October 2009 Focus on Community Multiracial Pedagogy
in this issue
Abington Friends School
Upper School Retreats Athletics Fall Preview
Toniâ€™s Top Page-Turners AFS Book Fair 2009 Home & School October Calendar
AFS Focuses on Testimony of Community Message from Rich Nourie, Head of School Welcome to the new school year! Now that weâ€™re beyond pre-season practices and opening retreats, we are energetically embarked on the day to day life of school and its routines. We teachers and staff are feeling renewed and inspired by the freshness with which children encounter their new classrooms and courses; their hopes, high expectations and sense of open opportunities provide a wonderful energy to the early fall.
teachers and introducing themselves to newcomers as well. Parents are reconnecting as car pool friends, classroom volunteers and in support of the many events and good works of the Home and School Association. Faculty and staff had the wonderful experience of beginning the year with a late summer Meeting for Worship in which we had time to reflect on our work together and our intentions and plans for the year.
The start of the year feels like the perfect time to lift up the Quaker testimony of Community, our central theme for the year. Each year, we focus on one of the primary Quaker values at the foundation of our community. Friends testimonies are intended to be values in action, explored and understood by experience and reflection and sharpened by use and collaborative inquiry. They give us a common ground of ideas that are simple enough to be accessible and rich and complex enough to push us to grow as individuals and as a community.
The Quaker testimony of Community acknowledges that we can only grow into the fullness of who we are as human beings through our connection with others; we are inextricably tied to each other in what we know of ourselves and of the larger world and our place in it. We know too that to create community at its fullest takes intention, skill and opportunity, all of which we are challenged to sharpen and develop as a core of our Quaker school.
ave the date
As we re-gather for the 2009-2010 school year, we literally see our community forming before our eyes. Children are re-connecting with friends and
October 4 New Families Meeting for Worship
October 6, 22 Campaign Reception
October 8 Field Day
October 15-17 AFS Book Fair
October 30 Halloween parades
At AFS, our vision of community is as a place where individual gifts enrich the collective and the diversity of these gifts adds to each of our lives, stretching our understanding, our experiences, our learning, our Continued on next page
As you may know, AFS is embarked on a two-year action research project on multiracial pedagogy, funded by the E.E. Ford Foundation. During the summer, 27 faculty members from all four divisions spent time reading relevant texts about multiculturalism. During the week before school began, our teachers gathered at AFS for two days of orientation meetings with University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education professor Howard Stevenson and four facilitators. The faculty cohort shared personal reflections and began planning for the two-year process, which will create classrooms that fully engage and make the most of our unusual diversity for deeper community learning. Middle School Director Russell Shaw, who is coordinating the project commented that, “The opportunity to spend two days in big picture thinking before the start of school was so energizing. It catapulted people into the school year in a really positive way.”
Message from Rich Nourie, continued growth. Additionally, the qualities of community that Friends encourage are:
Providing nurture and challenge, comfort and discomfort
Of course our students are part of multiple communities within the school: classrooms, teams, activities, ensembles and friendships. Each of these communities is an intersection of particular passions and interests with others who share them and with whom we can share, explore and savor rich experience. The dimensions of those passions and interests are wide and deep at Abington Friends, including music, sports, sciences, literature, politics, the stage and technology. We know from daily experience at school that our love and interest in a subject is only complete when shared. A book that ignites our ideas or a discovery made in solving a problem becomes all the richer for being shared and extended by the engaged company of others.
But these ideals depend on skilled action. At AFS, part of our educational mission is to develop skills and talents for community, collaboration and effective collective action. The skills of community that we hone include effective communication, navigating multiple perspectives, coming to understand the dynamics of privilege and power and harnessing the gifts and talents of others
As I told Upper Schoolers on the opening day of school, the true miracle of community is that the community that surrounds us becomes internalized, a polyphony of voices, memories, perspective, values and strength that we take with us and that continues to nourish and enrich our lives. This is the miracle and gift that we will attend to and strengthen this year as we focus on the Quaker testimony of Community.
Peaceful resolution of conflict Unreserved respect Honest exploration Accountability to each other and to our collective success in whatever we do together Connection to something larger and more powerful than ourselves
A Fixture for a Century, Campus Elm is No More Regular visitors to campus may have noticed something subtly different, something missing, at AFS as they’ve picked up and dropped off their children these last few weeks. If you’ve had a hard time putting your finger on it, we’ll put you out of your misery. The towering elm tree that flanked the Faulkner Library in front of the Farmhouse is no longer there. This stately tree, part of our AFS landscape for the last century, succumbed to age and disease last year and was removed by a crew of expert arborists soon after school ended for the summer.
fall festival October 30 Family sing-along Face painting Wagon rides Fall family photos 9:15 a.m. - 11 p.m.
“It was an American elm” says Associate Head of School Debbie Stauffer, “which i’m told are very prone to disease, so the fact that this one lived as long as it did was quite special.” Since the tree’s demise, we have been working with landscape architecture firm McCloskey & Faber to determine what to put in its place. The Blue Bell based firm, which worked closely with us on previous campus improvements and knows the campus
A casualty of age and disease, the graceful elm tree that greeted visitors to the Muller, was removed this summer.
well, has recommended three or four different types of tree that could replace the elm, and we are currently in the decision making phase. The new tree will likely be planted sometime in the spring. As part of the landscaping plan, we also intend to plant two smaller flowering trees in front of the Farmhouse, whose walls suddenly appear rather stark and bare without the softening presence of the majestic elm.