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History of Hester’s Creative Schools

Founded by Henrietta Hester Harris, January 1949

Hester’s Creative Schools is recognized by the national child care magazine, Child Care Exchange, as "the longest standing privately-owned child care business in North America." Founded in 1949, Hester’s has served the child care needs of Greensboro and High Point because of the foresight and dedication of one woman.

This woman, Henrietta Hester Harris, often tells the story of how she got the idea to start a child care center. One Sunday morning her minister said that the Bessemer Community needed a nursery school and a kindergarten. Henrietta sat straight up in the pew and said to herself, "Lord, here I am and I can do that!" After all, she had earned a B.S. Degree in Home Economics from High Point College, which had required courses in child development. Her college work included laboratory experience doing a case study in a federally funded nursery school in High Point and working in all phases of the children’s day. She knew what would be required to run a school and felt led to start one.

Tiny Tot Nursery School was born in 1949 from the heart of one woman who had a dream and made a promise to make her school a place to love, nurture and teach young children. As the school grew in numbers and knowledge, Mrs. Harris and her staff realized what a special position they held. "We held in our hands the future; future parents, future community leaders, future business men and women, perhaps a future Nobel Prize winner or even a future president." She was right, and the first child ever enrolled in her schools is now a doctor in Columbia, South Carolina. "We continue to keep in touch with many of ‘our Hester’s children.’ Now some of these first children have their grandchildren in our schools. Their success is our success and happiness."

In the 1950’s society was making great changes. Greensboro continued to grow, offering parents and women a wide variety of positions in the work place, and with these changes came the necessity for parents to have a place for their preschool children to spend time when they were away from their parents and their homes. Tiny Tot Nursery School realized that if they were to serve their clientele, they needed to grow. In 1953, Mrs. Harris designed and built the very first nursery school built exclusively to be a pre-school center in North Carolina. This brought a name change from Tiny Tot to Hester’s Creative Schools, Inc. As the city and county grew, Hester’s Creative Schools grew, constructing four more specially designed buildings, renovating a church and four houses and created schools in all of them.

Henrietta Hester Harris and her family have dedicated their lives to making their schools thrive through a very successful motto — "to be the best, to offer the best, to give the best to young children." Because Hester’s has never lost sight of the goal in this motto, they have succeeded and have grown by leaps and bounds.

To keep up with the educational changes throughout the years, Henrietta Hester Harris continued to sharpen her skills though continued education. She attended Graduate School at UNC in Greensboro, North Carolina; Lausanne Montessori School in Memphis, Tennessee, through the Lausanne School in London, England; and attended numerous classes, workshops and short courses. She participated in a program at the University of Beijing, China, for a China-U.S. Joint Conference on Early Childhood Education, which was by special invitation only, through the International Association of Childhood Education.

The history of Hester’s Creative Schools, Inc. is Henrietta Hester Harris’ personal commitment to long working hours dedicated to helping young children develop their full emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical abilities and find their place in this world.

Today Hester’s Creative Schools serves 400 children from infancy through twelve years of age at four locations in Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina. Hester’s employs 70 teachers and staff and continues to provide the highest quality of education and care for young children.

The Greensboro Commission on the Status of Women honored Henrietta Hester Harris in March of 1997 as a "Woman Of Achievement." In 1999 she received the highest honor in the state of North Carolina when she was inducted into "The Order of the Long Leaf Pine" by Governor James B. Hunt in recognition of her lifelong commitment to early childhood education.

Excerpts of this article are from Greensboro, The Best Place To Live, by Ray Banner, 1998.

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