Maurice “Robbie” Robinson knew even as a young man that he wanted to be a publisher. After serving as the editor of his high school paper in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to Dartmouth College, where he edited The Daily Dartmouth. After graduating in 1920, he created the first issues of The Western Pennsylvania Scholastic in the “office” of his mother’s sewing room. Robinson, who once said, “I cannot recall a day where I did not look forward to tackling the work that was waiting for me in my office,” built steadily on the relationships with teachers and the trust of the Scholastic name forged by his magazines in their classrooms. He remained at the Company’s helm throughout his life. His son, Dick Robinson, now Chairman, President, and CEO of Scholastic, leads an organization that has grown into a $2 billion global publishing, education, and media company.
Scholastic’s story begins with a four-page magazine in 50 high schools
On the cover of the first issue of his first magazine, publisher M.R. Robinson promised his readers more: “Only four pages? No! Next week and every other week thereafter The Scholastic will have eight pages.” And he kept his promise: following its initial publication on October 22, 1920, The Western Pennsylvania Scholastic did grow—first to the promised eight pages and, eventually, to become the cornerstone of the Company that is now the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Robinson had found a niche that allowed his magazine—and his business—to expand: serving students in the classroom with publications written to their specific needs and interests. From covering high school sports and activities for 50 Pennsylvania high schools, he moved within two years to a 24-page national biweekly. The Scholastic covered national and world affairs, sports, literature, and the arts. With additions like Junior Scholastic in 1937, the Company began to increase steadily the number and scope of magazine titles on its roster.