Lower School

HBS and PCD Partnership

A legendary partnership built on two historic foundations.

The new, independent Henry Barnard School (HBS) and Providence Country Day School joined together to offer an extraordinary opportunity for education in Rhode Island. The passionate and dedicated efforts of HBS parents and alumni to save the beloved school, facing closure at the end of the 2021 school year, have come to fruition. HBS will continue its 125-year legacy of exceptional early and elementary education through a historic partnership with the Providence Country Day School (PCD), an independent school in East Providence, R.I. with its own 100-year legacy educating students in middle and high school.

For many years, both schools have offered cohesive, high quality, personalized, hands-on instruction, providing a solid foundation for students' success. This approach to education combined with a commitment to small class sizes and building diversity at all levels made the two schools a natural fit. The 2021-2022 school year was the beginning of the journey as united schools offering a continuous PK-12 educational experience.

HBS is now located on the PCD campus in East Providence, Rhode Island. 


List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • What is the reason for this partnership?

    This was a unique opportunity for PCD to join hands with a school alike in philosophy and culture, while the timing allowed HBS to continue its legacy as a pioneer in early childhood education for generations to come. This partnership will create a continuous PreK-12 experience that offers exceptional academics and a continued commitment to small class sizes, close student-teacher ratios, and personalized instruction, all of which prepare students for future success.
  • Are the missions and philosophies of both PCD and HBS aligned?

    This partnership is an ideal fit because of the two schools’ philosophical agreements and common values and practices. Both schools are beloved by families for their personalized instruction, vibrant communities, and outstanding academics. Two great schools are joining hands to build a shared future where the combination is greater than the sum of the two independently.
  • What are the logistical challenges for both schools? Where will the students be?

    Families will have a seamless transition with few changes on either campus for the 2021-2022 school year. HBS will continue PreK-5 elementary classes in their existing location, and PCD classes will continue in their existing space. Families from both communities will be engaged as plans are made for HBS to move onto PCD’s campus in the years ahead.  
  • What are the organizational changes?

    Kevin Folan will be Head of School for the entire PreK-12 school. HBS will be led by a new Head of Elementary School who will report to Folan and work laterally with PCD’s Head of Middle School and Head of Upper School. A transition committee, which will include representatives from both schools, will ensure continuity of HBS’s legacy while working with PCD’s existing team to build trust and confidence in the future of the school community.
  • What are the financial considerations?

    PCD will assume financial responsibility for HBS operations, including the expected lease costs to Rhode Island College and faculty & staff salaries. Tuition revenue and donations for HBS are intended to cover the operating expenses for the elementary school.
  • Why is the Henry Barnard School retaining its name?

    The reputation that HBS has earned over the last 120+ years for its trailblazing educational model and the loyalty among its alumni deserve to be recognized and celebrated. HBS’s reputation as a leader in early childhood education and PCD’s reputation for the same in middle and high school make this partnership an ideal fit. Keeping HBS’s name is part of continuing this legacy. The Henry Barnard School will be the elementary school for Providence Country Day School.
  • Is this the same school I love? How will this impact school traditions?

    Yes, these are the same schools that have taught generations of future leaders. We will continue the legacies of our institutions and cherish our histories and traditions. Just as we celebrate the individuality of our students, so too do we honor the history of PCD and HBS. Our shared future is one built on two important foundations, and together we will strive to celebrate traditions that are important to both school communities as we move forward. 

We value our roots.

Founded in 1898 as The Observation School of Rhode Island Normal School (later Rhode Island College), our school has always been dedicated to research-grounded pedagogy. In 1920, the school was renamed in honor of Henry Barnard (1811-1900), Rhode Island’s first commissioner of public schools and the nation’s first commissioner of education. Barnard believed firmly in “the cause of true education — of the complete education of every human being without regard to the accidents of birth or fortune.”

As RIC grew, HBS nurtured generations of learners as a vibrant lab for future teachers. With a staff of highly credentialed teachers who were also on the faculty at RIC, students at HBS benefited from cutting-edge practice and frequent visits from student-teachers and practicum students in the classroom. 

In 2020, the Henry Barnard School formed as its own entity independent of Rhode Island College.

We’re so excited about this next chapter. While some details are still emerging, we know we are well-poised to continue the legacy of Henry Barnard.

HBS Volunteer Team

Henry Barnard parents and friends rallied throughout 2020-2021 to develop a path forward. This incredible team of volunteers worked to keep HBS from closing and found an ideal match with PCD. Thank you to this group:
  • Kyle Bennett (‘83)
  • Jenn Bramley
  • Rabbi Sarah Mack
  • Liza Pinto
  • Allison Rogers (‘94)
  • Charles Ruggerio (‘92)
  • Tony Simon

Advisors of Note

  • Legal Counsel: Aubrey Lombardo
  • Non-Profit Fund Development Partner: Michele Berard MBA, CFRE, Ascent Advisors
  • Education Advisor: Chris Horan
  • Educational and Strategic Consultant: David Bourns
  • Creative Director: Richard Davia

Press Release

Kevin Folan, PCD Head of School

Opportunities like this do not present themselves often. This is a chance for two institutions with strong, century-old legacies of educating young people to come together to enhance and expand the incredible education each provides.

The Rhode Show discusses the merger