Founded by Lois Foster in 1973, Archway School, then known as Woods Edge, Inc., has always sought to remain true to Lois's original vision to "nurture and sustain children's love of learning." For almost four decades, Archway has successfully retained these core values, even through changes in location, class configuration, size, teachers and leadership. Lois’s vision of a school—where the oldest students would be as excited by learning as those in kindergarten, where classes would be small enough to foster close relationships between teachers and students, where camping trips and field trips would be an integral part of the curriculum, where hands-on experiential learning took place in every classroom all the time—has remained and flourishes at Archway today.
Woods Edge, Inc. began as a daycare and after school program in Montclair, at St. John’s Episcopal Church. By 1980, Lois opened a 5th-8th grade campus near Piedmont Avenue in Oakland to create a place where middle school students were just as engaged and excited about learning as Kindergarteners. By 1987, Archway had expanded to become a K-8 school and continued growing.
In 2005 Archway separated the K-8 Oakland Campus - the 5th-8th graders moved to a new facility in Berkeley, where they have benefitted from larger classrooms, a gymnasium, an art studio and a science lab – a great transition space for high school. The Lower School yard was remodeled to better support their development, including new surfaces, a new play structure and a community garden.
Lois Foster remained closely involved with Archway for over 25 years. In 2009 the Woods Edge Board of Trustees established an annual award named for her. Beneficiaries are selected from among individuals or organizations recognized as having made outstanding contributions to the community and who have demonstrated the spirit of her dedication to the school’s mission.
George Becker, whose commitment to Archway included 35 years on the Board, was honored as the first recipient of the award in the spring of 2009. This spring, trustees elected to present it to the Piedmont Branch of the Oakland Public Library, which has been an invaluable resource and virtual extension of the school for more than 30 years.
Lois’s legacy is always present – in the ability to find genuine, loyal, hard-working teachers, in the ability to meet each child’s individual need, in the commitment to hands-on learning, and in the strength of our community.