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Welcome From the Lower School Head

Years ago, when I was looking for a kindergarten for my child, a colleague suggested I go on our admissions tour. I’d already been teaching at Friends for years and thought I knew the place inside and out. But I will always remember the first time I took a tour of our school.I knew Friends was a place of learning and exploration—but that morning was a revelation. I watched as students' eyes widened with joy and wonder in every classroom, on the front yard, in the stacks of the sun-drenched library—and this time I did it from the perspective of a visitor instead of a teacher. It was a powerful moment for me in my career at Friends.  The first years of elementary school are filled with curiosity and discovery, hopes and fears, adventure, and challenge, loaded with skinned-knee stories and good old-fashioned fun—and that's just for the parents!

We also want our children to grow in an environment where they can explore and feel joy—to know in a world of so much uncertainty, even in the face of a pandemic: that life is meant to be joyful. Seeing our students experience that every day is what compelled me to send my own child here.

Mutual respect, responsibility, and collaboration are at the core of who we are, how we treat each other, and how we work together. The best of Quaker education asks children to learn to know their own minds, to listen genuinely and deeply to one another, and to stretch each others’ thinking in a rigorous and collaborative spirit. Children in our school work independently, alongside each other, and in dynamic groups. All of this challenging work is vital to the growth of the mind and spirit. We are committed to developing tenacity and resilience in our children, teaching them to take on perspective, to listen, and to build patience and strategies for solving academic challenges that don’t come easily on the first try.

The Friends School develops programs in social and emotional health that have foundations in our Quaker roots, and are reflected in our service learning programs as well. An excerpt from the book Habits of Goodness, by Ruth Charney, helps to frame the thinking about our program: “When I think about habits of goodness, I do not think about a life without conflict, without mistakes and problems, but I do think about a collaboration that brings together children, teachers, parents and custodians as stakeholders in a common cause. The cause is to envision goodness—a goodness founded on mutual respect, on assertions of kindness and responsibility for the real work that needs to be done.” This is the work we have set before us: in the spirit of Quakerism, to help students realize continuous revelation: that the truth is not set but instead is ever-changing, and will be revealed if we are willing to reflect, listen, and grow. 

Amabelle Sze