HISTORY OF SMCDS
St. Michael’s Country Day School opened its doors in September of 1939 at the location of the former Cloyne House School on Training Station Rd in Newport. Chauncey Beasley, a noted educator from Cooperstown, NY, served as the school’s first Headmaster. The school enrolled 10 boys in its first year and remained at this location until 1942 when the increased activity of the Navy base due to World War II resulted in the school moving to the Green End House on the Boulevard across from Bliss Mine Rd. The school remained at this location for only one year before moving to its current and permanent location at 180 Rhode Island Ave – the Mason House. By 1945, the school had increased in enrollment to 190 students.
For the first 25 years St. Michael’s operated as a diocesan school – a non-sectarian institution overseen by the Episcopal Church under an independent board. In 1963, school oversight shifted to Newport’s Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the oldest continuously serving churches in North America.
In November of 1975, Headmaster Mansfield ‘Pro’ Lyon and the Rev. Charles J. Minifie announced to the school community that the Corporation of Trinity Church had voted to re-establish “St. Michael’s School as a separate, non-profit, educational corporation.” In the following year, an independent Board of Trustees, led by Mr. James Hodges and Mr. Tom Cullen acquired St. Michael’s from Trinity Church.
The school and campus expanded in the 1980’s and 1990’s with the addition of two buildings including the van Beuren Building originally built in 1984 and completely renovated in 2006 and the Hill Arts and Athletic Center built in 1995.
Today St. Michael’s Country Day School thrives as an early childhood through eighth grade independent, co-educational, non-sectarian school accredited through the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE). St. Michael’s currently serves 200 children of diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds from Aquidneck Island, Jamestown, South County, and surrounding areas.
In the past decade, financial aid at St. Michael’s has grown to exceed $900,000 – a testament to our ongoing commitment to serving less affluent families in our community. St. Michael’s Country Day School employs over 50 faculty and staff and has been a well-respected educational, non-profit institution in our community. St. Michael’s has not only provided an exceptional educational experience to our enrolled students and families but has offered countless after- school and summer educational opportunities to other children in our community. Our students, parents and faculty have also engaged in numerous community service initiatives benefiting important non-profit organizations on Aquidneck Island throughout the years.
On June 30, 2014 Head of School Whitney Slade, concluded his 16-year tenure as the longest serving Head of School in St. Michael’s history. Mr. Slade made a significant positive impact on our school during his tenure for which we are proud and grateful. On July 7, 2014 our school community officially welcomed our 14th Head of School, John Zurn. Mr. Zurn comes to St. Michael’s as a successful and experienced Head with over 20 years experience.
In 2013, St. Michael’s Country Day School celebrated seventy-five years of providing elementary grade school excellence to the greater Newport community. During these years, the school has established a reputation as being the leading independent school in the community with outstanding academics underscored by a genuine commitment to character development, student leadership skills, and curricular innovation. Graduates of St. Michael’s community attend the finest high schools and colleges in the nation. These elements of the school’s history and tradition will always serve as the foundation upon which our school and community will be built. We are very proud of our 77 year history and the positive impact we have made in our Newport community.