History & Traditions
Woodstock Day School was founded in 1973 by Ian Bernstein and Alice Goodman. It started as a preschool in the town of Woodstock and was named the ‘Woodstock Children’s Center’.
The founder’s vision was to provide a progressive early childhood education, incorporating individualized learning and opportunities for children to play outdoors.
The school flourished, growing from preschool to sixth grade.
Having outgrown its space, the school moved in 1986 to the former Peter Pan Farm in neighboring Saugerties. The farm had walking trails, a pond, views of Overlook Mountain and several buildings. The next step was to establish a summer program that has continued to be popular today. When Bernstein retired in 1998, the Woodstock Children’s Center was a nursery school through eighth grade program with a board of directors.
In early 2000, the school became a non-profit institution, and changed the name from Woodstock Children’s Center to Woodstock Day School. With a new Head of School, Dan Shornstein, the school established a development office and began raising the funds needed to thoughtfully renovate the existing buildings and infrastructure.
In 2002, Woodstock Day School added a high school program and acquired the adjoining property to construct two new buildings. Over time the campus has expanded to include 40-acres. The first ninth grade class started in September 2003, and by 2007, WDS was a Nursery through 12th grade school.
During this time, Woodstock Day School hit many milestones including receiving NYSAIS accreditation, the development of a long-term strategic plan and defining the Pillars and Standards of the institution. In 2010, the Bridge Building was donated and built. This building now serves as a central hub for the community. It contains a library, music room, state-of-the-art media center and a cafe that functions not only as a place to gather for lunch, but also as a meeting and performance space.
With the possibilities this building created, Woodstock Day School has developed and broadened its programming to include an award- winning media program, an expansive library, annual musical theatre production and school music concerts, among many other functions.
Dr. David Penberg began as the new head in July 2018. David has held executive positions in independent, international, and charter schools, as well as community-based and non-profit organizations. Beyond fully supporting the academic program, he plans to extend the reach of Woodstock Day School.