Dear Friends, It is our pleasure to welcome you to INSIDE FCS: A Night Out in the Classroom. So often we find ourselves talking about the amazing things that happen inside our classrooms every day, and we wish that we could travel back in time and be students here at Friends’ Central. Here is your chance! Our curriculum is organized so that our teachers have the freedom to teach in their own way and incorporate their interests into their lessons. As 3rd grade teacher Jack Briggs remarked in a recent Suburban Life Magazine cover story about FCS, “As teachers, we do our best when we’re teaching something we have a deep interest in, and the kids do much better because of that; they pick up on that passion and it makes them want to learn.” How wonderful, we thought, would it be for our parents to share these passions with our faculty? As a result, A Night Out in the Classroom was born. Our faculty is an engaged community of scholars, experts in their fields with a diverse range of interests. They give TED Talks, create award-winning works of art, publish thought-provoking articles, and champion key environmental and conservation causes, to name only a few of the ways our teachers reflect their light back onto FCS and serve the greater community. Our teachers challenge and inspire; they guide and excite. In short, they represent how Quaker Works. We are thrilled to offer this event, which we hope will become a Friends’ Central tradition. Thank you for the support you give to our School and for sharing your children with us. We hope you enjoy your evening!
Joanne Hoffman Head of School
Lydia Martin Director of Development
A Night Out in the Classroom Schedule of Events 7:00 pm Welcome Joanne Hoffman, Head of School Meeting Room, Shallcross Hall 7:15 pm Keynote Speaker Al Vernacchio, Chair, English Department Al will share his speech from the TED Conference in Palm Springs. Meeting Room, Shallcross Hall 7:30 pm Courses Begin One 60-minute course or two 30-minute courses See Course Catalog beginning on page 4 for locations.
8:30 pm Reception immediately following Fannie Cox Center (FCC)
Location Key: FCC (Fannie Cox Center) MS (Middle School) SH (Shallcross Hall) 3
Course Descriptions & Locations One-hour Classes - Begin at 7:30 pm The 42 Years that Built City Hall: A snapshot of Philadelphia Room history and architecture with Grant Calder and Joel Dankoff.
FCC Lecture Hall
MS Room 4
Magistra Margaret Roberts ’83 will be teaching The Art of Storytelling: from Homer’s Odyssey to Virgil’s Aeneid to Raising our own Children.
Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea
FCC Room 201
These three plants have held a particularly important place in the history of human consumption. Their botany and history offer a fascinating glimpse into the relationships between plants and culture and the human desire to enjoy the fruits of the botanical world. Join Upper School teachers Kelley Graham and John Gruber as you explore the unique story of these luxuries from historical, cultural, and chemical perspectives to understand more fully their place in our past and present societies.
SH MS Art Room
Relaxing, Rhythmic Weaving!
Join Caroline Maw-Deis for a cup of tea and create together in community as you design and produce your own woven photo wall pieces by combining fibers, “artifacts,” and a photo into a wooden loom. You will naturally incorporate several Elements of Design (color, line, shape, texture, value) into your handwoven creation. Please feel free to bring in your own photo as well as other “artifacts” (sea shells, beads, buttons, yarns, ribbons, fabric scraps, sticks, stones) to include in your masterpiece.
SH MS Art Room
A make-and-take art session with Leslie Grace where the repousse technique is explored in creating a Milagros. The word “Milagro” means miracle, and traditionally Milagros are used as Exvotos or offerings in many areas of Latin America and Europe. During this session you will create your own Milagros which will represent a wish or hope toward a greater cause in the world.
A Taste of Power Squadron Boating Safety Boat safety 101, brought to you by Erik Williams.
FCC Reading Room
An introduction to American Indian spiritual thought with Jack Briggs. This class offers a sampling of ideas from several Native American cultures illustrating the central role of the circle in religion, art, dance, and oral traditions as well as a demonstration of the use of the medicine wheel in teaching.
Pennsylvania’s Consolidation Act of 1854 made the City of Philadelphia 50 times larger overnight. Rampant political corruption at both the city and state levels actually contributed to making Consolidation possible, but turned the building of a new city hall for the expanded city into a half-century odyssey. With 700 rooms, the result was the tallest and most expensive municipal headquarters in the world. With abundant nearby natural resources and a vital and varied industrial base, Philadelphia could afford the excesses of its political bosses, at least for a time.
The Art of Storytelling
FCC Room 238
In this class with Lower School teacher and Middle School coach, Julian Ovalle, you will learn all the basic skills you need to be successful on the volleyball court! Learn to set, bump, and spike, and then show off your skills in a pick-up game! Whether new to the game, or looking to dust off some former skills, this class is sure to be a blast!
What Do Short Stories Taste Like?
FCC Room 225
In this hour-long workshop, participants will face down writer’s block and generate ideas for poems and short stories. Modeled on a workshop designed for students in 7th grade, this course uses a range of both silly and serious writing exercises that help to build each writer’s toolkit. Join Middle School English teachers Alexa Dunnington and Alex Miller as you focus on sensory detail, convincing characterization, and having fun with words. Whether your most significant achievement in the field of writing is an award-winning novel or a successful text message on your new phone, we welcome your talents in this workshop.
30-minute Classes - Begin at 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm SH Digital Media Lab
A Bit of Computer Science
It is always a race to keep your computer skills up-to-speed in the ever-changing world of technology. New devices and software make it hard to keep up. By teaching Computer Science at FCS - not only computer skills - we teach students the fundamental concepts of how computers think. When students master these concepts (including algorithmic processing, conditional logic, object-oriented design, and more), picking up new skills will become easy even as technology continues to evolve. Come join Computer Science and Latin teacher Colin Angevine ’05 in the Media Lab to learn the 1’s and 0’s of how computers think and communicate. This 30-minute class involves hands-on activities and only a little bit of time in front of computer screens. Absolutely no computer expertise is required.
Busting the Myth of Centrifugal Force
FCC Room 101
It’s enough to make your head spin! How can water stay in a bucket, even if it’s turned upside down? Why aren’t roller coaster loops perfect circles? And how are the answers to these questions related to unraveling the mystery of how planets remain in orbit around the Sun? This interactive session with Deb Maraziti will lead you through a hands-on investigation of circular motion, inertia, and correction of a popular misunderstanding about forces.
FCC Room 205
During Spring Break, Middle School Science teacher, Doug Ross, will travel to China to present at a conference on educational creativity. See a special debut of his presentation tonight!
SH Instrumental Music Room
The Composer’s Tool Box
We have all experienced the ability of music to elicit an intense emotional response, but we rarely examine how it is that music is evocative. This session will introduce one or two techniques used by composers to paint their sonic landscapes. Melinda Yin, Diego Luzuriaga, and Carl Bradley will help us deepen our listening skills with examples from Mozart, Luzuriaga, and Richard Strauss.
Game Theory: Sports Literature & Literary Sports
FCC Room 232
Ever been emotionally overcome by the drama of a championship game, fascinated by the inside story about a team, drawn to contemplate both the poetry of an athlete at his or her peak and the tragedy of another whose talent and life unravels before us? What is the nature of this interest and investment? Are there connections between sports and literature that run deeper than the tired metaphors we come across every day? What roles do sports play in our culture as a whole? What do they reflect about us?
Henry V: Read it, Live it - Shakespeare!
Please enjoy the following Catalog of articles, advertorials, and works of art featuring Friends’ Central Faculty, Staff, Students, & Alumni/ae.
FCC Room 228
Join Drama and English teacher Terry Guerin for a close reading of the Act IV prologue of Henry V. Find out how our students approach Shakespeare on their feet and in their imaginations. Shakespeare takes us to the fields of France in this play about the original “band of brothers” asking us to imagine the night before the great battle of Agincourt. We will discuss and explore how actors create the worlds of Shakespeare’s plays through their voices and bodies.
A Night of Improv FCC Room 331 Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression. - Viola Spolin Improvisational acting is an incredibly fun and collaborative process which frees us up and simultaneously funnels our creativity and impulses. Join Middle School teacher Julie Gordon ’81 and Upper School teacher Dwight Dunston ’06 for games and exercises that will engage your untapped senses!
Our Quaker Murals: A History in Images
SH - in front of book store
Come have an intentional look at a series of paintings done almost 80 years ago by Friends’ Central art students. The students designed these history paintings to tell the story of the Quakers in America. Upper School teachers Bill Darling and Peter Seidel will explore the stories found in the images.
LEARNING TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Spanish Class Skypes on Corridas de Toros
Many times when I turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, I am surprised and discouraged by the narrow-minded thinking of numerous public figures. My time as a Friends’ Central student has made me used to, excited, and inspired by broad perspectives. Now, more than ever, a wide range of ideas is crucial to our changing world. Advancements in technology, medicine, and other fields happen because of progressive thinkers who are willing to break boundaries to better the world. Those who have the skill to do so did not develop their talents solely during their adult lives. Their journey started when they were young and involved more than sitting at a desk. They had to open their eyes to the world and get involved before they could change it.
In October, Friends’ Central’s Spanish History & Culture class had the opportunity to speak with an expert on the abolition of bullfighting as they studied its history and debated its legality. Having expert opinions in FCS classrooms is not unique, but this time Roger Pacheo Eslava was able to share his opinion from Caracas, Venezuela!
At Friends’ Central School, students learn not only to be comfortable with themselves but with the wide range of ideas and perspectives of others. The Friends’ Central community enables students to fit in while still being able to stand out. We are taught not to ostracize someone for being different, but rather to benefit from what they offer to the classroom, the School, and ultimately the world. From community service to student organizations, we regularly receive opportunities to be challenged, inspired, and impressed by ourselves, our peers, and our teachers. It is this unique learning environment that makes the Friends’ Central experience inimitable. We learn that to create change we must respect one another and celebrate our differences. In my 12 years as a Friends’ Central student, I have benefited from not only the remarkable classroom education but from the more than 160 years Friends’ Central has dedicated to finding ways to encourage students to think creatively to solve problems and overcome obstacles. As my peers and I grow and develop our academic skills to prepare, like other high school students, for college, we are simultaneously developing our capacity to deal with real world situations and issues. We are taught to bring an open-minded, inventive perspective to the series of quandaries our world faces today. At Friends’ Central, our common aspiration to make a positive change brings us together, but our individual ways of achieving our goals sets us apart. The world is in constant need of innovators, people determined to change the world, and people who respect differences--people like Friends’ Central students.
Student Emilia Weinberg ’14 - for Friends’ Central School 8
The class used Skype to speak with Eslava, Campaign Coordinator of AnimaNaturalis, an organization for the defense of animals’ rights in Caracas, Venezuela. He is an activist and campaigner for the abolition of corridas de toros, bullfighting. For most, bullfighting conjures up images of bulls being taunted and tortured, an inhumane relic from distant cultures. Across thousands of miles, a lively discussion (in Spanish) was held on this issue—an example of how technology can both enhance students’ learning and bring different worlds together. Here are some excerpts of their conversation, translated to English: Rafaella Torres: Who attends the bullfights more, the locals or the tourists? Roger Pacheco Eslava: “Tourists attend bullfights because they are curious or because they want to have the experience, but many times they leave the Plaza de Toros even before the event is over because they can’t stand seeing the blood and the torture. Many times they leave the Plaza crying. For the locals it is another story because of cultural reasons. However, many locals are also against the bullfights nowadays.” Linsay Saligman: What are the animals’ rights? Does a bull deserve the same rights as a dog or cow? Roger Pacheco Eslava: “Certainly the bull deserves the same rights, but unfortunately sometimes human beings make certain distinctions that are not necessarily right. There are certain campaigns that support some animals more than others but that should not be the case. The bull has the right to live and the right to have a dignified life. It has the right not to suffer and not to be tortured. The animals’ torture in public is forbidden around the world with the exception of the bull in bullfights. It is only legal in eight countries: Peru, Ecuador, España, Venezuela, Colombia, the South of France, Portugal and Mexico. This exemption has been done in the name of culture and tradition, but we are fighting hard to eliminate it. Just because it is a tradition does not mean that it is right!”
Connecting Friends’ Central to the World For the last 19 years, Don Denton’s 4th grade class has participated in a special Pen Pal Project with United Nations International School (UNIS), an independent K-12 school in New York City that was founded to serve the children of people associated with the United Nations. The Pen Pal Project is part of the spring study of international relations, children’s rights, child labor, and the United Nations. Once a week, from September through June, Denton’s class writes letters and sends pictures, photos, and drawings to UNIS pen pals. The pen pal idea was conceived by Don and his friend, Lloyd Lohmeyer, a 4th grade teacher at UNIS. Don and Lloyd have been friends since teaching together in Iran in the 1970s. They were both evacuated in 1979 when the Shah was exiled and have remained close ever since. Both FCS and UNIS share a devotion to peace issues and international understanding. “That’s the main point of our study of the UN each spring, so it’s helpful to see how colleagues at another school address these issues,” Don says. “Writing these letters not only allows the pen pals to express who they are to their new friends, but it also helps them develop their social skills and broaden their own view of the world.” At the end of the project, FCS 4th graders head to UNIS to meet this international group of students with whom they have shared letters on favorite foods, movies, books, hobbies, news, and travel. Shyness is quickly overcome by laughter, conversation, and invitations to upcoming birthday parties and play-dates. The willingness to learn and grow from knowledge of the greater world is not exclusive to our Lower School students, and the concept of the United Nations also brings together a committed group of Upper School students each year.
“I joined Model UN because I have always been interested in the world around me,” says senior Sami Resnik, who has been involved with Model UN for three years. “Model UN helps students learn more about the world, about working with others, and about speaking in public, all of which I think are key things to know in life.” More than 3,000 students from around the world attended the Ivy League Model United Nations Conference sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Friends’ Central represented South Korea during the threeday event held from January 26-29. The first task of the Model UN team is to become fully invested, through extensive research, in its country’s views on current issues and then present its research to the conference delegates. Then the real fun—and sometimes apprehension—begins, as the delegates debate and try to reach a compromise on critical world issues. No matter how intense these conferences may get, FCS students are taught by faculty advisors Kelley Graham and Gary Nicolai to enjoy their time. “Model UN is a great activity for students who are interested in foreign affairs and politics,” says senior Jeff Horowitz. “Mr. Nic has provided a great opportunity for us and gives us a lot of insight into the international world.” By incorporating a focus on international issues, or by simply connecting Friends’ Central students to a friend they would not meet otherwise, Don Denton, Kelley Graham, and Gary Nicolai are not only teaching important skills, but they also are helping to bring an international perspective to education at FCS. Model UN and the Pen Pal Project provide our students with opportunities to think beyond their experience here at Friends’ Central, and also in the United States, making them stronger students, better informed individuals, and global citizens.
“Grecian Urn” By Caroline Maw-Deis Middle School Art
It has been 28 years since Model UN first made its way to the Friends’ Central campus. Brought here by Gary Nicolai when he joined the faculty, the team has a history of success at events and conferences across the country. Greater than the awards are the experiences and tools our students take with them long after the conference is over. 10
Cleaner and Greener
- Excerpted from Directions, FCS Magazine, Spring/Summer 2007 issue The beauty of the two Friends’ Central campuses is easy to see. Nestled between bustling thoroughfares are two gems of green space where Friends’ Central students get to learn and play. What is less easy to see is the incredible care that is taken to ensure that both of our campuses are safe and healthy for our students. The man behind the beauty and health of both the Lower School campus and the City Avenue campus is Doug Linton ’68, who has been the staff horticulturalist and arborist since 1986. In 1997, Doug made Friends’ Central one of the first pesticide-free schools in the area. Like almost everyone else, Friends’ Central had always used chemicals to maintain its athletic fields. Then one year, an infestation of clover, a new sprayer, and Doug’s innate cautiousness produced some startling results. “I put on my protective gear, calibrated my new sprayer, and, just to be extra safe, diluted the chemical twice what the manufacturer recommended. Overnight the clover was gone.” A clover-free field was Doug’s original goal, and he should have been thrilled. “But I thought about the difference between the recommended strength and the actual, diluted strength I had laid down, and I thought about the toxicity and the children,” Doug explains. “I’ve stepped on garlic before with bare feet, and, within ten minutes, I could taste it in my mouth. Children’s feet are even more sensitive. What, I wondered, was getting into their systems from the ground?”
The Arboretum In 1995, Doug began identifying the more than 400 trees on both the Lower School and City Avenue campuses, and he has worked with Middle and Upper School students and teachers to create a computer database of them. “Our idea was to document the trees and create an arboretum. The collection has become a living laboratory for the 11th and 12th grade botany class, and the mapping of the trees will become a guide for walking tours.” Preservation The construction on the City Avenue Campus posed a particular challenge for Doug. Inevitably, trees needed to be removed to make way for the Shimada Athletic Center, the Fannie Cox Center, and, most recently, the new track. But Doug is diligent about moving rather than removing as many of the trees as he can. Doug had ten trees relocated when the Fannie Cox Center was built, and another six to make way for the expanded footprint of the new track. In order to protect the trees around the site, Doug buried pipes in the soil that reach up above the dirt and allow the trees to continue to breathe fresh air despite the weight of the construction equipment. The Living Laboratory Between his chemical-free program and his development and maintenance of the campus as an arboretum, Doug goes the extra mile to keep Friends’ Central green. “I see the whole campus as a living laboratory for generations of students to come.”
Going Organic Now when weeds crop up, Doug treats them with a mix of vinegar and cloves. For grubs, he uses a locally developed mix of cayenne pepper and garlic. He feels much better about the safety of the campuses and of our students. He also likes the way he’s been able to educate the kids about healthy choices and the environment. When he has to treat weeds, the whole campus smells sweet with cloves. “Students always stop and ask me, ‘what is that potpourri?’ When I tell them it is vinegar and cloves so that I’m not watering the soil with chemicals, they give me the thumbs up.” 12
“Trillium grandiflorum” By Mary Lynne Jeschke College Counseling Office
Mixed Media: Form & Abstraction, a year-long studio art course open to 11th and 12th grade students, explores a number of media, concepts, and styles of abstraction. While abstract art is not visually realistic, its origins are often based on actual subjects, ideas, places, or feelings. Students are presented with a variety of projects, procedures, and opportunities for artistic expression, invention, and imagination, focusing on form, yet ranging from painting and digital photography to clay and plaster.
In the project pictured here, Mixed Media students began with photographs that abstracted the real world then digitally altered the images before adding paint with the goal of merging these mediums in such a way as to enhance, add intrigue, and further reinvent the image to suit their own unique visions. By Hilary Takiff Weiss
Mock Trial: A Reality Exercise in Court By Brad Morris, Excerpted from Forum, Spring/Summer 2011
Legan Auerbach, a wealthy businesswoman from the Main Line, has been accused of murdering her co-worker, Ophile Serat, after he discovered that Auerbach’s company was really an enormous Ponzi scheme. The detective assigned to the case, Zene Gafney, presumed that Legan killed him to shut him up about the Ponzi Scheme. But since Serat’s body was never found, a conviction of murder in the first degree was going to be difficult for the Friends’ Central Mock Trial prosecution team to prove. And besides, the suspect had an alibi. Auerbach was at the Phillies’ World Series game at Citizens Bank Park the night of the disappearance of Mr. Serat. And she had just testified to that fact in Courtroom A of the Montgomery County Courthouse under direct examination by the defense counselor from Baldwin. The courthouse judge, robed and professorial on the bench in Courtroom A, was in complete command of his domain. He turned to the Friends’ Central Mock Trial team. “Do you have any cross examination?” Harper Estey ’13, one of three attorneys on the prosecution team, rose. “We do your honor.” “You may proceed,” replied the judge. Harper approached the witness. He leaned in. “So you say you were at the Phillies’ game the night of the disappearance of Mr. Serat. Is that correct?” “It is,” replied Auerbach. “Were you in the upper deck or the lower deck?” A look of horror flashed across the Baldwin student’s face. After hours and hours of preparation, practice after practice, every detail covered with a fine toothed comb, how did they not think of this? The jury gazed in. The student’s panic-stricken eyes darted to the defense bench who were frantically going through the case materials trying to find the ticket stub, labeled exhibit 6 in the Mock Trial packet. One of them flashed a “thumbs down” indicating lower deck and the student playing Ms. Auerbach recovered nicely, indicating she was on the lower deck section 132. But the damage was done. Harper pressed on. “And who was pitching that night?” “Cliff Lee,” the flustered witness stammered. “Actually it was Cole Hamels who got the start that night, Ms. Auerbach,” Harper responded. “No further questions.” The Pennsylvania Bar Association Mock Trial program is such an outstanding facsimile of a real trial that, with the exception of the ages of the participants, one can hardly tell the difference. Mock Trial gives students a real judge in a real courtroom in front of a real jury. What more could high school students interested in the law ask for? How about a fascinating case with over 100 pages of detailed case materials including descriptions of the events, stipulations, jury instructions, witness statements for each of six witnesses (three for each side), and an exhaustive list of exhibits in a balance package of materials that give both the plaintiff and the defendant an equal chance of winning.
The witnesses comprise half of the Mock Trial team. They need to know their characters inside out, not only in terms of what is in their witness statements, but also from a psychological point of view. They have to decide what motivates their characters to act the way they do. The attorneys make up the other half of the team and are responsible for the opening and closing statements to the jury (often without notes!), and all direct and cross examinations of the witnesses. Months of preparation are needed to get the team ready for trial. The 20102011 season was FCS’ third year participating in the program, and they have been fortunate enough to have two full-time attorney advisors, Friends’ Central parents Susan Tabor and Steve Chawaga, all three seasons, as well as two part-time advisors, John Estey and Rob Fox. The attorney advisors are instrumental in guiding students through all of the legal aspects of the program. The judge in Courtroom A addressed the FCS bench, “Do you have a closing statement?” “We do your honor.” “You may proceed.” Co-Captain Mike Fires ’11 approached the jury and delivered a stirring and persuasive address on the merits of the case against the defendant, especially the defendant’s shaky alibi. The jury deliberated and returned a verdict of guilty. High fives all around for the FCS Mock Trial Team. *** On Tuesday, February 21, the 2011-2012 Friends’ Central Mock Trial team won its semifinal case to advance to the District Finals on Tuesday, March 13 against North Penn. The team stepped into new territory with its recent run, as for the first time in its four-year history the team reached Montgomery County Final Four, and now the championship. The team has come a long way since its first year. The knowledge and confidence that the students have in their potential and in each other has continued to grow over the years. Junior Ben Fogel, who has been involved since 9th grade, has really enjoyed his time with the team. “Mock Trial is a challenging activity that fuses both legal and academic thinking with some theatrical thinking,” he says. “It is fun and stimulating and provides a great introduction into how law is practiced in our legal system.” The team’s current case is an environmental law case and is laid out in a 65-page document that includes the burden of truth, jury instructions, and witness statements. The FCS team has represented both the plaintiff and the defendant, winning their cases in both instances. The 2011-2012 Mock Trial Team also competed in the Montgomery County District Finals this year. The Finals took place today, March 13, at 4:00 pm at the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Friends’ Central’s Infamous American History Research Project - Excerpted from a Quaker Works Magazine Article by Grant Calder
At Friends’ Central, we believe that students learn more history by reading and analyzing documents and data from the periods and places they study than they do from text books. Research assignments involving primary sources begin in the 9th grade and expand each year thereafter. Students are encouraged to compare what they find with secondary source histories, and formulate an explanation of the differences between the two, giving them an opportunity to see how history is constantly made and remade long after the events are over. History course design always involves balancing content with opportunities for students to develop their research and writing skills. The capstone of the junior year history course is The American History Research Project, a term-long undertaking culminating in a primary source-based, thesis-driven essay. Each student must identify a topic, gather primary sources, develop a thesis, present his or her work-in-progress in class, and write the final essay. During the project period students continue with their more or less chronological study of American History, but at a slower pace, and almost all substantial graded assignments in the second half of the year relate to the project. Many of the junior papers written over the years have been excellent and more than a few would have been happily accepted by professors of upper level undergraduate history courses. The goal, however, has never been to produce “college level work.” We aspire to more than that. We want them to delve deeply into a topic of interest and to produce a piece of original research. Their efforts may take some advantage of work already done by other scholars, but the goal is to have them focus on developing their own answers to questions they pose based upon their analysis of the primary sources. Friends’ Central alumni/ae have often commented on the unique nature of this project, and the way it has impacted their scholarly efforts after FCS. One alumna wrote to Kelley Graham during her senior year at Brown University: “I just wanted to let you know how amazingly helpful and useful and rare our 10-page-research paper project was. I was in an education class on Monday, and some of my peers were questioning the benefit of long term projects in secondary school, and I brought up our 4-month-long,10-page paper experience, and during our break an alarming percentage of the class asked me about it ... and told me they STILL have never been taught or
walked through writing a research paper, and still have no idea how to write one (in their senior year of college). So thank you for giving us that opportunity. It really directly benefits me still, four years later. It’s easy to take Friends’ Central for granted, but that education really prepared me well on levels I’m only now beginning to understand.” That so many undergraduates at a college with Brown’s applicant pool have had so little instruction in the research process does not surprise us for two reasons. First, professors at institutions such as Brown generally assume that they don’t have to teach these skills. Second, most Brown students attended public and independent schools in which American History is a so-called AP (Advanced Placement) course. The amount of material that must be covered in this “College Board-designed” curriculum makes any sort of undertaking on the scale of our research project impossible. My teaching and knowledge of American History has also benefited from the scholarly work of former Friends’ Central students. Just this past year, I heard from two former students completeing their doctorates in history. Dan Immerwahr ’98 had a piece published in the journal History Teacher entitled “The Fact/ Narrative Distinction and Student Examinations in History.” Clear, concise, informative, and thought provoking, the article gave me much to think about, and ideas on ways to improve our history tests. An article by Jon Grinspan ’02, “Young Men for War: The Wide Awakes and Lincoln’s 1860 Presidential Campaign” in The Journal of American History introduced me to an entirely new chapter in the complex period immediately before the Civil War. A curriculum with an emphasis on primary sources at all levels and time built in for research provides frequent opportunities for Friends’ Central students to contribute to the learning experience of their peers and teachers. Perhaps it even helps to spawn a few scholars along the way. A sampling of paper titles reflects the wide range of topics explored over the years: - “Quaker Selective Pacifism during the Civil War” (A study of letters written by young Quakers who decided to serve in the Union army despite the Friends commitment to pacifism) - “Industrializing Women: Farm Girls in the Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts” - “The Looney War: Depictions of the Enemy and the American Soldier in Domestic WWII Animated Cartoons “ - “From ‘Coolie’ to ‘Chin’: A study of American reception of Asian immigrants using editorials from The New York Times” To read more about the American History Research Project, including archived papers, visit Grants blog at researchproject.friendscentral.org.
THE PROMISE OF DIVERSITY In the world of current events, the word global is everywhere. It implies a level of cooperation and interconnectedness that is belied by news of wars, political groups, and neighborhoods where people are so polarized in their approach to issues that they cannot find common ground. Ultimately, our ability to transcend difficult and complex issues hinges on whether or not young people will be defined by their differences. One way to redefine difference is to give children an opportunity to learn and play and grow with classmates from different backgrounds. Given such an opportunity, children overcome their fear of what is foreign and establish relationships that accept and absorb differences, strengthening each child as they strengthen the group. Friends’ Central School captures the promise of diversity. Students are taught to embrace and learn from differences, while continuing to find ways to express their own views. As a student at Friends’ Central, I found that each day was filled with opportunities to discover and grow, to influence and to be influenced, to inspire and to be inspired. The Friends’ Central community promotes creativity, collaboration, and cooperation. Students are encouraged to find their own voices, while respecting the thoughts and opinions of others. Understanding and accepting that a willingness to learn from others is essential prepared me to enter a world of people different from me, but not beyond me. I benefited from the160 years Friends’ Central School has worked to create a community that is diverse and uniform—all at once. My teachers understood the need to establish and encourage individual identity as they understood that a strong and productive community required each of us to take an active part in the whole. Friends’ Central’s diverse and outwardly focused ethos created and continues to create an awareness of others, and an expectation that thoughtful dialogue is the rule and not the exception. Students at Friends’ Central internalize these essential lessons and enter the world eager to realize the promise of diversity. Dwight Dunston ’06 - for Friends’ Central School
Executive Functions & the Developing Adolescent Brain By Alex Miller
For most of my fellow students in my 4th grade class, it was a harmless sheet of arithmetic, a mindless exercise in math facts. For me, it was a weekly ritual of humiliation. Nicknamed the “Mad Minute,” the worksheet had become synonymous for me with miserable, ineluctable failure. The premise of the Mad Minute: 100 math problems to complete in a minute. In 4th grade, we did one each week. You begin with a sheet of addition problems, and when you can do those correctly, you advance the next week to subtraction, multiplication, division, mixed practice, etc. The goal is not depth of conceptual understanding, but speed. This was where I fell short. Those exercises were the bane of my existence that year. We were allowed to take home photocopies of sample worksheets, so I enlisted the help of my mother to simulate the test conditions at home. She would time me every night, sometimes a few times, to help me make my math facts automatic. I studied flash cards until the images were imprinted on my eyelids as I drifted off to sleep. (Lest you criticize my mom for being a particularly vicious species of tiger mother, she did it because it was important to me.) This was all to no avail. Every week, it was the same routine. The clock would start, and so would I. A minute later, time would expire, and so would my faith in my worth as a human being. By that spring, my classmates were racing through worksheets on exponents (yes, exponents!), while I was still stuck on long division. Despite the fact that exercises like this probably have no predictive power for actual life outcomes, the experience was deeply demoralizing and shaped how I viewed myself for many years. When I was diagnosed with executive functioning issues in 11th grade, the news came as a relief. All my life I had wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” (While reading over old report cards, I saw that some of my teachers had wondered the same thing as well, citing my difficulty planning ahead, my organizational challenges, and my inability to see the big picture.) When, finally, I received an answer, I was grateful. It was then that I began the process of learning metacognitive strategies to manage the quirks and idiosyncrasies of my brain. Executive functions, located in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, are the brain functions that control and coordinate many other mental processes. If the brain were a research university, executive functions would be the professors in charge of each academic department. Just as department heads allocate grant money, assign grad students, and shape course offerings, executive functions regulate many of the brain’s processes like planning, prioritizing, and breaking down tasks. Ordinarily this works fine, and our brains are able to organize and process information and tasks as needed. My problem is that my brain looks less like an institution of higher learning and more like the DMV.
Executive functions include many different categories of thought regulation, including the ability to inhibit impulses, move from one task to another, regulate emotions, begin tasks, hold information in working memory, plan ahead, organize materials, and monitor one’s own progress. Not surprisingly, executive functioning issues are often linked with ADHD; in fact, the diagnosis for this disorder currently falls into that category. One can probably surmise the sorts of challenges students with executive function issues face in school. Though these students may be very bright, they are behind in some of the cognitive skills to appropriately process, organize, and show what they know. They may have difficulties with organization or struggle to maintain order in their binders, their lockers, and their desks. These children may fail to plan ahead, remembering a major project the night before it’s due, or they may be unable to allocate enough time to each task they must complete. They often struggle to prioritize, and they have trouble resisting impulses. I did well academically throughout middle and high school, but this success came at a great cost. Lacking viable study strategies and sustainable ways to tackle my schoolwork, I burned myself out by the end of each academic year. My preference for sequential organization and my tendency to focus on the details instead of the big picture served me well when I was younger but became liabilities as I grew older. My 9th grade year is a particularly vivid illustration. I had no idea how to study for my exams, so I resorted to bizarrely compulsive feats of organization. My strategy for my ancient history class involved writing down every event ever mentioned in class or in the textbook, no matter how inconsequential, and typing this list into a document that I sorted by date and tried to memorize as exams approached. It was supremely illogical, but I didn’t know what else to do. I took notes in full sentences; if I made a mistake, I insisted on using Wite-Out instead of crossing out my error. I was scrupulous because I did not know how to be comprehensive; I was using neatness as a proxy for order. Somehow, I sensed my inability to determine what information was important, and I dreaded what would happen if I didn’t hold on to everything. It is a source of both pride and embarrassment to me that, years later, as a graduate of both Harvard and Penn, I am still completely incapable of taking notes. I watch my students so blithely jot down notes in outline format and am struck by both wonder and shame. When our faculty meetings turn to discussions of how to teach students to take notes, I have nothing to contribute other than that it is critically important. I have managed to become a functional human being despite all of my mental quirks, and I know that all of my students will do the same. I want, though, to be able to spare them some of my trial and error.
students during the school day. Juliet Sternberg, the consulting psychologist for the Middle & Upper Schools, works with faculty members, administrators, and parents to help increase understanding of executive function issues and offer strategies that we as educators can use at home and in school to support students who face these challenges. In the Middle School, we seek out professional development to help faculty better understand the needs of students with executive function issues, and we work to align our instructional practices with methods that will best support these students in the classroom. Since the executive functions continue to develop in all children throughout adolescence, these practices are helpful for all students, including those whose development in these areas is average. Recently, several faculty members attended a PAIS conference about executive functions and shared some of their new knowledge in a faculty meeting. Their recommendations focused on helping students develop metacognitive skills by intentionally teaching things that we previously may have taken for granted. Teachers are working to use cuing systems in class to signal transitions from one topic to another, emphasize the importance of a particular segment, or toggle between open-response discussions and hand-raising times. We teach students how to organize information using graphic organizers, and we scaffold assignments to help them plan ahead to meet deadlines. Our assignments appear on Veracross, and most of our handouts, worksheets, and resources - as well as lessons and tutorials - are available online as well. The goal is twofold. We aim to make material more accessible so that students with executive function issues are not constantly playing catch-up; simultaneously we guide those students in developing the metacognitive tools that will equip them for success. Because there are many different executive functions and many combinations of strengths and difficulties in these areas, there is no magic formula that will work for every child. There are a number of strategies that have been helpful to large numbers of people - chunking information into smaller bits, forming routines for homework time, storing things in the same places each day - but the real value in understanding executive functions is the enhanced insight into how one’s brain functions. It is the process, as the oft-quoted poem says, of learning “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“Star” By Catherine Dawson 1st Grade Teacher
Fortunately, the topic of executive functioning issues has gained a great deal more recognition since I was diagnosed 10 years ago. I also am lucky to work at a place like Friends’ Central, where the faculty are universally committed to supporting the learning needs of all of our students. We are fortunate to have Dottie Mazullo and Juliet Sternberg as part of our learning support team. Dottie Mazullo, a full-time learning specialist at FCS, is available to meet with
At Friends’ Central School, students discover a lifelong passion for learning in an environment that promotes integrity, compassion and a greater connection to the world By Bill Donahue, excerpted from Suburban Life Magazine (February 2012) Thirty-six years is a long time to spend in one place, but not if you’re Jack Briggs. Briggs has taught 3rd grade at Friends’ Central School for more than three decades—closer to four, really—yet each year has been fresh and engaging. He credits this “sense of newness and reinvention” to the school’s unique approach to teaching students through a discipline known as thematic learning. Essentially, he and his fellow teachers collaborate on a central theme for the entire Lower School, designed to help students gain a depth of interest and understanding that is often absent in traditional approaches to curriculum. “The collaboration we have here makes Friends’ Central a very special place that is well suited for the teachers and the students as well,” Briggs says. “It’s a very powerful environment here, and it produces an incredibly strong community that promotes learning on a deep level. As teachers, we do our best when we’re teaching something we have a deep interest in,” he continues, “and the kids do much better because of that; they pick up on that passion, and it makes them want to learn.” Friends’ Central has created an education model shaped in part by Quaker values such as integrity, equality and compassion. Members of the Friends’ Central faculty set increasingly high standards to prepare students for college life and beyond while encouraging participation in a process that continually fosters creative, critical and flexible thinking. “The curriculum, and the way in which the pedagogy supports the curriculum, demonstrates a connectedness to learning that creates a powerful foundation for the rest of our students’ lives,” says Joanne Hoffman, Head of School. “From the very earliest age, students are taught that all learning is connected. Through that sense of interconnectedness there’s a power that can last one’s whole life.” Friends’ Central graduates are intelligent and compassionate problem solvers, actively involved citizens and visionary leaders [who make a difference in their communities]. They go on to some of the most prestigious colleges, and as many as 20 percent of graduates over the past five years have been named National Merit Scholar finalists, semi-finalists or commended students. “There’s a qualitative difference here,” Hoffman says. “Students are not satisfied with the surface answer or even just the right answer; there is always the seeking of a deeper truth, and that demands a different kind of approach to scholarship.
The thematic piece in the Lower School is extraordinary. It’s the way in which students learn to connect different disciplines of science, math and literature. It begins in Lower School and extends throughout their education.” “Friends’ Central is a place that has depth, texture and richness in its teaching and learning environment, which is very unusual,” Hoffman continues. “Through thematic education, there is an intellectual rigor here undergirded by a very clear set of values that every part of our constituency lives, talks about and makes part of their lives. Graduates often talk to me about the values they learned here and how those values helped them define themselves into adulthood.”
A Passion for Learning Thematic learning begins at the start of every school year when teachers and students begin the exploration of the Fall Project unified around a common theme. This allows students to explore a subject at a developmentally appropriate level, understand the connectedness of information, and interact with other students across grade levels who are studying the same topic. The theme is reflected across the curriculum in reading and writing, mathematics and science, social studies, art and music, and teachers have the flexibility to develop their own materials. “As teachers, we’re all able to take our deep passionate interests and use them to create these studies,” says Briggs, who earned a Ph.D. in education from the University of Pennsylvania, and is dual certified to teach elementary and high school. “We don’t use textbooks; we use regular nonfiction books that relate to a specific topic, such as American Indian culture and history.” For this year’s Fall Project, “The World of Water,” some classes chose to explore specific places or bodies of water by way of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” or Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s “Peter and the Starcatchers.” As classes investigate their topics, students discover opportunities to learn about other cultures and life in other lands. Because all educational activities are done in the context of the theme, students develop a rich framework around which to build the information. For Briggs’ students, the Fall Project included hands-on experience—building large structures, for example, such as a tipi. For a previous Fall Project, he and his students built a scaled-down replica of the Wright Brothers flyer made of wood, fabric and wire, with working controls to underscore the theme of flight. Briggs and his colleagues teach Friends’ Central students that the highest expression of creativity is the belief that “anything is possible.” The visual and performing arts are essential to every student’s education, to express themselves, but also to foster self-confidence, as an integral part of the core curriculum and elsewhere. For example, music classes are required for students from Nursery through grade 10, while dramatic productions are a required piece of the Lower School curriculum and an optional opportunity for Middle and Upper School students.
There’s also an incredibly strong sense of community in every classroom at Friends’ Central. This enables students to solve problems together and reach consensus so everyone feels a part of the decision-making process. It also gets them thinking about how they can help their own communities, their country and the world around them. The Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship are continually reinforced. All students—from the youngest children to the graduating seniors—know these values, according to Hoffman. Students benefit from a focus on diversity and inclusion, and this depth of respect extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Students also participate in major service initiatives to improve the surrounding community, such as raising funds for worthy causes or gathering food items to help others who are less fortunate. “If you talk to somebody from the class of 1975, to a very recent graduate, they all said their time here had a very strong effect on their working lives,” says Hoffman. “They say this is where they learned the values that sustained them.” Since 1845, Friends’ Central has been preparing its students for the most challenging colleges and careers, while also providing them with a “moral compass” put in place by cultivating the spirit through the enduring Quaker principles of truth and integrity. The school holds regulars gathering of the community in “The Meeting Room,” whereby members of the constituency are welcome to share their thoughts openly.
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“When kids graduate from here, they almost feel like they’re been taught how to think for themselves, not just accept what they’re told,” says Briggs, who has 16 students in his class this year. “They usually find they can learn anything, so they’re not daunted by heading off to college. With the class sizes as small as they are, there’s a lot of dialogue between teachers and students, and among the students. … The children here realize that their ideas are important, and their questions are important. “We try to be the best independent school we can,” Briggs continues. “As teachers, every year we have a new curriculum to develop and it keeps you on your toes. That’s important to me as a teacher, but you have to work hard at it. … You continually reinvent how and what you teach, which makes it an exciting place to teach. And that, in turn, also makes it an exciting place for children to learn.” In other words, as the Friends’ Central motto goes, Quaker Works.
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