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The Alexander Foundation School

The Alexander Foundation School was a small private boarding school, running from c. 1947 to the late 1950s or early 1960s in Pennsylvania.

History

Esther Duke, a pupil of A. R. Alexander, was affiliated with a Quaker school, the Media Friends School, in Pennsylvania. Some time around 1943 she arranged for Irene Stewart and Margaret Goldie to teach at the school. When F. M. Alexander returned to London in 1943, A. R. Alexander and some of the trainees on the Alexander brother’s teacher training course, moved to Swarthmore and Media. When A. R. Alexander suffered a stroke around August 1944, one of the trainees, Dolly Dailey (also known as Philomene Barr, Mrs Norris Barr) continued the training course assisted by another trainee, Alison Grant-Morris. It is not clear whether they were ever certified by A. R. Alexander. The training course continued until 1949. Dolly Dailey also continued teaching at the Friends Media School, taking over from Margaret Goldie who left for London with F. M. Alexander in 1943.

By 1945 a number of teachers decided to break away from the Media Friends School, and set up a school based on the Alexander Technique. Esther Duke appears to have been the financial backer of the project. They formed the Alexander Foundation and its school, The Alexander Foundation School, may have started in September 1947. It catered for kindergarten through eighth grade.

There was some internal discord around 1949 following Esther Duke’s death in 1948, and some teachers, among them Richard (‘Buz’) Gummere, left.

It is not known when the school closed; Ruth Rootberg reckons it continued through the 1950s and possibly into the 1960s.[1]

Writings

  • ‘The Alexander Foundation School – An experiment in education’ by Ruth Rootberg is the only and most detailed and researched article on the subject.
  • Three pupils wrote memoirs of their time at the school: ‘Bill Fuhrmann remembers the Alexander Foundation School’,[2] ‘Bonnie Tatcher remembers the Alexander Foundation School’,[3] and ‘The Alexander Foundation School’ by Agnes Bartucz Grillo.[4]
  • Goddard Binkley had his first lessons in the Alexander Technique with Dolly Daily (Philomene Barr), and he writes about the lessons in his diaries, published as The Expanding Self.[5]
References

[1] ‘The Alexander Foundation School – An experiment in education’ by Ruth Rootberg in AmSAT Journal issue no. 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 29-34.
[2] ‘Bill Fuhrmann remembers the Alexander Foundation School’ in AmSAT Journal issue no. 1 (Spring 2012), p. 35.
[3] ‘Bonnie Tatcher remembers the Alexander Foundation School’ in AmSAT Journal issue no. 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 36–38.
[4] ‘The Alexander Foundation School’ by Agnes Bartucz Grillo in AmSAT Journal issue no. 3 (Spring 2013), p. 4.
[5] The Expanding Self by Goddard Binkley (STATBooks, 1993), pp. 21–32 passim.
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