Michael Gary Speaks

Michael Gary Speaks
Michael Gary, Head of School
Michael Gary Speaks

Full Select News
Michael Gary Speaks

Watching and reading the news about boards of education at various levels throughout the United States purposefully censoring books and altering curricula to fit their political ideology, I am grateful to be an educator at Friends Select School. Our mission as a Quaker school is clear, and we—employees and trustees, with the support of alumni, parents, and caregivers—fulfill it together: learning should be placed at the service of society, and we seek to teach students to walk joyfully over the world. 

Instead of excluding, we are discussing ways to be more inclusive at Friends Select so that more of us can be seen in the curriculum that we wholeheartedly drive. For example, offerings like the upper school Visiting Writer Program exist to honor the arts and culture of our city as well as expose students to the breadth and depth 
of perspectives and talents of Philadelphia-based writers. And our commitment extends beyond the classroom, as evidenced by student-led initiatives like our voter registration drive at last year’s Shackamaxon Powwow at Penn Treaty Park, and the participation of upper school students on the mayor’s African American Historic Statue Advisory Committee.

Friends Select continues to distinguish itself through a continued commitment to becoming an antiracist institution and fostering an inclusive learning environment. The recent People of Color Conference (PoCC) in St. Louis, MO, showcased our school’s dedication to diversity and inclusion. With one of the largest contingents in attendance, our colleagues not only participated but also led sessions, exemplifying our commitment to driving positive change in education.

We envision Friends Select as a private school with a public purpose and strive to extend our reach to students in the Philadelphia area who could benefit from our resources. Our new Community Pantry reflects our Quaker values, our ongoing efforts 
to become an antiracist school, and our responsibility to the city of Philadelphia. And through our new summer camp partner this year, ESF Camps, we  can enable more young learners to benefit from the rich experiences 
our community offers. 

The Friends Select community has also not wavered in a commitment to supporting one another. From significant salary increases to an elevated focus on wellness, we are mindful of the human aspect that forms the foundation of our school. Taking care of each other is of utmost importance and parallels our mission. 

Friends Select remains dedicated to nurturing minds, building community, and providing an educational experience that shapes a brighter future for our students and society. Just thinking about this energizes me, and I hope it does the same for you. What we show up to do every day is more relevant and important than ever.