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our history
Hear how and why Daniel P. Ryan, Ed.D. and a dozen or so families decided to start a new school in Oak Park, Illinois based on the progressive education philosophy of John Dewey. Since 2004, The Children's School has grown into a thriving learning environment for children in grades K - 8.

KIDS Meet Our Founder
When our founder, Daniel P. Ryan, Ed.D., stopped by for a visit in 2023, he joined an all-school group gathering, where our students could ask him questions. Students were eager to ask when, why, and how their school began. It was a delightful dialogue that we capture here.

The Children's School moves from Berwyn into its current home in the former 
St. Edmund's parish school building at
200 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park.

TCS begins a partnership with both Elmhurst University and Chicago State University to welcome student teachers and interns in order to train future leaders in progressive education and expand the diversity of its faculty. TCS also expands its middle-level science program adding a dedicated full-time science teacher. A fully onsite program continues, with weekly testing, masking, cohorting, and other Covid risk reduction measures.


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Now a full K-8 school with its second graduating class of 8th graders, The Children's School has a full time teacher for each grade level, additional faculty for art, music and physical wellness, a school librarian and social worker, plus administrative support staff. With an enrollment of 105, the school continues to grow and thrive.

Using both the upstairs and downstairs of Gale House in Oak Park, Nadine Brockman now teaches Kindergarten full-time while Daniel P. Ryan teaches 1-2 grade. There are 18 students.

The Children's School of Oak Park is founded by Daniel P. Ryan in order to bring progressive education, with its historical Chicago roots in the work of John Dewey and others, to the western suburbs. School opens in the Fall with 13 students.

Now leasing 4 classrooms from St. Mary of Celle, The Children's School of Oak Park moves to its current location in Berwyn, and boasts 36 students.

Now serving 62 students in grades K-4, the school occupies 7 classrooms at St. Mary of Celle, and has an administrator and 5 full-time teachers and a Kindergarten aide.

The school expands into the convent building, renamed the TCS Annex, to include 6th and 7th grade classrooms. Faculty and enrollment continue to expand.

After graduating 3 classes of fifth graders, the school now has 83 students enrolled. Faculty hiring expands and plans for a middle school are underway.


Covid-19 pandemic strikes in March, TCS goes remote for the rest of the semester. TCS launches a "Families Fund" with the help of a major donor to assure that no student is prevented from enrolling for Fall due to a family financial hardship caused by the pandemic. Fall begins with a hybrid program of partial days onsite, shifting to full onsite days later in the year. Classes spend a larger portion of the day learning and playing outside, including "Fridays in the Woods."


In the Fall of 2023, our school moves 3 blocks north to 820 Ontario Street. The school is in the beautiful and spacious historic building of the First Baptist Church of Oak Park, designed by renowned architect E. E. Roberts in 1927.

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