The Exeter Day School (EDS) opened its doors in September 1936 in rented rooms in a home on Pine Street in Exeter, NH. A group of four parents from Phillips Exeter Academy contributed personal funds to offer an alternative program to public school. The original plan was to start with a kindergarten program for the seven children who were enrolled, and add a grade each year if needed. The basis for the programs offered at the school was to meet the needs of the town’s children and as the school grew, those of the larger community.
EDS continued in three different locations on Pine Street, and added one grade a year until 1939 when the Academy agreed to rent it land at the end of Marlboro Street for $1.00 a year. There, a building was constructed for 26 students on the school’s current site with funds raised by the first building committee. During this year the concept of a scholarship fund was created to ensure that no child who could benefit from the school’s programs would be turned away due to lack of tuition.
On October 2, 1939, EDS became incorporated as an educational nonprofit institution certified by the New Hampshire State Board of Education. Parents, staff and nine trustees were all members of the corporation and EDS continues to operate in this fashion.
During the early 1940’s EDS offered kindergarten through grade five. In May 1946, enrollment reached 63 and overcrowding became a serious concern, so an addition was built. A major change occurred in 1953 when the Exeter Day School Board of Trustees voted to phase out its elementary grades and expand its kindergarten and nursery school programs. Lincoln Street Elementary School was newly opened and it was apparent that EDS could best serve the Exeter area by broadening its preschool programs.
By the early 1970’s the school offered four kindergartens and four nursery classes. A program for three year olds was initiated in 1978 to respond to parental interest in expanding to this younger age level. In 2012 the school again responded to parental interest and initiated a program for two year olds.
In April 1976, EDS suffered a major setback when it was devastated by a fire. School resumed on April 7 at the Bixler House, First Congregational Church of Exeter, for the remainder of the school year. A third major capital campaign was initiated and $87,000 was raised so that EDS was ready to re-open in September. Overwhelming community support was offered through money, services and articles from more than 100 friends and local businesses. Reconstruction included some classroom redesign and many structural improvements.
In October 1986, the board of trustees found itself facing the overcrowded situation of past years and voted to embark on a fourth capital campaign to improve the existing facility as well as permanently endow the scholarship fund. A new addition and extensive renovation to the existing building was completed in December 1987.
In September of 1988, an Extended Care Program was initiated to meet the needs of working parents. Wrap Around Care is now available from 7:30-6:00 Monday through Friday for 3-6 year olds.
In 2006, the NH Department of Health and Human Services began to recognize childcare programs, which exceed licensing requirements and meet higher criteria for child care quality. Since then, the Exeter Day School has been certified as a Licensed Plus facility. This quality rating system recognizes NH childcare programs for efforts to improve the quality of care for young children and rewards programs that strive to improve their practices and staff qualifications.