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, as expressed below:

The Preschool is a joyful place that seeks to foster curiosity and wonder. At St. Francis Preschool, we believe that allowing students to explore, investigate, and create is the perfect medium for motivating learning. Because of these closely held values, our curriculum is one that emerges from the daily experiences and interests of the children. We believe that “everything is developing,” and therefore the focus is on the process of learning rather than the product. Social, physical, and cognitive skills grow freely in this fertile ground of play and exploration. While facilitating these experiences, our expert classroom teachers assure that the children are challenged by utilizing open-ended questions to encourage problem solving, imagination, and creativity. Student artifacts such as photographs, paintings, and clay-work, as well as completed individual and group projects, fill the classrooms. We respect each child’s unique growth process, while also seeking to expand his/her world view. We believe that outdoor play encourages an appreciation for the environment and fosters creativity and a sense of wonder. At St. Francis Preschool, children have a say in what they do and how they do it, and teachers encourage learning to be a fun and exciting journey every day.

Middle School
In grades JK – 8, our goal is to inspire a true love of learning in our students. Our open classroom environment, coupled with our pastoral, rural setting, creates an idyllic educational experience that is positive and joyful. We believe in helping all students build on their strengths while encouraging them to explore and develop new skills and interests. Our small class sizes and low student to teacher ratio allow our dedicated teachers to challenge each student individually and offer student choice in the curriculum and demonstrations of knowledge whenever possible. Deliberately cultivating a sense of community is an important part of the Goshen Campus experience, so aspects of this are woven throughout each school day. Morning Meetings provide opportunities for students and teachers to gather together and discuss the day’s events, share important happenings, and celebrate achievements. It is a time for students to feel connected to and valued as friends, not only by their classmates, but also by those in other grades, as well as the adults in the community. The open classroom setting enhances collaborative learning and helps students to develop critical listening and focusing skills. In addition to traditional academic subjects, we emphasize the importance of the arts, physical and outdoor education, ethical development, and service learning. Our 60+ acre campus allows children to play and breathe the fresh air, enhancing their natural sense of curiosity and appreciation for the environment and nature. The outdoors, including our gardens and chicken coop/rabbit hutch area, are used as an extension of the classroom regularly. Student life on the Goshen Campus is rich with intellectual and creative possibility.

High School
At the High School, we believe that the best preparation for higher education and adult life is a challenging academic program within a vibrant urban community. A diverse student body develops creative and critical thinking skills while passionate, talented faculty emphasize and cultivate in-depth investigation, discussion, and writing; active participation in these activities builds students’ confidence. The downtown location allows students to interact on a regular basis with the urban community, and the open campus teaches students to balance freedom with responsibility. Coming to know and negotiate their environment, our students develop self-reliance and sophistication. The entire High School community is actively engaged in a comprehensive long-term relationship with the city’s non-profit organizations through a four-year community service program. Faculty and staff are attuned to the concept of the teenager as a work-in-progress, and believe that students are well served not only by warm personal support, but also by thoughtful provocation and challenge. While student voice is essential — and expected — in the classroom, it is also actively sought and heard in discussions and decisions about school policies and student life. Students leave St. Francis prepared for college not only academically but also personally, because they know how to manage their time and have confidence in themselves and their ideas as they head into the adult world.

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, gender identity and expression, 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.


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.