Friends History

Friends School's First Class

In the fall of 1987, three mothers searched for a school that would meet their criteria as a stimulating, engaging and heartfelt environment, where children could learn by doing. Not finding exactly what they were looking for in Boulder, Hope Morrissett, Bev Cole and Joan Lieberman founded Friends School. Their children had been in a playgroup together and they believed they could create a school that addressed the needs of children’s mind, body and spirit.

These three founding mothers decided to let their children name their school and Friends School was born.  The children chose the name because the school was a place where they made friends and where they enjoyed being together every day. Although the name is the same, our school has no affiliation with Quaker Friends schools.

First school on Marine Street

Our first schoolhouse located in a house at 751 Marine Street was just a few blocks west of the Boulder Public Library. It was there in 170 square feet that the first eight children went to school. The founders hired the first teacher and the magic began. Children created and explored with joy and curiosity. 

Founders believed in the power of honoring the cycles of life and rites of passage that mark a child’s growth and development. As part of this, many rituals and celebrations were created that live on today. Our Harvest Celebration was born there, along with our Silver and Gold graduation ceremony, and many of the other traditions that Friends still celebrates.

Elementary Addition Takes Shape

During the 1996-1997 school year, the school built the first phase of the existing elementary building, expanding it to much of what we see today, including the Great Room). At that time we opened the second preschool classroom and the library moved upstairs in the preschool.

One year after moving into the new building, we hired our first Director of Admissions, and expanded other staff. Over time our administrative staff has slowly grown to include a Director of Finance and Operations, a Director of Development & Community Engagement, a Director of Marketing and Communications, and Program Head for each of our student programs..

With growing enrollment in 1999-2000, we outgrew our elementary facility. At that time we added the new Elizabeth Morrissett Library, the northwest classroom and an office. That addition opened in the fall of 2001, resulting in six elementary classes in grades K-5.

Friends First TPP Class

In 2003 we were the first independent  school in Boulder County to gain accreditation through the Colorado Association of Independent Schools (ACIS).

In 2004, the school took the unusual and exciting step of launching our highly regarded Teacher Preparation Program.  As an accredited licensing agency of the State of Colorado, and in partnership with the University of Colorado, Denver, Friends School serves as an education center for teachers. Teachers in training complete the work to attain a teaching license in elementary or early childhood education throughout public and private schools. 

After seventeen years running the school, Polly Donald retired and the school conducted an extensive national search for the next head of school. On July 1, 2011, Steve de Beer took the reins as the next Head of School. Many changes and enhancements took place at Friends School during Steve’s tenure, including the addition of our Middle School in 2016 at 3800 Kalmia Avenue in North Boulder. Steve departed Friends School in 2018 and Friends named Honor Taft as our third Head of School.

Friends has had many wonderful teachers, students, and parents come and go since 1987. Through it all we have managed to hold on to what is at the core of our school – educating and caring for the whole child: head, hand and heart. Challenging minds, nurturing spirits, honoring individuality…guides our work with children, every day.

Today we have approximately 175 students on both campuses, with nearly 50 full and part-time faculty and staff. Our two campuses offer fine facilities and acres of natural surroundings in which our students thrive.  We are a well-respected and fully accredited preschool-8th grade school that offers a unique and innovative program. We are a supportive, dynamic community where our students acquire a strong academic foundation while developing creative expression, social responsibility, and respect for diversity and the individual.

Challenging minds. Nurturing spirits. Honoring individuality.