About The School
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In June of 1928, a referendum was held to purchase three acres of land and build Braeside School. It was overwhelmingly approved. John Van Bergen, a former associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, was retained as the architect. He was a local resident and a friend and neighbor of landscape designer, Jens Jensen. Wright and Jensen both strongly influenced Van Bergen to design a "prairie" style building in a natural setting. Contrary to austere, factory-like schools built at that time, Braeside School harmonized with the surroundings and wooded landscape.
Braeside School opened on September 9, 1929. The staff consisted of three full-time teachers and three part-time workers. One class of 22 third and fourth graders was taught by the head teacher, while another teacher taught 23 first and second graders. The third teacher handled 10 kindergarteners and assisted the first-grade class. The workers taught music, art, and health.
The superintendent of District 108, Clark G. Wright, followed the theories of John Dewey and G. Stanley Hall that learning should be an active process. He believed strongly in teaching fine arts and in developing the physical well-being of children. Requests were made to the school board for playgrounds, ball fields, and ice skating rinks. Free dental services were provided for all students at the Highland Park Dental Clinic. In November of 1931, the school board hired a psychologist. Shortly thereafter, hearing tests were given to entering kindergarten children.
From the beginning, Braeside practiced the latest educational theories. In 1929 much time in the lower grades was devoted to creative play. In kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades, tables, and chairs were used instead of desks, and a rug was used for storytelling time. In the 1940s and 1950s teachers enhanced their teaching by supplementing textbook learning with real-life experiences. Braeside continued to be innovative in the 1960s when it became the first school in the district to establish an Instructional Media Center. Individual Program Instruction was introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently team teaching and transitional first grade became a reality.
In 1934 and 1939 additions were added to include an auditorium/gymnasium and classrooms for children in grades 5 through 8. By 1949 another bond issue was passed for needed improvements. When Edgewood School opened in 1953, Braeside shifted back to a K-5 school. Student enrollment increased to 312 by 1955, and 339 the following year. Two new classrooms were then added.
A most important factor in the Braeside story is the contribution and support of the PTA. The same month that Braeside opened in 1929, the Braeside PTA met there. By 1935 it had organized a Cub Scout Pack, sponsored a field day, and was working toward a permanent library. It helped with many school referenda, and later in 1941 sponsored a Book Fair and an Ice Carnival. In 1944 it moved a one room log cabin to the playground. By this time it was also sponsoring Boy Scouts, Brownies, and Girl Scouts. Through the years, special physical education equipment, kitchen supplies, teachers' room furnishings, encyclopedias, audio-visual equipment, and computers were some of the many purchases contributed by the PTA (now the Braeside PTO).
Braeside School has demonstrated innovative and strong leadership in the educational community. Caring teachers and parents have worked together to bring the best of the world of learning to their eager students. Here's to the next 80 years!