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Ambleside's Skylark in Song and Spirit

In 1903 it had been suggested by a home-schoolroom pupil, Eric Bishop, that the P.U.S. should have a badge. He wrote to Charlotte Mason to ask if this could be arranged and sent her a design of a lark soaring towards heaven, encircled by a wreath of daisies. It was not until 1910 that a decision was reached on the design of the badge.1 Charlotte Mason and the former students from the House of Education decided that the badge should be in the form of a brooch, consisting of a circle bearing the motto around the edge and the lark in the center.


The colors brown and white represented the lark, while the blue denoted the sky. In 1915, Dorothea Steinthal designed a badge incorporating these ideas. She added a wreath of daisies around the circlet. At first the badges were made by various firms, but as the bird frequently bore no resemblance to a lark, in 1930 Dorothea Steinthal suggested she should draw a simpler design which could be patented.

This was done, and the new badge bears the soaring lark, its head thrown back in song, its beak open. Around the circle is inscribed the motto and the name of the school.


The motto, ‘I am, I can, I ought, I will,’ is simple and positive. It provides inspiration for all children, whether they are in the preparatory class, Form I or Form VI.2

In the beginning years of Ambleside School of Fredericksburg, when Founder Maryellen St. Cyr was the principal, she spoke at a Chapel and introduced the first logo of Ambleside Schools International (ASI) with the image of the skylark soaring from the letter “I”.


As she shared with the students about Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education and the significance of the skylark to represent our schools, a friend of the school, Mark Hierholzer, was sitting and listening in the chapel. He was so moved and inspired by Maryellen’s words, that as a gift to the new school, he returned within a few days with the musical score to Shelley’s poem “Ode to a Skylark.” This beautiful song and its original music became the school song in 2004.


In his poem, “Ode to a Skylark,” Shelley was inspired by the exhilarating sight and sound of the lark’s aerial flight — a swift skyward dart followed by a long, steady, graceful descent of the singing bird. This easy field character has made the renowned Skylark the best- known member of the lark family about which many great poets have been inspired to write.


The song continues to be the official school song and is used widely in Ambleside Member Schools.


In 2021, leadership of ASI engaged in a brand refresh and the Skylark mark and logo were updated. The new Ambleside Skylark was designed in two formats: An iconic graphic image and an illustrative icon.


The full brand logo was redesigned to present the promise of an Ambleside education and depicting the Skylark propelled into the heavens. The new logo was also designed to allow for easy localization and usage by Ambleside Member Schools.


The blue and brown colors of the logo were retained to communicate the legacy, unique spirit, and experience gained through the Charlotte Mason philosophy and the Ambleside method of education.


The brand mark was also designed to present the ASI tagline representing the promise of “a living education.”


Ambleside Magazine

1 The first badge design showed a soaring skylark, with its great ability to rise to great heights, surrounded by a circle of daisies, symbolic of childhood. Later in the 1930’s, the badge was simplified, and the daisies were omitted. The final badge, patented in the 1930’s, looked like the one shown here. It is still used to this day by PNEU schools in Britain.

2 Parent’s Review, Volume 74, no.9, October 1963, 213-216.