Not sure about who we are, or what we do? First, let’s start with our Mission is to: cultivate a joyful, compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking for life. Our Vision is that: St. Francis School is the regional center of progressive learning where students grow into mindful, informed young adults. And, our Core Values are: Individuality, Inclusivity, Community, Thought, Openness, Expression, Curiosity.
The philosophy of St. Francis School is rooted in the Progressive education tradition. Fundamentally we believe that each student enjoys strengths and faces challenges and that each one must be treated as an individual. Emphasizing active, experiential learning, problem-solving, self-expression, critical thinking, collaboration, and healthy discussion and debate in every classroom, St. Francis effectively prepares young people for the challenges of higher education, civic involvement, and successful lives as adults. As a community composed of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and life experiences, we ask of all our members that the tolerance, respect, and imagination required for responsible citizenship and global understanding be elements of daily practice. Throughout our program, students learn the ethical dimensions of issues, enabling them to use their talent and knowledge with wisdom, compassion, creativity, and integrity. This philosophy is articulated distinctively within each division of the School, given the children it serves.
At St. Francis, we believe there is inherent strength in a community, a city, and a world in which members exhibit a breadth of talent, skills, and attributes. We define diversity as differences embodied in (but not limited to) age, ethnicity, race, family composition, gender, gender identity, and expression, geographic origin, learning styles, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economics, and ideologies. We seek to prepare students to live in and contribute to their world by acknowledging and celebrating who they are and who they wish to become. In addition, given the fact of profound inequalities of opportunity that still exist in our world, we strive to foster a respectful and welcoming school community for us all as a model for the challenges that face us each day as global citizens.
St. Francis is an Independent, non-denominational, progressive, co-ed, Preschool – 12th-grade school located on two campuses: Goshen (Preschool-8) and Downtown (9-12) with approximately 480 students. 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 at the church in Harrods Creek, with the Rev. Frank Q. Cayce serving as Headmaster from 1965 to 1975. Their goal was to fulfill a community need for an integrated, co-educational school that provided an innovative learning environment.
In 1970, the school moved from St. Francis in the Fields Church to its present 64-acre site in Goshen, Kentucky, twenty-two miles northeast of downtown Louisville. Built in the unique”open-classroom” style, the architecture included small amphitheaters in each wing of the school and several raised classrooms called “pods.”
In 1976, Tom Pike, then Acting Head of School at St. Francis School, along with a group of parents and Board members, founded St. Francis High School in downtown Louisville. The school was housed in the former Downtown YMCA, a National Historic Landmark building, and was deliberately located downtown so that adolescents, who are preparing to be part of the adult world, would be situated in the adult world and have access to all the cultural and educational opportunities of a thriving metropolis.
Throughout its first 30 years in Goshen, that campus continued to expand, with a second building that held a gymnasium, science labs, a music room, and art room completed in 1974; a new library, computer center, and language lab added in 1982; purchase of an additional 27.5 acres adjacent to the original campus purchased in 1996-97 and a math/science/art wing added in 1997, along with extensive renovation to the existing building. In 2013, the gymnasium was demolished, with a new gym facility opening in August 2014.
In 1995, St. Francis Preschool, as part of St. Francis School, was again opened on the grounds of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Harrods Creek, and it continued to operate at the Church until 2014, when it relocated to the Goshen Campus. St. Francis High School purchased the Downtown YMCA building in 1998, completing an award-winning renovation of the space in the 2003-04 school year. In 2007, the High School added the adjacent garage facility to its footprint. The garage is closed as of the start of school in 2012-13, and later demolished; a new parking lot on the space opened in July 2013.
In February 2012, the Boards of St. Francis School and St. Francis High School approved the merger of the two sister schools to form the current Preschool – 12th grade St. Francis School. While discussions of a merger had taken place over several decades, in 2012, the time was right and the two Boards agreed to align the three campuses sharing similar educational philosophy into one dynamic entity centered around a progressive mission.
Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the Preschool moved to the Goshen Campus and is housed in the Lower School wing there.
St. Francis School is characterized by personal attention, small class sizes, diversity, dedication to student voice, commitment to community service, student-centric extracurriculars, and outstanding teachers who are dedicated to their subject areas and to students. Inside and outside the classroom, the atmosphere at St. Francis School is one of joy that also prepares students successfully for college and for life. The school philosophy is based on the Progressive school movement founded by John Dewey and Francis Parker in the early 1900s as a response to the assembly line, “one-size-fits-all” school model. Progressive schools, on the other hand, believe that students achieve milestones at different rates and therefore that education should be customized for individual students as much as possible. Like St. Francis, Progressive schools are student-centered, community service-minded, diverse, experiential, and participatory; they require students to be fully engaged participants in the learning process.
St. Francis School is fully accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), certified by the Kentucky Department of Education, and is a member of the following organizations: National Association of Independent Schools, Kentucky Association of Independent Schools, Kentucky Non-Public Schools Commission, Elementary Schools Heads Association, National Middle School Association, Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, and the National Association for Gifted Children. St. Francis is also one of 100 schools in the U.S. named as a Confucius Classroom for its Chinese language program, and its middle school drama program is nationally recognized by the National Youth Arts Awards. The Preschool received a superior rating in the Kentucky STARS program and is recognized as an exemplary program by the Kentucky Department of Education.