As members of the St. Francis School family, you know that our Goshen and Downtown campuses are rare and special places where students learn about much more than math, art, and history. It’s where they learn to be amazing individuals — nurtured by exceptional teachers, supported by engaged parents, and connected with peers who become life-long friends.
But many people don’t know us — or unfortunately, think we are something we are not. Surveys, interviews, and conversations over many years tell us that our name — St. Francis School — is confusing, shared by many unaffiliated local institutions, and does not communicate our Progressive educational philosophy. As a result, we are likely missing out on amazing prospective students, whose families are looking for a school like St. Francis School, but don’t understand from our name who we are and what we are about.
Spurred by the strong recommendation of an independent consultant that specializes in the management of Independent Schools, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to explore the possibility of a name change. The Board formed a diverse, 30-member Task Force to gather information, listen to all our constituencies, and make a thoughtful, reasoned recommendation based on the input we receive. Our genuine desire is to hear from everyone who wants to weigh in on this decision, and we’ve laid out a process to do so.
The listening begins with the survey below. We hope you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts about what, beyond our name, makes our School so special to you, as well as how you feel about this name change exploration. The survey is being shared by this email and through our social media channels with students, parents, trustees, grandparents, faculty, staff, alumni parents, former faculty and staff, and alums; in short, everyone who is directly related to the School community. Please help us by filling out the survey and encouraging others to take part by Wednesday, October 20. And please tell anyone who did not get the survey to get in touch with us at the email listed below and we’ll make sure they receive the link. We hope to include everyone in this discussion, so please help us spread the word.
In November, the Task Force will hold Listening Sessions (virtual and/or in person) with our SFS family to hear your thoughts, questions, and concerns on this matter, as well as share insights and ideas.
During the next three months, Task Force members and school leaders will also identify risks and rewards of a name change, talk with college admissions officers, consider the implications for recruiting future faculty and staff, learn from leaders of schools that have gone through name changes, and explore the financial impact.
In January, the Task Force will develop a report and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. In turn, the Board will decide whether to accept the recommendation; and whatever is decided will then be shared with the entire school community.
We have created a mailbox for your thoughts and questions about this important issue. Please email us at NameExploration@StFrancisSchool.org. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible about this process and to hear as many voices as possible. This is a momentous decision for the School’s future, and we have to get this right. With everyone’s input, we will succeed in making the best decision for the future of this wonderful School that we all know and love.
Please follow this link to take the survey and be part of charting our future. The survey will be open for two weeks, so the deadline to complete it is Wednesday, October 20, 2021.
Chad Carlton, Task Force Chair, Board of Trustees
Alexandra S. Thurstone G’80 ’84, Head of School