To the St. Francis School community:
After nearly a year-long process, we are pleased to announce the results of our name change exploration with you.
As a recap, last summer the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to explore the possibility of a name change. A Task Force was created to research all that this possibility would entail including all potential costs and benefits. A survey was conducted as well as multiple listening sessions to ensure we had broad feedback from all involved with the School. The Task Force also conducted research with college admissions officers, faculty/staff search firms, and other schools and nonprofits that have changed their names.
Based on that research, in January 2022 the Task Force unanimously recommended to the Board of Trustees that we change the name of the school; and the Board voted unanimously that same month to change the name. Next, we embarked on the process of determining a new name for the School. We hired a naming and branding firm, Bullhorn, a Louisville and Lexington firm, to guide us in the process. They spoke with numerous constituents from the school, examined all the research from the fall, and got to work. They presented 15 potential names to Board and school leaders, and the list was narrowed down to three finalist names: The Francis School, Francis Parker School, and The Bridges School. Those three names were then tested through surveys with internal and external audiences, as well as more listening sessions with internal audiences.
A Name Selection Committee was formed, including the Board Executive Committees from this and next year, as well as members of the School Leadership Team with the most tenure and expertise in advancement. The group carefully combed through the results of the recent surveys and listening sessions in order to determine its recommendation.
One of the most important conclusions from this recent work was that it is very important to the whole community to honor the history of the school and one of the most important ways to do that is to maintain the word “Francis” in the name. As such, the group narrowed down the options to two final names: The Francis School and Francis Parker School. In addition, the external research gave us clear feedback on “The Francis School”, which was that the majority of respondents still believed this would be a religious school.
In making our final decision, we reflected on our goals for choosing a new name for the School, which include: 1) eliminating confusion about any connection to a particular faith; 2) communicating our Mission and connection with the Progressive educational philosophy; 3) helping more Mission-appropriate families find us; 4) honoring the history of the School; and 5) positioning our school for long-term success and sustainability.
Ultimately, the name selection committee was in full agreement that “Francis Parker School” most closely met all of our goals for the following reasons:
- it honors our history by keeping “Francis” in the name;
- it does not sound like a religious school;
- it names us for an educational philosophy that we espouse and helps explain who we are;
- even if someone does not know who Francis Parker is nor the philosophy, a Google search will quickly reveal who we are;
- the phonetics of the name are stronger;
- it already means something positive to college admissions officers and to some potential employees who live elsewhere;
- and, it aligns us with two other powerful independent schools with whom we might collaborate.
The Committee then sorted out whether to add a location, what articles to include, and whether to include “School” in the name. We engaged in further discussions with Bullhorn about these questions, asking them to help us sort through the pluses and minuses of each and also take into account how each option sounds and looks. We all agreed that “School” must be included in the name, particularly due to the fact that we are not naming ourselves for a person, but rather an educational philosophy. Having “School” in the name helps clarify that fact – we are a school that is dedicated to the progressive pedagogy Francis Parker founded. We chose not to add “The” at the beginning in order for the name to be as concise as possible. And finally, because we do feel it is important to distinguish ourselves from the other Francis Parker schools in the country, and not have two Independent Schools with exactly the same name, we have chosen to add “of Louisville” to the formal name. Louisville was chosen over Kentucky for several reasons: Louisville is actually the area we serve and where our students are located; Goshen is also in Metro Louisville and many residents of Goshen still say they live in Louisville; Louisville is clearer to those outside the area as to where we are located; we base all our diversity stats on Louisville, rather than Kentucky; and currently “Francis Parker Louisville” is stronger for search engine optimization as well.
After measuring each option against the stated criteria, one name clearly accomplished all of the goals we set out to achieve with a name change for the School. Therefore, the name selection committee made the recommendation for changing the name of St. Francis School to: Francis Parker School of Louisville. Subsequently, the Board voted unanimously to change the name of the School to Francis Parker School of Louisville in a special meeting on May 23, 2022, with the change taking effect on July 1, 2022.
We want to thank all our constituents for your participation in this process, for sharing your opinions with us, and for communicating your love of and support for the School throughout. Along with the Board of Trustees, school leadership, faculty/staff, and current students, I look forward with great anticipation to the momentum and excitement this change will bring, and most importantly for the clarity it will bring in communicating our identity to the city and attracting mission-appropriate families to the school, all of which will serve to ensure the Mission will thrive long into the future.
As mentioned above, we will start the next school year as the Francis Parker Wyverns! Please join our School community in celebrating this hard work and the bright future it ensures for us.