Henry Barnard of Hartford, Connecticut was appointed Rhode Island’s first Commissioner of Public Schools. It was he who recommended that a teacher training school be started in Rhode Island. Thus began the crusade for the establishment of Rhode Island’s Normal School.
The Rhode Island Normal School opened its doors on Westminster Street in Providence, Rhode Island to 29 students who desired to teach young children.
The Observation School opened. It consisted of ten classrooms on the first floor of the Normal School where young women trained to become teachers. The Normal School was located downtown, across from the State House. The Observation School was in the same building for thirty years.
The Observation School became Henry Barnard School. The Normal School changed its name to Rhode Island College of Education.
The Henry Barnard School moved out of the Rhode Island College of Education into its own four stories building next door. The principal of the newly opened school was Dr. Clara Craig who was one of the first critic teachers in the Normal School. The new building was thoroughly modern with 23 classrooms to accommodate grades K through Grade 9. The school also housed a library, auditorium, art room, general shop, cafeteria and a health clinic. It was now capable of receiving as many as 700 elementary and junior high students. Tuition was $75.00 for students living in Rhode Island and free for Providence students who were unable to afford the tuition.
The first edition of the “Barnard Banner” was published by the Junior High students. Tuition was increased to $100.00, and school lunch was twenty-two cents. The Henry Barnard students could participate in some extracurricular activities. Students belonged to a variety of “clubs” including drama, science, debating, needlecraft, art, orchestra, and basketball. All students were taught French, and the program became nationally known. The French Club even performed plays in French.
Dr. Mary Tucker Thorp took over as principal and remained in that position for the next 23 years. Under her leadership, the school grew, became nationally known and had a reputation for excellence in education.
Enrollment climbed to 725 students with a long waiting list for the elementary school. After school activities included: United Nations Club, model airplanes, Russian language, Russian language, knitting, orchestra, and chess. The Mother’s Club which was organized in 1897 celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The Henry Barnard School moved along with Rhode Island College to its present location at the center of the Mount Pleasant campus. Many of the classrooms were now equipped with closed circuit television, cameras, and telecasting equipment. College students could now monitor lessons and activities from other locations on campus. Mr. Hassenfus was named Principal.
It was recommended that the junior High be dissolved because it was too small and too limited in scope. Now Henry Barnard was the only kindergarten to grade six. Under the direction of Principal Terrence Boylan, the first computers were introduced to Henry Barnard in grades one and two. It was “Project Plan.” The purpose of “Project plan” was to help the teacher individualize instruction. The individualization of instruction has always been one of Henry Barnard’s strengths.
A day care program began at the Henry Barnard School. In the Fall of that year, the school initiated a multi-age class of 5, 6, 7-year-olds modeled after the British Infant School System. Richard Sevey was the Principal.
A full-day Kindergarten began at Henry Barnard School.
Dr. Ron Tibbetts was the Principal of the Henry Barnard School for most of the 1990’s.
Dr. Lou Lloyd-Zannini was the Principal of the Henry Barnard School.
Mrs. Jeannine Magliocco was named the new Principal of Henry Barnard School. Mr. Paul Janaway was named the new Assistant Principal. Mr. Haven Starr retired from Henry Barnard School after 45 wonderful years.