The John Winthrop School was founded in 1966 by members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Boston in response to a lack of educational facilities for children located in the Back Bay and South End. From its inception, John Winthrop Nursery School sought to achieve both racial and economic diversity among its student body — both concepts were atypical of the time. The school began with one classroom in the basement of the First Church building.
In 1968, a 5-alarm fire destroyed the church. The founders’ primary concern was the relocation and re-opening of the John Winthrop Nursery School and, within a week of the fire, the nursery school was re-opened in a temporary location. During rebuilding, the continued commitment of the church trustees led to an expansion of the school which moved to its new location (and current home) in 1972. While the John Winthrop School is no longer directly affiliated with the church, it continues to be an integral part of the Greater Boston Community.
"At the time I couldn't think of a better place for the kids spending time with teachers who cared so so much. It's not easy to find special early childhood educators with big hearts and true love for kids." - Parent of JWS alumni