St. Margaret’s Guild was organized in the fall of 1939 at All Saints’ Episcopal Chapel to interest young mothers of the parish in the spiritual welfare of their children. These ladies first focused on Sunday school and then in the fall of 1945 they met at the home of the rector and after much discussion, adopted as their major objective the establishment of a nursery day school. They contacted faculty members of the University of Texas, people in the community who were known for their knowledge of work with preschool children, and national association resources. Over a period of six months of thorough investigation, the founders prepared to establish a nursery school unit of twenty students.
In January 1946, a Board of Trustees was elected by the members of the All Saints’ Parish at its annual meeting. The Board of Trustees was charged with the administration and policy making of the School. Financial obligations for the founding and operation of the School were undertaken by St. Margaret’s Guild. The School was separately incorporated as a non-profit educational institution, and, in the beginning, tuition payments were spent exclusively on Faculty salaries and operating expenses. Permanent improvements and equipment were supplied by the Guild. The School opened with a short session, March through May of 1946. In the fall of 1946 the first full semester of school began with two nursery units of ten students each.
According to William James Battle, author of The Story of All Saints’ Chapel Austin, Texas 1900 – 1950, “The school prospered from the start, due to the enthusiasm and sound sense of the Guild leaders.” In 1947, the Vestry of the Chapel approved the expansion of the School’s program to include a Kindergarten and First Grade. It was not long before parents were interested in their children continuing with an Episcopal school education, and so St. David’s Episcopal Church and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church joined All Saints’ Episcopal Church in the formation of a new lower school in 1952, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Also in 1952, the Guild that had been instrumental in establishing the School was dissolved, and the School then became a ministry of All Saints’ Church. The fall of 1955 saw the fulfillment of a dream when the School moved into a space designed especially for preschool children in the beautiful new Gregg House.
Five women and two men are listed on the School’s Charter. Eleanor Gammon is one of the women listed on the charter; she was a founder and also a life-long parishioner of All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Mrs. Gammon’s son, Billy, was one of the original group of students at the Day School. Her great granddaughter, Evelyn, and her her great grandson, William, were both students at the Day School. Evelyn’s grandmother (Eleanor) and her father (Matt) also attended All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. Another founder was JA Eidson McKay. Mrs. McKay’s great granddaughters Jali and Gabbie were also Day School students.
The School was the first stand-alone preschool to be accredited by the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES) and was also the first preschool to be awarded the Ken Bastian Award from SAES for outstanding community service.
The School is mission-driven and culturally sensitive. The essentials of the Christian faith are accurately and authentically taught at Chapel services and other programs and lived out at the School. That is not easy to accomplish when trying to be respectful, inclusive and mindful of encouraging diversity. Perhaps the reason the Church and School have continued to have an outstanding relationship for over 69 years is because the School has remained true to the mission that its founders saw for it when it opened in 1946. The culture of the School community has trusted that changes were carefully studied before being implemented and were done for the benefit of all students, not just for individual ones. As a result, the Parishioners and School Parents have offered the School a kind of support that is not often seen.