Michael Gary Speaks
I am so proud of what we have accomplished together since we launched our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select. Most visible have been the Blauvelt Theatre, the first-floor Parkway Building transformation, the rooftop athletic field, and the addition of the upper school STEAM Building. Our physical transformation continues this year with the redesign of the backlot and playground to become a multi-functional, interactive, outdoor play space that will be accessible to all Friends Select students, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.
We also added a director of city curriculum, a full-time director of equity and inclusion, Quaker coordinators, a director of lower school admissions, an advancement events coordinator, and a major gifts officer, to name a few. The endowment has grown and enrollment is just shy of an all-time high.
We continue to sustain our commitment to cross-cultural competency and to becoming an antiracist institution. In December, more Friends Select faculty than ever before attended the People of Color Conference (PoCC)—the flagship diversity and equity professional development opportunity hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). This is a reflection of our growing diversity as a school, and perhaps more importantly, our pledge to become an antiracist school.
To elevate the attention Friends Select is giving to excellence in teaching and learning, we initiated our Transformation Talk series. The inaugural event, “Building for the Future: How to Create Lasting Equitable and Accessible Learning Spaces,” specifically addressed the important topic of how space impacts learning, highlighting the physical transformation that our school is currently experiencing. Good space allows for good teaching and learning, in so many ways. Given our enrollment growth and strategic vision, managing our limited but very valuable real estate in Center City warrants our attention. The Transformation Talk series also provides us an opportunity to further steward our powerful relationships with local thought leaders and city partners.
How do we know if we are delivering on our mission and our strategic goal of excellence in teaching and learning? How do or should we measure excellence? To gauge these and other elements of our strategic plan that are not as visible, our faculty and staff are collaborating to build a dashboard. In exercises that implement the Quaker concepts of community and continuing revelation, Friends Select educators are creating a system that will help us uphold our strategic goals and determine how we are delivering on our value and promise as a school.