Friends School Haverford: A Quaker Education With A Focus on Integrity, Equality, and Stewardship
The Bare Family shares their love of Friends School Haverford, and why FSH was the perfect choice for their family.
Several years ago Marie Bare had the opportunity to visit the campus of Friends School Haverford (FSH). Since that visit she has carried with her a profound sense of admiration for the Quaker elementary school that was founded back in 1885. “I fell in love with it,” says Bare. “The school had a beautiful community, had experiential learning and it was play-centered. It spoke to everything I thought learning should be.” Understandably, years later, when it came time to choose a nursery school for her son, Sean, Bare and her husband revisited FSH and her initial impression remained the same. They could have chosen any school along the Main Line, but FSH perfectly fit what they envisioned for their son’s education.
Philosophy In Action
Stated in the school’s philosophy, the emphasis at FSH is on the Quaker testimonies of integrity, service, simplicity, equality, community, peaceful conflict resolution, stewardship and sustainability. While all these testimonies are held in importance by the Bare family, equality, for them, is of significant priority. “We are a multi-racial family,” says Bare, of Wayne. “We have African American kids formed through adoption. I wanted a school where Sean would see representation of African American adults in key role model positions and also have peers as well. We were happy to see that he would have a teacher who is an African American male. He also has two peers who are African American and plus many other brown- skinned children as classmates.”
The school’s deep appreciation and celebration of varied cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds is something that Andrea Myers, Head of School at FSH, knows attracts families to their school community. “I think children are proud and they like to share what defines them— we encourage that,” says Myers. “This is a school community that truly honors children. Parents see that their child is being honored in many different ways. The children see a reflection of themselves in the content and the classroom and the imagery. And they’re all positive reflections.”
Beyond the Classroom Borders
At FSH learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom. A focus this year, from kindergarten through fifth grade, is having students explore who is in their community beyond the classroom and what roles those people play. “It’s an exploration of community, environment and stewardship,” says Myers. FSH’s proximity to neighboring Haverford College allows the school the unique opportunity to utilize the campus in various ways.
For example, FSH students will go to Haverfarm, a farm on Haverford’s campus, and learn about everything from the ecology of the land to understanding how farms sustain communities. “Our teachers are connecting math, social studies, science, literacy and integrating them into these studies in age-appropriate ways,” says Myers. “The children are learning how you become a steward of your community, as well as, the environment.” Even more community partnerships are in the works!
“We are really immersing our students in the community,” says Myers. “If we are truly going to be stewards of it we need to know who is here and have connections with them. And understand the needs that everyone has within the community—rather than observing it from the outside.”
Learn How To BE The Change
Being part of the community beyond the classroom requires greater responsibility, which is taught to students in various ways. A lesson that Bare’s son Sean learned last year was about “change makers” how people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks created change. “I loved that phrase ‘change makers’ because it allows the children to think that they can create change,” she says. “They know that if they see something that is not the way they think it should be they could be the one to create some change. They’re learning about the power of one person and what they themselves can bring to the world.”
Within the classroom, it’s natural that conflicts and disagreements will come up among the students, and teachers guide the children in talking through the issue and helping them to resolve the problem in a peaceful way. “Kindness is a word that is frequently used at Friends School Haverford and I think it describes an environment of humanity,” says Myers. “Kindness is a way of summarizing the outcome of teaching those Quaker values.”
Lifelong Foundations For Learning
Upon graduation from FSH in fifth grade, the goal is for students to have a solid foundation built from the lessons of their Quaker education and to carry those lessons with them throughout the rest of their student careers. “I want my son to be someone who is curious,” says Bare. “Someone who is curious about learning and who feels that joy in that endeavor of learning.” Myers concurs. “Children, I think, are incredibly capable and incredibly curious,” she says. “That curiosity can be fostered in amazing ways.” And that is what is happening for Sean, and all students, within Friends School Haverford.
Guided by Quaker principles since its founding in 1885, Friends School Haverford provides an intellectually rich program to an intentionally diverse school family. They promote academic scholarship, creativity, respect, integrity, and self-awareness with a commitment to creating a culture of stewardship and kindness. Friends School is a co-educational private school serving students from nursery school through fifth grade.
This Sponsored Story was written by Tara Behan, Contributing Writer, Main Line Parent