Our History & Vision
Meadowbrook School was founded in 1919 as an independent, non-sectarian, country day school for boys from Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Advertisements published by the founders, a group of families whose names included local luminaries such as Robert Sewell and J. Herkness, said the school "would combine the latest and most improved methods of instruction, together with the opportunity of country life."
The Rev. John White Walker served as the first headmaster for more than 20 years. He retired in 1941 when, for the first time, he found that the students could out-run him on the track. Eleven students were enrolled that first year. Just like today's students, they attended classes in the three-story building surrounded by more than 16 acres of fields and woods.
In the early the 1920s, Meadowbrook had become a thriving school for the sons of many prominent families in the area, whose names now adorn the mastheads of Philadelphia businesses and law firms: Lippincott, Drinker, Hallowell, Ewing and Sinkler were among the names of the early graduates. Local philanthropist Eugene "Fitz" Dixon was commended for bringing in "good movies for rainy days" in 1933. In 1940, the upper school boys' orchestra was directed by a young student from the Curtis Institute: one Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein later wrote a letter to Meadowbrook saying he well- remembered his experience there: he was pelted with chalk when he tried to conduct his musicians in a composition by Rimsky-Korsakow.
Although it started out as an all-boys school, Meadowbrook became a co-educational institution in the 1970s. Also, in the 1970s, Meadowbrook eliminated the 7th and 8th grades to become singularly focused on elementary education as it is today.
In 1927, the school catalogue boasted that Meadowbrook graduates "easily enter" local boarding schools and other private schools. "At such schools as Penn Charter, the Episcopal Academy, St. Paul’s, and the Hill School, they acquit themselves in a manner which is a credit to themselves and their school," said the catalogue. The same can be said today. Meadowbrook graduates are actively pursued by all of the leading independent schools in the area. Many Meadowbrook graduates have gone on to distinguished careers.
Meadowbrook still remains faithful to the sentiments expressed in the first advertisement for Meadowbrook in 1919: "The aim of the school will be to give (children) such training as will develop equally the mind and body, laying a foundation for perfect (adulthood) in years to come. The moral growth of the child will also be carefully nourished for the up building of character." Through the years, Meadowbrook has remained true to that mission – to build that foundation for our children by providing the very best in elementary education.