Over 50 years ago, Georgeann Skakel Terrien was seeking better educational opportunities for her children. Along with other Greenwich parents, she was frustrated by the local schools, which fell short of her expectations and wishes for her children. Upon hearing about the Montessori teaching method from a relative traveling outside the US, Georgeann became eager to bring this teaching approach to the Greenwich area and felt strongly that her children and others would benefit from its strengths. She was part of a core group of like-minded parents who hired Nancy Rambusch, an American educator with a passion for Montessori, to head the newly formed Whitby School.
In 1958, the first Whitby classes were held in a converted barn, as Whitby opened its doors as a day school for children between the ages of three through fourteen - the first Montessori school in the United States.
Shortly thereafter, through the strength of Nancy Rambusch as well as other Whitby educators at the time, Whitby School became the birthplace of the American Montessori Society. The first AMS teacher training courses were held in Greenwich, using Whitby classrooms as their model.
In 1960, the school moved to its current 25-acre location on Lake Avenue. Notably, Maria Montessori's only son, Mario Montessori, attended the dedication ceremony in 1961. Additionally, the people of Yorkshire, England, presented a stone from the famed Whitby Abbey that still resides today in the main hall of the school.
In 1975, a toddler class called Stepping Stones was created to serve children between two and three years of age. By 1982, Stepping Stones was accepting children at eighteen months. In 1994, the Junior High Division was reconfigured into the present Middle School. Whitby’s facilities expanded in 2002 with the construction of Renaissance Hall, which served the increasing upper school student population. The rebuilding of the original Founders Hall and renovation of Caedmon Hall followed in 2008, providing Whitby with the distinctive, modern architectural style that characterizes the school today.
Whitby's beginnings came from the passion, energy and excitement of a few dedicated parents who shared a common belief. This passion to offer a new and better way to educate children continued in 2007 with the integration of the internationally pace-setting and highly regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) program. After extensive teacher training and a rigorous evaluation process, Whitby received official IB accreditation in spring 2010, becoming the only school in the United States accredited by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the International Baccalaureate Organization for students PreK through grade 8. Whitby is also accredited by the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools as well as members of the Educational Records Bureau and the REACH Prep program.
The vibrant Whitby community was the catalyst behind the addition of IB and the innumerable recent and positive changes taking place at the school. Whitby is healthy and strong and remains an innovative leader in preparing students to succeed today and in the future.
The Whitby Crest
Saint Hilda was the Abbess of Whitby Abbey, which was established in 657 AD. The Abbey flourished as a seat of learning and celebration of life under Saint Hilda, who became known as one who nourished and encouraged the talents of her people.
Symbolic of the heritage of St. Hilda, the Crest is dominated by the Benedictine Cross, representing the strength of the community. The three coiled snakes represent fossils found in abundance on the seashore near the Whitby Abbey. They were believed originally to be venomous serpents, which were changed to stone by the prayers of St. Hilda. The three waves represent the intellect in action, and the sun is the life-giving environment of the school.
Although our community has changed and grown over the years, the crest is still a symbol of our history, strength and endurance. We remember with pride the many children and parents who have passed through our halls, left their imprint, and have shared the unique experience that is Whitby.