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St. Francis School

Web Address:

Name & Address:
St. Francis School – Downtown Campus
233 W. Broadway
Louisville, Kentucky 40202

St. Francis School – Goshen Campus
PS (2's)- 8th grade
11000 US Highway 42
Goshen, KY 40026

Head of School:
Alexandra S. Thurstone G'80,'84

Director of Admissions - Goshen Campus (PS - 8)
Trisha Amiraut

Director of Admissions - Downtown Campus (9 - 12)
Kisha Watts

Type of School:
Grades Preschool through 12

Mission Statement: St. Francis cultivates a joyful, compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking for life.
Vision Statement: St. Francis School is the regional center of progressive learning where students grow into mindful, informed young adults.

Diversity Statement: 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, geographic origin, learning styles, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economics, and ideologies. We seek to prepare student 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.

History of St. Francis School: 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 450 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 from1965 to1975. 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 has continued to operate at the Church since then. 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. In 2014-15, approximately 470 students attend St. Francis.

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.