In the early 1930's, Mae McMillan began tutoring children of winter visitors to Fort Lauderdale. She helped them with assignments so they could return to their home schools with their studies up to date. The high caliber of her teaching soon attracted full-time local students, and in 1934 she founded her school in rented rooms in the old Elks Club Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Stimulated by Mrs. McMillan's foresight and dedication, scholastic improvements brought increased enrollment and a pressing need for physical expansion. In 1939, she moved her 100 students to an eight-acre site on East Broward Boulevard and added a boarding department.
It was here that Mrs. McMillan established the name of Pine Crest School. Space was limited in the former hospital building, so she acquired acreage across a side street for use as an elementary school. Pine Crest remained on the downtown campus for 26 years.
Pine Crest School became accredited during those years and developed a reputation as an excellent college preparatory school. Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was followed by membership in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), and numerous other professional groups. To better serve the needs of the expanding community's population, the school was incorporated as a non-profit institution in 1959 and moved in 1965 to an entirely new 49-acre campus in northeast Fort Lauderdale. At that time, William J. McMillan '45, the Founder's son, became Headmaster and served in that capacity until 1988, when Dr. Lourdes M. Cowgill was invested as Headmistress and Mr. McMillan held the position of President of the Pine Crest Preparatory School Corporation. Dr. Cowgill succeeded Mr. McMillan as President on September 1, 1995; Dr. Dana Markham became the School's fifth President in December of 2011.
In 1987, the Pine Crest Preparatory School Corporation acquired Boca Raton Academy and established the Pine Crest School Boca Raton campus, encompassing Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8. Graduates are invited to complete their preparatory school education in the Upper School on the Fort Lauderdale campus.
An independent, all-faith, coeducational school, Pine Crest holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, The Florida Council of Independent Schools, and the Florida Kindergarten Council, and is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools.