Our entire community continues to value the unique legacy of the Carlthorp School education that Miss Thorp, Mrs. Granstrom, and Mrs. Menzies, three visionary educators, left in our care.
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Carlthorp School was founded in 1939 by two dedicated women, Mercedes Thorp and Ann Carlson Granstrom, who believed they could do better by young students than the school where they met. Their own school’s first location was a small house on 4th Street just around the corner from where we are now. The school’s opening enrollment was a single student but by the end of the first year it had grown to ten. Enrollment continued to expand which prompted the move in 1941 to the property where it now sits.
The two founders continued to lead the school until 1983 when Dee Menzies, a former Carlthorp School student herself, took over as Head of School. When the school year began, Dee had support and advice from the founders, as well as from her assistant, Betty Van Patten. Because Miss Van Patten valued courtesy so highly, the special award for courtesy still given at the end of every school year is known as the Elisabeth Van Patten Courtesy Award.
In order to appreciate the Carlthorp School of today, it is essential to know how Dee Menzies ensured that the school remained relevant without sacrificing its core principles. Specifically, Dee spearheaded two successful capital campaigns. In the fall of 1989, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the school’s founding, the results of the first campaign were apparent in a new classroom and administration complex.
Nine years later a second classroom at each grade level was added, along with space dedicated to a new library, an art room, a science lab, a relocated and enlarged library, as well as a grass playing field. The field is especially notable because it enlarged the footprint of the campus. Dee’s style of leadership also brought an openness, a kindness and a community-focused atmosphere to the school that created a sense of family. Dee served as Head of School for 33 years.
In planning for Dee’s retirement and with her strong endorsement, the Board of Trustees chose Tim Kusserow to replace her. He arrived in 2009 and assumed the role of Principal. Tim already had wide-ranging experience and a lengthy and impressive record in his work with LAUSD. His goals at Carlthorp were to retain the focus on academic rigor, integrity, respectfulness, and courtesy while, at the same time, modernizing the school.
Carlthorp School welcomes Nola-rae Cronan as the new Head of School. The school is also led by Steve Springer, Associate Head of School and Principal. The current administration continues to value the unique legacy of the Carlthorp School education that Miss Thorp, Mrs. Granstrom, and Mrs. Menzies, three visionary educators, left in our care.