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A School for Modern Times: Mildred Louise Johnson and the Founding of The Modern School of Harlem

Flowers, Deidre Bennett

With eight young children as students, Mildred Louise Johnson opened a private school, The Modern School (TMS), at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in 1934. As a student in Ethical Culture's Teacher Training Department (TTD), Johnson founded TMS to satisfy a graduation requirement. Her school is one example of a Northern private school that employed progressive education methods and produced high-achieving African American students and graduates. Johnson modestly described founding TMS as "an accident of the times." This essay describes Harlem's social, cultural and political environment; explores Johnson's early life and education experience at Ethical Culture, the Fieldston School and their TTD; and the founding of Camp Dunroven and TMS. Johnson's life and work provide insight into the challenges she faced in the North as she fought for her right to train as a teacher, complete her education, and pursue a teaching career and teaching opportunities in a northern private school

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More About This Work

Academic Units
History and Education
Published Here
December 23, 2020