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Indian Springs School (ISS)
190 Woodward Drive
Indian Springs, AL 35124
(205) 988-3350
ISS Home Page

FAX: (205) 988-3797
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[ The following copy of the 1952 opening brochure is from the ISS Main web site and Home page link above. My thanks to ISS to use this material ]

The Opening Brochure (1952)

This is the text from a brochure printed in 1952 announcing the opening of Indian Springs School. It is worth noting that some parts of this brochure will seem rather dated, and do not necessarily reflect the current attitudes of the Indian Springs community. This document is provided for historical interests.


The non-profit educational trust established under Mr. Woodward's will is known as the Alabama Educational Foundation.

Indian Springs School for boys of high school age will open September 15, 1952. Eighty boys will be admitted - forty in grade nine, forty in grade ten.

The school is located just north of Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama. It is approximately 15 miles south of Birmingham's city limits. The school is best approached by private automobile via the Cahaba Valley Road. This road runs through the school property, connecting U. S. Highway 31, the Montgomery Highway (one mile to the west) and Alabama State Highway 91, the Florida Short Route (7 miles to the east).

The Indian Springs site combines level, open fields with hilly wooded areas. On it are an 11-acre spring-fed lake, an attractive stream, and several clear springs from which the school derives its state-approved water supply. The site plan was developed by the firm of Olmsted Brothers, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Buildings were planned by the architectural firm of Warren, Knight and Davis, of Birmingham, in close collaboration with the Board of Governors and the faculty committee. Buildings now completed include: a large octagonal dining hall and adjoining kitchen equipped with modern electrical cooking and refrigeration facilities; boys' dwelling units; homes for faculty members; a fireproof library having a large reading room with fireplace, soundproof music appreciation rooms, and space for 15,000 volumes, "open and accessible to the boys," as Mr. Woodward provided. All buildings are one story of white brick veneer, equipped with sprinklers for fire protection, and heated by a radiant system.

The boys' dwelling units reflect a home-like atmosphere of cooperative community living. The students' social room adjoins a faculty home and connects with it through a kitchen and study of the faculty quarters. Reaching out diagonally from this room are two wings for boys, each having eight rooms. Each room and bath is planned for two boys. Furnishings provided for each boy are simple: a desk, book case, chair, bed, dresser, closet and curtains. Flat linen is furnished. A covered colonnade along the inside of each wing connects it with the common room and unifies the whole around a central court.

The school will provide boys with an unexcelled educational opportunity. There will be at least one teacher for every ten boys. To the boy who plans to go to college, the high quality of the teaching staff and the low pupil-teacher ratio will assure sound preparation. (For details see page 9).

The Foundation has employed a group of teachers who are outstanding. The faculty for the first year includes ten teachers, six with Master's degrees, and one who is completing his Master's degree, and two with the Doctorate.

Both boarding and day students will be accepted. The fee is $1200 for boarding students and $600 for day students. The cost to the school for each boarding student is estimated to be $2400; thus the school is giving each boarding student a subsidy of approximately half the total cost of his education. The day fee includes transportation, books, and the noon meal.

A limited number of scholarships will be available to outstanding boys who lack the financial resources to attend the school. The number of week-ends that boys spend at home with their parents will be determined by the judgment of the parents. Admission is by means of previous school records, screening tests, and personal interview with the boy and his parents. Only boys of sound mind and body and of good character will be accepted.

Interested parents should communicate with the Alabama Educational Foundation, 910 Brown-Marx Building, Birmingham, Alabama. Telephone 54-9449.


The primary purpose of the Indian Springs School is to educate boys for responsible citizenship in our democracy. A related purpose is to exert a lasting and beneficial influence upon public school education through the development and diffusion of improved ways of teaching.


After four years in our school your boy should have made substantial progress in:

l. Preparation as a future citizen and a cooperating member of society.
2. Preparation as a prospective worker and producer.
3. Preparation for a life of meaning and purpose.


The educational program of Indian Springs has two parts:

1. General Education
2. Special Education

General Education

The purpose of the program of general education is to prepare the boys so far as we can for those common activities which, as citizens and heirs of a joint culture, they will share with others. To this end the school requires four years of English, four years of history, and two years of science and mathematics.

Special Education

The purpose of the program of special education is to help the boys who attend our school fulfill the unique, particular functions in life which is in them to fulfill. To this end each boy will choose from a wide variety of electives.


Are of sound mind and body and who have good character and ambition.

Are outstanding in their potentialities to achieve distinction of performance in some worthy line of endeavor. We recognize that such boys are to be found in every walk of life from the highest to the lowest level of economic status, and that some boys compensate for their lack of academic aptitude by their dogged determination and other positive traits of mind and character.

Can be taught the capacity for retrospection and prospection, for dreaming dreams and working to make them come true. Can be taught the ability to evolve their own interpretations of life.

Can be taught to distinguish between appearances and reality, genuineness and imitation, fact and fancy, truth and propaganda, substance and shadow.

Can be shown without becoming cynical or losing zest for life, that human living is but a passing incident in the eternal and otherwise immutable life of the universe.

Have the imagination to create for themselves a way of life that takes the various forms of wonder and curiosity, of reverence, of deep desire for merging personality into something beyond itself.


In his last Will and Testament, Mr. Woodward states that "The continuous inculcation of high moral purpose is a part of the curriculum."

All our teachers will work continuously to help the boys they teach achieve a sense of values which will lend dignity to whatever else they may learn.

We will not endeavor to inculcate any particular religious creed, but will teach a deep respect for all religious views.

The boys who attend our school will be shown that America was founded by a God-fearing people, and that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights clearly recognize and are based fundamentally on the existence of religious ideals.

Transportation will be provided each Sunday for boys wishing to attend church services in nearby community churches including those in Birmingham.

Boys will be able to develop their religious beliefs through non-sectarian services which they help to plan and conduct at school. Each boy will have the opportunity to explore the various religions of the world through a study of comparative religions.


The following is the program of studies that has been planned for the boys who attend our school:


1. English *[1]
2. History *[2]
3. Science and Mathematics *[3]

1. Algebra
2. General Mathematics
3. Industrial Arts
4. Agriculture


1. English
2. History
3. Science and Mathematics

1. Plane Geometry
2. General Mathematics
3. Algebra
4. Industrial Arts
5. Agriculture


1. English
2. History

1. Trigonometry
2. Solid Geometry
3. Plane Geometry
4. Algebra
5. General Mathematics
6. Industrial Arts
7. Agriculture
8. Comparative Religion
9. Chemistry
10. Physics
11. Mechanical Drawing


1. English
2. History

1. Trigonometry
2. Solid Geometry
3. Algebra
4. Plane Geometry
5. Chemistry
6. Physics
7. Comparative Religion
8. Industrial Arts
9. Mechanical Drawing
10. Agriculture

Certain non-credit activities are a part of the General Education program in each grade. These activities include:

1. Music
2. Arts and Crafts
3. Physical Education and Athletics
4. Dramatics
5. Shop
6. Work Experience
7. Public Speaking
8. Hobbies

*[1] The point of focus in the teaching of English will be upon developing the boy's ability to read, write, speak and listen through the study of the world's best literature.
*[2] The point of focus in the teaching of history will be upon the study of the development of Western Civilization, particular emphasis being given to American history. By drawing upon such subject matter areas as Government, Geography Economics, Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, a broad sense of history will be presented.
*[3] The point of focus in the teaching of science and mathematics will be upon the marshaling and critical appraisal of evidence. It is assumed that direct observation and precision are among the most important values and basic ideas that Science and Mathematics should contribute to citizenship education.
*[4] This is only a partial list of the electives that will be offered. For boys who plan to go to college the School will provide whatever electives are needed for admission.


The eminent philosopher Alfred North Whitehead who died recently said that there is but one proper subject matter for education-life in all of its manifestations. He condemned the practice of teaching one subject in isolation from others. He insisted that teachers should be broadly educated so that the learning of pupils would be of one piece rather than fragmentary. In his last will and testament Mr. Woodward said: "All (subjects) should be taught as a complete and correlated whole, and not as separate courses, as now understood."

The method of teaching in Indian Springs School will emphasize the interrelatedness of human knowledge. This to the end that the pupil achieves the goal that Mr. Woodward coveted for him, "A composite picture of reasonable and discriminating comprehension of the world in which he lives." The means of achieving this goal will be careful and continuing cooperative planning by members of the teaching staff. All teachers will give emphasis to such fundamentals as reading, writing, speaking, listening and spelling. All will stress the ability to think effectively, the ability to judge between right and wrong, and the ability to apply knowledge.


One of the primary reasons that Mr. Woodward left his estate to establish a school for boys was to avoid the evils of mass education. Mr. Woodward wisely conceived that the range of individual differences in any group of boys is such that there is need to tailor teaching to the individual boy. By maintaining a low pupil-teacher ratio Indian Springs School will be able to give each boy personal attention. This will make it possible for each boy to progress at his own rate.


Every boy is entitled, we believe, to have his problems accepted at his own estimate of their importance, and this without time consuming formality. The offices of faculty members are open at all times to boys. No appointments are expected. It is not essential that the subject for discussion be urgent or important. It is essential that there be no barriers between the boy and the faculty. An open door and sympathetic understanding await any boy who seeks counsel. No member of our faculty is ever too busy to see a boy.


Recreational activities are an integral part of the program of general education.

There will be regularly organized and scheduled classes in physical education to meet the needs of pupils for vigorous physical activity.

Group games, hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, and the like, will be emphasized.

Our school will not compete with other schools in athletics; the competition in sports will be organized on an intramural basis.

We have two quick drying type of tennis courts and two hard surface courts.

Games like basketball, volley ball and baseball will be encouraged.

Participation in a wide variety of informal social games and activities will also be encouraged.


Although Mr. Woodward died more than twenty years ago he anticipated that the colleges and universities of the nation would become less rigid in their requirements for admission. He anticipated that the high schools would become increasingly free to educate for American citizenship. He wisely directed that schools established by the Alabama Educational Foundation plan their programs for the all-round development of the boys.

Since the death of Mr. Woodward, the colleges and universities have moved in the direction of freeing the high schools of the nation to do the things they think best for students. Most educators of today see no conflict between preparing boys for college and preparing them for life.

The program of general education offered by Indian Springs School plus the wide range of electives make it possible to plan a boy's program to meet the entrance requirements of American colleges and universities.

The superior teaching staff of Indian Springs School and the low pupil-teacher ratio are the best guarantee which parents can have that their boy will be able not only to enter but to make a success of his college career.


Arrangements for medical care include a resident registered nurse, and a non-resident doctor as medical consultant. The doctor supervises the general health of the school community, holds regular physical examinations for students, and maintains a personal relationship in caring for the medical problems of individual boys.

The medical clinic is organized primarily for out-patient treatment, but a small ward is provided.

Parents will be consulted in cases of serious illness. Birmingham hospital facilities are available if needed.

The expense of special medical services such as X-rays, special medicine, special diets, extra nursing, and physicians' fees and hospitalization other than in the school infirmary will be assumed by the boy's family.


We believe that parents should know our conception of discipline. In broad terms our point of view about discipline is as follows:

Self-discipline is the basis of successful group living in America. We will, therefore, give boys every chance to develop their abilities to control themselves-to manage their day-to-day business.

Boys do not learn self-discipline through speeches but through practice in control, which follows knowledge. Democracy is understood only as it is lived, and it cannot be lived in the school unless teachers carefully provide the situations for living it.

Teaching for self-discipline implies the development of ideals, knowledge, pupil desire, and then practice.

Our teachers will show a constructive deference to the limitations of immaturity, but will take prompt and decisive action against all violations of responsible behavior. We know that with young persons it is necessary to give controlled scope to freedom.

Our teachers will not award boys the freedom for which the school stands, but rather will give them opportunities to achieve freedom through responsible action.

The school is not fitted for boys who require severe discipline. Our methods of teaching presuppose a desirable amount of application on the part of the boy.

If at any time a boy's influence is considered harmful or if his presence in a group is, in the judgment of school officials, detrimental to others, the school reserves the right to require his withdrawal.


In modern society, where few boys follow their father's vocations and where most boys are faced by a bewildering array of available vocational opportunities, the school must inevitably give some help in choosing and planning for a career.

Our program of general education is designed to acquaint the boys with the many-sided aspects of the society in which they will live, and, in addition, to help them to discover and develop their unique interests and capacities.

Our program of special education is designed to enable boys to pursue their unique interests and develop their special capacities to a degree that will prepare them most adequately for further education, professional training and responsible participation in their society.

As an integral part of both educational programs, our comprehensive testing and counseling program should help boys not only to identify their unique abilities and interests but to plan intelligently their educational and vocational futures to take full advantage of each boy's individual interests and abilities.


Mr. Woodward spent the last years of his life preparing a statement which describes the kind of school that he wanted. The following are extracts from his writing:

The basic idea of the school is to make for a boy of sound mind and body the best foundation for real manhood and citizenship.

The object shall be to give the pupils a composite picture of reasonable and discriminating comprehension of the world in which he lives.

A main object will be to interest the boy in something and cultivate the habit of observation and of being conscious of everything within the range of the senses, and of really using his eyes to see.

One of the objects of this school is, to train the mind and body of the pupil that he may apply his own faculties to facts which come to his knowledge throughout life and arrive at sound and proper conclusions.

The value of the school will be, not in the subjects and things taught, primarily, but in the way in which they are caught- in presenting the basic principles in their proper order and relation and, most important of all, in the training of mind and body in good habits. It seems to be generally agreed by those who have made much study of the subject, that the one thing of greatest value really possible to teach anyone is to teach him to teach himself.

The continuous inculcation of high moral purposes is a part of the curriculum.

I desire that by every proper means a pure attachment to truth, honesty, integrity, the rights of others, and the sacred rights of conscience, as guaranteed by our Constitution, be formed and fostered in the minds of the pupils.

The number of teachers shall be sufficiently large to give individual attention to the work and needs of each pupil . . . not less than one instructor to ten pupils.

It shall be the duty of all teachers, singly and collectively, to study each boy as an individual and to instruct the boy on the basis of the boy's individual needs and aptitudes.

Much effort will be made to inculcate love for truth and work, and to impress the fact that while money is desirable, it will not buy real friendship, real love, respect, honesty, health, or knowledge, and that, while the most common, it is the poorest measure of a man.

Show them (the boys) that the small things of daily life - the little things that irritate or please - are, in their aggregate, the things that make life seem worthwhile or of little value.

Much effort will be given to unteaching that which is untrue.

Esthetic things will be favored-bands, glee clubs, sketching, photography, etc.

A part of the school's equipment will be a farm to raise needed vegetables and fruit for the school and to give the boys familiarity with growing things.


Some few parents have spoken to us in this vein: "We are certain that you are going to have a truly outstanding school; you have adequate financial resources; an excellent school site; beautiful buildings; a group of superior teachers; and a sound educational program - but we don't like the idea of sending our boy to a brand new school-now if you already had an established reputation. . . . " There are several things that can be said to parents who have such feelings. In the first place there is no way that we can start as an old school, nor with an "established reputation." Secondly, we see certain advantages in starting a new school.

One advantage of a new school is that it is possible to select teachers solely on the basis of merit. Any school that has been established for a period of years almost invariably has among its group of teachers a few who are not effective.

The challenge of creating a new school is almost certain to engender an extra measure of enthusiasm both on the part of teachers and students.

There is real educational value to students in being a part of the business of building the body of ideas, values, traditions, and customs, which in time will characterize living and learning in the Indian Springs School-Community. We are. convinced that the members of our first two classes will in the years to come, have reason to be proud of the part they played in establishing a school which is destined, and we say this with a spirit of humility, to make a significant contribution to American education and democracy.


Indian Springs School has a teaching staff second to none. This outstanding group of broadly educated and widely experienced teachers has been assembled from many parts of the country. Their records show them all to be superior in intellectual attainments as well as in character and emotional stability. Above all, they are a highly creative group, filled with a sense of beauty of the spirit and the ability to inspire young people to seek the highest of goals.

Since one of the objectives of Indian Springs School is to exert a significant influence upon public school education, it is appropriate to make clear the line of reasoning leading to this objective.

Since 1870 the population of the American high school has increased seventy-fold. The tremendous increase in the number of young persons attending the high school has placed it in danger of mediocrity. This is not to deny the significance or the worthwhileness of the contribution that the public high school has made to American life and culture. It is merely to call attention to a problem that is generally recognized. One big reason that the high school is threatened by mediocrity is the unfavorable conditions of work as experienced by teachers.

When teachers are insecure financially their ideas about teaching get mixed up with and are spoiled by their preoccupation with thoughts of how to pay the rent or grocery bill.

When teachers are confronted with four or five large classes each day it is difficult for them to maintain the spontaneity and enthusiasm that is needed to kindle the spark of learning in young persons.

Indian Springs School will be able to provide the essential conditions of creative teaching. We have, therefore, accepted as one of the major goals of our school that of exerting a beneficial influence upon public school education and American Democracy through the development and diffusion of improved ways of teaching. In working to achieve our goal we regard ourselves as partners of the public schools in the common task of preparing young persons for responsible citizenship in our democracy.

As we look to the future we visualize this school exerting a profound influence upon the development of the cornerstone of American Democracy-the system of free public school education. As we look to the future we visualize this school making a contribution to the characteristic quality of the spirit of the free man-the spirit of resurgence. We know that our present world is adrift, full of bewildered, undirected motion, but we retain our faith that the Galilean ideal, despite many cruel distortions, is yet a hidden, driving force haunting men and challenging them to the fulfillment of unrealized dreams.


This is the text from a brochure printed in 1952 announcing the opening of Indian Springs School. It is worth noting that some parts of this brochure will seem rather dated, and do not necessarily reflect the current attitudes of the Indian Springs community. This document is provided for historical interests.

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190 Woodward Drive
(205) 988-3350
Indian Springs, AL 35124
FAX: (205) 988-3797

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