Independent Preschool-8th Grade

History & Traditions

D. Esther Swain arrived in Allentown in 1929, when her husband joined the faculty of Muhlenberg College. When the women in the neighborhood learned that she had been a teacher, they persuaded her to open a Kindergarten. The mothers gathered books and supplies, and located a spare upstairs bedroom in the neighborhood they could rent for classroom space.

In October 1929, the little Kindergarten opened with four boys and four girls as students. They used orange crates for bookshelves and sat in a circle on the floor for songs, games and stories, since there were not enough chairs to do otherwise.

The first year was cut short by a whooping cough epidemic, but opened again the following September at a new location and now with 19 students. The school rented rooms at the Masonic Temple on Linden Street, a large imposing building across from a lush city park.

For the next 15 years, the school grew steadily, adding grades as the youngsters aged. Mrs. Swain taught … created the curriculum … ran the business-end of things … and even cooked the children’s lunch each day on a hot plate!

In 1945, the growing school moved again, and soon a middle-school program had been added. By 1950 the school had once again outgrown its space. At this point, Miss Marjorie Allison, a friend of Mrs. Swain’s, drove her to a 22-acre alfalfa field in southern Allentown and asked, “Will this do for your school?”

In 1951, Swain opened at the present location with 91 students and nine teachers. New facilities have been added to accommodate the growing student body. Today, the Swain community includes approximately 300 students and a faculty and staff of more than 80 professionals.

We love to welcome visitors. Contact us for a personal tour.


As part of our ongoing program, we celebrate two traditions. Our Honor Pledge was written in the spring of 2009 by our middle school students, and each student, teacher, staff member and administrator receives an Honor Pin that reminds us of its important words:

As a member of the Swain community,
to honor myself and my school,
I pledge to be honest and show respect
as I strive for academic excellence.
I will take responsibility for my actions
and help others to do the same.

From our Founder’s Day celebration every October, to our Birthday Group activities, Swain’s calendar is full of traditions, old and new. They help us remember our beginnings, celebrate our various heritages and holidays, and bring us together as a community.

Some of these include (click on the link to view photos from each event):