A Rich History

The picture shows an old building.

Pioneering must be present in every school that is striving to meet the changing condi­tions of life. Chadwick has done some little pioneering and has a great deal more of it ahead!

Margaret Chadwick

A photograph in black and white. A teacher and students are smiling at each other.

Chadwick International was founded in 2010 in Songdo, South Korea, but its story began more than 75 years earlier with the vision, perseverance and pioneering spirit of Margaret Lee Chadwick. She was a passionate, progressive educator who saw the classroom as an opportunity for more than just schooling, but for learning life’s most valuable lessons. 

As the daughter of educational pioneering parents, Margaret Chadwick was inspired from an early age to impact communities in need through education. In the years after graduating from Stanford, she taught the children of impoverished farmers and miners in a remote Nevada desert community, where she soon became principal. Every aspect of the school was designed to promote strength of character. She empowered the teachers to design and deliver courses with creative freedom. Connecting with each student and addressing their individual needs was as critical as the course material itself.

When she met and married Naval Commander Joseph Chadwick on her travels in China, he shared in her dream of one day opening a progressive school where young minds were inspired to be their best. At the height of the 1920’s nursery school movement, they transformed their San Francisco home into a pre-school. Academics were just one aspect of education. Whole-student learning included engaging in art, performing music and plays, playing sports and exploring the outdoors. Mrs. Chadwick saw the natural environment as a living, breathing classroom full of lessons about the human experience. That would become an inherent part of learning at Chadwick Schools.

Three children are sitting in a row on the lawn and holding a flower.

The parents met regularly and discussed each child in great detail. We were ever child-centered! I learned never to underestimate the capacity for learning of the young child. Several years later some of the first nursery school pupils came from San Francisco to attend Chadwick.

In the summer of 1935, Mrs. Chadwick attended a very serendipitous luncheon where concerned mothers, including Edna Roessler, discussed the unfortunate schooling issues in their San Pedro community. She was so impressed by Mrs. Chadwick’s thoughts on education that she asked her to homeschool the Roessler children as well. As luck would have it, a guest at that very same lunch mentioned that developer, Frank Vanderlip, Sr. was seeking out a couple to start a country school in the hills of nearby Rancho Palos Verdes, California. 

Mrs. Chadwick promptly wrote a letter to Mr. Vanderlip expressing her profound interest, and after spending a day with him sharing the Chadwick’s ideas on education, he agreed to donate the land to build what was to become Chadwick School. 

You may choose your site. Such schools as you have in mind are the hope of the nation. 

Frank Vanderlip, Sr.

The picture shows an old building.

A generous donation from the Roesslers would fund the first buildings, and in 1938, five boarding students, twenty-three day pupils and six staff members took the ride to the sprawling Palos Verdes hillside where Chadwick School still sits today. The campus grew rapidly, as did the demand to attend. Today there are 22 buildings where over 860 students and 113 faculty engage each day.

Here in this country school both boys and girls may find excellent instruction, plenty of outdoor life, and good compan­ions. The School accepts pupils from grades one through twelve and strives earnestly to discover and develop the special gifts which each individual possesses.

Margaret Chadwick

The man and woman are looking far away together in a black and white photograph.

For over 80 years, Chadwick School educated students with the same pioneering spirit, character-driven values and experiential learning that Margaret Chadwick so fervently promoted. She believed that education held the key to transforming entire communities and that anyone eager to embrace the task deserved that chance. Every challenge became an adventurous opportunity, and every lesson learned inspired the practices and principles that guide Chadwick students today.

Hold fast to your belief in individual worth and individual freedom, but add to that an infinite capacity for sacrifice and self­lessness and an unshakable faith in the adventure of living.

Margaret Chadwick

In 2010, Margaret Chadwick’s long held vision of expanding the school’s reach came to fruition when Chadwick School was selected to operate an international school in Songdo in the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), 40 kilometers west of Seoul. Soon after, it was renamed Chadwick International School Songdo, and on September 7, 2010, its first 280 students began their educational adventure. 

Chadwick International is centrally located in the heart of Songdo city. Its numerous specialized facilities were designed to provide a world-class educational environment where students would be both challenged and empowered to thrive in all areas of their learning. The campus was designed by internationally renowned architectural firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox. Explore our extraordinary campus.

Chadwick Schools have over 5,000 alumni throughout the world. Our students have gone on to launch successful companies, impact communities in need, play for professional sports teams, become great artists and performers, travel the globe and start families. 

A brand new history is being written each day at Chadwick International. As the next generation of leaders makes their mark, they continue to reflect the growth Margaret Chadwick envisioned. Her legacy lives on in the happiness and success of every student — and in the impact they make on the world.

The picture shows a bell tower on campus.


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Timelines of history