Indian Springs School was the brainchild of Harvey G. Woodward, a Birmingham industrialist who had attended M.I.T. and who wanted to establish a school in his home state that would train young men for a lifetime of learning. Mr. Woodward left a sizeable estate and a detailed description of his program when he died in 1930. The will survived legal challenges and the program was refined, and finally the school opened its doors in 1952 with 10 faculty members and 60 boys. The school served as a boarding school for boys from Birmingham and rural parts of Alabama, and from the start the graduates went off to distinguished colleges around the nation.
The founding head of the school, Dr. Louis Armstrong, made certain that an Indian Springs education was far more than sound preparation for college. A program was put into place that was designed to awaken the intellectual curiosity of the students by making them aware of problems facing American society. Students were encouraged to keep open minds and become determined to change things in society for the better.
From the start, students and faculty worked together in a model of "shared governance." A constitution was written that explained clearly the responsibilities of students and faculty in the day-to-day operation of the school. The school ran like a small town, and the student government was given a strong voice in determining how the school would evolve. Town meetings were called regularly to discuss issues.
Student directed learning in the classroom and in activities has always been encouraged at Indian Springs School. The school's choir has a tradition of presenting concerts all over the globe. The first soccer program in the state was initiated at Indian Springs. By the 1970's the school had an equal number of day students and boarders. An eighth grade was added and the school became coeducational.
In 2006, the school reaffirmed its commitment to boarding by opening brand new dorms for all residential students. In addition, a state-of-the-art Science Center was also unveiled, again demonstrating the school's passion for academic excellence.
The most recent additions to campus are the Fertile Minds Learning Garden, which produces organics fruits and vegetables for the ISS Dining Hall, and an Outdoor Classroom. Both help students connect to the environment in a very personal way.
The school boasts of its more than 2,000 alumni, all of whom have experienced Harvey G. Woodward's vision of Learning Through Living.
M.D. Smith '59 has maintained an excellent archive of Indian Springs history, past and present. You may view (and listen) here.
Photo: Class of 1957