In 1960, as a teacher in the Midland Independent School District, Dr. Woodring served as a member of a committee investigating various reading programs. After closely studying the curriculum of one program called the Carden Method, Dr. Woodring knew she had discovered that for which she had been looking. The Carden Method had a phonetic approach to reading, a curriculum that was incrementally developed, and a program that did not teach any area of language arts in isolation, but correlated it with other subjects.
After completing the study and the 1960-61 school year, Dr. Woodring returned to Dallas and taught first grade at Stephen F. Austin Elementary School. She implemented much of the Carden Method into a “Look Say” system. As a result of her teaching, these first graders, many from low economic, low enrichment, and low parental participation backgrounds, learned to read.
In 1962 she resigned from DISD so that she and her husband could start a family. Their daughter Jill was born the next fall, and three years later their son, Greg. As Jill approached four, the Woodrings began searching for a school using the Carden Method of teaching reading. However, to their dismay, the nearest one was a school for boys in Fort Worth, and thus they made the decision to start a Carden School themselves here in Dallas.
On September 7, 1966, the Woodrings opened Highlander School with one kindergarten and one junior kindergarten for a total enrollment that year of twenty-nine students. The next year they added a first grade class and the enrollment increased to eighty-seven students. The trend of adding a grade each year continued until 1973 when the desired size of the school was reached.
Today Highlander is located on six acres of land in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas. The school encompasses early childhood and elementary school through sixth grade and still uses the Carden Method in its teaching.
See more of Highlander’s history here.