In the early 1970s a group of parents led by Lester Levy and Jerrold Trim decided that Dallas needed a school to accommodate their learning-disabled children. Originally they envisioned creating a two-track system at The Greenhill School, but a better idea prevailed and that turned out to be The Winston School.
The Winston School opened in September 1975 on the southern end of the Greenhill School campus and instantly became home to fifty-one children in grades 1-6 or A Core through D Core, Headmaster J. Wynne Harkless, Assistant Headmaster Paul Erwin, Medical Director Dr. Warren Weinberg, School Secretary Ellen Thomas (Cassidy) and a six-member faculty. On October 24, 1975 tragedy struck; the Winston buildings were destroyed by fire. Winston occupied a group of business offices for three months before moving to new buildings on the old site at Greenhill. There the school remained until the fall of 1978.
Paul Erwin became the second headmaster in the spring of 1976. In 1977 Winston earned accreditation as a private day school from the Texas Education Agency and from the Independent School Association of the Southwest in 1978. In the fall of 1978 the school moved into new buildings in North Dallas and continued to grow, reaching a student population of 135 in A Core through grade nine. That spring the first ninth grade class graduated from Winston.
Winston graduates successfully attended other private and public high schools, but education reform in Texas prompted parents to ask about a college preparatory high school curriculum that addressed learning disabilities. In the fall of 1983 Winston parents successfully completed a capital campaign to open the Winston High School which graduated its first senior class in May 1986 on the University of Dallas campus in Irving.
In 1985 Winston’s success encouraged the opening of The Winston School in San Antonio, a school which patterned its curriculum and teaching methods after the original campus. In 1988 Paul Erwin, the long-term headmaster and designer of the Winston Grammar Program, left to establish a similar school in San Diego, California. Following his departure Stuart P. Smith was appointed Interim Headmaster.
Smith inherited a school with severe financial difficulties. A dedicated group of parents, supported by several of Winston’s original underwriters, raised the money needed for continued operation and revitalization. By February of 1992 Winston completely eliminated its nearly one million dollar debt thanks to the success of Operation Clean Slate, a plan implemented by the Board of Trustees under the leadership of Wilbur Smither and later by Emily Corrigan and Walter Levy.
In 1989 Rita J. Sherbenou, Ph.D. was hired as Head of School. She brought enthusiasm as well as strong academic credentials and experience. Also in 1989 the Upper School moved from its temporary facility at the University of Dallas into expanded facilities at the Royal Lane campus. Following the success of Operation Clean Slate in 1992, the Board began work on a capital campaign to remodel existing facilities and to build a new gymnasium and additional classrooms. Within fourteen months the goal of $2.6 million was achieved and the groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 26, 1995.
The following year construction was completed. The additional 36,350 square feet, along with a totally rejuvenated campus, was celebrated on October 2, 1996.
Dr. Sherbenou retired from Winston in 1999 and was succeeded by Pamela K. Murfin, Ph.D. Dr. Murfin successfully led the school through its re-accreditation, starting the development of a five million dollar endowment campaign to be used primarily for financial aid and faculty compensation, and dynamic growth in student body until forced to retire for health reasons in 2006. In her honor, an endowment for the Head of School position was created and named the Pamela K. Murfin Head of School. Dr. Murfin was succeeded by interim Head Joe Ferber for the 2006-2007 school year. Polly Peterson, Ph.D. joined Winston in July 2007 as the first Pamela K. Murfin Head of School.
During the 2007-2008 school year, Dr. Peterson led the faculty and staff to develop a school-wide concept defining what makes Winston the best in its field. The Winston School excels in understanding, educating, and maximizing the potential of students with learning disabilities. In support of this concept, each division identified their passion statements. The 2007-2008 year was filled with technology influxes, assistive technology for students, curriculum revisions, development of two academy programs within Winston, increased rigor and a complete review of reputation and goals. School year 2008-2009 opened with The Fine Arts Academy and Winston Solar Science Academy, an online differentiated curriculum, more technology throughout the campus and an improvement in reputation in terms of academic rigor.
Rebbie Evans came to Winston in 1981 after thirteen years as a member of the leadership team and master teacher at the ISAS Beginning Teacher’s Institute. She has served as a lower, middle and upper school teacher and division head for The Winston School. She is currently The Pamela K. Murfin Head of School. Rebbie is a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and enjoys volunteering her time with community organizations such as the StewPot, Dallas Audubon Society, North Texas Food Bank and Vogel Alcove.