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Our History

Over 100 years strong!

Beginning in 1917

A group of mothers of widely differing social circles met to discuss the means of providing a school experience for their four-year-olds. The school, originally based in the Montessori method, stressed the development of the individual at their own pace with the teacher as a “guide” rather than as a “goad.”

The Harley School was first called “The Children’s University School of Rochester” and Mrs. Cogswell (Harriet) Bentley was credited as the founder. In January 1924, the school was incorporated under the name Harley, a combination of the first three and last three letters of Mrs. Harriet Bentley’s name. The school grew and prospered and enrollment grew. Harley moved to various locations downtown until the permanent location on Clover Street was purchased. 

Think, for a moment, of the lasting commitment of the founders and early families. Their dedication to a co-ed, child-centered school planted the seeds for the Harley of today. Their work informs our exciting future as we provide an outstanding educational experience, with incredible opportunities for children as the premiere independent school in Greater Rochester.

Harley through the Years

Harley Timeline

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