News & Views

Country School Founding Co-Principals Commemorated with Portrait

New Canaan Country School’s first Co-Principals, Edith Dudley and Effie Dunton, and the mission upon which they founded the school in 1916, were honored by the school’s community at its virtual Annual Meeting held Thursday, Oct. 1. View video.
School Archivist Mark Macrides unveiled a portrait the school commissioned of the turn-of-the-century educators and provided a brief history of the women and how artist, Frank Morris, used several archival reference photographs to create the oil painting.
“It’s wonderful to be able to offer this portrait as a means of accurately honoring our history and creating a physical representation of two pioneering women whose determination during challenging times helped to solidify Country School’s mission. As the school has grown in every way, from the early days on Park Street, the educational foundation established by the Misses Dudley and Dunton remains remarkably intact,” said Mr. Macrides.
The completed portrait will hang in the school’s Grace House administrative building.
Considered educational visionaries at the forefront of a radically progressive, childhood education movement emerging in the early 1900’s, the women were persuaded by a group of New Canaan parents to leave New York City’s Jacoby School and establish what was then called the Community School. Classes began Oct. 16, 1916, in the “Raymond Bungalow” located at 46 Seminary Street in New Canaan. It valued, among other things, community and courage;  in the years to follow, it would take on as its slogan, the Latin phrase, “Audentes Fortuna Juvat;” fortune favors the bold.
In 1919, the school purchased property at 63 Park Street, also in New Canaan, as it was in much need of additional space. It is this building, with its still recognizable, prominent round columns, that is used as the backdrop for the portrait.
Upon being named Headmaster in 1938, Henry Welles remarked upon the core mission and foundational values upon which the school was now firmly established adding, “Childhood is in itself an integral part of life to be lived fully and happily.”
The spirit of these words lives on today. The school, now located at 635 Frogtown Road in New Canaan, continues to respect childhood and values community, courage, curiosity and kindness in equal measure.
“Even at its founding, the school was about community, about childhood, and about the appropriate blend of intellectual and character pursuits,” said current Head of School Aaron Cooper to the parents, faculty and staff in attendance at the Annual Meeting. “Through Miss Dunton and Miss Dudley, we honor our entire past, just as we do in our current mission and core values. And, just as our mission simultaneously looks towards the future in its words, so too do we, supported by the foundation of our core and our notable history.”