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Our past has shaped our present

The Home School with Family Values

In 1928, Mary and James T. Carey founded a small preschool for their two daughters, Mary Therese and Clare, and a few neighbor friends. Mary, a former teacher and school administrator, and James, a businessman, saw a need for play-based school experiences for the youngest learners, at a time when few schools had kindergartens and “preschools” were nonexistent. The first Carey School classes were held in the family home, emphasizing the values of kindness, respect for self and others, and personal responsibility. As word of the Carey program spread, attendance grew, and the school moved to the Clark Drive Mansion in San Mateo. The Carey daughters became elementary-school age and demand for the Carey experience continued, so Mary drew on her teaching experience and introduced elementary-grade classes and academic standards.

Elementary Excellence

Mary Therese Carey and Clare Carey Willard graduated from the school their parents founded and went on to high school and college, returning to The Carey School as teachers. Eventually, they assumed the role of co-heads and, in 1955, purchased the current 2.4 acre property on Alameda de las Pulgas, giving the school a proper home.

In 1989 Mary Therese Carey and Clare Carey Willard retired to private life. They passed the reins of the Carey tradition to its next Head of School, Robert W. Simpson, and to the school's first Board of Trustees. The school then became a nonprofit corporation and received accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools. Robert Simpson remained the Head of School until 2004 when Eric J. Temple assumed the position until 2012. As the school's fifth head of school, Duncan Lyon led Carey from 2012-2022. Neely Norris is the current interim head of school for the 2022-2023 school year as a head of school search process concludes in the fall of 2022.

Deep Traditions, Contemporary Values

The Carey family tradition is ever-present. Academic excellence and the values of kindness, respect, and personal responsibility remain as integral to the student experience today as they were in 1928. Today, Carey enrolls 258 students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. The Carey School is fully accredited with the California Association of Independent Schools and also enjoys membership in the National Association of Independent Schools.

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