Head of School's Message: September 27

Chandler turned 71 years old last week. School-wide celebrations have been muted by the pandemic, but kindergarten and first-grade students sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Chandler with masked gusto.
In August 1950,  a few weeks before Tom and Katie Chandler opened their home-based school in Altadena to eight students, Tom went to the dentist. As he sat waiting for his appointment, he started talking with another patient, Helen Johnson accompanying her 13-year-old son, Allan, for his check-up.
Tom told Helen that he was about to open a school at his home not far from the dentist’s office. Growing up, Tom had attended high school at Webb in Claremont, and following a career in real estate, he pursued a lifelong dream of starting a school for younger students that had similar values to Webb’s, combining a strong academic program and a commitment to developing character. Helen told Tom that Allan was bored at school. Tom planned to start Chandler with students in lower elementary grades that would eventually grow to 8th grade, but he offered Allan a place. “Send him to me,” was what Allan remembered Tom saying to his mom.
Helen replied that as a single parent, she could not afford to send Allan to private school. In 1950 Chandler was not the non-profit, trustee-governed institution that it is now. The school was started with Tom and Katie’s life savings. Tom gave Helen enough financial aid for her to afford to send Allan to Chandler. He was the lone graduate of the Class of 1951. He went on to Flintridge Prep, Thacher School in Ojai and Cal Berkeley. After college, Allan went into business, eventually establishing Johnson Controls, which grew into a multinational conglomerate manufacturing fire, HVAC and security equipment for buildings. Throughout his life, Allan was a generous supporter of Chandler.
Chandler’s commitment to financial aid for students who meet the school’s criteria for admission and whose families need support to make attendance affordable remains embedded as a core value that supports diversity, equity and inclusion. This year Chandler’s Board of Trustees allocated 14% of the school’s total budget, a little more than $1.5m, to financial aid. Eighty-nine students, 20% of the student body, receive some assistance. As Fran Scoble, former Westridge Head of School and Chandler Board Member, once said,  “If you want to weaken the school, base admitting a student exclusively on the ability of a family to pay full tuition.” Financial aid strengthens the student body and strengthens the school.
Not every financial aid recipient will become an Allan Johnson, but every recipient makes Chandler a better school.
Most sincerely,
John Finch, Head of School