Last week we were thrilled to welcome author, philanthropist, and advocate Chelsea Clinton—herself an alumna of Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC—to San Francisco Friends School to talk about her books She Persisted, She Persisted Around the World, and It's Your World. and the inspiring lessons featured in each. Ms. Clinton makes a point of visiting one school in each city she travels to, and we were honored that she chose to spend time with us at SFFS.
First, Ms. Clinton visited with our Lower School friends to talk about some of the compelling stories of female innovation, strength, and leadership featured in her She Persisted series. She shared the stories of civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, labor union activist Clara Lemlich, and the pioneering early 20th-century journalist Nellie Bly, among others . Before heading into the Learning Commons to meet with our middle-schoolers, she took questions from our eager audience, which ranged from asking why she decided to write She Persisted to who her biggest heroes are to what she liked most about attending Quaker school.
Next, Ms. Clinton met with our Middle School community to share some of the advice and experience featured in It's Your World. This rich discussion focused on how our middle-schoolers, who are becoming increasingly aware of how they can make an impact, can get involved with meaningful activism in their communities. Ms. Clinton encouraged our students to believe that they can achieve great things themselves by finding their passions and going after them. She also emphasized that while much progress has been made over the decades, there is still much work to be done, and people are often shocked at outdated laws that still exist even within our own country and state. Specifically, she highlighted minimum marriage age laws in many states, which are far lower than many of us realize—in some states lower than the minimum age to hire a lawyer, problematic for a teenager who may want to exit an unhealthy marriage entered into when they were far too young. Clinton used this example as an issue she is passionate about and advocates for whenever given a platform and/or opportunity.
Thank you once again to Chelsea Clinton for taking the time to speak at Friends about a variety of important issues, and inspiring our students to be brave, innovate, speak their truth, and get involved!
Photos by Kena Frank.
Mark your calendars early this year for the Lower School Portfolio Celebrations on Friday, June 8th, 2018 (schedule below). Lower School parents—no extended family, please—join your children here at school so that they can share selected portfolio work with you in a community of their classroom peers.
Students and teachers have collected work all year long, selecting samples that represent both processes and finished products. Students have reflected on their work over time in each grade and will sit down with you informally, in hallways and in classrooms, walking you through a timeline of their work. They may even take you on a tour of their favorite reading nook, or teach you a game they love to play with their friends. These portfolios will go home with students at the end of the day, and you may find yourself perusing them all summer, and into the future.
Children at different ages and stages will have a range of abilities to sit and share this work with you with focus. Stay present, meet your child where they are, and take what you can from the moment. Come ready to spend quality, focused time with your child—it is always best not to have siblings or grandparents for this event. The lower school portfolio years will culminate, a few years from now, in a middle school student-led conference experience that will bring it all into keen and purposeful focus for students, and for you. We have the long arc in mind; in the lower school years we are laying the foundations for a self-reflective practice that will help all of our students thrive with emerging confidence, demonstrate strong self-knowledge, and lean in to challenge with a ‘growth mindset’ that will last a lifetime.
If you find your time split between two or more children and events and you are not sure what to do, contact your child(ren)’s teachers (if they haven’t already contacted you). They have been proactive in making arrangements to accommodate any complex overlaps, and can help you plan the morning. Some families choose to split the scheduled time in half between two classes; others may be able to send one parent in one direction and focus on one child for the entire time.
Below are a few reminders to guide you when looking at work with your children, in support of their self assessment, celebration and learning.
Sample of reflection prompts used by students:
I chose this piece because...
I used to, but now I...
The hardest part was...
This piece shows improvement because...
I felt proud...
This is a good memory because....
Tips for portfolio viewing for adults—try questions like:
Was this hard for you?
What do you like about this piece?
Did you do this work in a group or on your own?
Did you have to work through frustration on this work?
What about this piece are you proud of?
Make comments that are descriptive/specific rather than judgmental:
This looks like it took a long time.
Tell me about this part.
Looks like you had fun with this.
- 8:30-9:00am: kindergarten and first grade Parent Coffee with Mike/Jennifer in the Meeting Room
- 9:00am: kindergarten Spanish song share (K parents stay in the Meeting Room)
- 9:00-9:30am: first grade portfolios
- 9:15-9:45 am: kindergarten portfolios
- 10:00-10:45am: second and third grade portfolios
- 11:00-11:30am: second grade play "Tall Tales" with Hilary/Kent in the Black Box
- 11:00-11:30am: fourth grade band with Garth in the Meeting Room
- 11:30am-12:10pm: fourth grade portfolios
- 12:15-12:45pm: fourth grade parent meeting with Andrew Salverda and fifth grade team in the Meeting Room
We’re honored to be hosting another exhibit that lifts up the voices and perspectives of those experiencing homelessness here in our city. The "Everyone Deserves a Home" project is currently on display in our second floor gallery. This exhibit features portraits of formerly homeless individuals paired with text of participants’ personal stories. The subjects photographed have experienced homelessness and significant health issues prior to finding their current home in supportive housing communities operated by an organization called Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH). Their origin stories here are laced with challenging themes – struggles with trauma, neglect, substance abuse and the corrosive effects of poverty and racism.
Lauren Hall founded DISH and is a true change maker in our city. Our eighth graders recently spent time with her engaged in service learning in the Tenderloin as part of their study on homelessness. I also had a chance to connect with Lauren to learn more about her work, this collection, and what we can do to make an impact.
Please explain who are you and what do you do.
My name is Lauren Hall and I am one of the leaders of an organization that believes “everyone deserves a home.” I started DISH with my colleague Doug Gary in September 2006. We wanted to create a property management organization that welcomed people home who were experiencing homelessness with a focus on health, well-being and community.
Why do you think this exhibit is important?
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with students from SFFS at one of our buildings. We were sharing some of our takeaways from the afternoon and one young man talked about how his experience interacting with one of our tenants had given him greater insight into how he thought about people experiencing homelessness. His compassion and clarity was so striking to me. This exhibit gives people the opportunity to connect and consider the impacts of homelessness, and the importance of home. We want people to think about the way we have criminalized poverty, capitalized on racism and created a separate class of people in our country who deserve our respect and compassion.
What do you want people to take away from this?
We want to offer alternate views into the lives of people who have experienced homelessness by providing their image as they want to portray themselves, and a brief part of their story. We hope ultimately that it fosters understanding, as well as the desire for action to address the systemic causes of homelessness such as our affordable housing, criminal justice and foster care systems. In this exhibit, we hope people see that homelessness is an experience that can happen to anyone and has more to do with communities impacted by poverty and trauma than individual challenges. Everyone deserves a home and it is on all of us to make that happen.
How can people get more involved in making an impact?
Vote and hold your representatives accountable! Support affordable and supportive housing in your neighborhood and on your ballot! Show up at community hearings for supportive housing and navigation centers and say YES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Volunteer your skills or donate your funds to organizations working on solutions to homelessness so they can do more to address this crisis. Be kind to your neighbors who are forced to live on the street.
In addition to the photos, there is also a board nearby with the sentence starter, “Home is….” All are encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives. You are also invited to a meet-and-greet with Lauren Hall on April 10 at 4:30pm. All are welcome! To learn more about DISH and how you can get involved, please visit dishsf.org.
The SFFS Equity and Inclusion Committee (E&I Committee) is a parent led committee comprised of members from various constituencies of the school community. The group meets monthly and provides input and feedback on a variety of initiatives intended to enhance our school's equity and inclusion efforts, with particular focus on parent education.
At the Table (ATT), a sub-committee of E&I, hosts a handful of Thursday morning parent ed events throughout the year. Over coffee, ATT aims to provide opportunities for parents to discuss how we talk to our children about topics that may be challenging to discuss. The hope is to have a chance for parents to connect to both build and sustain a school community that is inclusive, safe, and nurturing for all.
On February 1st, ATT had a parent gathering facilitated by parents Andrea Hartsough and SFFS Mental Health Specialist Katherine Preston to ponder the question of how we talk to our kids about race. Guest teachers Robelene Novero (fourth grade lead teacher) and Jasmine Redmond (middle school teaching assistant) shared about some of their recent classwork that turned a critical lens towards race and racial bias.
In the fourth grade classroom, Robelene shared the most successful conversations about race. These came about organically, initiated by the students themselves and fueled by their genuine curiosity. At this age, noticing differences between yourself and your peers is natural and developmentally appropriate. These differences are something to be celebrated, Robelene insists.
To steer such young students towards healthy and positive identity development, everyone is encouraged to look within themselves and consider: “What makes us look at the world through a different lens?” To support this introspection, Robelene stocks a diverse bookshelf that features perspectives from around the world. Particularly popular this year is The Hijab Boutique by Michelle Khan.
Jasmine recently held a guest lesson in eighth grade humanities that asked students a complex, potentially discomforting question: Can African-Americans appropriate African culture? Further, how do we recognize instances of cultural appropriation? What differentiates appropriation from appreciation? Students explored cultural symbolism within the novel This Side of Home, paying particularly close attention to the image of the Sankofa, a Ghanian bird representing the idea of return.
Parents shared many thoughts and strategies for speaking with our kids about race. What follows is some wisdom that was shared:
- If conversation with your child doesn’t go the way you had hoped, other opportunities will come up. When a parent wants to have a talk with their child, it is often more effective to ask a guiding question, rather than attempting to inform them of something.
- Engaging a child in what they notice or observe may actually open space for a conversation. With your guidance, students learn that conversations about race do not need to be burdensome or scary - it can be a discovery of who they are and what makes them special.
- We try not to create a sense of fear; we have fun with conversations about race. Students don’t need to have the same ties to conversations about race that we do, especially the negative connotations.
Our next ATT will be Thursday, March 8th, from 8:30-9:30am in the Meeting Room, facilitated by SFFS parent Andrea Hartsough and SFFS Mental Health Specialist Katherine Preston, LMFT. We will be facilitating a follow up to the February 1st conversation. We welcome newcomers, so please join us!
Hate speech, intolerance, and discrimination—the conflicts that are dividing our country are also affecting our children and how they’re making sense of the contemporary world. But not necessarily in the ways we might think.
What are they learning and talking about in school? And where do we, as parents, begin a thoughtful, age-appropriate conversation?
On Thursday, March 15 at 6 pm, expert childhood educator and parent coach Mechele Pruitt, Director of San Francisco Parents Place, will lead us in a hands-on workshop entitled “Remaining Empathic in Turbulent Times: How to Talk to Your Child about Difficult Topics.” This workshop is designed to help parents get the tools they need to understand what’s going on in their kids’ lives and start conversations with them about it.
Join Mechele, SFFS staff and other SFFS parents who will help us maintain our values and hopes—and our basic kindness—at a time when doing so can be especially hard.
In this workshop, parents will learn:
· How children think and respond to information they hear from the world around them and how to best support them
· What kids and their teachers are talking about in school
· Practical guides to start conversations with kids
· How to maintain our values and our hopes when our values may not be supported
The event will include SFFS teachers and staff talking about how they and their students discuss current politics, and the event will include a look at written statements from students about what they want to talk about with their parents. There will also be Q&A, and an opportunity to submit questions online in advance.
The event will be held from 6-7:30 pm and include light refreshments. RSVP is strongly encouraged, but not required. Please RSVP here.
Please note: This is an adults-only program. Childcare will be provided but you must RSVP in the above link for childcare by March 9.
Dear grandparents and special friends,
It was a delight to see so many of you last week at GrandFriends Day at San Francisco Friends School. I’ve received a number of requests to re-share the story I told to visitors that day; so, in case you were unable to be among the grandparents and special friends who joined us on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, imagine a winding walk from the coffee, tea, and breakfast treats in Room 234 to a packed gym on the third floor of San Francisco Friends School.
In welcoming more than 400 visitors who traveled from as far as NYC, Hawaii, and Curacao, I acknowledged my status as a student of Quaker faith and practice and shared a story from Quaker history that I’d learned earlier this fall.
In 1845, Quakers in Northern Ireland undertook an experiment in utopian community and founded Bessbrook. Their aspirations included no need for police, so there was to be no cursing, no drinking, and no gambling.
Thirty-four years later, in 1879, George Bernard Shaw visited Bessbrook to see how things were going. When a reporter asked Shaw - at the end of his visit - what he thought about a community without cursing or drinking, Shaw apparently said, “Well, from the looks on their faces, it would appear that they could use some of both.” He also reported that he had seen a swan on a Bessbrook pond “looking for a place to drown itself.”
I am convinced that it was not cursing, drinking, or gambling that the Bessbrook community needed; it was a GrandFriends Day.
Whether you watched and listened or shared a story with students in class or at an advisory meeting, or sat alongside kindergartners on the floor, piecing together building blocks, you made stronger our community.
And from my vantage point your smiles would light with brilliance the darkest of night skies, and your presence made love—sometimes invisible and untouchable—seen and felt in the halls of our school.
Thank you again for claiming the time and making the necessary efforts in order to be with us. And most importantly, thank you for sharing your students with us on a daily basis. We are delighted to have them, and you, as part of the San Francisco Friends School community.
This school year, Friends School has ushered in an array of STEM-related events and, we hope, strong new traditions. Middle school math teachers Kelsey Barbella, Diali Bose-Roy, and David Louis organized our first ever “Taking Chances with Friends,” a series of probability games that connected middle school students of all grade levels. More events are on the horizon through December, with a PA Meeting on Wednesday, Nov 29 that will focus on lower school science and middle school math. More details can be found below.
Taking Chances with Friends
Last week, middle school students enjoyed a math experience called "Taking Chances with Friends," investigating and exploring probability beyond the normal classroom experience. The event lasted two hours and integrated sports, simulations, science, and technology. In the gym, students calculated experimental probability as fellow students shot hoops on the basketball court or played cornhole. Other games that flooded the halls and classrooms incorporated throwing giant dice and predicting outcomes, such as in the game "horse racing." Another probability game included "catch and release," a simulation of taking random "samples" of fish from a lake. All students had a chance to host games as well as play each other's games. It was a great community building activity for the entire middle school.
This month we launched our annual series of “Math Mornings” in the lower school. Parents are invited to drop in to join their child’s classroom for math games that reflect some of the problem solving that students have been working on throughout the school year. Up next: Friday, Dec 8, third grade teachers Jake Ban and Amabelle Sze will hold a math morning from 8:30-9am. On Friday, Jan 12, second grade teachers Anhvu Buchanan and Jessie Radowitz will hold a math morning from 8:30-9am; and on Thursday, Jan 18, Kindergarten teachers Noah Bowling and Nick McGrane will hold hold a math morning from 8:30-9am.
PA Meeting: Focus on math and science curriculum
Parents are invited to a special PA meeting on Wednesday, Nov 29, from 6-8pm in the Meeting Room. Lower school teachers Rich Oberman and Courtney Wilde will highlight new lower school science projects and learnings from the year thus far. In addition, the middle school math team will take parents on a tour of the curriculum from blocks to algebra, highlighting a newer approach to teaching mathematics this year.
Hour of Code
At Friends, we choose to carefully integrate technology as a learning tool that complements our curricular goals. The lower school faculty’s inquiry and constructivist based approaches to teaching have also influenced how technology is used in the curriculum. One example of our evolving technology integration is a national program called the Hour of Code, hosted by Technology Integrator Beth Espinoza and lower school librarian Suzanne Geller. During Computer Science week in December, all K-4 students will take part in the Hour of Code, which gives students exposure to various programs that offer the initial steps of programming and coding: putting together instructions, conditionals, and loops. Students will work with a collaborative partner to troubleshoot commands and strategize mazes. Check out these resources to explore some great coding apps at home.
(Para español, mire más abajo)
As many of us seek light and hope in these challenging times, let us remember that our school is founded on Quaker values of integrity, community, and equality. SFFS and its community are committed to openness and respect for every member of our community regardless of race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and, just as important — place of national origin. In the spirit of these values and beliefs, our Head of School, Mike Hanas, recently signed a letter to President Trump, along with other Friends Council on Education (FCE) leaders. This letter expressed support for DACA and affirmed our support and commitment to Dreamers, as well as all those affected by the events that have been unfolding.
Although times like these may feel sad and dark, we must keep our light brightly shining by staying informed of all options and supporting those who need it the most. Below, please find some useful upcoming events, information, and resources:
- SFFS will host another Immigration and DACA Know Your Rights workshop.
Please keep on reading Circle Back for a date and time.
- Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) Community Forum
When: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 10 am - 1 PM
Where: St. Elizabeth’s High School
1530 34th Avenue, Oakland, CA
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Introduce Resolution in Defense of DACA
When: Tuesday Sept. 12th 2pm
Where: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl. #250
San Francisco, CA 94102
The links below provide information we hope you or someone you know might find helpful:
- NPR Answers Basic DACA Questions
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center - What is DACA?
- NEA's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Resources
On behalf of SFFS’s Equity & Inclusion Parent Association and Steering Committees, we sincerely hope that these times of uncertainty will unite us and deepen our knowledge and appreciation of each other’s gifts and uniqueness as we foster a sense of belonging. May we continue building our awareness of each other’s distinct strengths and embracing our responsibility as we work towards positive outcomes.
Please feel free to contact us with any feedback, ideas, information, or questions.
With hope and peace,
Un mensaje acerca de DACA de parte del Comite de Equidad e Inclusión
A medida que muchos de nosotros buscamos la luz y esperanza en estos tiempos retantes, recordemos que nuestra escuela está fundada en los valores cuáqueros de integridad, comunidad, e igualdad. SFFS y su comunidad está comprometida a respetar y escuchar a cada miembro de nuestra comunidad, independiente de su raza, creencia, religión, sexo, orientación sexual, identidad de género o expresión de género, y con mayor importancia - su lugar de origen nacional. En el espíritu de estos valores y creencias, nuestro Director de Escuela, Mike Hanas, recientemente firmó una carta para el Presidente Trump expresando su apoyo a DACA (hacer clic aquí para el enlace), afirmando nuestro apoyo y compromiso a los Dreamers y a todos aquellos que han sido afectados por los eventos que hemos estado viviendo.
Aunque en épocas como estas nos podemos sentir tristes y perdidos, debemos mantener nuestra luz brillando con resplandor, manteniendonos informados de todas las opiniones y apoyando a aquellos que lo más necesiten. A continuación, encuentre eventos, información, y recursos que esperamos les sean útiles:
- SFFS patrocinará otro taller de Conozca sus derechos de inmigración y de DACA.
Por favor siga leyendo Circle Back para la fecha y hora.
- Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) Community Forum
Cuando: sábado, 9 de septiembre 9, 2017 @ 10AM - 1PM
Dónde: St. Elizabeth’s High School
1530 34th Avenue, Oakland, CA
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Introduce Resolution in Defense of DACA
Cuándo: martes, 12 de septiembre @ 2PM
Dónde: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl. #250
San Francisco, CA 94102
Los siguientes enlaces proveen información en inglés que esperamos sean útiles:
- NPR contesta preguntas básicas acerca de DACA
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center - ¿Qué es DACA?
- Recursos para Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
De parte del grupo de Equidad & Inclusión de la Asociación de Padres y del Comité Directivo de SFFS, esperamos sinceramente que estos tiempos de incertidumbre nos unan y profundicen nuestro conocimiento y apreciación de los dones de cada uno de nosotros mientras fomentamos un sentido de pertenencia. Esperamos que continuemos construyendo nuestra conciencia de las fortalezas particulares de cada uno de nosotros y que aceptemos nuestras responsabilidades a medida que trabajamos juntos hacia un futuro positivo.
Por favor contáctenos con cualquier idea, opinión, informacion, o pregunta.
Con paz y esperanza,