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The Foote School

00100 100 Celebrating 100 Years



the si xti e s | 173

The Foote School Celebrating 100 Years Written and edited by Alison D. Moncrief Bromage and Andy Bromage

the foote school, new haven, connecticut


Published on the occasion of The Foote School Centennial Copyright 2016 by The Foote School, New Haven, Connecticut Library of Congress Control Number: 2016905443 Head of School: Carol Maoz Director of Development and Alumni Programs: Ann Baker Pepe Director of Communications: Andy Bromage Written and Edited by Alison D. Moncrief Bromage and Andy Bromage Editorial Advisor: Ann Baker Pepe Designed by Angie Hurlbut, AHdesign Research Assistance by Muffie Clement Green ’61, Kate Reilly Yurkovsky ’09, Caroline Monahan ’08, Dahlia Leffell ’11, Gabriel Knisley ’10, Zev York ’15, Michelle DePascale Copyediting by Anne Sommer Photography by Prescott Bush Clement ’35, Sven Martson, Judy Sirota Rosenthal, Stephanie Anestis, Chuck Choi, Richard Bergen, Andy Bromage, Muffie Clement Green ’61, J. Craig LaVin. We do not know the names of many of the photographers whose work is represented in this book, but we wish to acknowledge their contributions. Plan of the city of New Haven taken in 1748, courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Printed by GHP Media, West Haven, Connecticut The Foote School, 50 Loomis Place, New Haven, Connecticut, 06511

Contents 3

Editors’ Note



7 16 19 30 33 44 47 56 59 70 73 82 85 96 99 108 111 122 125 134

Early Years 1916–1929 early school locations 1930s drama 1940s may day 1950s buildings & grounds 1960s field day 1970s new haven 1980s music 1990s art 2000s china program 2010s architecture



Heads of School


Foote History Timeline


Board Members


PTC Presidents


Faculty & Staff


Foote School Plays

Introduction Imagine being asked to lead a school with no fixed location, no budget and an unsecured albeit enthusiastic faculty. How many of us would take such a leap of faith? This is exactly what Martha Babcock Foote did 100 years ago. With nothing more than a few desks and a small group of eager students, the Bryn Mawr graduate and mother joyfully built her ideal school from scratch—all before getting the right to vote. By the time she retired in 1935, The Foote School had a permanent home, nine grades and a reputation as a creative and challenging school for New Haven-area children. Mrs. Foote was progressive for her time. She considered each student an individual and believed in dedicating a liberal part of the school day to music, art and dramatics. Today we have access to brain research that confirms the importance of creative expression and collaborative learning. Mrs. Foote was onto something all those years ago. And today, Foote School is still onto something. Recently, I walked in on a Kindergarten class and found students working together in a “construction” area. They were planning a surprise—making banners, building towers and delegating jobs for a celebration. When I asked if it was their teacher’s birthday, they looked at me aghast. No, they said, It’s the school’s 100th birthday! We could examine the executive functioning or collaborative problem solving at work in this classroom scene. But the takeaway for me was simply that students love to learn here; they celebrate their school. Whether pretending to host a party, building a wigwam, reciting Latin poetry or writing computer code, Foote students are nurtured from curious children into lifelong learners.

4 | 10 0 y e ar s a t f o o t e

“ Innovation, creativity, problem solving and the courage to try new ideas and to ask questions are the skills we aim to build and embrace.”

As a school, we talk a great deal about stewardship, about what it means to care for our planet, our distinct cultures and our diversity. As the ninth head of school and a steward of this unique learning community, I want to honor what has made Foote so special and guide us to meet the challenges of the next 100 years. Much has changed in our world over the last century, and this is reflected in our school. Now more than ever, the importance of learning from a diverse set of ideas and from people of diverse backgrounds is crucial for students. In another 30 years, many of our students will be working in industries that have not yet been invented. Innovation, creativity, problem solving and the courage to try out new ideas and to ask questions are the skills we aim to build and embrace. And in looking back on our history, as you’ll discover in this book, it’s remarkable how many of these 21st-century skills had roots in Mrs. Foote’s vision. Children still arrive each day excited to dive into classroom projects. Teachers still inspire students with their passions and expertise. How lucky it feels to share in the joy of learning at Foote School every day and to be part of a community that lives its motto, “Gladly will I learn and gladly teach.”

Carol Maoz, Head of School

i ntro du cti o n | 5

6 | 1 0 0 y e ar s a t f o o t e

Early Years Looking back on it, the story of how The Foote School came to exist and thrive for 100 years is as unlikely as it is remarkable. In 1916, Martha Babcock Foote, a 38-year-old mother of three young children, joined a fledgling home-based school as a teacher. By 1917, she was running it. Helen Putnam Blake, a Smith College graduate and teacher, had been holding classes for neighborhood children in the living room of her Huntington Street home, using folding tables and chairs that she put away at the end of each day. In lieu of textbooks, students raided family photo albums and travel books for inspiration. In the summer of 1917, she moved away from New Haven and asked Martha Foote to carry on with the school.

Martha Babcock Foote’s portrait, now hanging in the school’s main office, painted circa 1905 by her sister-in-law, Mary Hubbard Foote, a professional painter trained at Yale. The painting was donated to The Foote School by Martha and Harry Foote’s children.

100 Mrs. Foote had no space for the school and no money to run it. But she had something more important: a vision. Grounded in new child-centered educational theories she had studied at Bryn Mawr College, where she completed a course designing her ideal school, Mrs. Foote believed that learning should be a joyful experience, rich in art, music, drama and literature. It was a departure from the colder, obedience-based model of education prevalent at the time. With equal parts determination and resourcefulness, and with the help of a dedicated parent, Mrs. Foote’s School, as it came to be known, found a large room that fall above a garage at 150 Huntington Street. Mrs. Foote personally paid the $100 rent from the $250 she had earned teaching the year before.

e arly ye ar s | 7


National Park Service created Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in the U.S.

Within its first decade, the school changed locations six times. Mrs. Foote later wrote of those early days, “When school closed in the spring, I seldom knew where we would be in the fall, nor how many children we would have, which made engaging teachers very awkward.” And still, the school opened its doors again each fall, often at different parents’ homes in the East Rock neighborhood. Mrs. Foote divided student activity groups with large, hand-built screens, which doubled as theater backdrops and mounts for student artwork. Two Yale undergraduates helped out: one Sterling Laboratory student set up and took down the folding tables each day, and another took children outside to play. Music was taught in a parlor, art was created in a basement laundry room and plays were performed in gardens. Martha Babcock Jenkins (later Foote) at her Bryn Mawr College graduation, 1902

Years later, longtime Foote English teacher Margaret Ballou Hitchcock reflected on her first visit to the school in those early days. She observed children moving freely about the classrooms, putting on plays to illustrate Greek myths, making papier-mâché villages and battle scenes from clay. “But with all the freedom and flexibility in the curriculum,” she recalled, “I discovered when I began teaching there that Mrs. Foote believed in excellence in education. Nothing shoddy or second-rate or in poor taste was allowed.” In 1923, a group of parents anonymously rented an apartment on the second floor of a stable and coachman’s house at 315 Saint Ronan Street, where the school spent the next 35 years. When the school outgrew the second floor, the parents generously bought and remodeled the entire building. By the end of the 1920s, the school employed 10 teachers, taught seven grades and saw the beginning of the Parent Teacher Council and the Christmas play.

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Bryn Mawr College’s Class of 1902; Martha Babcock Jenkins is seated in the first row, sixth from the left.

Laete cognoscam et laete docebo—Gladly will I learn and gladly teach. — f o o t e s c h o o l m otto

There are no official school records explaining the origin of the school’s motto. We know only that these words, taken from the general prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, have been part of the school’s mission from the start.

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World War I: First U.S. combat troops arrive in France Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution

A Thanksgiving play at Mrs. Foote’s School in November 1922, the school’s oldest photograph

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U.S. Red-Scare raids lead to arrest of thousands of suspected anarchists, communists and radicals



The 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote

Time magazine debuts President Warren Harding dies following a sudden illness

(above and left) A 1923 performance of Orpheus and Eurydice in the garden of art teacher Anna Berdan

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Polly Wiggin (left) and Cally Sizer, Class of 1931, circa 1925

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Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight

Stock market crashes The Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City

(right) Students shoveling snow in 1928 (below) Betsy Seymour and Kate Hemingway, Class of 1927. Most students lived in the neighborhood and walked, biked or roller skated to school. But by the 1920s, some students were arriving by automobile.

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Anna Huntington Deming A Life Intertwined with Foote on Anna’s lapel in her high school photo from Prospect Hill School.

Anna in 1934

Anna Huntington Deming ’35 was a lifelong supporter of the Foote community and the only alumna to personally know all nine heads of school. Two of her sons and all three granddaughters attended Foote. When she passed away in 2014 at the age of 91, the school paid tribute to her dedication to Foote and to her penchant for collecting stories and ephemera by establishing the school archives in her honor. In “Freedom Under the Elms,” a chronicle about growing up in New Haven, Anna remembers her early, independent travel from her home in Whitneyville to Foote, then to the “center of civilization”—the New Haven Green. The conductor of the J trolley became her friend and saved treasures for her; a rabbit’s foot found on the trolley floor appears

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Her writing brings Foote’s history alive with playful and meticulous detail. She recalls making puppets and marionettes to put on plays with her Foote friends, complete with handsomely printed programs. In another vignette, she tells of a practical joke gone awry, when she and some classmates accidentally threw a gunny sack over Headmistress Winifred Sturley’s head. When the bag was pulled off, Mrs. Sturley’s wig was totally askew. “For the next while,” Anna wrote, “we wrote essay upon essay on various virtues which we lacked.” After Carol Maoz became head of school in 2009, 86-year-old Anna rang the doorbell at Carol’s house. She had known every head of Foote School since Mrs. Foote and felt that she should make an effort to meet the new one, saying, “At my age, it’s best not to put things off.”

(background) The cover of Martha Babcock Foote’s personal photo album, with candids of students and their families dating back to the Class of 1927 (inset, top) The opening page from Mrs. Foote’s photo album. The Latin, taken from Virgil’s Aeneid, translates to “perhaps this too will be a pleasure to look back on one day.” (insets, middle and bottom) Children from the Classes of 1928 and 1937, from Mrs. Foote’s photo album

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Taking Root



New Haven, Connecticut in its first seven years, The Foote School led a peripatetic existence, moving among a half-dozen homes in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood.


Mrs. Foote ended each school year not knowing where—or if—classes would resume the next fall. Time and again, however, parents stepped forward to welcome the school into their homes, giving over playrooms and parlors for art projects, plays and lessons in music, writing and math. When Mrs.


Foote visited the Loomis Place campus in 1958, it was without exaggeration that she remarked, “The school, you see, owes its very existence to you parents.” Here is a map and list of the school’s locations.

6 c. 1916–1917

c. 1917–1919

c. 1919

c. 1920

Helen P. Blake House 58 Huntington Street

Garage on Huntington Street 150 Huntington Street

Henry Canby House 105 East Rock Road

Holcomb House 25 Everit Street


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“The first task every morning was to get the tables out of the nursery closet, and when school was over we put them back, leaving everything in order for family living.”



— mrs. foote remember i ng he le n blake ’s ho u se i n a 19 58 spe e ch at the lo o mi s place campus

c. 1920–1922




Winchester Bennett House 76 Everit Street

Charles Morris House 230 Prospect Street

Carriage House 315 Saint Ronan Street

50 Loomis Place





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The Foote School: Celebrating 100 Years  

A sample chapter from Foote School's centennial history book.

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