Green Vale School, located in Old Brookville, New York, boasts a rich history dating back to its founding in 1923.
Established by dedicated educators and local visionaries, the school has been committed to providing a superior education to generations of students. Over the decades, Green Vale has evolved, expanding its curriculum, campus, and facilities to meet the ever-changing demands of education. The school's enduring mission has remained constant: to nurture young minds, fostering a love for learning, and instilling a sense of community, character, respect, reflection, and resourcefulness.
With a tradition of excellence that spans nearly a century, Green Vale School continues to play a vital role in shaping the educational landscape of Long Island, creating a joyful and supportive school community for students from preschool through middle school.
Jesse N. Dougherty, Ed.D.
From the Archives
Green Vale's history is marked by continuity of several common themes:
Continuity of devoted families; an active and forward-looking Board; a desire to optimize the campus and facilities only as educationally appropriate; generous philanthropic support balanced by a commitment to financial prudence ; and steady leadership to ensure appropriate growth while preserving "what's best".
The Green Vale School is founded by merging two nascent home-based schools into one entity that is built on the school’s existing campus. The School's main building is completed in the fall of 1923 and welcomes 139 children on opening day.
Tuition ranges from $400-600 depending on grade level.
The name "Green Vale" is selected over "Wheatley Hills"; the space between the words was added to separate the school's name from that of the nearby town of Greenvale.
Green Vale graduates its only 11th grade class. Thereafter through the 1960s, the School follows the pattern of boys graduating after 8th grade and girls after 9th.
The dining room annex is constructed for $56,000. Boys' locker rooms occupy the space beneath which is now the late-day room. The new space is also used for weekly dancing classes.
With the School on firm financial ground, the School's founding shareholders donate 90% of the outstanding stock back to the School and 50 additional benefactors buy and donate the remainder and Green Vale gains its not-for-profit status.
Mrs. Paul Pennoyer becomes the first female trustee; the board has included both male and female trustees ever since.
The Parents Association, consisting of a committee of nine mothers, is established to discuss topics such as academic programing, homework, and dress code.
The Blue-Gold Banquet is started, which later becomes the Blue-Gold Picnic.
The current Head of School's house is built for $22,000, and what had been the headmaster’s house (the current Administration Building) is converted into classroom space.
World War II begins and enrollment subsequently declines by a third. Male teachers and staff prove difficult to retain due to military and manpower needs. Despite these hardships Green Vale remains open thanks to efforts of many. By the war’s end 145 GVS alumni had served the American war effort with 11 fatalities.
With the post-World War II boom and mass migration to the suburbs, GVS enrollment soars to 267 students, 314 in 1946, and 344 in 1947. All these new students (and faculty hired to teach them) require Green Vale to again address the issue of expanding its facilities and evolving the academic program to satisfy the needs of the post-war era.
The Board hires Elmo Roper, a well-known market analyst, to solicit opinions from parents regarding the programs and goals of Green Vale. His conclusions reveal that parents prioritize high academic standards, small class sizes, and excellent faculty. There is concern about too much homework and pressure on the children, as well as the status of the athletic programs. There is also mention of expanding Green Vale through high school.
The first model sailboats are constructed by 5th Graders and a regatta is held at James’ Pond during the spring.
The School’s first fundraising campaign is initiated in an effort to raise $250,000 to help build new classroom space, provide funding for scholarships, and increase faculty salaries. In the end only 40% of the goal is achieved, requiring that the plans be scaled back and a temporary middle school building be constructed adjacent to what is now the Administration Building. This “temporary building” remained until 1982.
Enrollment grows to 400 students. To ensure the School's financial condition, the Board of Trustees initiate the "Christmas Appeal" -- a precursor to today’s Annual Fund.
It is decided that Green Vale should have a coat of arms and a motto. A contest is held among the graduating students; of the 59 entrants, Mimi Colgate won with her rendition of a knight's helmet. Mr. John Green, who chaired the language department, added the motto “Optima Durant."
As the need for fundraising becomes more established, December brings the first annual Book Fair. This Fair eventually becomes the Christmas Fair, the Holiday Fair, and now the Fall Boutique. The Book Fair becomes a separate spring event in the 1980s.
The tradition of each graduating student creating a personalized plaster plaque to permanently adorn the school becomes a rite of passage. These plaques were initially hung in the dining hall, but have since spread to the Iselin Center.
A second fundraising campaign raises $1,000,000 to create the current Auerbach Lower School East building and offices in what we now refer to as the Administration Building, as well as expand teacher salaries and benefits.
The annual Green Vale "Juvenilia" is converted from being a soft cover literary revue to a traditional yearbook.
Green Vale parent Thomas Choate leads a successful drive to allow Green Vale students, as well as students from other independent schools, to have access to public school busing at no charge.
The school’s first mission statement is crafted to enumerate the educational goals of the faculty, administration, Board, and parents.
First Curriculum Guide is developed and published.
The Pre-Kindergarten year is added. Several years later Nursery becomes the youngest grade.
Board President Oliver Iselin undertakes a very successful fundraising initiative to build a center for a library, a theater, visual arts, music rooms, science labs and classrooms. Proceeds were also deployed to improve teacher salaries and build the endowment.
Headmaster Peter Clifton creates Green Vale's first tuition aid program to increase diversity. Since the 1940s the School had given financial aid to help parents in need, but it was not until this time that the school actively recruited talented students from minority communities and offered affordable access to a Green Vale education.
Green Vale unveils its first Five-Year Plan, a document which included wide-ranging recommendations for physical and educational improvements, and a plan for their completion.
Carlyle Coash is named Headmaster and works to strengthen the curriculum as well as arts and athletics programs.
Six computers are donated by Mrs. Emily (Missy) Crisp and a curriculum in computer literacy and programming is established for grades 5-9. Missy Crisp also introduces the basics of computing to parents.
In the spring, a large group from Green Vale attends a New York Mets baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, thus beginning the Mets Night tradition.
In July the “temporary” Middle School building catches fire and burns to the ground. Quick action from local firemen keeps the fire from spreading to the adjacent Lower School East and Administration building. With one month until the start of school, trailers are brought in to serve as temporary classrooms while a new building is constructed to the west of the Iselin Center.
The new Middle School Building opens to replace the one lost by fire. (Today’s Upper School)
Founders Day (today known as Kids Connect) begins with the intention of bringing together the Upper School students with the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten.
Board members spearhead a major remodeling of the Iselin Center to include a state-of-the-art computer lab (Kenny-Grace Technology Center) that is instrumental in building Green Vale's technology programs.
Stephen H. Watters becomes the new Head of School and dedicates himself to modernizing the School, focusing on strengthening the math and computer programs and realigning the divisions, which were changed from four divisions to three: Early Childhood (N-K), Lower School (1-5) and Upper School (6-9).
Green Vale launches a $7,000,000 campaign “The Best Endures” to bolster the School’s endowment and create a dedicated Early Childhood Center and Lower School library, two new science labs, Upper School playground, and renovate the Harris Theater and classrooms.
The Schwerin Early Childhood Center opens.
Green Vale launches a $15,000,000 Capital Campaign “85 Years of Excellence” to sustain and build the school’s endowment and greatly enhance the campus and program offerings with a multi-purpose athletic and events facility (now the Watters Center), a renovation of Lower School East, new parking and traffic areas and the renovation the School’s choral and crafts rooms, outdoor amphitheater and playing fields.
Stephen H. Watters retires after 20 years as Head of School, the longest tenure of any head to date.
Jesse Dougherty, Ed.D. is named 10th Head of School.
The Lower School building interior is renovated, the exterior restored, and all new windows and ventilation installed.
Creation and dedication of the Chris Shea Memorial Garden thanks to donations from current and past Green Vale families and alumni.
Kitchen renovation is completed thanks to the vision and generosity of the Kelter family.
Completion and dedication of the Susan Jones Playground.
Green Vale celebrates its Centennial Anniversary.