2005  Friends School of Portland began as a leading by teacher and Quaker Mary Tracy.  Mary felt clear that Greater Portland would benefit from a Friends school for younger children.  Her vision quickly motivated others to get involved, and around the Tracy’s kitchen table, decisions about governance, personnel, and curriculum were made.  

A teacher in the public school system for nearly two decades, Mary was convinced students were capable of a great deal more than adults gave them credit for.  And these tenets shaped Friends School of Portland:  

  • There is that of God in everyone

  • Truth is available to everyone

  • Truth is continually revealed

  • Love is a transforming power

Founding teacher Mary Tracy works with a group of first graders.

Founding teacher Mary Tracy works with a group of first graders.

2006 FSP attained non-profit status.  In September, a hearty band of twenty families with children preschool through 6th grades had signed on, and FSP opened it doors on Mackworth Island, using a wing of the former Baxter School for the Deaf. Mary Tracy and Darlene Ivy served as co-Heads of School in this first year.

2007 James Grumbach, a former math and art teacher and adminstrator at George School, a Quaker high school in Pennsylvania, was hired as Head of School.  James began the tradition of a morning handshake with all who passed through the front door.

2008  FSP added a 7-8 classroom

2009  First 8th grade class graduated

2007-2008 School Photo on Mackworth Island

2007-2008 School Photo on Mackworth Island

The island greatly shaped the students’ education.  Preschoolers knew the rocky shores and sandy beaches by heart, and Billy Maley’s physical education classes often took place in the woods and fields.  A deep sense of appreciation for the natural environment was immediately present, and children and faculty spent each and every recess outdoors.

Graduating classes planted a fruit tree near the school garden each year.

2012  The school became accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, who acknowledged its “culture of joyful learning.”  That same year, Jenny Rowe was hired to succeed James Grumbach as Head of School.

At the end of 8 years on Mackworth, the school’s lease with the state could no longer be extended. An exhaustive search of former schools, urban and more rural properties took place. When a 21-acre wooded parcel in Cumberland came into view, the school moved quickly to design a 15,000 square foot school.  Under the committed leadership of board clerk Naomi Beal, FSP worked with architects and builders to design a Passive-House certified building that uses 85% less energy than a standard one. A speedy and successful capital campaign and much shoveling of snow in the unroofed space in January allowed the beautiful and unique structure to be ready for students in September, 2015, just nine years after its inception.

1-2 and new school.jpg

2015  One hundred students and 25 faculty and staff filled the new school.  With a successful history behind it and confidence in its future, FSP began keeping more of its kindergartners when it came time for first grade.  Steadily, enrollment has advanced to create two of every double-grade classroom.

2017 A second section of grade 1-2 was added

2019  A second section of grade 3-4 was added

We will reach our early vision of a learning community of 150 students by 2022.  A middle school wing and community hall are on the horizon to accommodate our active and eager learners and their families.

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