It Was 70 Years Ago Today...


In the summer of 1948, something truly phenomenal in the field of early childhood education was taking place. Rafe Ellis, a psychoanalyst, and his wife Laura, an early childhood educator, created a revolutionary preschool program unlike any other. They sought to develop a quality learning environment that identified children’s developmental stages and the important milestones achieved at each level. Rafe and Laura recognized that each child has unique social, emotional, and academic needs and devised a curriculum that was not only child-centered, hands-on and developmentally-appropriate, but individualized and tailored to the specific needs of young children.

Originally called Rafe’s Rangers, The Country School (TCS) was located among the citrus groves and ranches that covered the Valley at that time. Over time, TCS expanded to include an elementary school in the early 1970s, and a middle school in 2005.

In 1979, Paul Singer became the Head of School. His strong belief in the importance of diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion redefined the student population and curriculum in both the preschool and the newly-founded elementary school. A new revolution began. With the enthusiastic support of the Board of Trustees, Paul opened the doors to those who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to experience an independent school education. He created a safe haven where cooperation between family and school became a central key to success. Paul was an active member of The Country School’s Board of Trustees until 2016, and continues to be a member of our Advisory Board.

In 2010, Holly Novick became the Head of School. From the moment she first set foot on campus as a prospective parent in 2001, she knew she had found a magical place.  With over 25 years of experience in education, her innovative leadership has guided TCS to its next groundbreaking phase. With the goal of “doing right by kids” ever at the forefront, she has planned and implemented initiatives such as our No Homework Policy and focus on project-based learning. Under her guidance, TCS has become a place where emotional intelligence is valued, meditation in the classroom is a daily habit, and health and wellness for teachers and students is a priority.