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Jill Reed’s announcement came as a shock to assembled teachers and parents. After 57 years teaching students in preschool through sixth grade, Highlander School will close its doors at the end of this school year.

“On behalf of the entire Reed/Woodring family, we have found great joy in dedicating our lives to the purpose and mission for the Highlander students, faculty, and community since 1966,” Reed wrote on Highlander’s Facebook page after sharing the news Oct. 12 at an all-parent meeting. “Just as we have made memories with each of you, it is now time to make memories with and focus on our own family.”

The announcement sent parents scrambling to find alternate arrangements for the education of their children next year. Some will enroll in public elementaries near their homes, but others are working to locate schools with similar curricula and an opening for each of their kids.

Many parents of current students attended Highlander themselves when they were young and have a near-reverence for the school and its founder, Betty Woodring. After starting a family with husband Wayne, the young educator searched the country to discover who had the best method for teaching children to read. Betty met Mae Carden, graduate of Vassar and Columbia and creator of The Carden Method. Carden emphasized the joy of daily learning and believed children should become comfortable taking sentences apart and putting them back together. When she could find no Carden school in Dallas for her own two children, Betty started one.

Highlander Carden School opened on September 7, 1966, at Highlands Christian Church on McCree with 29 kids in kindergarten and pre-k. One grade was added each year, and enrollment was 255 when the first sixth grade graduated in 1974. She moved classes to the school’s current location at 9120 Plano Road in 1978, and dropped Carden from the name years later.

Betty Woodring died in 2016, and Wayne joined her in 2018. Daughter Jill has been leading the school since then.

A parent group, led by Highlander alum Ben Breunig, has been working to purchase the school and continue its operation, but the parties could not agree to terms.

Highlander hosted its final school carnival Sunday, and the remainder of the year will be punctuated with “last” events as students, parents, teachers and alums tearfully say goodbye to the school and each other. The campus sits on a wooded property along the Dixon Branch of White Rock Creek, and it’s easy to imagine developers swooning over the chance to build homes there.

You may read Jill Reed’s full message here:

After careful thought, consideration, and prayer, we want to share the news that Highlander School will officially close following the 2022-23 school year.

As we’ve shared in-person with our valued faculty and staff as well as our beloved parents and students, this decision was not made lightly, and we are here to support our Highlander family every step of the way.

On behalf of the entire Reed/Woodring family, we have found great joy in dedicating our lives to the purpose and mission for the Highlander students, faculty, and community since 1966. Just as we have made memories with each of you, it is now time to make memories with and focus on our own family.

We look forward to continuing this school year without missing a beat, a tradition, an activity or a celebration and are dedicated to supporting our Highlander family through this transition.

Thank you for being a part of our community. You mean more to us than words can express.