Word on the Street Spring 2019

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WORD on the STREET N EWS LETTER FO R A LUM NI A ND F RI E NDS O F GREENE S T REET FRI ENDS S CHO O L

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Family Profile: Taj Davis ‘19 . . . . . .

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Discovery Lab . . . .

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This I Believe . . . . .

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S PRIN G 2019

Exploring Immigration in Middle School Immigration has been a hot button issue in the recent news cycle, but it is more than simply an abstract concept for students at Greene Street Friends School. Many of our families have personal experiences navigating the American immigration system and Greene Street Friends provides opportunities for students to more closely examine and discuss immigration, especially throughout the Middle School curriculum. In 6th Grade students learn about Hispaniola, which is an island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Ocean. Though both nations share the island, the day to day realities of each nation are very different. The Dominican Republic has grown to be much more economically and politically stable than its neighbor. As more Haitians immigrate to the Dominican Republic, there has been growing tension and conflict. There are also racial underpinnings to the dispute between these two nations, due to the island’s colonial past. The study of Hispaniola allows students to better understand the push and pull of immigration, as well as the challenges faced after crossing

6TH GRADERS WORK WITH A REFUGEE FAMILY IN GERMANTOWN

the border. Spanish Teacher Kristin Shipler explains, “I want to make sure students feel connected to different cultures and languages. As a teacher, I’m always trying to engage them and make the subject as real as possible.” Later, in 8th Grade, students will re-examine Caribbean countries of their choosing to see how ethnicity, race, language, and culture all intersect with geography and migration patterns. With this theoretical background introduced, students travel to Costa Rica as part of the Costa Rica Exchange Program the very next year. 7th Graders begin communicating with pen pals and hear firsthand what it is like to live in a Central American country. As 7th Graders prepare to depart for Costa Rica, faculty and staff emphasize the importance of being a traveler, not a tourist. The trip to Costa Rica allows students to cross an international border, see their pen pals’ schools and homes, and immerse themselves in a totally different culture. During their 8th Grade year, students dig deeper into the personal reasons people choose to immigrate through documentary films and Spanish texts. Students also welcome continued on page 2 greenestreetfriends.org

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THE BIRTHDAY BOY HITS A PINATA DURING HIS PARTY.

6TH GRADERS PREPARE PARTY DECORATIONS.

their Costa Rican pen pals to Philadelphia. Studying the Cuban Revolution in Social Studies and racial Affinity Groups provides students a wider perspective of race and racism as reasons for conflict, along with economic tension and resource sharing.

responded that one of the children would love to have a 3rd birthday party.” The students sprung to action, providing food, games, decorations, and gifts for the family. Upon entering the church, 6L was greeted by the family’s matriarch who prepared a feast for everyone to enjoy while they played Twister, hit a piñata, and read birthday cards that students wrote in Spanish.

Kristin explains, “We want to look at the human experience and reasons different people immigrate. We talk a lot about not focusing on a single story at Greene Street Friends and I think immigration is another expression of that belief. I try to steer clear of politics and look at the impact of a broken immigration system and why finding a solution is important. Our students need to leave able to discuss issues in an informed and thoughtful way.” Current 6th Graders had the opportunity to personally connect with a refugee family right here in Germantown. Using the Quaker process of consensus to identify their Community Connections project, students in 6L decided to reach out to a local sanctuary church and ask how they could help one of the families being provided shelter. Lead Teacher Laura Good explains, “We called the pastor with the students on speaker. We really didn’t want to prescribe needs, TK but wanted to know what would be most helpful. The pastor

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Laura echoes Kristin’s sentiments about bringing a difficult topic to life, “Working with this family allowed students to demonstrate some Quaker ideals like stewardship and consensus, but it also made immigration policies personal and linked it to our Germantown community instead of some abstract idea or faraway place. They met a family impacted by this system every day.”

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THIS I BELIEVE LUKE HELSTROM ’19

I believe that it is important for people to challenge themselves so that they can become the person that they want to be. Going out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself can help you grow and improve on things. This is a very important thing to do because you don’t know what you can accomplish or what you can do if you don’t go out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. I have always been a relatively shy person who doesn’t really like talking to new people, and I don’t like being in the spotlight of anything. You have most likely picked up on this if you have seen me around not talking and separated from other people. Some people see this as rude if I am not participating in a group conversation, but it’s just not comfortable for me to talk in a group. Being around a lot of people that I am unfamiliar with is tiring and worrying. I have trouble talking and socializing sometimes. When learning about a project my Social Studies class had to do, I was fine until the teacher announced that we had to present the project. I was not worried about actually completing the project, but I was worried about the presentation. I feel like there is always someone or a group of people waiting until I stumble on an easy word when giving a presentation or until I make a mistake when answering a question. As I am reading this essay to you, I’m really scared of making a mistake in front of the whole middle school. However, some of this changed when I went to Costa Rica with my grade. I was in a new territory when I went to Costa Rica, and I was really scared to meet the pen pals. I wanted that night to be over, but I still wanted to meet my pen pal, so I did, and I do not regret it at all. This was pushing my comfort zone by a lot and I opened up, which was very hard for me. That trip was a big step forward for me. I met other pen pals, and I talked a lot more than usual when meeting new people, even though it was in a different language. I faced my fears a couple more times during that trip with each being uncomfortable but beneficial for me. I felt that I would benefit myself by going out of my comfort zone now rather than doing it when it would be harder, like in high school. I was still afraid of talking in a group, but the feeling of messing up and making a fool of myself went down. I brought this back to school where I again faced my fears more by being more talkative compared to before Costa Rica. I felt like I contributed in more group conversations even though it was a minor difference to people around me. I felt more comfortable when reading something aloud and expressing my ideas to people. I felt good for what I accomplished with myself, and I want to keep pushing my comfort zone to see what I can become. By going out of your comfort zone and by challenging yourself, you can become more of what you want to be and less of what you don’t want to be. This I believe. LUKE AND HIS CLASSMATES IN COSTA RICA greenestreetfriends.org

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RON, TAJ, AND DIANE DAVIS

FAMILY PROFILE

Taj Davis ‘19

Fellow Greene Street Friends basketball fans will immediately recognize Diane and Ron Davis, being permanent fixtures at home basketball games to cheer on their grandson, Taj. The Davis family joined Greene Street Friends last year and Ron and Diane have jumped into every part of school culture, from securing Eagles gear for the Fall Fair Silent Auction through Ron’s work with the NFL Players Association (Ron played for the formerly St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970’s), to funding diversity initiatives for our students. We recently sat down over tea to talk about their experience raising Taj and why they so deeply support Greene Street Friends, in so many different ways. Tell me a little bit about your family and how you got to Greene Street Friends. DD: Well, we don’t have that “traditional” family story. Taj is our grandson and was living in Hawaii with his mother when she passed away. Taj was five. I flew out there as soon as I could and brought Taj back to live with us in Philadelphia. Ron and I had already raised our kids, so our extended community really came together to help us raise Taj. We didn’t know anything about schools and didn’t even have Taj’s bedroom set up for the first few months. We came to Greene Street Friends in 7th Grade after trying a few other schools. I was blown away by the teachers during our visit and have continued to be since. They are totally amazing in different ways, but each sees the beauty and light in each student. I have seen such growth in Taj and his love of learning. I actually get

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goosebumps thinking about it; it literally changed Taj’s life and has been such a good experience, for us and for Taj. RD: I heard so many great things about Greene Street Friends and its graduates. I hoped for a well-rounded, focused environment for Taj that had care at its centerpiece. The caring has really come out of Taj because of Greene Street Friends. Care goes way beyond just a regular school. The Quaker message of uplifting people and looking for uniqueness and diversity is outstanding.

What’s been most surprising for you about Greene Street Friends? DD: The Affinity Groups. We attended a meeting or two and they were so open about racial issues. It’s like they don’t hold back. In a very caring, giving, polite way, they say what the core of the issue is and talk about it. That’s important, rather than dancing around these topics in circles. They give real insight, which surprised me. The honesty has blown my mind and I think that makes a big difference. There’s an honesty and rawness to their conversations that push everyone to consider a broad range of people and experiences. The school has such unusual ways to engage children in learning. When Taj first came home and said he was doing an egg drop from the top of the Middle School I thought, “What in the world?” But the project made science and engineering fun for Taj and his classmates. He was so excited to do that project and, at the end of the day, he really did learn a lot from the experience. RD: Once you get there [on campus] and you understand the connections to the community and the general respect, it blows you away. If you go to some of the edifices we’ve been to, you see the grandeur, but it doesn’t have the same passion and grit that Greene Street Friends has.

What are some of your family’s favorite memories from GSFS? DD: Costa Rica! Having the opportunity to be in a whole different culture and bring back such wonderful memories of his time with [his pen pal] Sebastian. We all actually cried when it was time for Sebastian to leave during his 8th Grade visit this fall! We might go


TAJ DAVIS ‘19 (RIGHT) AND MATEO ROONEY-GATMAITAN ‘19 SERVING RON AND DIANE DAVIS AT THE 2018 COSTA RICA DINNER.

TAJ ON THE BUS IN COSTA RICA WITH HIS CLASSMATES

visit him this summer, but he and Taj will continue to be friends for years to come. That trip gave Taj a global understanding of people with backgrounds totally different than his own. We also love visiting for Grandparents Day and this quiet, reflective time in Meeting for Worship.

wonder and the excitement of learning. There’s also so much care there; there are kids there who have lost several parents and it was tremendous to see that that was also a value statement. Greene Street Friends would help these kids through challenging moments.

RD: Meeting for Worship is very powerful. Families pitch in for the different events and fundraisers. My favorite memory was the egg drop. I was scratching my head like, “Why are all you people out here in the freezing weather, watching an egg fall from the top of the building?” But you soon discover how important gathering, science, and engagement all come together at an activity like that. It was enlightening and stimulating. Even though I was cold, I was enjoying it with them. Little things that seem so small mean a lot, to a lot of people. The students were engaged in an usual way of learning and coming together as a community. I love visiting, especially for Grandparents Day. I remember visiting Marty’s class and they were talking about all of these moments in history I remember; Vietnam, Watergate, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It really became emotional as a couple Vietnam veteran grandparents shared their experiences in Vietnam, which was valuable for me and the kids. It’s been so powerful and touching to see the students engaged in learning about that history. The teachers do such a good job giving students the tools to really comprehend the importance of the subjects.

Why fund the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum addition to the Middle School curriculum?

Why do you support Greene Street Friends (in so many different ways?) DD: It goes back to care and the depth of caring about the individual and unity of students together. This community reaches out to parents and gives support, beyond just caring so much for our children. Greene Street Friends is the best thing that could have happened to our family. Taj will probably continue to excel athletically and academically, especially thanks to his wonderful teachers. It’s so important for students to be loved, guided, given that sense of direction.

DD: We have a deep belief in celebrating diversity and heritage. The Lest We Forget Slavery Museum allows children to touch, feel, smell, hear, learn, and see actual items from that period of our nation’s history. Kids’ eyes are opened and there’s real opportunity to grown and learn from history. It’s important for children’s eyes to be opened in as many ways as they can be. If we don’t study our history, even the painful parts, what will become of us? RD: This is a normal part of what we do. Diane especially is a very helpful, kind, and inclusive person. We felt an obligation to provide a sensory experience of history for Taj and his classm ates. There’s an evolving understanding of the importance of culture, history, and heritage. I remember my own visit to the Smithsonian and other museums, but sometimes it takes additional reinforcement to really bring that understanding out.

If you would like to join us, either at Meeting for Worship or during the school day, please be in touch with GSFS’s Director of Development Maani Waldor (215-438-7002 or mwaldor@greenestreetfriends.org).

RD: You see the light and excitement in the kids’ eyes, in the instructors and administrators. They’re actually excited about uplifting young people and their families. There’s an emphasis on greenestreetfriends.org

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U EL- HA J ‘26 , ‘26 , MA T TEO AB AN TO NIA GE RIG E DIS CO VER Y LAB TH IN ING RK WO AN D LEV I DA Y ‘26

Discovery at GSFS BY JULIA COPELAND, SCHOOL LIBRARIAN When Ryan Kimmet, Associate Head of School, asked me last Spring to create a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) or Makerspace special for first and second grade, I was excited for the challenge to find new ways to bring Future Ready Learning to the Lower School and the Library. Since then, each time I’m asked what ‘Discovery Lab’ actually IS, my answer has changed. Just like I challenge students to engage in the design process and plan, create, test, redesign to improve, and create again, the curriculum continues to evolve. The core of the program, though, remains the same:

Discovery Lab is about exploration and creation. It is about collaboration and communication. The materials change from unit to unit, sometimes from week to week, but in each and every class students are challenged to imagine, create, communicate, persist, and grow. For first and second graders, part of the learning curve in Discovery Lab is materials management. How do we share materials? How do we take care of them? How are we stewards of our resources so that there is enough for everyone

E LEG O STA TIO N. ‘26 WO RK S AT TH RYL EE JAM ISO N

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ZURI WILLIA MS ‘26, AND PIP HANSO N-KAG LE ‘26 WORK TOGET HER ON A PROJE CT.

in our class and those to follow? How do we put them away when we are finished? How do we resist the temptation of the Lego minifigures that we really want to take home in our pockets? We have used cardboard, tape, Legos, magnets, blocks (interlocking, magnetic, tree slices, and more), a large scale building set called Rigamajig, clay, cotton swabs, Rainbow Loom, toothpicks, magnets, and 3D shapes. Students have created a circus, a swing, vehicles, houses, people, animals, jewelry, their own battling Beyblades, and more. For the two months between Winter Break and Spring Break, students transferred what they had learned with their handson activities to online coding. We talked about how you persist when you are frustrated, trying again and again and not giving up. They learned how to work together in ‘Programming Pairs’ with a Driver and a Navigator sharing a laptop, requiring patience and communication. I was constantly amazed by what they accomplished, not only on the block code that they created but also in how the took turns, talked to each other, and problem solved when their code didn’t work the first, second, or third time. The challenges we tackle each week are easily connected to real life challenges that we encounter in and out of the classroom every day. It is my hope that by explicitly focusing on important skills like problem solving, communication, and resilience in Discovery Lab, students will develop a repertoire of skills that will continue to serve them well throughout their years of schooling and beyond. We are not only growing future engineers, designers, artists, teachers, and scientists, we are also growing leaders, peace makers, innovators, and citizens of the world.


This June, Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Grade students from nearby public school Wister Elementary will gather at Greene Street Friends for six weeks of summer programming. Horizons is a national network of programs created to counter the “summer slump”, wherein students typically lose 2-3 months of reading and math skills each summer. Horizons students actually gain 2-3 months of reading and math skills in the same timeframe. Horizons also offers opportunities to swim, explore music, theatre, art, and other leadership activities. We are excited to welcome families to Greene Street Friends campus for the program’s fourth summer, which will see a few new initiatives. Typically Horizons at Greene Street Friends has visited Horizons at Episcopal Academy, a sister program in Newtown Square. This summer the Episcopal Academy site will visit Greene Street Friends for the first time, allowing students to engage with Germantown and local volunteers. We are also excited about a new partnership with local nonprofit Philabundance that will provide all lunches for students throughout the summer. Previously Philabundance provided weekend meals for families through their Summer Backpack program, ensuring families had nutritious meals on the weekends (Horizons students eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks each weekday). This deepened partnership will free up resources previously spent purchasing lunch so that they can be reinvested in other aspects of the program. There is also deepening partnership and awareness between Horizons and the wider Greene Street Friends community. On July 21st, Greene Street Friends Board Member and parent Kia Wimmer will perform with local dance troupe Kulu Mele at a performance open to the entire Greene Street Friends community. Faculty, staff, and Young Alumni will once again volunteer at Free Swim Friday and serve as Guest Readers in the classroom and current 7th and 8th Graders are invited to apply to be classroom volunteers, serving alongside many returning teachers. Whether swimming alongside a Kindergartener, reading a book in class, serving up slices at the Horizons pizza sale, or supporting Horizons financially, we hope you will find a way to connect with Horizons in the future.

Save the Date for Horizons Hurrah, a trivia night to benefit Horizons. Learn more and reserve tickets at http://www.trivianightforhorizons2019.eventbrite.com/

TOP: HORIZONS STUDENTS AKYRA AND NYLA MIDDLE: HALIMAH AND ZAHMIYAH IN THE GARDEN WITH SANDRA BOT TOM: RANAI SHOWING OFF HER ARTWORK AT ORIZON’S VALENTINE’S DAY EVENT.

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G REEN E ST RE E T F RI E N D S SC H O O L 5 5 1 1 GREEN E S T REET P HI L AD EL P HI A PA 1914 4 -2805 Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage

PAID Philadelphia, PA Permit No. 6831

JOIN US ON THURSDAY MAY 23, IN OUR FIRST GIVING DAY AND SHOW YOUR #LOVE4GSFS! Show Greene Street Friends some LOVE by sharing your GSFS memories, making a gift, volunteering on campus, or support us in your own special way.

Interested in helping us go green? If you received a hard copy of Word on the Street and would prefer an electronic version in the future, let us know! Email Lindsay in the Development Office (lbarrettadler@greenestreetfriends.org) and we’ll update your preferences for the Fall issue.