History of Tinton Falls School District
Prior to the inception of the Shrewsbury Township Board of Education in 1898 various one room and larger schools of Shrewsbury Township were under the supervision of a 3 men committees.
In 1893 the school district that serves the present day Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury Township, and the children of military personal stationed at Earle Weapons Station (Colts Neck) was incorporated. At the time of its incorporation the School District of Shrewsbury Township included the present day municipalities of Rumson, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township, and Tinton Falls. The various one-room and larger schools within Shrewsbury Township School district were under the supervision of various three men committees until 1898 when the Shrewsbury Township Board of Education was established.
At the turn of the century there were many school spread out over Shrewsbury Township. The areas in which these schools were located included; Oceanic (Rumson), Fair Haven, Little Silver, Green Grove, Wayside, Pine Brook, Tinton Falls, Shafto Corner, and Shrewsbury. (There is mention of an Eatontown Road School in a pamphlet dated December 5, 1951, however the exact location has not been determined).Wayside AreaRecords indicate that the Wayside School Built in 1856 was located on the west side of Hope Road bordering Ocean Township. The school is believed to have closed in 1913. In the same year the Shrewsbury Township also decided to close the #7 Green Grove School at the end of the 1912-13 school year. With the closing of these two school it was decided that a new school built somewhere centrally located between the two. Two and a half acres was purchased from the Jas. E. Lippincott Estate for the amount of $265.00. The land was located on the road from Green Grove to Wayside. The board called for the structure to be built of brick. The contract was awarded to Louis A. Dingman for his bid of $2688. The school would be called the #6 School at Wayside. The building was completed by the beginning of November 1913. Instruction at the school was briefly suspended for the 1922-23 school year. The school was then closed in c. 1925. The structure remains today as a private residence.#6 School at WaysideOceanicAreaOne of the earliest schools that the children of the Oceanic (Rumson) area of Shrewsbury Township attended was located west of Oceanic on Rumson Road near the border of future Little Silver. In 1879 the first Lafayette Street School was built. It was a two story wood frame located at the northwest corner of Lafayette and Church. It was replaced 1893 Brick Schoolon the same site by a brick school in 1893.It is as times identified as the "high school," but instruction here included1879 Wooden Frame School only the ninth and tenth grades, in addition to elementary grades. Studentsseeking completion of high school went elsewhere, typically Red Bank. In1906 the 11th grade was established at the school but the need still existed for students to attend the 12th grade elsewhere.
The East Oceanic primary school was built at East River and Black Point Roads in 1903. The lot was bought from the McMahon property, with the school designed by Joseph Swannell of Red Bank. In 1907, Rumson Borough was established and was no longer a part of the Shrewsbury Township School District.East Oceanic Primary SchoolShrewsbury AreaShrewsbury Township Board of Education Meeting on September 25, 1908 recommended the construction of a new school in Shrewsbury area at a cost of $17,000. On October 19, 1908, the legal voters of Shrewsbury Township voted to pass the Board’s recommendation. The school was completed on June 16, 1909. The picture here is of one of the classrooms in the new school in Shrewsbury. Third, fourth, and fifth grades were joined here in this classroom. The school was built on a plot of land purchased from E.D. Obrey at the cost of $2000. The lot size was 149’ by 150’. The lot was located in the southeast corner of land owned by E.D.Obrey. Bordered on the east by a stone road, (Board Street, Route 35), on the south by land belonging to F.Marks, and west and north by landed owned by E.D. Obrey. The front of the school faced Broad Street and long had been considered one of the street’s major buildings. Despite a vigorous campaign to save the 1909 school, it was demolished on August 25, 1994.Fair Haven AreaThe first building used as a school for the children of Fair Haven stood on Rumson Road near Buena Vista Avenue. In 1841 a school was built on the eastern stem of River Road and Minton Lane. When this school proved to be too small for the number of children attending, arrangements were made for use of a room over Vandervere’s store for the primary grades. In 1878 a new school was built on Willow Street. This school saw expansion in the years of 1888 and 1898, with 2 rooms being added each time. This school remained in use until 1934. Fair Haven was incorporated as a borough by an a Act of the NJ Legislature on March 28, 1912 from portions of Shrewsbury Township.Free African SchoolIn the year 1850 Samuel Still sold land to the "trustees of the Free African Church" for the erection of a school to be called the "Free African School" located on the north side of Brown Lane north of River Road. Then in 1881, racial strife came about when a black female teacher of the "colored school", as the "Free African School" was later called, resigned after a dispute with the Shrewsbury tax collector. With the school not staffed some parents sent their children to the white school where they were admitted. Others kept their children at home. After a few weeks another teacher was found. But peace was not restored for long. On February 23 1881, the colored schoolhouse was engulfed in flames and burnt to the ground. The Blacks were blamed for purposefully setting the fire. The Blacks blamed a faulty stove and dry wood of the school. This time the black children did not apparently try to enter the white schoolhouse. The Shrewsbury Township, with the assistance of General Clinton B. Fisk of Rumson, built a new school for the black children, a site off River Road just outside the village was selected for a new Black School. The school was occupied by September 1881. (No pictures were found)Little Silver AreaIn 1923, the Board of Education for the Shrewsbury Township suggested that $100,000 be spent for the construction of a new elementary school to consolidate the existing local schools and thereby require children living in the village of Little Silver travel many miles to the new school. The residents of the village were already upset by the fact that they contributed about one-third the total taxes in the township, and received in return about half that amount in services. The N.J. legislature passed a bill allowing Little Silver to conduct a referendum in becoming a borough with a coextensive school district.The Little Silver Grammar School on Prospect Avenue was built in 1899.Tinton Falls AreaThe origin of the Old Pine Brook school is unclear. Its original location was some distance from the Hamilton Road location of a subsequent structure that was then referred to as the New Pine Brook School. The Tinton Falls school house that was constructed on Tinton Avenue in 1912 to replace the school that was destroyed by fire was dismantled in 1914. It was moved to the Hamilton Road site and reconstructed to replace the existing Pine Brook School. The structure which stood on the site of the present day Pine Brook Fire Department was in use until c. 1943.As with the Old Pine Brook School the origins of the original Shafto School are uncertain. It is known that in 1911 a tract of land was bought from Lyle Shafto, near Shafto’s corner on the road leading to Reeveytown in the amount of $150.00 for a new school to be built. This school, Shafto’s Cornor School, remained in use until c.1921 (No pictures were found).
Mahala Field, who was born in Somerville, NJ, and recieved her undergraduate education at Cheny State, PA, began her teaching career in Cedar Hill, MD, in 1925. She came to Monmouth County, in 1927, to teach grades one through eight in the one-room segregated Pine Brook School. Following its c. 1943 closing, she taught kindergarten at the Vail Homes School. She earned graduate degrees, studying at several universities. She later taught first grade at the Sycamore school. In 1950 she married The Rev. Wallace William Atchison. Mahala F. Atchison retired in 1973 after 46-year career teaching in Tinton Falls. Not long after, the Sycamore School was renamed in her honor.
She is pictured her in September 1983 when a portrait in her honor was hung in that school.The first school built in the borough of what is now Tinton Falls, was built as a one room school house in 1898 on the site of the present day Tinton Falls Middle School. The original Tinton Falls School was totally destroyed by fire on July 12, 1912. The board recommended that a one room school house be built on the same site. The school would need to be built according to law to accommodate 45 students. The contract for a new school was awarded to Geo. L. Dingman for the bid of $2060.00. During the construction of the new school, classes were held in the vacant Mineral Springs Hotel in Tinton Falls (near today’s Village Green). Construction of the new school was completed in the early part of December 1912. In May of 1914 it was decided that this structure be moved. Two rooms were constructed at Tinton Falls to take its place and still stand as part of the present building. In 1928 three more rooms were added to the existing structure. It was believed at the time that this addition would take care of the situation for some time to come. However these rooms were soon full and in 1935 a kindergarten class was added. The federal government in 1941, under the Lanham Act and largely through the efforts of Leon M. Shafto, then president of the board, built and completely furnished three more classrooms and a teachers’ room with basement facilities and a well. This appropriation was based on the current growth of the school population.Tinton Falls School 1935Consideration of further development of the Tinton Falls School was given as early as 1946. However, it wasn’t until February 1950 that a referendum for a bond issue of $130,000 was put to a vote and passed by a decided margin. Immediate steps were taken to prepare these rooms for formal opening in the fall of 1951.On Wednesday, December 5, 1951 at 8 o’clock in the evening a Dedication Ceremony of the Tinton Falls School was held. The building was dedicated to Joseph E. Wardell who was a member of the school board for 36 years, and Leon M. Shafto, who was president of the board for 25 years. Additions again followed in 1955, 1965, and 1972. Trailers were added in 1991. By the 1994-1995 school year the Tinton Falls School saw an addition of over 54,000 square feet. The additions included a gymnasium twice the size of the previous one, a kitchen, cafeteria, computer room and classrooms. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes were located here.Joseph E. Wardell These comments appeared in the Dedication Program from Leon M. Shaftothe builders. "When we build, let us think that we buildforever. Let it not be for present delight or present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendents will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come, when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that man will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our fathers did for us.’ "Mahala F. AtchisonThe Sycamore School was built in 1954 financed by federal funds as a replacement for Vail Homes School Annex. Its architects were Coffin and Coffin of New York and Victor W. Ronfeldt of New Shrewsbury. The building then had six classrooms, an all-purpose room, teachers’ rooms, and offices. Additions to the 1954 structure, pictured on the left, occurred in 1957 and 1965. The Sycamore School was renamed the Mahala F. Atchison School during the early part of the 1970’s. Eighteen modular classrooms were added in 1989 and small instructional trailers in 1990. Following the mid-90’s construction phase the school had more than doubled in size. The renovations had added more than 60,000 square feet. The additions included 28 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria and offices.Present Day M.F. AtchisonSwimming River SchoolThe rapid construction of new housing that followed the 1954 opening of the Garden State Parkway strained the borough’s system despite the expansion of the Tinton Falls School and the construction of the Sycamore School. Crowding forced the Tinton Falls system to double sessions by the time of the 1959-1960 construction of the Swimming River School. The school, seen on the left in April 1960, then contained 12 classrooms, a kindergarten, an all-purpose room, and offices. It has had several additions since the initial construction. Swimming River had additions that were completed for the 1993-1994 school year that allowed for the 3rd-6th grade to attend classes there. The renovations that took place at Swimming River School added 37,000 square feet to the school. There were a total of 19 classrooms added to the building, including a gymnasium and cafeteria.Present day SwimmimgRiver SchoolTinton Falls Middle SchoolIn the early to mid 1990’s the Tinton Falls Middle School saw the addition of 54,000 square feet to the building. The additions included a gymnasium, twice the size of the previous one, a kitchen, cafeteria, computer room and classrooms. The last major renovations and building was done at the Tinton Falls Middle School. In 2003 the project involved the addition of five classrooms, a new cafeteria/gymnasium and two new bathrooms. Renovations of the existing kitchen and cafeteria, three classrooms and two bathrooms. On September 7, 2004 the Middle School opened its newly expanded facility . The two-room schoolhouse of 1912 was now consists of 46 classrooms, a writing lab, library, gym, auxiliary gym, and an all purpose room.