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Sue Spayth Riley oral history interview, 2005 September 13

 Digital Record
Identifier: OH-RI0363


  • Creation: 2005-09-13

Biographical / Historical

Sue Spayth Riley was an 85-year-old woman at the time of interview, which took place in her home in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was born in Houston, Texas in 1920. She was educated at Black Mountain College, Goddard College, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and was employed as a preschool teacher, an early childhood educator, and a consultant.


64 Minutes

Language of Materials


General Note

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 at 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 education in the United States and in Charlotte.

Repository Details

Part of the Oral Histories, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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