At the beginning of the Third Republic, Protestant youth work expanded rapidly. It was meant to give underprivileged young men and women, constantly at the mercy of the numerous transformations of industrial society, the means of leading "a useful and exemplary life" (aussi utile qu'exemplaire). It created orphanages and vocational schools as well as ways of being operational on working premises.
|Service organisation for the guarantee of a three-week holiday|
This service, created in 1881, gave underprivileged children the opportunity to take a three-weeks' educational holiday in the country.
|The Etoile school|
The school was founded in 1878 by Nathaniel Johnston who conceived the project and funded its achievement. The key idea was to give to young girls who wished for it, the opportunity to receive a general education and vocational training. The school trained dressmakers and linen keepers of the traditional kind. But the school likewise provided training for more modern jobs : such as accountants and post office employees. Moreover, future female workers of the textile industry could benefit from drawing and painting classes which provided them with extra skills.
Nathaniel Johnston was a member of the new Etoile parish, founded in 1869.
Its first pastor, Eugène Bersier, eager to evangelize, immediately succeeded in rousing the interest of his parishioners and got them to commit themselves in concrete ways.
The school premises were built in the Grande Armée Avenue, in the near vicinity of the parish, whence its name.