In the 1950’s, Virginia Chance was the Director of the school program at the Douglass Boulevard Christian Church. A group of parents from that school approached Virginia and asked her to start a new preschool program based on her philosophy of education and young children and in 1958, Mrs.Chance’s Community Preschool (Chance School) was born. For two years the school was located in the B’rith Shalom Education building and moved to its present site in 1960.
In 2014, the name of the School was changed to Virginia Chance School to honor our founder.
In Virginia’s words here is what made and continues to make Chance School unique:
“In the school’s beginning, it was the only Nursery and Kindergarten school in Louisville created by my desire for children to experience the joy in learning, new ways of discipline and art and creativity. All children were welcomed. The educational philosophy included revolutionary ideas that made new ways of teaching gain importance. Discipline was redefined—each child was and is a unique individual who grows developmentally (uneven growth). Teachers use words that encourage positive discipline. The curriculum was a framework for learning. It included the interests of the child and was integrated throughout the different interest centers.
Learning was and is a process, not a product, as childhood is a process, not a product. Our society respects products and into this trap we fall, forcing academic tasks too soon. Childhood is full of physical and social actions, and through these, children learn and develop through their involvement with other children, people, and their environment. Children learn through their play and various activities and experiences, making meaning out of their encounters. They develop these basic skills that will help them get along with others, take turns and share with others, respect and accept others, make friends and develop self-esteem. These become habits of the mind and are components of one’s character. These habits are nurtured and developed as children learn to care for themselves, be responsible for their actions, care for others and discover ways to help make a difference in the world.
Children are learning more than just answers: they are learning to think, to communicate, to persist, to make choices, to ask questions, to seek answers and experience their world through their senses.”
History of Site
Rogers Clark Ballard School plays a significant role in the history of Louisville, Kentucky. As a historical site, Ballard School dates back to 1914 when it replaced four one-room country schoolhouses scattered from Pipe Line Lane (now Zorn Avenue) to Prospect. The four schools had long served the children that lived between River Road and the Old Brownsboro Road. The property for this new school was donated by Mr. and Mrs. S. Thruston Ballard. In honoring their generosity, the Jefferson County School Board named the school Rogers Clark Ballard Memorial School in memory of the Ballard’s young son who died in 1909 while a student at one of those one-room schoolhouses. In 1928, two buildings were constructed from the limestone quarried from the site: the Cottage, the original groundskeeper’s cottage that now provides classroom space, and the main building which provided four classrooms and the Funroom gymnasium, and those continue today.
In 1959, the Ballard student body moved to a new public school in the area, and the building became the new home of Chance School, founded by pioneer educator, Virginia Thomas Chance. While Chance started as a preschool and kindergarten, it grew to include children through third grade in 1978, and then fifth grade in 1996. Philanthropist Jane Morton Norton made a gift that enabled the purchase of the building in 1985, and a successful historic restoration project renovated the building and created the Treehouse classrooms.
In 1994, a long time supporter of Virginia Chance’s philosophy and advocate of early childhood education, Jane Delaney Newton, made a gift of twenty-six acres of land on the east side of Lime Kiln Lane. During the following year, the building was expanded to create the Lodge classrooms. The Media Center was built in 2009 to house the library and technology lab. With an initial grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, the Learning Greenhouse was added to the field in 2013. An additional building was added in 2018 that included four classrooms, an elevator, and a renovated kitchen area. In 2020 planning has begun to reinvent our playground into a natural playscape to better match our mission and philosophy, and to further enhance our outdoor integrated learning.