"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." – Winston Churchill
Barnesville School had its humble beginning in 1969 as the Barnesville Primary School when Bazy Tankersley sought an educational option for her daughter and other preschool children in this upper Montgomery County area. Their classroom was the Arabian Horse Museum, and these first students were surrounded by a beautiful countryside of streams, trees, and farm animals. Madeleine Dowling served as first head of school. In 1972, Anne Lehman became Barnesville’s second head of school, and under her leadership the school expanded to include kindergarten, first and second grades. Within a few years, Barnesville was growing again and offered classes through sixth grade.
As enrollment increased, the School outgrew the Arabian Horse Museum, so it moved to nearby Germantown and rented space in a local church. It was during this time that The Barnesville School opened its seventh and eighth grade programs. Before long, Barnesville outgrew this space, so the trustees set their sights on purchasing another facility. After extensive research, the School returned to its first home of the Arabian Horse Museum, as Mrs. Tankersley was moving the museum to Arizona. Undertaking its first capital campaign, Barnesville School bought its original home in February of 1979.
In 1984, Jaralyn (Jeri) Hough succeeded Anne Lehman, becoming Barnesville’s third head of school. Under her direction, there were many positive changes to the program and facilities. In 1985, a four-classroom building was added to accommodate growing enrollment, particularly in the primary grades. While the trustees voted in 1987 to eliminate grades 7 and 8 due to a shrinking middle school population, the Middle School was re-established in the following decade. Also in 1987, a modular classroom was added to provide indoor space for physical education and group meetings.
In 1990, the Trustees voted to engage in its second capital campaign, this time adding 20,000 square feet of space to include additional classrooms, an elementary gymnasium, and a dedicated science and art space. Having finished this expansion, the School completed its first accreditation with the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) in 1993 and developed a long-range plan to chart the waters for the next decade. In 1998, with the approval to increase the student body to 250, planning began to add an additional 25,000 square of learning space, including new dedicated space for art, music, and science, new classrooms, a full-size gymnasium and performing arts center, and a media center. With this complex complete, the School could have the full complement of two sections per grade, from prekindergarten through eighth grade. The following year, the School purchased 28 acres across the street from the School, which include farmland, trees, and a stream. In 2003, the School also bought an adjoining parcel of 18 acres and a residence, which served as the home for the next head of school.
Barnesville’s fourth head of school, John Huber, arrived in 2006. Mr. Huber established a Science and Nature Task Force to develop environmental studies programs and related curriculum. An outdoor classroom was built and woodlands were adapted for use as additional outdoor learning spaces. In 2011, Barnesville was acknowledged as a certified "Green School" by the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education.
In 2012, the Board of Trustees put forth a new vision for Barnesville as a school of arts and sciences. Goals in the Strategic Vision included enhancing the program across the curriculum, with added emphasis on math, science, and outdoor education, in balance with arts and humanities offerings. The School established ongoing partnerships with local arts and sciences organizations to further enrich the program. In 2013, the School became known as Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences, adopting a new quilted shield logo to represent the rural landscape and connections across a broad spectrum of subject areas.
In 2016, Susanne Johnson was named Head of School after serving as Interim Head for six months. She was previously the School’s Director of Institutional Advancement; and, prior to her employment at Barnesville, she had served as a leader in nearly every volunteer capacity at the School, including Board of Trustees Secretary, Annual Fund Chair, Gala Chair, and Chair of the Jaralyn Hough Fund Campaign.
In 2017, the School sold the property across the street, generating revenue for strategic initiatives and consolidating land maintenance to the contiguous properties available for student use.
While the faces and facilities of the Barnesville School have changed considerably since that beginning in 1969, the culture of the School remains constant. In tune with our peaceful, beautiful setting, we remain committed to providing our students an environment that is safe, supportive, and nurturing, where each is known and is encouraged to take intellectual risks, become independent and self-reliant, and enjoy the gifts of childhood. We are steadfast in our mission of joy, support, and excellence.