Sea Bright Education History
Learning in the Past …
The first-ever Sea Bright public school was opened in 1874, according to the Long Branch Daily Record. The town’s initial effort at public education fell to flames though. The school was one of many structures taken during the “Great Sea Bright Fire” in June 1891 when a majority of downtown burnt.
By 1892, a new four-story schoolhouse on River Street was opened at a cost of $11,650. The school board president then was George Brown. Set between river and ocean the school was remembered for its ornate exterior, many windows, interior woodwork, and winding fire-escape. Built by Garrett Hennessey, the brick structure lasted for over 125 years. Empty and neglected for 40 years, the majestic schoolhouse was finally torn down in September 2019 (I watched its fall).
With few dollars and even fewer students, Sea Bright learning efforts started humbly. Annual town spending on education did not reach $10,000 until 1923.
Helen Sawyer was the school’s longest serving principal holding the top job from 1942 to 1967 (she taught English too). The longtime Oakhurst resident with an NYU graduate degree died in July 1984. Others to lead the Sea Bright School system were: Margaret Quackenbush Goslee, James. S. McCain (1904-1914), Forman O. Cossaboom (1920-1928), and David W. Shipp (1928-1942). The last principal at the K-6 Sea Bright school was LeRoy von Entress.
With its small enrollment always presenting a challenge, the school finally closed in 1978 (with annual education budget under $275,000). In 1979 the board of education sold the property to Ingol Media Service for $125,000. Sea Bright grammar school children have attend Oceanport schools since then. The borough never had a high school instead sending its students first to Long Branch High School and beginning in 1962 to Shore Regional High School in WLB.