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Broadoaks was founded in Pasadena in 1906 by Ada Brooks, who was soon joined in the pioneering work by her sister, Imelda Brooks. Although the school began as an early kindergarten, the sisters were also soon teaching kindergarten teachers, basing much of their practice upon the innovative work and educational theories of Maria Montessori, Johann H. Pestalozzi, and Friedrich Froebel.
Under the leadership of Jane McKee, who took over upon the retirement of the Brooks sisters, Broadoaks affiliated with Whittier College in 1931. The program continued to be conducted on the Pasadena campus until it was relocated to the Whittier campus in 1945. The Broadoaks School Building, a special purpose building designed for early childhood education, was completed three years later in an eclectic post-World War II modern style that incorporates streamline modern elements of steel, concrete, and glass with stucco finishing. The facility continues to be a viable and versatile educational center for Whittier College's innovative and high-quality program in the training of early childhood educators and specialists. Judith Wagner, current director of the program, is a nationally recognized authority in the field.
Originally built on the crest of a hill north of Philadelphia Street, in 1959, under the direction of local architect William H. Harrison, it was moved down the hill to accommodate the construction of the campus music building on the high ground. Craig Hill, also a Whittier architect, completed a renovation in 1986.
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