Mission & Philosophy; Head, Hand and Heart
Friends’ School is a supportive, dynamic community committed to educating the whole child—head, hand, and heart. Our students acquire a strong academic foundation while developing creative expression, social responsibility, and respect for diversity and the individual. We challenge students and teachers to reach their full potential as engaged, lifelong learners.
Friends’ School is committed to educating the whole child—head, hand, and heart. In educating the whole child, we are awake to children’s gifts, natural curiosity, and desire to learn. Research consistently tells us that intelligence is dynamic and multidimensional. In every child’s education, many different areas need to be addressed. These include the cognitive, physical, creative, social/emotional, and spiritual aspects of learning. Our teachers integrate, honor, and consciously teach to each of these dimensions. In addition, by supporting such gifts as appreciation for nature and the child’s natural sense of spirituality, we strive to create an atmosphere of wholeness in our classrooms and in our school.
|Integrated and Experiential Learning |
At Friends’ School, teachers teach to each child’s individual learning style and intelligence. We nurture children’s cognitive, physical, artistic, social and emotional development. Our lessons and projects are designed with consideration of all the learning modalities (auditory, visual, kinesthetic), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
and the Schools Attuned
Understanding and retention of knowledge are largely based on involvement with a subject that has meaning to the student. Relevancy serves to keep children engaged and motivated while learning academic skills. The more opportunity a child has to discover, manipulate, teach and experience the subject, the more learning takes place. Our learning environment is designed to inspire a child to become involved in the educational process and to pursue his or her interests and creativity.
Students make the most sense of material if it is learned in context. Concepts and skills are taught in the context of integrated units of study. This integrated approach engages children at the elementary level to help them understand the common experience underlying the various disciplines. Using students’ experience, background knowledge, and interests, qualified teachers use their wisdom to maximize student learning while engaging students.
Children need opportunities to be with others who are learning various skills at the same rate as they are and to be challenged and taught by those who may be learning or developing more rapidly. They benefit from the opportunity to support and teach others. Well-rounded learners come from having experiences as the younger in a group, as well as being one of the older leaders of a group. At Friends’ this balance is created within classrooms and through the interaction of students among grade levels. This integrated, dynamic approach deeply engages the student and nurtures a love of learning, personal growth, and involvement in their world.
Children are natural learners. In supporting their innate curiosity and desire to learn, we strive to create an educational environment that balances depth and breadth, as well as process and content. We foster both critical and creative thinking in our students. Through individual and cooperative hands-on learning experiences, children construct their own knowledge and engage with the real world. We encourage them to question, evaluate, act, and reflect. We want children to be able to solve problems in all academic arenas. We help them to be fluent readers, spontaneous and literate writers, sound mathematicians, scientific thinkers, and curious global citizens, who readily apply their knowledge and are confident in their abilities to do so.
We believe the collective energy of many people, students, parents, faculty and staff, creates a community that supports each other’s growth and learning.
Children who have a strong sense of belonging to their school feel safe and connected. Being part of a positive environment supports children’s growth into healthy, contributing members of society and their adult communities. We believe it is important to build and sustain community by nurturing respect, responsibility, and safety. It is important for students to learn direct, honest communication and mediation techniques. The social/emotional curriculum helps students learn self-awareness, which facilitates their interactions with and understanding of others.
Community at Friends' School begins in each classroom. It expands to the school, the neighborhood, the city, and beyond. Children’s sense of community gradually grows to include other cultures and all living things. Students are encouraged to be active members of the larger local and global communities. Service learning experiences offer them opportunities to learn about and engage in the world beyond Friends’ and show them ways they can contribute to the larger good.
|Eco-literacy and interconnectedness |
Experiencing the wonder and beauty of nature is intrinsically valuable and is critical to developing eco-literacy. Eco-literacy grows from rich experiences with the natural world. Children who understand the complexity and interconnections in our world are personally motivated to work toward the sustainability of the planet. Eco-literate students make conscious choices about use of the earth’s resources now and in the future. Our students are informed of environmental issues and feel empowered and optimistic about improving global health.
In the context of today’s world we must prepare children to have successful relationships with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and family structures. We recognize each person possesses unique intelligences, talents, affinities, and challenges. We discuss, embrace, and learn about many aspects of diversity in the classroom: race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, family structure, learning styles, skills, challenges, and interests. We help children utilize this knowledge and to recognize and respond to issues of prejudice and injustice. We respect our differences and understand that diversity makes our community a healthier place.
Developing personal spirituality is a lifelong journey. We support individuals in this process to develop self-awareness, establish personal values, and understand oneself as part of the bigger world. We encourage children to have open hearts and minds as they grow, explore, and change. We appreciate the practices of all religions and often share traditions in the classroom. Through school rituals and celebrations we honor the cycles of the seasons.