The history of the National Presbyterian School is tied to that of the National Presbyterian Church, which dates back to 1794 when a small group of Scottish stonemasons worshiped in a carpenter’s shop on the grounds of the White House. Eventually that group merged with others and over time there arose a desire to found a church that would represent Presbyterianism nationwide. In 1947 The National Presbyterian Church was formally proclaimed, and in 1961 The General Assembly, directing that a “visible and audible center for Presbyterianism in Washington” be created, gave birth to The National Presbyterian Church and Center. A few years later, in 1967, the Hillcrest Children’s Center was purchased as the site for this national church, and in that year General Dwight D. Eisenhower unveiled the cornerstone for The National Presbyterian Church. At this same time, the plan to have an associated day school that would provide high quality, early childhood education emerged, leading to the founding of National Presbyterian School in 1969. The School’s by-laws are approved by the Session of the Church, which also approves the appointments of members of the School’s Board of Trustees and of the Head of School.
Initially, the School offered a cooperative nursery program for three and four year old children, and was intended to serve residents of the surrounding community and members of the Church. It welcomed children of all religions, races, and nationalities. Among its first thirty-six students were children from France, Germany, Mexico, and Sweden. The first Kindergarten class was added in 1972, and by 1976 the School had grown to include Grades 1 through 3. Acceding to parents’ requests, NPS carefully expanded its curriculum and programs, adding grades 4, 5, and 6 over the next few years. In 1986 the School held its first sixth grade graduation. In 2007 the School opened the National Presbyterian Child Care Center (NPCCC) to meet the infant and toddler care needs of teachers and staff of NPS and The National Presbyterian Church.
In 1987 the School was accredited by the Association of Independent Maryland Schools and in 1988 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1998, the School was reaccredited for ten years by both of these agencies. In 2008, after a careful and comprehensive self-evaluation, the reaccreditations were renewed for another ten years. The School is tax exempt and operates as an educational institution under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.