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Bryn Mawr 100: The Baldwin School

The all-girls school will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2013.

Founded in 1888 by Florence Baldwin, Bryn Mawr's   started as a 13-student class in the Montgomery Avenue home of Baldwin's mother. The Baldwin School has since grown into one of the most prestigious girls' preparatory schools on the Main Line.

"Our basic educational philosophy is summed up in our tag line, which is 'from thinking girls to accomplished women,' " said Baldwin Head of School Sally Powell, the school's seventh headmaster in 120 years. "We want to try to elicit the feeling that Baldwin girls are not just bright, academically talented individuals, but they also use their minds. They think creatively, they think outside the box. they think outside themselves. They think about the community."

In keeping with the school's high academic standards, the 58-student graduating class of 2011 boasted 18 National Merit Scholars, three who were recognized by the Society of Women Engineers, and a pair who were honored by the Oxford Classical Dictionary for outstanding achievements in language.

Outside the classroom, eight members of the 2011 class will go on to play sports collegiately and service-minded graduate Stephanie Sheppard was given a Community Hero Award by state Rep. Tim Brigg's office for helping create a local Special Olympics chapter.

In addition to the achievements of the graduates, sixth-grader Jessica Zhang won a state-wide math competition in June and junior Julia Smith was recently named most valuable player in an international polo tournament.

Powell says the all-girls environment Baldwin uniquely outfits girls with the social and intellectual tools they need to enjoy these successes.

"They develop an intellectual freedom and an intellectual confidence in a same-sex classroom that may not be available to them otherwise," said Powell, herself the product of a same-sex education in her native England. "It encourages girls to inhabit non-traditional female roles: somebody's got to be good at math and science and technology and other roles that in some people's minds are traditionally reserved for boys."

The career educator added that Bryn Mawr is an ideal environment for an institution like Baldwin.

"The Main Line of Philadelphia has for decades attracted people who believe in education and believe in the benefits of a good education," said Powell. "It's a good place to be."

Editor's Note: This is the second in a . Check back with Bryn Mawr-Gladwyne Patch for more profiles leading up to the Sept. 10 celebration.

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