The Valley of Heart's Delight

founded 1902
Palo Alto, California


Few wide-awake, progressive communities conveniently situated with reference to neighboring cities of importance, and the mountain and the sea, have been equally fortunate with Palo Alto in attracting educational institutions such as give strength and grace to this great university town, and few educational institutions of the rank and fame of Miss Harker's School, one of the sources of pardonable pride to Palo Alto's ambitious citizens, enjoy such an inspiring environment, lying as it does in the beautiful Santa Clara Valley with the sequoia-clad hills rising beyond on the one hand, and, on the other, the blue Coast Range beyond a silver line of an Francisco Bay- the whole affording the student the quiet atmosphere conducive to serious work, while living in the refining influence of quietly beautiful surroundings.  The School was founded in 1902 by Miss Catherine Harker, a native of Oregon, who is a graduate of Vassar, where she received the A.B. degree.  It was incorporated in 1915 and is housed in a main building erected in 1907, two cottages-one for the Lower School, the other for the Domestic Science Department, and a building especially adapted for the Kindergarten. In 1921 a new gymnasium was built, costing $16,000.  The school property embraces about seven acres laid out in gardens, playgrounds and courts for tennis, basketball and baseball, and the proximity to Stanford University and the accessibility of San Francisco offer the exceptional advantages, without the distractions , of a metropolis.

The aim of the school, to buildup vigorous physical health, to achieve the best possible intellectual advancement, and to secure for each pupil the moral and spiritual development which will enable her to take her place among intellectual and cultured people, and to live a rounded and useful life, is evidenced in the artistic and thoroughly modern school home.  The first floor contains the reception hall, the library, music room, recitation rooms, and study hall, and the dining room and kitchen, and second floor is made up of the large, sunny bedrooms of the resident pupils, although many use the screened sleeping porches. Only such rules are insisted upon as are necessary to the comfort of all the household, and from each girl is expected a cheerful and ready response.  One result is that Miss Harker's School has become widely famous through its pupils, who are always known as true gentlewomen. The School is also enviably renowned through its excellent faculty, some eighteen or twenty thoroughly trained women of the highest academic credentials.  These conduct a kindergarten department, a primary school, an intermediate school;, a high school department, and a post-graduate department, and also departments for the study of music, Biblical literature and history, and drawing and applied art, as well as cooking and sewing.  The value of the kindergarten as the logical foundation for the whole structure of education is more than ever widely recognized; the folk and nature story stimulates interest, and the games and handiwork develop respect for the right of others.  In the primary school, the children are trained in the habits of concentration, independent thinking, thoroughness, accuracy, and consideration of  each other.  The aim of the intermediate school is the development of independent thought and expression, and this is accomplished by discussion of topics of the day, debates, individual reports, and a class paper, all contributing to train for good citizenship.  It speaks for itself that the high school department is accredited both to Stanford University and the University of California, and that the regular college preparatory course prepares pupils also for Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Mt. Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr.  For those who do not desire to enter college, there is another regular course of four years leading to graduation. A systematic course of Bible study is given, extending from the primary grades through the high school; there is a two years' course in free-hand drawing, with modeling in clay; special designs are made and executed on wood, leather, brass, copper, silver and textiles; there are both theoretic teaching, and  lectures , and practical work in cooking; elementary and advanced sewing are provided for, and the department of physical training is conducted with special care for the individual needs of the pupils. Each year the senior class presents a play out-doors.

In order, for example, that the girls may have a practical knowledge of business methods such as becomes those who are some  day to have more or less business to transact on their own account, parents are requested to send direct to the School a stated monthly allowance to be deposited in the School Bank; and this will be subject to the pupil's personal check to be used only for personal expenses that require actual cash payments, on which account no money will be advanced to pupils.  Check books and pass books  are furnished to each pupil, and parents are requested to cooperate in instilling increased care in the expenditure of money.

Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 764

Off-site History of Miss Harker's




SANTA CLARA COUNTY- The Valley of Heart's Delight