1887 – Helen Parkhurst born

Educator Helen Parkhurst was born this day in Durand, Wisconsin. Parkhurst graduated from the Wisconsin State Teachers college in 1907, studied in Germany and Italy, and worked with Maria Montessori. Reflecting the progressive spirit of the era, in 1919 she founded the Dalton School in New York City, where her “Dalton Plan” was put into action. The plan emphasized individualized instruction tailored to a pupil’s abilities and interests, and the development of independence, social skills, and a sense of responsibility. Students at the Dalton School studied in “laboratory brigades,” without tests or grades. Parkhurst served as the school’s headmistress until 1942 and her ideas influenced the educational systems of the Netherlands, China and Japan. She also wrote several books and appeared on radio and television before her death in Milford, Connecticut, June 1, 1973.