Francis Parker School (San Diego)

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Francis Parker School
Parker Window.png
6501 Linda Vista Road

United States
Coordinates32°46′19″N 117°10′37″W / 32.7719°N 117.1769°W / 32.7719; -117.1769Coordinates: 32°46′19″N 117°10′37″W / 32.7719°N 117.1769°W / 32.7719; -117.1769
TypePrivate Non-Sectarian
Motto“As far as the mind can see”
Head of schoolKevin Yaley
Number of students1,237
Color(s)Brown and gold (Teal is also added on 2012)
RivalsThe Bishops School, La Jolla Country Day
PublicationThe Parker Scroll (satirical magazine)
NewspaperThe Scribe

Francis Parker School, also known simply as Parker, is a college preparatory independent day school in San Diego, California, serving students from junior kindergarten through twelfth grade. Parker was founded in 1912 by Clara Sturges Johnson and William Templeton Johnson, themselves recent arrivals to the West Coast. The Johnsons' nieces had attended the original Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, founded eleven years earlier, and sought to recreate the same progressive education standards at the original institution.[1]

While the institutions are both named after Colonel Parker, the schools themselves differ in their day-to-day operation as well as the structure of institutions such as the student government.[2]

The original Parker campus was established in 1912 at its current location in Mission Hills; a second campus, containing a middle and upper school, was established subsequently in Linda Vista.

Francis Parker had an admission rate for the Upper School of under 25% for matriculation into the 2013–14 school year. Parker's main academic and athletic rivals are The Bishop's School as well as La Jolla Country Day School, both of which are located in La Jolla.

In 2008, Francis Parker was recognized in the Wall Street Journal for being a top school that sends its students to prestigious colleges[3] and in 2011, CBS Moneywatch named it one of the best Ivy League feeder schools on the West Coast.[4]


During its founding in 1912, Francis Parker School was heavily influenced in both name and educational philosophy by the work of Colonel Francis Wayland Parker, a teacher, school administrator, civil war veteran, and pioneer of progressive education in the United States. Born in New Hampshire the mid 19th century, Parker was himself influenced by pedagogical views of many philosophers of the Enlightenment, particularly those of Johann Friedrich Herbart.[5] Much of his educational values and approaches are demonstrated through his development of the Quincy Method, which de-emphasized rigid discipline and memorization, instead focusing on critical thinking, collaboration, and holistic development of students.[6] In 1901, the Francis W. Parker School was founded in Chicago under Parker's liberal educational views. He died in 1902, but the school served as a model for the Francis W. Parker School in San Diego.[7]

William Templeton Johnson, an architect originally from New York, and his wife Clara Sturges Johnson moved to San Diego in 1912 after the architect's education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.[8] The couple founded Francis Parker School in San Diego in 1912, and the original campus opened in December in a Mission Hills bungalow with an enrollment of 3 students, two of the Johnsons’ sons and one other child. Originally located on what's now the Mission Hills Nursery on Fort Stockton Drive, the school subsequently moved less than a year later to its present location on nearby Randolph Street. William Johnson planned the Mission Hills campus; it was designed in a Spanish Mission style, and the central quadrangle and open-air classrooms attempted to foster a collaborative physical environment that would serve the aims of the school's educational philosophy[8] The school curriculum was modeled after the original Francis Parker School in Chicago, where the Johnsons’ nieces had attended.

By the early 1960s, Parker still existed only as a K-9 school. By the end of the decade, however, the school expanded to include 10-12th grades, and the entire K–12 student population of around 500 was packed into the five-acre Mission Hills campus. The need for additional space drove headmaster Dr. Doug Crone to search for land on which to establish a separate campus for grades 6–12.[9] In 1971, Parker purchased its current 43-acre Linda Vista campus from The San Miguel School for Boys, which was moving to La Jolla to merge with the Bishop's School for Girls, what is now the Bishop's School. Today, the Mission Hills campus is home to the Lower School, with classes from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5. The Linda Vista Campus is home to the Middle School, Grades 6 to 8, and Upper School, Grades 9 to 12.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Francis Parker School History, Official Website Retrieved 24 April 2007.
  2. ^ Parker Mission Statement, Official Website Retrieved 24 April 2007.
  3. ^ Retrieved 2 July 2008
  4. ^ "A West Coast Ivy League Hook". Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  5. ^ "Francis Parker". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Quincy Plan". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  7. ^ "Guide to the Francis Wayland Parker Papers 1857-1904". Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library.
  8. ^ a b "William Templeton Johnson (1877-1957)". San Diego History Center.
  9. ^ a b Jenkins, Logan (November 10, 2012). "Through the Lense of Time". issuu. Parker Magazine. pp. 12–17.
  10. ^ "Glassey to Be Inducted into Hall of Honorees for Success as Parker's Baseball Coach". Francis Parker School. June 13, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Blair, Tom (February 21, 2009). "Food for Thought . ." San Diego Magazine.
  12. ^ "Matt Wile Bio". University of Michigan. Retrieved October 8, 2019.