Quakers in Atlanta:
History of The Friends School
The Atlanta Friends Meeting was organized in 1943, and in the late 1950s the Meeting purchased a residence on Fairview Road in the historic Druid Hills neighborhood. In addition to providing a gathering place for Friends, the Meetinghouse was one of the few sites in the city available for interracial meetings and education. In 1990, the Meeting built a new facility near the border of Atlanta and the City of Decatur.
The Friends School of Atlanta, which was incorporated as a nonprofit institution in 1990, grew out of the work of a committee of the Meeting. In 1991, The Friends School of Atlanta's Board of Trustees called Waman French, an educator with experience at Brooklyn Friends School and Atlanta International School, to be the first Head of School. Meeting members are active on the school’s Board of Trustees and offer guidance and support to the school in many ways.
Leasing space in the newly constructed Friends Meetinghouse at West Howard and Adair Streets in Decatur, the school opened in the fall of 1991 with 37 students, ages four through eight, and three teachers. A key to the early success of the school has been—and continues to be—the strong involvement of parents, whose efforts have included providing administrative and secretarial assistance in the office, coordinating a hot lunch program, building the playground, serving on committees, and taking part in policy development.
The school stayed at the Meetinghouse for five years, expanding by a grade a year and adding portable classrooms on the property. In 1995, two classes relocated to the First Christian Church in downtown Decatur and in 1996, the entire school moved there while awaiting the renovation of its permanent space.
In 1997, we moved to 121 Sams Street in Decatur, at first using one half of the building, sharing space with S&A Industries until 2001, when we renovated the other half of the building, including a meeting room for whole school and community events.
After a tenure of eight years as Head of School, Waman French decided to return to working with children in the middle school in 1999. The Board of Trustees appointed Marcia Pauly as its next Head of School. With a rich educational background, most recently with Decatur City Schools, she led FSA into the twenty-first century. Reluctantly, Marcia stepped down as Head in June, 2001, for personal reasons. In July, 2001, James D. Withers became the next Head of The Friends School of Atlanta until he stepped aside as Head in May, 2003, when Waman French returned as Interim Head for the 2003–04 school year. Waman was subsequently chosen by the Head Search committee to continue as Head of School.
In 2007, The Friends School of Atlanta began a capital campaign to purchase and renovate a new school site at 862 Columbia Drive, which features a three-story school building a 700-seat Community Meeting Room, two playgrounds and an enclosed gymnasium. The school moved to its current home in December, 2008.