In 1919, North Shore Country Day was born from the hearts of a group of Winnetka families and the leadership of an education visionary, Perry Dunlap Smith.
Together they created more than a school—they built a community of teachers, students and families, that has thrived and endured as a model of learning, living and serving for 100 years.
We celebrated this milestone in our 2019-2020 school year. The campus was festively decorated with signs and banners displaying our centennial logo. We launched the year with an all-school family ice cream social. All of our annual traditions were "centennialized" to reflect our past and honor our traditions. Little did we know that the Party of The Century, our annual Benefit supporting people, program and place, would be the conclusion of our Centennial celebrations, interrupted by the global coronavirus pandemic.
However, our 100-year milestone lives on in a limited-edition book. In it, we honor the tapestry of people and ideas woven into a singular, lasting vision of an indelible model for learning.
Connecting the past and present with hundreds of photos, the rich story of North Shore Country Day is revealed through facts, quotes and anecdotal stories honoring the ongoing legacy of one of the most highly rated progressive schools in the United States—where each student has a voice, is known and valued. (To order a copy, click the link on the image to the right.)
"Live and Serve" — Pioneers Along The Road
Explore the our interactive timeline to learn about the history of North Shore Country Day.
Heads of School
Perry Dunlap Smith, 1919-1954
A true pioneer in education, 31-year-old Perry Dunlap Smith took on the task of starting a new independent school from scratch. With the teachings of Colonel Francis Parker, the progressive education philosophy and the Country Day movement as his models, he established traditions and standards for athletics, academics and arts for the education of the whole child. Many of his ideas, radical for his day, still inform the way the school functions today.
Nathaniel S. French, 1954-1968
After a search that involved 35 candidates from across the country, the Board of Directors selected Nathaniel S. French as Perry Dunlap Smith's successor. Mr. French had taught at North Shore since 1938 and had held positions in the lower, middle and upper schools, as well as Dean of Boys and live-in mentor to the boarding students in Leicester Hall. His father had been a principal at a progressive school in Boston, where French attended, and he had been one of the first students and graduates of the progressive Black Mountain College. As an insider who had worked closely with Smith, he understood, carried on and appropriately evolved North Shore's distinctive principles and ideals throughout the tumultuous 1960s.
George F. Eldredge '41, 1969-1973
George Eldredge was a natural candidate for the school's third Head of School. A graduate of the North Shore Country Day Class of 1941, Eldredge, like Nathaniel French, rose through the ranks. After high school, he went to Northwestern University and then to the Graduate Teachers College of Winnetka. In 1949, he came back to teacher at North Shore, living in Leicester Hall for several years, later becoming the head of both the lower and middle schools. Eldredge retired in 1973, when he decided to go back to teaching at the Roycemore School in Evanston.
Douglas C. MacDonald, 1973-1979
Douglas MacDonald was the first outsider to lead the School. A Princeton alumni, he had previously been Head of the Upper School at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia. During his tenure at North Shore, he was known best for his ability to connect with students, his relaxed demeanor and open door policy. While head, he also taught Upper School English and earned his PhD in education from Temple University. His academic, inward-focused leadership style put an emphasis on independence for teachers and students.
Richard P. Hall, 1979-1989
Richard P. Hall brought a new type of professionalism to the head of school position. Under his vital and enthusiastic leadership, the school completed the largest capital campaign to that point, constructed a new library, more than doubled faculty salaries, and established the development office. He embraced traditions and values of Perry Dunlap Smith, while recognizing the need for change and growth in ways that reflected the core values of the school. He demonstrated "Live and Serve" through his work on the board of the Hadley School for the Blind, Winnetka Rotary, and stepping in as Interim Head of the Lower School and to teach French.
Deane R. Lanphear, 1989-1992
Deane Lanphear came to North Shore after a storied career that included being a parish minister, an ethics and religious studies teacher, headmaster at Mount Herman School in Massachusetts, and an educational consultant. In his three years as Head of School at NSCD, he focused on defining North Shore's curriculum and bringing the school into the computer age.
Julia L. Hall, 1992-2000
Julie Hall was a true friend to the school and a strong leader. Ingrained in the life of the school, she served as an English and Social Studies Teacher, Head of Middle School, Fifth Grade Teacher, Academic Dean, Library Program Director and, finally, Head of School from 1992 until her retirement in 2000. Julie and her husband Parker had a long association with North Shore and were active participants in development efforts, including three Capital Campaigns that built the Hall Library (in honor of former Head of School Dick Hall), significantly increased the school’s endowment—specifically for teachers’ salaries (upon her retirement, The Julie Hall Great Teachers Fund was established in the school’s endowment), and built the Conant Science Center, renovated the lower and middle schools.
W. Thomas Doar III, 2000-2016
Tom Doar spent 11 years as teacher, coach, Head of Lower School, and Director of Admissions and Development, then returned to serve 16 transformative years as Head of School. Some of the significant highlights from his tenure include: enrollment growth from 361 students to 524 students, a 45% increase; a strengthened reputation in the surrounding community; expanded student body in all three divisions; faculty and staff growth from 82 to 121; endowment growth from $5.5M to $23M; Annual Giving growth from $584,000 to $1.3M; more than $75M raised, $50M in campaigns; campus improvements of $40M including the Conant Science Center linking all three divisions, renovations of Lower School and Middle School, transformation of Upper School through a new schedule and renovated spaces, modernization of the Auditorium and Arts Center, and establishment of The Goodrich House for the Head of School and family—all impacting thousands of students, their families, and hundreds of faculty and staff.
Thomas J. Flemma, 2016-Present
Tom Flemma’s passion for teaching-and-learning excellence and his commitment to North Shore’s enduring values, culture and mission made him a compelling choice to become our ninth Head of School in 2016. Previously, he was Associate Head of School and Dean of Faculty at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT where he also served in various capacities, including History Teacher, Coach of hockey and football, Dormity Head, Chair of the History Department and Associate Dean of Faculty. Tom is a master teacher, a seasoned and collaborative administrator and a caring and humble leader.