girls’ studies. The war years inspire school-wide service projects. Required Senior Speeches challenge girls to share compelling issues with the student body.
  • 1958

    To meet changes in society’s expectation for women, Miriam E. Waltemyer encourages more graduates to pursue careers. The Alumnae Association-sponsored Holiday Luncheon and Class Song Contest, long a staple, endures in popularity.
  • 1962

    Strengthening Laurel’s competitive edge, Daniel O. S. Jennings merges the two-track academic program into a single college-preparatory curriculum; he promotes early literacy; transforms mathematics and social studies in the Lower School. Additionally, he freshens Upper School offerings with Urban Studies and Humanities tying history and literature to the arts. Construction modernizes science laboratories and expands classrooms while closing the dormitory creates new space. Jennings intentionally diversifies the student body and starts the Laurel School Parents’ Association.
  • 1977

    Barbara R. Barnes rededicates the school to its focus on girls, emphasizes exceptional teaching, reestablishes connections among disciplines and introduces character education. JoAnn Deak instructs the faculty on girls’ development. Community service endeavors expand. Kenyon College professors partner with Laurel faculty to offer college-level courses for Seniors.
  • 1986

    Seeking to contribute to research about female psychology, Leah S. Rhys invites Carol Gilligan to conduct the five-year Laurel/Harvard Study on the development of girls. Ripples from the study extend far beyond Cleveland leading to a wave of new literature on girls’ education. In addition, she creates the Early Childhood Center and reshapes the Primary to provide innovative, theme-based curriculum.
  • 1992

    Helen R. Marter, Head of School, launches a school-wide initiative both to explore diversity and to revitalize athletic facilities. 140 acres in Geauga County is purchased in 1999. State-of-the-art fields, tennis courts, softball diamonds and a track draw girls to athletics. Ponds, meadows and woodlands invite students to engage in environmental studies and interdisciplinary adventures.
  • 2004

    Enhancing Laurel’s place on the national stage, Ann V. Klotz establishes Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls (LCRG). The North Star Collaborative, a partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and LCRG extend the School’s commitment to the local, national and international community of girls. Construction at the Butler Campus—the Magic Tree House, the Conway Pavilion, the Butler Center for Fitness and Wellness and the Outdoor Prekindergarten Yurt—offer extraordinary opportunities. A renovated Third Floor and Dining Room enliven the Lyman Campus. She advances academic excellence by expanding the World Language program, adopting Singapore Mathematics and establishing the One-to-One Technology Program. Interdisciplinary studies in Dream. Dare. Do. (D3) courses and experiential learning adventures at the Butler Campus multiply. Electives, Protégé Internships, more travel options and the creation of the Capstone Experience individualize learning paths and prepare girls for an increasingly competitive world. In 2017, under Ms. Klotz’s leadership, Illustrious Past. Innovative Future. A Strategic Roadmap for Laurel School 2017-2022 is launched.
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