Early schools in Carver County were typical of those found in nineteenth century Minnesota. Schools were small then, and grew out of the community's desire to educate local children. They were often held in the same building as the church or town meeting hall, and had ties to both, so were not clearly public or private.
Pioneer families with little money often only owned one book, a bible, which was used in school studies. The schools were open to all, however, and received money, supplies, and testing help from the state. The separation of community schools into formally public or private grew through the latter half of the nineteenth century, with increased population and the establishment of school districts.
In the twenty-first century, Carver County is home to four school districts. There are many private schools that fall within the boundaries of these four school districts, each with its own goals, strengths, and educational approach. Often, private schools have a religious affiliation, and religion is taught as part of the general curriculum. School days often include prayer time or church services, or lessons from scriptures built into lessons. A few of these schools require uniforms.
Independent School District #108 is based out of Norwood Young America. The boundaries of this school district hold the Emanuel Lutheran School of Hamburg (1857), St. John's Lutheran School of Norwood Young America, and Zion Lutheran School and St. Bernard Catholic School (1876)of Cologne. St. Bernard's Catholic Church and school is one of the oldest Catholic communities in the county.
Emanuel Lutheran is the only school within the boundaries of the town of Hamburg, with public school students bussed to Norwood schools. Each of these schools provides a religious education. They cover the elementary grades, are small enough that the grades are often combined in mixed-age classes.
Waconia Independent School District #110 holds St. Joseph's Catholic School (1860) and Trinity Lutheran School, both of Waconia, and St. Marks Lutheran School of New Germany (1914). St. Joseph's has the claim of being the first school in what was then the village of Waconia. It is one of the largest private schools in the county. Education was provided by the Sisters of St. Francis of New Castle, WI and the Sisters of Christian Charity. It wasn't until 1955 that lay teachers began instructing students, though Sisters continued teaching through 1982. All three of these are elementary schools.
Watertown-Mayer Independent School District #111 is based out of Watertown. Three private Lutheran-based schools fall within its boundaries. They are Zion Lutheran School (1905) and the Lutheran High School (1961) of Mayer, and Christ Community Lutheran School of Watertown, which has ties to both St. Paul's and St. Peter's Churches. Zion and Christ Community are elementary schools. Mayer Lutheran High is open to students throughout Carver County, and is one of only three private high schools in the county.
Holy Family Catholic High in Victoria and Southwest Christian High in Chaska are the other two. They are located in Independent School District #112, Eastern Carver County Schools. The boundaries of this district are broad and the private schools serve generally larger student bodies. Elementary schools in the district include Chapel Hill Academy (1970) and St. Hubert's Catholic School (1865) of Chanhassen; Guardian Angels Catholic School (1858) and St. John's Lutheran School (1886) of Chaska.
The World Learners School (1990) in Chaska serves elementary and middle school students. The Minnesota Valley Baptist School of the same town is small, but covers all the grades according to the needs of its students. St. Hubert's Catholic Community is the largest Catholic school, with nearly 700 students. Since its log cabin beginnings, there have been numerous expansions over the years. Franciscan Sisters were the first teachers. In 1895, the Sisters of St. Benedictine from St. Joseph arrived and they taught until 1996.
The first classes at St. John's Lutheran were taught in the church, with a separate school built in 1892. The current structure was built in 1956, with two additions since that time. A new private school, the Alexander Prep School, opened within the grounds of the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2013. It is a college preparatory school, using a framework of ACT and SAT standards, exploratory classes, and a specialized two high school track system focusing either on technology or the liberal arts.
Alexander Prep School.
Chapel Hill Academy.
Christ Community Lutheran School.
Emanuel Lutheran Church and School.
Guardian Angels Catholic Community.
Hartley, Lucie. "History of School District 112." District 112 archives. Chaska, 1975.
Hoffman, Colleen. District #111 office. E-mail message to author, February 25, 2013.
Holy Family Catholic High school. Our History.
Independent School District #108, Central School District.
Independent School District #110, Waconia School District.
Independent School District #111, Watertown-Mayer Schools.
Independent School District #112, Eastern Carver County Schools.
Johnson, Brett. District #112 office, Director of Communications and Community Relations. E-mail message to author, February 25, 2013 and February 26, 2013.
Jonathan Montessori World Learners School. Jonathan Montessori History.
Killian, Jessica. District #110 office. E-mail message to author, February 26, 2013.
"One-Room School House". Educational program. Carver County Historical Society.
Mayer Lutheran High School.
Southwest Christian High school. History.
St. Bernard's Catholic Community.
St. Hubert's Catholic School. School History.
St. John's Lutheran School.
St. John's Lutheran School. About Our School.
St. Joseph's Catholic School. Our History.
Trinity Lutheran Church and School.
World Learners School.
Zion Lutheran Church and School.
Zion Lutheran School. School History.
Children's education in Carver County begins in the 1850s with the founding of schools such as Emanuel Lutheran of Hamburg, St Bernard's Catholic of Cologne, and Guardian Angels Catholic of Chaska.