State of the School

It has become a recent tradition at Friends Select for me to share with the community the state of the school. I am thrilled to share that the state of our school is strong.

In the upper school, the daily schedule was adjusted this year to afford deeper and more intentional community and advisory programming. Students are involved more in directing their learning through organizing the new Martin Luther King Teach-In Day, participating in new committees with teachers around the Advance Friends Select strategic plan, and the formation of the Student Committee on Extracurricular Education (SCECE). A newly formed partnership with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) was showcased at the Quaker School Heads annual meeting in Philadelphia. Additional international exchanges, like the one in Germany, are in process in Ireland, England, and Mexico. There is an increase in programming in and around the city, and the school newspaper, The Falcon, flies again.

In the middle school, the guidance structure was enhanced to deepen and speed communication about students. A student Quaker committee is touching all aspects of middle school, from Meeting for Worship to equity and inclusion. Students are generating queries, and leading middle school gatherings. Service days have been modified to be more authentic and better integrated with the curriculum. New are a 5th grade overnight trip to Washington, D.C. and a middle school leadership day, which will begin in the new school year.

We are always using current research and information on best practices to refine our instruction. This year, a professional developer from Teachers College at Columbia University is spending time with the lower school throughout the year, working with teachers on maximizing effectiveness in Readers Workshop. Teachers are implementing a gender education curriculum for PreK - 4th grade students. Our students are developing visual literacy skills through partnerships with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Barnes Foundation. We are proud of our 4th grade Mandarin students, who won first place in the elementary division of the STARTALK Capstone Chinese program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Two new positions will be added for next year that will further strengthen our health and wellness program and our performing arts program. A full-time middle and upper school support specialist will join our current team, and will have the responsibility of assisting students and teachers with coordination and follow-through. A technical theatre director will steward our new theatre, support performances, and teach students technical theatre skills.

In November, we launched our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select. I hope you read it. It is the blueprint for enhancing excellence at Friends Select over the next five years. There is evidence of momentum. Our new director of city curriculum has done a yeoman's job in finding and inventorying opportunities for teachers and students in the city. The director of equity and inclusion accelerated our conversations as a community around such issues. Our athletic program is expanding and experiencing growing success with lots of young talent. In addition to installing a new environmentally friendly boiler, we recently installed a new chiller. With solid and growing enrollment, we are actively looking for more space. Financial support toward our school has been outstanding through gifts to the Friends Select Fund, through redirected personal taxes for financial aid through SPEs, and gifts to the endowment. Faculty and staff participation in the Friends Select Fund is at 100% with half of the school year still to go—what a statement! And there’s more.

Additional evidence of our community advancing our strategic plan is the $1 million raised in December that will be added to our endowment for financial aid in memory of Andy Lucine ’46, thanks to the generosity of Herb Siegel ’46, and other alumni/ae and parents of the school. Many more gifts like this will ensure our future in being a school for Philadelphia’s children.   

Our place in Center City Philadelphia, is significant, literally and figuratively—in the city and of the city. Fifty years ago, the leadership of the school made the decision to stay while the city was in turmoil, and committed to being a part of its revival. What conviction. What foresight. What a legacy. The state of Friends Select is strong.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Gary
Head of School