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Friends Western School

Private | K-6 | 32 students

FWS is best known for its individualized learning and small class size.
 
 

 
 

Living in Pasadena

Situated in an inner city neighborhood. The median home value is $453,000. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,400.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
 
Last modified
Community Rating

4 stars

Community Rating by Year
2014:
Based on 7 ratings
2013:
Based on 3 ratings
2012:
Based on 27 ratings
2011:
Based on 2 ratings

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49 reviews of this school


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Posted September 27, 2012

I am a new parent at FWS. Also a lifelong Quaker. It is true that this school iis not for everyone. As a co-operative school it requires hard work and a flexible attitude. The teachers are wonderful, the kids are wonderful and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Navigating all the issues that a school must face is a challenging process but one which can lead to evolution and growth. The families that make up this cooperative are open to growth, seeking engagement and input from their new members. I feel fortunate to be a part of this wonderful school.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 27, 2012

Amazing is an understatement in describing this school.Friends Western is the reason we live in Southern California.This school has innovative teachers & dedicated parents.The leadership is composed of selfless parent-members who are constantly working on or at the school.As a new co-op,there is much to learn and much work to do,but that does not mean that every person will be part of every decision made.It's an idea shared in much of the Quaker guidance literature on school governance.Because of this, there IS a structure and a hierarchy, so our leadership can make the most effective decisions regarding the future of our students.The core idea behind Friends Western is that you CAN be part of the decisions made, and you can remain informed by participating on a committee,attending strategic planning,attending board meetings, and running for the board.Standing on the sidelines and complaining is not tolerated by the underlying philosophy of the school, the member community or the leadership. We stand strongly behind each-other, the teachers, the board, and most importantly, our children.Our daughter loves this school.We love this school.We can't imagine our world without it.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 25, 2012

Friends Western School is FANTASTIC!!! We have found the school of our dreams for our children, which is quite a feat! It's an amazing program - it could be classified as a gifted program, wherein every child is recognized as having their gifts and their unique learning style is nurtured, and divergent thinking encouraged. The community of families and teachers are just lovely, as well. There may be a misconception that because it's a Cooperative that there isn't a structured governance nor rigorous academics - there are - it's highly organized and very judiciously governed by intelligent, compassionate parents and teachers, with a very strong curriculum, and it's growing. This school serves as an inspiration and an innovative educational model for others. It is essential that parents are team players, flexible, leave their egos behind, and pleasantly participate and enjoy this amazing educational opportunity for their children, and in essence, their entire family. If you have difficulty with those concepts, this might not be a good fit for you. If you'd like to see a wonderful school with happy, vibrant, thriving students, you should check out Friends Western!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 18, 2012

This is an amazing school, with incredibly dedicated parents and teachers. The kids love this school and they care about each other like family. It is evolving into an exciting model of a cooperatively run elementary school. The best way to learn about the school is to come visit and talk to the parents and teachers themselves. A cooperative is not for everyone, but if it's the right match, it will truly change your family's life. It really is a "village" nurturing and raising children together, which is especially important in this big, anonymous city. No one can adequately learn about a school by politicized comments on a website.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 30, 2012

This school is loved by my kid. It's quirky and the co-op structure is different, not for everybody, you actually have to work to make it work! The teachers are passionate, the curriculum is dynamic, exciting, hands on with multiple field trip experiences. It's a pain in the butt to have to clean the class rooms, but I'd rather do that and put resources towards the kids. It'd be easier if every parent who decided to join FWS really understood the level of responsibility they take on when you join a co-op, but that's okay, my kid loves it there.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 26, 2012

I have never seen a more incompetently run school anywhere. There certainly is a very aggressive atmosphere on the playground as well as instances of bullying. The kids seem way behind regarding their grade levels. Teachers and parents seem incapable of imposing even a minimum of discipline. This Co-op does not live up to its lofty goals.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 5, 2012

As parents we would say that the most important thing to know about this school is that every child seems to love the place, and to thrive there. Yes, FWS has had some difficult moments this year, but fundamentally it is built on a warm and very dynamic community of teachers and parents, and we think they are doing a great job. If you are considering it, go and visit, meet the teachers and parents and children, and make up your own mind.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted July 20, 2012

Our personal experience with FWS CO-OP has been excellent. As a family that advocates the Home School experience, we have always looked to our children, for at least some guidance in the never ending gauntlet that is education in the 21st Century. We have never had any previous experience with a parent run Elementary school CO-OP, so we don't really have any other reference to draw upon. The bottom line, the children are happy. In fact, the children are so happy, that they cried when school ended this year. That sums it all up for us as parents. (Not sure what your experience was as a child in school, but I can assure you, mine did not involve tears when it was time for summer break.) The positive experience for our children has been reflected in the passionate, caring families that have all made a conscience decision to be a part of the CO-OP, and volunteer their time and energy to do all of the things, and we mean all, that frankly, most people take for granted in a Non Co-op school. We certainly did. This has only served to help us feel more connected. We are grateful to have found a place where our children feel warm, safe, nurtured, and loved. That is truly the greatest gift.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted July 8, 2012

I am a staff member at FWS and I feel very lucky to be working within a community that not only supports the children and families but gives the staff the confidence, respect, and freedom to create and implement an amazing program. In my opinion, just about any child/family will thrive at this school.
—Submitted by a teacher


Posted July 8, 2012

My son has had an amazing year at Friends Western School. This school has given me a whole new outlook on what's possible for children in regards to creative curriculum and education. My son loved going to school every day, has written screenplays in class, done incredible art, gone on amazing field trips, bonded closely with friends and has continued to excel in math, science and reading. I would give FWS a 5 star review except one thing that has been challenging. The board is made up entirely of parents whose children currently attend the school. I believe that this fact has hurt the school as an organization because without some objectivity to sensitive issues it can pull the school off track and lose focus as an inspired environment for the children and the community. I believe in this school and I think it's a great choice as a learning institution as long as it works out it's various kinks. With amazing teachers and a small student body this wonderful school has a ton of strong potential. We really appreciated our experience there!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted July 7, 2012

I am a parent with a child who is extremely happy at FWS. This year was a very challenging year for the co-op and i would venture to say that no current parent was pleased with the process or outcome of certain situations. However, next year there will be a largely different board which was voted on by the membership and the outcome showed that people at the school wanted a change. There is active discussion and research into hiring at least a part time director, as well as the implementation of an advisory board which will include members of the Quaker Meeting. A lot has been learned this year and i am hopeful that with the wonderful teachers and strong foundation, FWS will emerge from this year a stronger school. Ultimately FWS is about the students and teachers, unfortunately the fact it is a coop can complicate matters unnecessarily. This will hopefully become less of an issue over time and with a review of the bylaws and implementation of new leadership.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 13, 2012

The recent flurry of reviews (both negative and positive) of this school is a clear indicator that there are real problems that aren t being addressed openly and directly. FWS is indeed one of a handful of parent cooperatives in the U.S. Unfortunately, there is a divergence between the theory of a cooperative and the reality at FWS. This is further reinforced by an autocratic, defensive attitude by some members of the board of directors towards calls for meaningful change. Flawed by-laws fail to provide specific guidelines and objective due process for addressing and mediating incidents of bullying and other disciplinary problems. Yes, the teachers are highly competent and dedicated. Yes, parents are engaged in the school it s a requirement of the co-op. And, yes, field trips are fun and educationally enriching. Unfortunately, the leadership has made some terrible errors in judgment which we feel ultimately undermine the true meaning of cooperative. Sadly, we have had to disengage ourselves from this noble experiment. If you are considering enrolling your child at this school, read and understand the by-laws.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 6, 2012

FWS cooperate is a work in progress, on the job training so to speak. inspired by/modeled after Crestmont, now it is coming into it's own. We left public school for home schooling. 1 year later we tried FWS on a part time basis, to augment home learning. Soon thereafter, our son was wishing to be at FWS more and more. Now he is full time and thriving. It hasn't been easy for me, as a parent, to learn my role within the coop. This community is diverse and we sometimes have disagreements about approach, but the parents in the community understand that our goal is to create a unique learning environment where our children are free to be children. And the process of working out issues teaches the member families about nurturing our community. Not perfect to be sure, but the heart is sincere and loving. It has been a sanctuary for our child, despite some problems that have surfaced. A big challenge within a cooperative structure is to be truly cooperative for the betterment of the community. The passion for creating a special place and the effort of the parents involved at FWS, to be conscious of their role in that creation, is something that we never experienced before.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 5, 2012

A true cooperative is one that not only focuses on the well being of the children but also the well being of their parents. This school is desperately in need of an objective director. Though Crestmont is widely touted as a model for this school, the elementary co-op description is where the comparison begins and ends. It is hard to believe that the departure of 5 families this school term alone and the questionable termination of another family does not raise eyebrows and motivate more people to demand accountability and full transparency. It is unfortunate that the focus of teaching and caring for the children is hindered by an environment in which valued members of the community do not model the very behavior expressed on the school's website. The Quaker values of Community, Harmony, Integrity and Equality are sadly absent from the day to day governance of the school. It is sad to think that memories for some families will be forever marred by how ultimately they felt shunned, abandoned or even betrayed by the very people who were required to represent the needs of the entire membership and not of just a select few.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 5, 2012

We have both our children in this school and they love it. The field trips are great, the activities are hands on and engaging, and the community overall is warm and friendly. This is a coop so it entails a lot of hours as a parent, but we have felt that the ability to contribute towards our child's education directly has been extremely rewarding. Thank you FWS.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 5, 2012

There are no protocols in place to hold the governing body accountable at this school. Several families have either left or seen their membership terminated with no recourse or third-party review of the board s decision. This is not criminal, but unacceptable in a "cooperative, membership driven organization. Such a pattern and practice of disappeared families has marred our experience there. Further, in spite of the multiple issues pertaining to student behavior, there is no oversight or consistency regarding managing such behavior. And the fine teachers do their best to handle this without much help. The mission statement presented is a lovely ideal, but it is far from being put in practice. This is not a school that adheres to or deserves the Quaker Friends designation.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted December 12, 2011

This is our son's second year at FWS and he absolutely loves his school and his classmates. The multi-age learning opportunities introduce him to topics and ideas that most kids don't encounter until much later, but in an age-appropriate way (last year they read parts of Macbeth, for example!). He also gets to be a mentor to the younger kids. The small class sizes allow for very individualized instruction, as well.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted July 26, 2011

It's summer and my 11-year old son misses school! Friends Western is interested in the 'whole' child - academic, emotional, and social. It's an amazing little school with incredibly dedicated parents, teachers, and students - all engaged and interested in creating a real community.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted November 21, 2010

My daughter has been at this school for almost five years now. It has been such an amazing place for her, and for our family, for the school is more like a big family than a school. What makes it unique is that it is a parent-run cooperative, the class size is really small, and the curriculum is interesting, hands on and anything but boring. It is really a mix of traditional and progressive educational styles. The other thing I love about this school is its relaxed feel. The school has a high level of sophistication, but you will find no snobbery or elitism here- nor peer pressure. Just a lovely place where the kids love to learn! Come and visit us!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 26, 2010

We love this school. My son ist thriving. The multi-disciplinary approach has him so engaged that he doesn't even realize that he is learing to read, write, do math and be a scientist and a historian. His level of creativity has greatly increased. The teachers are wonderful.
—Submitted by a parent


Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school
White 64%
Asian 18%
Hispanic 18%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0%
Black 0%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 0%
Source: NCES, 2009-2010

Teacher resources

Special staff resources available to students Teacher aid/assistant teacher
Reading specialist(s)
Music teacher(s)
Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
Art teacher(s)
Gardening teacher(s)
Read more about programs at this school
Source: Provided by a school official.

Special education / special needs

Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

Staff resources available to students
  • Gardening teacher(s)
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Garden/Greenhouse
Clubs
  • Gardening

Arts & music

Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • Music teacher(s)
School facilities
  • Art room
Visual arts
  • Drawing / sketching
  • Painting
Music
  • Choir / Chorus
Performing and written arts
  • Drama
  • Poetry
Clubs
  • Art club
  • Arts and crafts
  • Origami club
  • Sewing/knitting club

Health & athletics

Staff resources available to students
  • Gardening teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Access to sports fields
  • Garden/Greenhouse
  • Kitchen
Clubs
  • Cooking club
  • Gardening
  • Martial arts (judo, tae kwon do, karate, etc)
School leaders can update this information here.

School basics

School start time
  • 8:30 am
School end time
  • 3:00 pm
Before school or after school care / program onsite
  • Before school: starts at 8:00 a.m.
  • After school: ends at 6:00 p.m.
School Leader's name
  • Megan Whitmarsh
Best ways for parents to contact the school
  • Email
Gender
  • Coed
Boarding options
  • Day school
Is there an application process?
  • Yes
Affiliation
  • Friends
Associations
  • FCE

Programs

Instructional and/or curriculum models used

Don't understand these terms?
  • Multi-aged
  • Outdoor / Farm-based
  • Progressive, Quaker
  • Project-based
Specific academic themes or areas of focus

Don't understand these terms?
  • Religious
Bi-lingual or language immersion programs offered

Don't understand these terms?
  • No
Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Foreign languages taught
  • None
Level of ESL/ELL programming offered
  • None

Resources

Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • Gardening teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
  • Music teacher(s)
  • Reading specialist(s)
  • Teacher aid/assistant teacher
Extra learning resources offered
  • Individualized Learning Plans
Transportation options
  • None
School facilities
  • Access to farm or natural area
  • Access to sports fields
  • Art room
  • Audiovisual aids
  • Auditorium
  • Chapel/spiritual reflection center
  • Garden/Greenhouse
  • Internet access
  • Kitchen
  • Library
  • Playground
Partnerships with local resources and organizations
School leaders can update this information here.

Sports

Boys sports
  • Soccer
  • park day, hikes
Girls sports
  • Soccer
  • park day, hikes

Arts & music

Visual arts
  • Drawing / sketching
  • Painting
Music
  • Choir / Chorus
Performing arts
  • Drama
  • Poetry
Media arts
  • None

Student clubs

Clubs (distinct from courses)
  • Art club
  • Arts and crafts
  • Chess club
  • Cooking club
  • Game club
  • Gardening
  • Martial arts (judo, tae kwon do, karate, etc)
  • Origami club
  • Sewing/knitting club
School leaders can update this information here.

Upcoming Events

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School culture

Dress Code
  • Neither uniforms nor dress code
Bullying policy
  • This school has a bullying and/or cyber bullying policy in place.
Parent involvement
  • Chaperone school trips
  • Monitor the playground
  • Operations & Governance
  • Organize fundraising events (school auction, bake sales, etc.)
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Volunteer time after school
More from this school
  • Friends Western School is a vibrant K-6 Parent- Teacher run, Cooperative Elementary School located in Pasadena, CA. Friends Western School rests in the foundation provided by the Quaker belief that there is an inner light in each of us. This idea inspires the ethos of support, encouragement, respect and kindness that is evident at Friends Western. We are a member school of the Friends Council on Education and are proud to be the first Quaker cooperative in the United States.
School leaders can update this information here.

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TIP: Don't forget to ask about documents required for enrollment, such as your child's birth certificate, proof of address, or a record of immunizations.

 
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What does it cost?

Tuition range for the 2012-2013 school year
$8000 - $9000
Vouchers accepted
No
Financial aid offered
Yes.
School-based aid
Outside scholarships

Planning ahead

Students typically attend these schools after graduating
Barnhart School
RenArts
La Canada Prep
Notice an inaccuracy? Let us know!

524 East Orange Grove Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91104
Phone: (626) 793-2727

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