The founding of the Pine Crest School dates back to the early 1930s, when Mae McMillan began tutoring children of winter visitors to Fort Lauderdale. She helped students with assignments so they could return to their schools with their studies up to date. The high caliber of her teaching soon attracted full-time local residents, and in 1934 she founded her school in rented rooms in the old Elks Club Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Stimulated by Mrs. McMillan's foresight and dedication, scholastic improvements brought increased enrollment and a pressing need for physical expansion. In 1939, she moved her 100 students to an eight-acre site on East Broward Boulevard and added a boarding department. It was at the East Broward Boulevard that Mrs. McMillan established the name of Pine Crest School. Space was limited in the former hospital building, so she acquired acreage across a side street for use as an elementary school. Pine Crest remained on the downtown campus for 26 years.
Pine Crest School became accredited during those years and developed a reputation as an excellent preparatory school. Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was followed by membership in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), and numerous other professional groups. To better serve the needs of the expanding community's population, the school was incorporated as a non-profit institution in 1959 and moved in 1965 to an entirely new 49-acre campus in northeast Fort Lauderdale. At that time, William J. McMillan '45, the founder's son, became headmaster and served in that capacity until 1988, when Lourdes M. Cowgill was invested as Headmistress and Mr. McMillan held the position of President of the Pine Crest Preparatory School Corporation. Cowgill succeeded Mr. McMillan as President on September 1, 1995. In January 2011, Cowgill retired, and the Board of Trustees appointed Henry M. Battle, Jr. as the school's fourth president. After a whirlwind of controversy, Battle was placed on administrative leave. The Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Dana Markham as acting president in May 2011, and, in December 2011, she became the fifth president of Pine Crest School.
In 1987, the Pine Crest Preparatory School Corporation acquired Boca Raton Academy and established the Pine Crest School Boca Raton campus, encompassing Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8. The boarding program on the Fort Lauderdale campus was discontinued in 2001.
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