Our roots go back to 1781 when a small school was opened on the 10-acre grounds of the Princeton Monthly Meeting. Contrary to the times, the little Quaker school was open to all, regardless of financial means or family status. A larger one-room schoolhouse, adjacent to the Meetinghouse, was built in 1800 and served the community for decades. After it fell into disrepair, the old schoolhouse was dismantled around 1900, during a period in which dozens of Friends schools were cropping up throughout the Delaware Valley.
Princeton Friends School was founded in 1987 by a small group of seasoned educators with the aim of bringing Friends education with a progressive bent to the greater Princeton area. At the heart of our school is the Quaker notion of a transcendent spirit – “that of God” – in each person, paired with an understanding that learning is best carried out in a community in which all members are supporting and celebrating one another's growth and progress. Intertwined and completely consistent with these Quaker underpinnings are the tenets of progressive education to which the founders adhered - an experiential, constructivist, collaborative, and socially-engaged pedagogy that encourages each student to reach full potential intellectually, socially, and ethically.
Read About Our History
“Progressive Education” is a term used to describe education that aims to meet every student as an individual, and from there engage both intellectual and social intelligence. Progressive educators began making themselves known in the early 1800s, but found their most eloquent voice nearly a century later, when social reformer John Dewey opened his Laboratory School at the University of Chicago in 1896.
The Religious Society of Friends was originated by George Fox (1624-1691) during a period of political upheaval and social change in England marked by civil wars between competing religious groups that sought to impose their own religious beliefs and practices on others. Few provided much help to the victims of upheaval in a violent century, and so there were thousands of “seekers” who were looking for something that they could believe in and that would give meaning to their lives.
The history of Quakers in Princeton stretches back to the latter part of the 17th century. The timeline presented here has been drawn from various publications and documents in Princeton Monthly Meeting’s archives, including a 1976 article in The Princeton Recollector and an article by Bill Starr, a former member of Princeton Monthly Meeting.