"This School Must Not Stand Still."
-Mary Gardner Bright
Miss Bright would be thrilled to know we are not standing still. Indeed, Bright School is on the move to a new level of success. An exciting schedule of events is underway celebrating Bright School’s historic Centennial. We hope you make plans to join us for the festivities! Stay up to date on all things centennial by visiting this website regularly, especially our blog. Also, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
In 1913 Miss Mary Bright, a teacher in the Chattanooga schools, rented a small house on McCallie Avenue and started The Bright School. She and her assistant, Miss Kate Thomas, enrolled 35 children the first year in grades kindergarten through six. The following year they moved to a larger house on McCallie Avenue that was nearer town. Every year the enrollment increased, and in six years Miss Bright had employed a teacher for each grade. From the beginning, Miss Bright was a strong advocate for developing the whole person; in the early years of the school, subjects like art, music, and manual training were added to the curriculum. She was also a strong believer in a nurturing, child-centered environment. In describing her goals for the school, Miss Bright stated:
'It has emphasized the importance of a sympathetic understanding of the individual child. It has endeavored to make the school a happy place to which the children will gladly come. The school has always sought to give the children freedom of action and to encourage initiative in work, play, and the conduct of school affairs.'
Continued increase in enrollment required several moves. In the eleventh year, early in 1924, Mr. George Patten went to Miss Bright with a generous offer of $25,000, so that she could invest in a permanent home for the school. With these funds, the new building was designed by noted architect, R.H. Hunt, and was constructed on Fort Wood Street. At the same time, it was decided that the school should be incorporated and a Board of Trustees established. Mr. Patten served as the first president of the board. The Fort Wood location was the home of the school for nearly 40 years. In 1963, Bright School was relocated in a new building designed by Gordon L. Smith, Sr., on 55-acres in the Riverview area. Here the school grew to an enrollment of 377 children, from kindergarten through sixth grade. Over the years, the school complemented its outstanding academic offerings with the addition of a comprehensive physical education program, a pre-school for four-year-olds, and a Spanish program. The library houses 15,261 volumes.
The last major building expansion, the Early Childhood Center, was completed in 2001. The building, accessed via a covered walkway, features a sports courtyard, six spacious pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms, and a 2,000 sqare feet multipurpose room.
Bright School continues today to grow and prosper in accordance with our founder, Mary G. Bright's vision. It truly is 'a happy place to which the children gladly come.'
Experience the History
By Patrice Glass, Bright School Parent and Historian
Be sure to stop by the Bright School Kilbride Enrichment Center to see the new Centennial Exhibit. Formally opened by the fifth grade class on August 30, the Centennial Exhibit is designed to engage children and adults in learning a little more about the school's first 100 years. Exhibit designer Brent Hooper imagined classroom learning when he created the "chalkboard walls" with the brightly colored alphabet recurring throughout the exhibit. The 124 photographs included in the exhibit present a visual history of the school and offer glimpses of both major milestones and regular everyday occurrences that are special to Bright. Some pictures you might recognize while others are on display for the first time. Descriptions with the photographs give hints to the origin of Bright School traditions, explain how Miss Bright reacted to world events, tell how the school dealt with increased enrollment, and show how Bright continues to move forward with technology, science and math. Other items in the exhibit describe Miss Bright's excitement when the school won its first athletic trophy, explain why there are so many tea cups and saucers around school, and tell just how long students have been learning "Country Gardens."
The exhibit presents an overview of Bright's history and offers glimpses into some of the lighter moments. One photograph shows children enjoying playing in the snow at the former Fort Wood School while another shows a deer visiting the kindergarten classrooms at the school's current location. Large wooden cutouts of children throughout the exhibit add to the fun atmosphere. One more photograph will be added as the 100 photograph taken of current students, faculty, and staff will complete the exhibit. This photograph will represent the celebration of the first 100 years and the excitement of beginning the next 100 years.
You are invited to visit the school and experience the Centennial Exhibit.