The E. Ethel Little School is located on Barberry Road not far from the intersection of Park Street West and Concord Street in the southwestern section of North Reading. Little School is a single story structure with only a few steps connecting the upper and lower levels making it virtually barrier-free. The original building was constructed in 1958. In 1970 there was a major addition including a library, gymnasium and several classrooms. This addition resulted in the school housing sixteen classrooms, a gymnasium and equipment storage area, a cafetorium and food preparation area, a library and library work room, a secretary’s office/health room, a principal’s office and conference room, a staff room and work room, and four areas to be used as small group instruction areas. The school grounds include a courtyard, playground and several ball fields shared by the school and recreation departments.
In 1990 the Little School was closed due to insufficient enrollment. During these five years the building was leased to house the SEEM Collaborative and day care. In 1994 a centralized kindergarten including four classes was housed at the school. In 1995 the school committee voted to reopen the Little School as a preschool through grade three facility. Little School students in grades 4-5 remained at the Batchelder and Hood Schools. In September, 1996, the Little School housed students in grades K-4 and in 1997 grades K-5. With the addition of the intermediate grades a space problem existed. To deal with this problem the townspeople voted to support a 3.443 million dollar addition and renovation to the Little School. Ground breaking began in April, 1997. The 1997-98 school year was spent on this new construction and renovation. The new kindergarten rooms became available in February, 1998, allowing us to temporarily move the art and music programs into classrooms. The new wing includes a library, two grade three classrooms, an art room, music room, resource room, reading room and counseling room. The building project and playground dedication were held on October 25, 1999. The networking of the computer room, library and classrooms as well as several punch list items was completed by June, 1999.
At the annual town meeting in April, 2001, the voters approved funds for modular classrooms. In the fall 2001, the site work began for the placement of modular classroom units. A corridor was built along side of the kindergarten leading to the modular classroom. In February, 2002, a preschool class moved into the new space. A section of the modular was divided and used for occupational therapy.
The E. Ethel Little School was named after lifelong resident E. Ethel (Fairbanks) Little. She was born on September 29, 1882 and died in her home where she lived her entire life at the age of 77 on February 24, 1960. Active in town and club affairs, she was past president of the West Village Club, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a member of the Upland Club, a charter member of the North Reading Grange. She was also past president of the Daughters of Union Veterans of Reading and received a Silver Scroll signed by President Truman for her many years of service with the American Red Cross.
A member of the North Reading School Committee for 21 years, one of the new elementary schools was named in her honor in 1958. A graduate of local schools, Mrs. Little also graduated from Salem Normal School, now Salem State University. She was well known for her poetry which she wrote to commemorate special events and about many prominent people in town.
In the fall of 2018, the E. Ethel Little School was recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as one of 52 "Schools of Designation" for High Achievement. One September 26, 2019, the Little School was informed that they had been recognized by U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Betsey DeVos, as a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJxGWVscgR8&feature=youtu.be ). This award was given to only 362 schools in the U.S. and only 6 schools in Massachusetts. The Little School Community (faculty, staff, students, and parents) should be very proud of this impressive accomplishment.