St. Francis School cultivates a joyful, compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking for life.
St. Francis School is the regional center of progressive learning where students grow into mindful, informed young adults.
Our Core Values
- We believe that children are natural learners who thrive best in an atmosphere attuned to their individual interests, strengths, and needs.
- We believe that diversity of all kinds and a culture of inclusivity strengthen the individual and the community.
- We prepare children to live and lead with a global perspective.
- We believe that personal qualities such as honesty, curiosity, independent thinking, and respect are as important as academic achievement.
- We celebrate nature and promote environmental responsibility.
- We believe that healthy physical activity and a meaningful experience of the arts are essential to personal growth.
Progressive education took shape around the turn of the 20th century, led by such thinkers as John Dewey and Francis W. Parker. In reaction to the "assembly-line," one-size-fits-all curriculum that still dominates education, Dewey and his followers sought an educational experience that produced critical thinkers and not merely dutiful workers. Emphasizing internal motivation, creativity, experiential learning and the arts, the progressive approach to education continues to prepare young people effectively for the challenges of higher education, civic participation and the work place.
St. Francis School is proud to share in this tradition founded on a profound respect for the individual learner. NAIS on Progressive Education
The origin of St. Francis School traces back to a preschool established in 1948 by members of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church. In 1965, the Rev. Stephen R. Davenport, along with supportive parents and friends, opened St. Francis School in Harrods Creek with the Rev. Frank Q. Cayce serving as headmaster from1965 to1975. Their goal was to fulfill a community need for an integrated, coeducational elementary and middle school that provided an innovative learning environment.
In 1970, the school moved from St. Francis in the Fields Church to its present sixty-four acre site in Goshen, Kentucky, twenty-two miles northeast of downtown Louisville. Built in the innovative "open-classroom" style, the architecture included small amphitheaters in each wing of the school and several raised classrooms called "pods." A second building, completed in 1974, added a gymnasium, science labs, an instrumental music room and an art room for students. In the fall of 1982, a new library, computer center and language laboratory were added to the Goshen facility. In 1997, the school added a new math/science/art wing, and extensive renovation was done to the main building. During the 1996-97 school year, an additional 27.5 acres was purchased adjacent to the main campus.
In 1976, the Assistant Head of School at Goshen, Tom Pike, founded St. Francis High School in the former downtown YMCA building at the corner of 3rd and Broadway. The location of the school was carefully chosen as the proper progression for the school's developmentally oriented approach. Just as a pastoral setting is ideal for the needs of younger learners, high school students preparing for college and beyond are engaged as downtown citizens; this more sophisticated, adult-like school setting provides access to resources only found in an urban setting.
In 1995, the school returned to its roots, opening St. Francis Preschool on the grounds of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church. The preschool is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, received a superior rating in the Kentucky STARS program and is recognized as an exemplary program by the Kentucky Department of Education.
In 2012, the Board of Trustees of the Harrods Creek and Goshen campuses and the Board of Trustees of St. Francis High School voted to merge the schools. The merger allowed the campuses to unite as one school, keeping with the original intention of the school's founders: to provide the most innovative, developmentally-oriented, engaging education in the region for students from preschool through high school.
Alexandra S. Thurstone '84 was named the Head of School for the united St. Francis School. Alexandra is an alumna of both the Goshen and Downtown campuses, and has served as the Head of School at the Downtown Campus for eleven years prior to assuming headship for all three campuses. Alexandra left her formative years at St. Francis to pursue her education at Harvard, and later received her MBA from the University of Chicago. She worked in marketing and advertising prior to becoming the Head of School. She has two sons who attend the school, and has the remarkable distinction of a life-long association with the school that passionately fuels her leadership.
The present mission statement was approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2007, after a thorough process of review and discussion by members of the school community.
St. Francis School is fully accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, and is a member of the following organizations: National Association of Independent Schools, Kentucky Association of Independent Schools, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Elementary Schools Heads Association, National Middle School Association, and the National Association for Gifted Children.
The main purpose of the St. Francis Student Council is to represent the student body, to promote a culture of cooperation and respect among all St. Francis community members, to cultivate a sense of loyalty and school spirit, to provide service opportunities for students, and to grow leadership qualities in the young people of St. Francis.
The Student Council meets weekly, and all participants have weekly jobs such as changing the lettering on the school sign and helping to distribute the daily school snack. Representatives bring ideas and concerns from their grade-level peers, and help to brainstorm options and solutions. They are a voice for their classmates, and learn how to effect positive change in a collaborative climate. New representatives are elected each September.