Col. Francis W. Parker

"That nation shall endure forever whose people have entered the paths of self-control and world-wide sympathy." *

- Col. Francis Wayland Parker

Francis W. Parker
Francis Parker School in San Diego was profoundly influenced during its early years by the the work and philosophy of Col. Francis Wayland Parker, after whom it was named, and by the Chicago school which first put his principles into practice. Col. Parker was born in New Hampshire in 1837. He began teaching at the age of sixteen, and at twenty-one became principal of a school in Carrelton, Illinois. He acquired the rank of colonel fighting in the Civil War.

After the war, Parker spent two and a half years in Germany at the University in Berlin, then became superintendent at Quincy, Massachusetts, where his research and work became widely known. He moved to Chicago as principal of Cook County Normal School, and then to the presidency of The Chicago Institute, which shortly thereafter became the School of Education of the University of Chicago, with Col. Parker its Director.

Parker’s work was greatly influenced by Horace Mann, and he attached great importance to the role of the classroom teacher, calling “spontaneous enthusiasm in the work of the classroom” the teaching quality he prized above all others.

In 1902, a year before Parker’s death, the Francis W. Parker School was founded in Chicago to carry out his educational objectives. It served as a laboratory school in that city and as a model for schools elsewhere, particularly the school here on Randolph Street, founded in 1912.
Clara S. Johnson
San Diego was a rapidly growing city of 40,000 at this time, and the school opened with an enrollment of 30 students. Among those attracted West in the early 1900s were the school founders, Clara Sturges Johnson and her husband, William Templeton Johnson. The Johnsons’ nieces attended the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago; the Johnsons believed that school was providing the kind of education they were seeking for their own children.

In addition to helping found the school with his wife, William Templeton Johnson was also the architect. In the years to follow, he became noted as the architect of such San Diego landmark buildings as the Serra Museum in the Presidio, the Fine Arts Gallery (now the San Diego Museum) and the San Diego Trust and Savings Bank. In designing the school, the Johnsons believed strongly in the importance of physical environment to the education of children. To Colonel Parker’s fundamental ideas, the Johnsons added another: adapting the architecture to the educational aims of the school.
Parker’s principal from 1913 - 1920, Adele Outcalt, summed up the founders’ primary objective: “to found a school which, by its environment, its methods, its opportunities, would develop the young for participation in citizenship—the world’s work.”
“ The needs of the society determine the work of the school... the supreme need of society is good citizenship... ideal citizenship demands of the individual the highest degree of knowledge, power and skill.” 

— Col. Francis W. Parker
Text adapted from The Francis Parker School Heritage, 1985, by Ethel Mintzer Lichtman.

* This quotation was a favorite of Ethel Dummer Mintzer, Parker’s Principal & Director from 1922 - 1938. It was often attributed to Colonel Parker; however, we cannot verify its origin.

Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Mission Hills Campus Lower School

4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Linda Vista Campus Middle/Upper School

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900