The first year, school was held in two rooms of a house in Stony Creek, with one teacher, Katherine DeFrancis, teaching 13 children in seven different grade levels. The second year, a 15-acre parcel of land was purchased on Opening Hill Road in Madison, David MacLane was appointed Headmaster, and The Country School as we know it today began to take shape.
Thousands of PreSchool - 8th Grade students, hundreds of families, eight more acres, and 63 years later, The Country School remains a neighborhood institution that continues to emphasize the importance of individualized attention and meaningful relationships among faculty, staff, students, and parents. Although The Country School draws families from 25 different towns, 40% of the families and 30% of the faculty reside in Madison.
By living its Mission, the reach of The Country School community extends well beyond 341 Opening Hill Road. The Class of 2021 led an initiative with both Robert’s Food Center and Madison’s Chamber of Commerce to ban the use of plastic bags. On campus, this environmental consciousness can be seen in the solar roof panels and in the active recycling and upcycling programs. These environmental initiatives were conceived and are driven by the children, evidencing the fact that The Country School values imagination and diverse ways of thinking. The school’s signature Elmore Leadership program provides a platform for students to pass along to the next generations as much of earth’s non-renewable resources as possible. Students at The Country School confidently look beyond themselves to work collaboratively, serve others, and take responsibility for themselves and their world. They know their voices matter.
The Country School’s guiding principle, “Be Kind,” is obvious in the way the school community gives back to town: faculty and children participate in Madison’s beach clean-ups, the school celebrates holidays with the Chamber of Commerce by participating in Trunk or Treat and creating scarecrows to invade downtown, we share creative hands-on projects at the annual Bauer Park Harvest Festival. Underscoring the importance of creating and maintaining rich relationships, The Country School supports parent education through its long-established speaker series with RJ Julia and by opening its campus for screenings of the films Most Likely to Succeed and Screenagers; the educational offerings at The Country School aren’t just for the children. Its gymnasium, fields, and tennis courts are also available to Madison and shoreline players for very public purposes.
By working with Madison-based Call to Care Uganda to underwrite a much-needed well, supporting refugee families and those devastated by natural disasters, educating international students from China, and capitalizing on a vital alumni network, The Country School’s neighborhood has grown tremendously over the past 65 years. And the school’s influence will continue to reach well past Opening Hill Road and beyond the town lines of Madison as Country School students continue to live the Mission by being kind and treating everyone as their neighbor.