2018 has been an incredibly busy spring for Friends Council programming and it isn’t over yet! In this spring programming recap you’ll read about three recent professional development workshops we held in April and May and learn about one still to come in June.
Early Childhood Educators in Friends schools
gathered in April at West Chester Friends School to share ideas, resources, and tips for success in bringing young children to the out-of-doors for learning activities. Experienced and new educators alike observe the importance of bringing students outside the four walls of the classroom as much as possible to develop creativity, stamina, centeredness, and appreciation for nature. With so much of our current culture focused on screens – computer, TV, toys – Friends school educators work to counter-balance this trend and ground young ones more fully in nature, the life of the Spirit, and connecting in community. Some of the peer demonstrations included having music, drumming, and movement class in a circle in the local park; working on art in nature; and holding outdoor Meeting for Worship (using age-appropriate strategies, such as a focus ball and mindfulness stretching.)
FEEN (Friends Environmental Educators Network)
educators focused their attention on connecting schools more effectively with sustainability measures. MaryAnn Boyer, an environmental education consultant, spoke with the group about clarifying values, identifying strategies, and building community engagement to become Green Schools. Terry Cooke shared his vision for connecting student in the U.S. with students in China to promote cross-cultural conversation about environmental issues. And, the FEEN group enjoyed their own time out-of-doors by visiting the Philadelphia Canoe Club and the Fairmount Water Works – the 19th century historic pumping station for the City of Philadelphia.
Two of Friends Council’s signature programs – Institute for Engaging Leadership and SPARC:
Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage – are in the first year of their two-year cohort groups. Friends school educators recognize the benefits of stepping away from daily demands of school life to focus on their own professional development while feeding their souls at the pastoral setting of Quaker adult study center, Pendle Hill. SPARC cohort workshops focus on the use of collaborative inquiry and reflection to ground Friends school educators as Quaker life leaders in their schools. The April session included a “Walk and Talk” around Pendle Hill grounds as cohort members shared action steps for sharing protocols and ideas with colleagues in their home schools.
Leadership Institute cohort members focus on strengthening their capacity and skills for the unique role of Friends school leadership and peculiar art of sustaining the Quaker value-based ethos of Friends schools.
Still to come…
“Leading in the Manner of Friends,” a new Friends Council leadership workshop, will take place June 19-20, 2018. Spearheaded by Nancy Starmer, former head of George School (Newtown, PA) teams of Friends school administrators are invited to come together for renewal, reflection, and collaboration with seasoned Friends school leaders to explore common topics such as responding to crises, supervising, or leading and managing change “in the manner of Friends” – in other words, from the perspective of the unique challenges and opportunities available to leaders of Friends schools. This group will enjoy the relaxing environment of Pendle Hill (Wallingford, PA) in summer – walking trails, healthy and locally sourced food, and collegiality.