At San Francisco Friends School, teachers and administration work in collaboration with one another to develop and deliver a challenging and joyful learning experience.
- We focus on building the traits of great learners—tenacity, patience, self-knowledge, collaboration, and the willingness to take risks. We emphasize process as much as product, building each student’s work ethic and self-evaluative skills through engagement in challenging problem-solving.
- We integrate our curriculum as thoroughly as possible. Each Middle School grade has guiding questions that all disciplines work to connect with in meaningful ways.
- We strive for our curriculum to be “narrow and deep.” Our preference is to do fewer things and do them well.
- We weave service into the lives of our students, putting learning and understanding into action, and helping students use their natural affinities to identify and serve community needs. We foster reciprocal relationships with organizations in our neighborhood and city, and we work to bring the concept of stewardship to life in our school building, neighborhood, city, and beyond throughout the year.
- We mindfully develop responsibility and integrity in our students’ lives. We understand that the knowledge, skills, and wisdom necessary to live rich and balanced lives come from information, perspective, practice, and the opportunity to learn through experience.
- We encourage students to continue trying new things in middle school—in sports, music, art, drama, and in each academic discipline we invite students to experiment, tackle new skills, make new commitments, join new activities, develop new friendships, and learn the rewards that come from stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
- We are comfortable talking about complex ideas—politics, religion, spirituality, privilege, diversity—and help students listen deeply, find resources, articulate their thoughts and feelings, and develop both individuality and a deepening commitment to community.
“Friends kids are kind and empathetic and can read a room. They know how to listen with care and have comfort around difficulty. They know themselves and are also able to hold their intellectual and personal lives in context within a larger world.”
The purpose of the Middle School Advisory Program is to support the academic and social/emotional development of our students. The program strives to promote positive social and academic behavior and growth, increase self-awareness, and encourage good decision-making in our students. It also provides students with adult advocacy to monitor and support their progress throughout the year.
The role of the advisor in the lives of Friends School students is enormously important. Effective growth—whether it is social, emotional, moral, or intellectual—often takes place in the context of an interpersonal relationship. Students understand that their advisor is aware of their progress throughout the year and serves as their advocate. While student-led conferences are set times for advisors to communicate with parents, advisors also have regular, less formal conversations (via phone, via e-mail, or in person) with parents when issues of concern arise or appreciations need to be expressed. Students keep academic portfolios throughout the year, which the advisors help them manage and reflect upon.
Field studies are a critical part of the Friends School experience. Whether it is walking around our neighborhood in the Mission or backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains—students are stretched and challenged in new ways, all the while learning deeply about themselves, each other, and the world. Middle School sees the continuation of our outdoor education curriculum, which starts in Kindergarten. Beyond the appreciation of and connection to nature, our trips have deep ties to our curriculum and put our Quaker values in action through worship sharing, reflection, and service.
Meeting for Worship, a time set aside for silent reflection, takes place once each week. Middle school students gather together with the full school community, with their classmates, or with their younger “buddy” class, and settle into a period of quiet. On trips, students enjoy extended periods of silence in nature, allowing them to center themselves, activate their senses, think through the most important things in their lives, and listen deeply to the voice within. The practice of reflection has personal and intellectual value, and fosters students’ social/emotional development and academic growth.
High School Transition
Friends graduates demonstrate characteristics of being intellectually curious, reflective, yet action-oriented in high school. As one admissions director recently noted, “Friends kids are kind and empathetic and can read a room. They know how to listen with care and have comfort around difficulty. They know themselves and are also able to hold their intellectual and personal lives in context within a larger world.”
The qualities of flexibility, engagement, and reflection nurtured at San Francisco Friends School are excellent preparation for a fruitful transition to high school. We’ve developed a unique High School Transition Program that reflects our school’s mission and shared values.
Middle School Head
"In the Middle School, our classrooms buzz with the sights and sounds of vigorous and engaged intellectual discovery. The curriculum offers students increasing opportunities for choice, agency, and challenge, and it teaches age-appropriate strategies to maintain peaceful and balanced ways of being. We hope to build within our students the confidence and tenacity to enthusiastically engage with complex material across the disciplines and to acquire the self-knowledge to seek guidance and support when needed. We focus on the process of learning: we celebrate our 'a-ha!' moments, and we learn from our mistakes..."