Sixty-two Years of Excellence

Harriet Lasher

The Raleigh School began in 1952 as a parent cooperative preschool. The school was founded by a small group of Raleigh families seeking progressive, non-sectarian education for their preschool children. They sought a school that welcomed everyone regardless of race, ethnicity or creed. They believed strongly in the importance of parental involvement in the school. Parent participatory schools existed at that time in many parts of the country, but not in Raleigh.

...the only thing wrong with Raleigh Preschool was that children had to leave after age five.

The founding families hoped to emulate schools in Europe and other parts of the United States that were embracing a more child-centered and hands-on approach to education.

At first the families met as playgroups in their homes. Later they rented space for the new “nursery school” initially at Frances Lacy School and later in a store on Medlin Drive. They named the school Raleigh Preschool. The school was chartered by the state of North Carolina in 1955 and moved to newly purchased property on Ridge Road in 1960.

Over the years, the preschool thrived. Parents, children and faculty agreed that the hands-on nurturing environment instilled a love of learning in young children. Parents often commented that the only thing wrong with Raleigh Preschool was that children had to leave after age five. In the early 1990’s a new generation of families began the process of expanding the school into elementary grades. These families also sought a unique style of education that did not exist in Wake County. They sought to duplicate the values and principles of Raleigh Preschool in a way that was appropriate for elementary aged children. In 1992, forty years after the original playgroup, the school’s membership voted to become an elementary school as well as a preschool. The name was officially changed to The Raleigh School. The elementary division of the school was launched in 1993 in rented space on Glenwood Avenue.

A vision for a new, unified preschool through fifth grade campus was drafted. Property was purchased on Edwards Mill Road. The first phase of the new campus was completed in January 1997. Another phase of the campus master plan was completed with the creation of additional elementary classrooms, a library and a new preschool complex. In 2007 the Athletics and Arts Center was built.

What began as a small playgroup has become a thriving community and respected independent school with 400 students from across the Triangle. During all this change, the mission has remained constant. Just as the founding families sought, the school fosters a love of learning in an atmosphere of challenge, inquiry and respect, and parental involvement is still central to the success of the school.