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Interview with Sue Spayth Riley

Riley, Sue Spayth
Wright, Christina
Date of Interview: 
Riley, Sue Spayth, 1920-2006; Modern School (Stelton, N.J.); Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, N.C.); Unitarian Universalist churches--Education; Unitarian Church of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.); Open Door School (Charlotte, N.C.); Irwin Elementary School (Charlotte, N.C.); Project Head Start (U.S.); Open plan schools; Education, Preschool--Curricula; Preschool teachers; School integration; Segregation in education; Progressive education--Philosophy; Teacher-student relationships; North Carolina--Charlotte; North Carolina--Charlotte--Clanton Park; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Sue Spayth Riley describes her experiences as the founder and director of Charlotte’s first integrated and open preschool, the Open Door School. Ms. Riley attributes her decision to establish the Open Door School to a combination of influences, including her parents’ pedagogical beliefs, and her own educational experiences at the Modern School in Stelton New Jersey, and Black Mountain College. Ms. Riley discusses the close affiliation of the Open Door School with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, and describes the differences between Open Door and other church affiliated preschools. Ms. Riley defines open education as being “child centered,“ and stresses the importance of integration for fulfilling the open school mission. She discusses her role as a spokesperson for the “People for Open Education” and explains her part in the establishment of Irwin Avenue Open Elementary. The interview closes with a conversation about the current education system and the decline of Open Schools in the United States and in Charlotte.
North Carolina--Charlotte; circa 1960 - 2005
Interview Setting: 
Home of Mrs. Riley, North Carolina--Charlotte
Oral History, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Open Schools Series
Collection Description: 
These interviews focus on the history and significance of open education in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System. They were inspired by a school history project at Piedmont Open Middle School in 2004.
Interview Audio: