The Wheeler School, founded in 1889, began as the inspiration and life-work of a visionary educator, artist, and activist named Mary C. Wheeler. Miss Wheeler, as she was always called, believed girls deserved a challenging and rigorous curriculum more substantive than the “finishing school” approach typical of the age.
An innovator, even rebel, Miss Wheeler grew up on a farm in Concord, MA, with the influence of and personal connection to many of America’s Transcendentalists. A teacher of math and languages in her early career, she was also developing her own artistic talents. And when she created her school, she returned to Europe often, taking her students overseas to paint — living next door and becoming acquainted with Claude Monet, his family and the artists studying his methods.
Looking for the advantages of town and country living, she developed a school with two campuses — an urban campus in the heart of Providence to benefit from the proximity to Brown University, and a “Farm Campus,” in nearby Seekonk, Massachusetts, to serve as a “rural counterpoint.” At “The Farm” the growing crop of day and boarding students could study botany, biology, and astronomy in a pastoral environment. From this beginning more than 130 years ago, grew the coeducational, Nursery-12 day school of today.
Eighth Head of School Allison Gaines Pell began her tenure in 2017.
For information contact, Archives Coordinator and Director of Strategic Communications or , Mary C. Wheeler Archivist and Head of Visual Arts.