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Welcome to Lower School

Step inside with me and experience the warmth of our lower school, where adults and children interact comfortably, naturally, like friends and family. Teachers take great care to talk with children, observe them, listen to them, and partner with each family so we can understand who each child is and who they might become. Within this environment, where children feel known and cared for, the work of lower school begins.

We believe every child is uniquely multi-faceted and deserving of an education that is as multidimensional as they are. Our program draws upon the strengths and passions of children while developing the skills and sensibilities they will need to thrive in today’s world. Our Quaker values guide us as we nurture both self-knowledge and a deep respect for the perspectives of others.

In lower school classrooms, children are artists, mathematicians, scientists, musicians, readers and writers. Through experiences such as creating a prototype of an invention that solves a problem, writing a “small moment” personal narrative, designing and building a fort that encompasses nearly half of the prekindergarten classroom, calculating the heights of trees on the Parkway using trundle wheels, and delivering persuasive speeches during a re-enactment of the planning meeting about the Montgomery bus boycott, children develop a sense of ownership, investment and agency over their own learning, while engaging with ideas and content in a stimulating, challenging and supportive environment. Lower school teachers spark fascination and foster curiosity in children so that they are engaged, motivated, and interested.

Step outside the lower school and through the front doors of Friends Select and you have stepped into one of the largest classrooms available to children, the city of Philadelphia. Our unique position affords us opportunities to build exciting and integrated educational experiences with the museums, cultural organizations, and historical landmarks right outside our doors.

Our students walk to Reading Terminal to select the ingredients they need for a class stew, visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden and return with sketches for their 3-dimensional design project, and walk to the Academy of Natural Sciences to study dinosaur adaptations during one of thirteen classes on paleontology. They study freshwater ecosystems at the Academy and the Fairmount Water Works, walk to nearby Sister Cities park for presentations by the zoo, visit “grandfriends’ at a nearby home for the elderly, ride the bus to a public library in Cobb’s Creek to assist a design firm in designing a new playground, and witness firsthand the visits of presidential candidates and other world leaders.

With the city as our campus, children come to understand that learning takes place not just within the walls of a school building but in the world around them. They come to see that there are many ways to learn and many people to learn from.

I invite you to learn more about our lower school program on the pages that follow. And I do hope you’ll visit us so you can meet our wonderful team of educators and witness the dynamic learning that takes place here every day.

Dave Younkin signature
Dave Younkin
Director of Lower School