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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 8 ratings
2013:
Based on 3 ratings
2012:
Based on 27 ratings
2011:
Based on 2 ratings

Teacher quality

Principal leadership

Parent involvement

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50 reviews of this school


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Posted June 27, 2014

I am a recent graduate of Friends Western School and I would have to say the experience so far has been out of this world. On the last day of school, we had an epic dance party and when it was time to leave, I COULDN'T STOP crying because I was going to miss my friends so much and the amazing people I met there. The small class sizes were excellent for children who needed more attention and the teachers were able to teach everyone who were all at different levels. Everyone was so kind and it was a surprising considering at the beginning of my time at FWS, I was the only girl Again, I just had the most amazing experience at Friends Western School and now that I'm moving on to a middle school, Westridge school for girls, I know what I have learned at FWS will further me in my career and I will always remember Friends Western School.


Posted April 18, 2014

Great school for parents who like to be involved and participate in their child's school experience. Coming from a highly sought after charter school, we are grateful to find a real school experience for our child. Great fieldtrips, small class sizes, and a community feel.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted April 17, 2014

Our daughter is in her first year at FWS. Her first year of formal education was in a charter school. Although the charter school she attended had a wonderful mission and we saw many children thriving there, it just wasn t the right fit for our family. FWS offers smaller classrooms, individualized educational goals, and family engagement beyond our expectations. The teachers and families at FWS work together to meet our daughters academic and social/emotional goals. As a former public school teacher and parent(s) we feel fortunate to have found a place where our daughter is respected for who she is and how she learns. The growth we have seen this year both emotionally and academically are immeasurable.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted April 9, 2014

FWS is a school where kids are respected and treated as individuals. In that kind of environment they thrive as learners and as friends. The classes are small enough that the children can be known for who they are, they can learn at their own pace without judgement, and they treat each other with immense kindness. My daughter loves to come to school here.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 20, 2014

My daughters are in their second year at FWS. We feel fortunate to be at this school. The teachers are incredibly dedicated. The community is wonderful. The children are confident and friendships between students are not dependent on sharing the same age or class which seems unique and echoes the Montessori tradition. I have twin daughters and they read at very different levels: one being at her level or just under and the other being much more advanced. The teachers are able to meet both of my children's needs and there is no sense of competition. I definitely reccomend checking out FWS if you are looking for a progressive, academically grounded environment for your child.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 20, 2014

Our daughter is in her second year at Friends Western School and loves it. The small size of the classes is great. She is taught as a unique individual based upon her own needs and learning style. There is also a great sense of community among the parents and children.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 19, 2014

It s nice to talk about educational philosophies and field trips and community, but what parents really want (and need) to know is: Will Friends Western School provide my child with a good education? Having just completed the rigorous process of applying to middle school, I can honestly tell you that the answer is a resounding Yes. Our daughter applied to some of the most competitive schools in the area and was accepted to every school she applied to. She will be attending the Westridge School next fall and, as her parents, we are thrilled with her success. Friends Western s individualized curriculum helped our daughter not only excel academically, but also to find her voice a quality that many schools do not seem to value. At FWS, emphasis is placed on developing the whole child and we ve not only seen our daughter flourish, but her classmates as well. Childhood is a really precious time and it flies by so quickly. Our daughter's experiences at Friends Western School have helped to define her and will be a part of the wonderful and accomplished woman she ll undoubtedly become.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 13, 2014

My daughter is in the 2nd grade and being a part of a Quaker Cooperative School has been a lovely, energetic, boisterous, frustrating, exhilarating, challenging, educational, and rewarding experience. I like the extra activities like hikes, field trips, clubs, music and art. I also am enjoying the new educational endeavors of the teachers. My child has increased her reading skills by 2 grade levels in just half a year. There are also specialty staff to assist in academic assessments as well a counsel if my daughter is having an emotional day. All the tools are in place to help her to be a well rounded adult and face educational and social challenges that impact all kids. I also really enjoy the families who work to pull it all together. When I first started I felt like we were a bunch of pirates, but we've been learning about Quaker communication styles and it seems to be helping us get needs met without much swashbuckling. The school could improve with their fundraising and grant efforts so we could better support all the sweat equity that has been gifted by parents, teachers and support staff. For now, I just need some shades, cuz it looks pretty bright.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 30, 2013

This is the place for my daughter and meets her needs to a tee. Every child learns differently and the indiviualized attention and differentiation has been very helpful with her education. I love that the class sizes are capped at 14, though the average is closer to 10. Also the numerous amount of field trips and experiential learning opportunities just abound. This school requires a lot of the parents, being a co-op, but the rewards have been fabulous. And almost every parent at this school would agree. The teachers are very knowledgeable about assessing and working with the student to acheive the goals. The Principle Leadership is awesome, since, again, being a co-op, the administration is the parents, and therefore parent involvement is at an astronomical level. Finally, communication is top notch, there hasn't been any suprises since my kid started here, like, there's a field trip today, sign my permission, etc. It is not just a great school, but a great community. 5 stars and 2 thumbs up.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 29, 2013

FWS is a wonderful community, has a great curriculum, and the kids love being there. I feel lucky to be a part of this small but growing school.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted February 5, 2013

Wonderful school. The teachers here are everything we hoped for and more. The co-op structure works for us. Thank you!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 22, 2012

Our son has been at FWS for two years so far. He loves it! We tried public school for Kindergarten, and he hated it, so at first we started him part time. He asked to switch to full time, and has wanted to go to school every day since coming to FWS. Our son is grade levels ahead in reading and math, and his teacher is able to give him advanced work. Finding an affordable private school with small classes and regular field trips was a dream come true. So far, this year has exceeded our expectations as parents in the community. We have always had caring and dedicated people working to make the school run, but this year is special. Our new Board President is pragmatic, yet she invites discussion, and is respectful of people's opinions and ideas. She brings a calm and inclusive energy to the school. I feel like parents are taking on tasks and making them their own. There is a mood of mutual cooperation and problem solving that is more positive than ever before. Our Fall Barn Dance was a lovely night full of community spirit. Relatives who attended asked how we found such an amazing community of people! FWS is becoming a real gem.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 20, 2012

We came from London, England, to work in Los Angeles for a year and we could not have found a more welcoming, friendly and positive environment for our children and ourselves. The small class sizes and imaginative curriculum provide children with confidence and stimulation and I was particularly impressed with the regular outings and trips into the city. My kids saw more of LA than I did - highlights included interviewing scientists at an insect laboratory, sketching at Watts Towers, or rambling in Eaton Canyon. Most of all, my children were happy and they miss the school enormously now we're back in England. The parent co-op that runs the school is extremely impressive and utterly dedicated to providing the best education and environment for your children.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 15, 2012

My son has begun his fifth year at Friends Western School and we couldn't be happier. We feel that we are part of an extraordinary community, made up of a diverse parent body who contribute their varied gifts and expertise to the school. Our diversity is exciting, but even more exciting is our commitment to making a loving place for our children to thrive. Although the parents are a huge part of this cooperative endeavor, most pertinent are our teachers and children. Our teachers are a dedicated team of professionals who are able to teach their students using developmentally appropriate project based learning approaches. And our children? Well, first and foremost they LOVE school: they love learning and experiencing. This year they have already been hiking, sewing, lego clubbing, barn dancing, painting, calculating, building, singing, reading, cooking, sharing, and riding wheels together! This list only scrapes the surface. I work in the education field, and know first hand how our schools have taken the joy out of learning. At Friends Western, I can truly say that we have a place where children love and respect all that the world has to offer!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 10, 2012

Friends Western School has been a lovely and enriching experience for our entire family. This is our 4th year at the school and it's been wonderful to see the positive growth and the change into the cooperative structure. Last night was our second Membership Meeting of the year, and it was a pleasure to witness the room full of engaged and compassionate parents and teachers working together to create a dynamic and meaningful educational experience for the kids. We've considered leaving Los Angeles for years, since neither my husband nor I are natives and didn't think that we wanted to raise our children in L.A., but now with FWS, we are a part of a down to earth, conscious and real community and feel that we can grow roots here and stay. Most importantly, our child is thriving in this school socially, emotionally, and intellectually. We highly recommend it.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 9, 2012

Parents seeking a school should absolutely investigate for yourselves. Trusting only marketing materials or select spokes-parents would be fooling yourself. Reach out to over 10 families who are no longer there for an array of serious reasons (hint: they didn't simply "move"). Attempts to describe every one of "the disappeared" as a "bad fit" is grossly oversimplifying matters and reveals a determined effort to deflect attention from the real issues plaguing this school. Speak to former parents first hand to determine any peculiar patterns re: governance and student misbehavior. Ask about the circumstances leading to their departure and whether marketing was truthful based on the reality. Examine the by-laws, check for any red flags concerning conflict reslolution and governance. Know exactly what you're getting your kids and yourslef into. We found a school that appeared charming from a distance and on the surface, but was actually engulfed with severe student behavior problems. Combine that with a parent body set on diverting the problems with a calamity of unethical distortions and deceptions. You've now been warned about the behavior and morality experiment that is FWS.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 6, 2012

After hearing about this small school, I was favorably impressed with its nurturing environment for education. Teachers/staff were open and friendly. Students were engaged and looked comfortable and happy. I suggest that interested parents investigate for themselves - be prepared for a wonderful experience!


Posted September 30, 2012

As a mom who was lucky to have a baby years after my first crew of kids were grown, I had forgotten all about the issue of having to choose a school. I was totally freaked out at the prospect. I tried every form of schooling with my older children. We did public, private, charter and home schooling. I loved home schooling the best, but my kids really missed being around other kids thier age. FWS has the limitless potential of homeschooling but doesn't miss out on the ability to have friends to see everyday. As well, I no longer have to worry about the academic part. With excellent instructors on campus, I can be part of doing fun creative things with no stress. There is the issue of having to work in a cooperative way, which isn't for everyone, as you can see by some oddly negative comments, but with the students, teachers, and parents being so genuinely sweet and proactive I feel safe and confident having my young child here. I never worry because she is surrounded by kids and adults who make her feel loved and important. If my child can't be with me then I want to know she's with others who care for her.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 30, 2012

I'm a dad here at FWS and my kid loves it. I see some of the bad reviews and wonder what planet some people are on right now, cuz it ain't on this one. Some people love it, some don't. All I know is that I express my grumpy opinion all the time and I'm still around, so the only suggestion I can give to anyone who uses this site is to take the way out emotional criticism with a big fat grain of salt. And consider that some people are difficult, or maybe even impossible and even though they aren't around they still want to cause trouble to those who are actually building something of value. When I look around at the campus, I gotta wear shades, cuz it's actually pretty bright here at FWS. I guess that's all I gotta say about that. Thanks for even reading my review.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted September 30, 2012

Given the intimate size of this gem of a school, I was astonished to see the number of negative reviews written until I was made aware of a disgruntled family who was asked to leave the membership because the school could not, with integrity, meet their child's needs. Apparently this family is very angry and can't appreciate that no school provides a "one size fits all" approach and has left numerous negative reviews using different logins. I understand their frustration, as our previous school couldn't meet our needs and we made the decision to leave, but I wonder why they're obsessing about a school that they obviously didn't feel was a good fit, and not looking forward to finding that good match for their child. For our family, FWS appears to be the ideal fit. Our daughter's teacher has taken great care to assess her academic needs and also to make her feel welcome and comfortable. Is it perfect? No. No school is. But I trust that with our hard work, cooperation, and a positive attitude, we'll see our daughter happy, studious and thriving. I wish the same for this other family.
—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 State average
White 59% 26%
Black 24% 6%
Hispanic 17% 52%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 1%
Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander 0% 11%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0% 1%
Two or more races 0% 3%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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.

Photos

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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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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