End of the Road

Founder’s Letter

After more than five years developing Phoenix Friends School, I must accept that the school is not meant to be, at least not in my time. This I accept without regrets. Quite the contrary, in fact. I face the moment with feelings of Quakerly pride in well-laid plans, professional staff members, and top vendors for communications and public relations. We invested in quality at every step along a long path to a new Friends middle school in the Valley.

Without a financial partner in the Valley, I was willing to pursue alone the dream of a first-ever Friends School in Arizona – the first in the Inter Mountain region, in fact. This meant that the resources for funding a private school during the years of planning and early staffing came with limits. This is not an excuse on my part. In just the two most recent years, we invested significantly to secure a full-time Head of School, part-time Marketing and Business associates, curriculum consultants, an accountant, and top-rated firms to handle branding, paid advertising, and public relations. We gave it our best.

How did we fall short of our dream? We misjudged where the market for a Friends middle school might lie. It’s clearly the weak point among well-laid plans for a new school built on the values and testimonies of the Society of Friends. The Valley is not the East Coast of the US where Friends Schools are long-standing and often the top-rated private schools in a region. Even in Chicago and San Francisco, Friends schools are recent arrivals, founded by parents determined to offer the whole-life immersion in academics and values that our schools embody. We have promoted and tested Phoenix Friends School as an alternative – perhaps as a better choice – for many families in the region. Our message did not register sufficiently to support the project for another year.

Step by step, we’re taking down all postings for Phoenix Friends School, with completion expected in mid-October. This includes the PFS website, email, phones, and enrollment and payment links. My Founder’s Letter will remain online at www.phoenixfriendsschool.org as a final statement about a very personal goal, pursued systematically for many years.

Dreams don’t die. Dreams survive and sometimes flourish in a way that the lives of mortals cannot. Maybe our dreams are our chance at immortality, the threads of imagination and passion that live long after us, links to be seized by some future advocates of Friends education inspired to re-launch Phoenix Friends School as an educational model as relevant as ever, perhaps more urgently needed than ever.

I will take a break from this labor of love. I do so with deepest appreciation for the interest and encouragement (and for some very special gifts) from our many online readers. Your private comments and calls have energized every step of the way, and you remain part of my fondest memories of this project.

Willard E. White, PhD
Founder & CEO