Michael Gary Speaks

“We believe in the Quaker values of respect for all, simplicity, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and a constant search for truth.” When I read this segment of our mission statement, I reflect on how we are living it during this transformational time at Friends Select School.

Through continuing revelation, we considered the decision made over 50 years ago by our predecessors to construct our Parkway Building and remain in Philadelphia during a time when many schools were fleeing to the suburbs for more space. That resolution has taken a new meaning as we recommitted to the city and its vital role in our academic programming through our Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign. The newly created learning spaces in our Parkway Building and upcoming expansion of our campus to 1520 Race Street enable us to reimagine the use of our space, capitalize on our location in the city through strategic partnerships, and support our foundation of excellence in teaching and learning.
Our educators are contributing now more than ever to making Friends Select an antiracist institution. Through continuous self-examination and making space for one another, faculty are identifying their own complicitness in the systems that contribute to racism and white supremacy in our country and community. I am moved by how they have leaned into the vulnerability that comes with participating in these sometimes difficult and emotional conversations and revelations. With in-service programming, professional development opportunities, and small group meetings throughout the year, our faculty are working at becoming antiracist every day.

From a curricular standpoint, the significant transformations that were made to our educational approaches and technological skills were the impetus behind allotting our educators creative control of their summer enrichment offerings. Ultimately, they resulted in a true reinvigoration of the SummerSessions program with enriching and engaging experiences, not just for Friends Select students but also for those from schools in neighboring communities. This hallmark summer program is a conduit to serving as a private school with a public focus by allowing us to share our teachers with students who might not otherwise be able to afford a Friends Select education.
The transformation of our campus, broadening of perspectives, and reinvigoration of academic programming reinforce our mission and uphold our legacy for the next 50 years and beyond.