Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools

Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools

Application Deadline for 2019-21 Cohort: January 9, 2019

The Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools was created by the Friends Council on Education as a strategic network of Friends school leaders working together in a learning community. Throughout the two-year program, members strengthen their capacity and skills for the unique role of Friends school leadership and the peculiar art of sustaining the Quaker value-based ethos of a Friends school. Institute members collaborate as learning partners with heads of Friends schools and conduct action research projects that benefit the network of Friends schools.

Description of the Leadership Institute 
This is a two year experience for those exploring or feeling called to leadership in Friends schools. Candidates are expected to have had full-time work experience in a Quaker school. Applications are invited every second year. The next opportunity to apply will be in 2016, for the cohort that will first gather in the fall of 2017. The process is not complicated. One's head of school writes a letter to nominate the candidate, and the candidate completes an application. Then there's a group interview process in Philadelphia.

During the two years of the program, the cohort gathers four times (three days, two nights) at Pendle Hill, the Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia, for a wonderful program of well-paced exploration, including leadership assessment, strengthening of skills, and other leadership learnings and doings, facilitated by Irene McHenry, Drew Smith, and guests (including panels of school heads and search professionals). It is a dialogue-rich two years, producing personal growth of all sorts, empowered selves, and wonderfully supportive colleagueship and co-mentoring.

Each participant works with a carefully matched leadership partner (all are current heads) and undertakes an action research project. Short reports on the action research projects done by those in the program's first three cohorts are archived on the Council's website.

About the Program

About the Program

Program Goals:

  • Develop leaders for the unique role of Friends school headship.
  • Develop leaders’ capacity and skills for the distinctive practices of Friends school governance.
  • Develop leaders who are conversant with and practiced in Quaker pedagogy and decision-making processes and the peculiar art of sustaining the Quaker value-based ethos of a Friends school.

Program Design:

  • Central to the program is a focus on the Quaker dimension of Friends schools.
  • Participants work one-on-one with leadership partners who are successful heads of Friends schools (in schools other than their own).
  • Participants conduct action research projects in Friends schools other than their own.
  • Institute leaders include Friends Council’s executive director, Friends school heads, Quaker leaders, and external consultants in systems-centered educational leadership and change.
  • The Institute provides an option for doctoral-level graduate credit with Fielding Graduate Institute.

Selection Criteria and Process:

  • Applicants must be nominated by their school heads for the Institute.
  • Applicants must have a minimum of two years experience in Friends education with demonstrated leadership in their schools. Some teaching experience is desirable.
  • Applicants submit essays on Friends educational philosophy and their own leadership capacity and commitment.
  • Applicants attend group interviews, conducted by members of the Friends Council selection committee, to dialogue about their vision of leadership in Friends schools.
  • The selection committee selects the cohort, seeking a balanced and diverse group with special attention to educators who are Quakers, people of color, and women.

Examples of Participants’ Topics for Action Research:

  • Assessing the long-term viability of Quaker leadership for boards of Friends schools.
  • Comparing the policies and practices for “counseling out” students in Friends schools.
  • Developing and implementing a faculty evaluation instrument in mentor’s school.
  • Researching the dynamics of care relationships between Friends meetings and schools.
  • Comparing the management of information by development offices in Quaker schools and independent schools.
  • Documenting the dynamics of curricular change in an academic diversity project at mentor’s school.

Application Process for 2019-21 Cohort

Submit this application form and the required additional materials by January 9, 2019. 
Selections will be made and applicants notified by March 1, 2019. 

Required Additional Materials Attach files below.

  1. An essay, of 500 or fewer words, in which you reflect on Friends education, your perspective on Friends schools as organizations, and the qualities that you feel are needed for effective leadership in a Friends school.
  2. A resume or curriculum vitae.
  3. A letter from your current school head, recommending your participation in this program. The letter should confirm the school’s willingness to grant professional development time and the necessary financial support for travel to all retreats, 2019-2021. The Head's letter of recommendation should be sent directly from the Head of school to

The Leadership Institute meets in 4 residential retreats over two years. 
Full attendance and participation is required.

The 3-day retreats are held at Pendle Hill Quaker Retreat Center in Wallingford, PA. Each begins at 1:00pm on day one and at noon on day three.

The tentative dates are:

  • November 11-13, 2019
  • April 1-3, 2020
  • November 11-13, 2020
  •  April 20-22, 2021

Action Research Summary 2017-2019 Cohort

What is Action Research? Action research is a dynamic process for conducting research over time using action and reflective learning to pursue understanding and, ultimately, change. The action research process is cyclic and spiral, alternating between action, critical reflection, and new action. It is an emergent process, continually evolving as understanding increases. It generally involves participation with those who actually inhabit the system in which the action research is conducted. The true measure of success in action research is learning and change at the individual level and the systems level. An “unfinished” project may, in fact, stimulate ideas for others and be useful in different contexts. The core of action research is the reflective inquiry approach, in which every turn of the spiral influences a potential transformation of practice. Through every cycle, a deeper understanding of the issue, the nature of change, and potential creative responses evolve from critically reflective learning.

Click the tab above for the archive of Action Research Summaries.

Action Research 2017-19

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2017-2019 Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools.

Included in this summary are:

  • An Approach to Empowerment for African-American Boys Via Community Building Utilizing Racial Affinity Groups - Norman Allen Bayard, Jr., Germantown Friends School
  • Serving All Students: Exploring the Role of Racial Identity in Student Success - Chris Benbow, Westtown School
  • Curriculum Documentation: How Do We “Represent the Magic?” - Lisa Wilson Carboni, Carolina Friends School
  • Beyond Teacher Passions: Increasing Buy-in for Programmatic and Social Studies Continuity - Joyce Colzani, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
  • The Tortoise and the Hare are Friends; When to Listen and when to Act - Megan Culp, Germantown Friends School
  • How Does it Work at Your School? Peer Network for Performing Arts Educators in Friends Schools - Heather Fortune, Friends Select School
  • Faith and Play in Friends Schools: Deepening Our Worship Experience and Teaching Friends Beliefs and History - Galen McNemar Hamann, Virginia Beach Friends School
  • Acting, Interim and Internal:  Keep the Boat Afloat?  Do the Work?  - Erin Purcell Hughes, William Penn Charter School
  • Women of Color in Positions of Leadership - Tanisha Jones, New Garden Friends School
  • Dream Out Big:” The Genesis of New Friends Schools - Peter Kalajian, New Garden Friends School
  • Insights, Reflection and Progress: Using Sabbatical Experience to Create Meaningful Change - Makai Kellogg, School for Friends
  • Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Supporting Teachers of Color in a Friends School - Ryan Kimmet, Greene Street Friends School
  • Discerning the Mission of the Department - Kathleen Koehler, Delaware Valley Friends School
  • Supporting Faculty Renewal and Self Care: How Would a Mindfulness Program at DVFS Foster Space for More Spirit-Led Teaching and Learning? - Elizabeth Kriynovich, Delaware Valley Friends School
  • The Friends Approach to Discipline: Nurturing the Inner Light of High School Students, Even When They Make Bad Choices - Beth Lantz, Moses Brown School
  • Creating a Friends-School-Like Culture In a Public Charter School - Jeannette Lutter-Gardella, St. Paul School of Northern Lights
  • Changing Financial Aid Models in Quaker Schools to be More Competitive - Anthony McCudden, Sandy Spring Friends School
  • Art for Good: Exploring Environmental Advocacy through Art and Action - Amy McGlinn, Friends School of Wilmington
  • Beyond the 3R’s - The School’s Role in Educating and Supporting Parents - Sarai Nieves, United Friends School
  • Building a Culture of Philanthropy: Why Faculty & Staff Participation is Critical to Broader Fundraising Efforts of a Quaker School - Charles O'Kane, Wilmington Friends School
  • Meeting Their Needs: A Survey of Models of Learning Support in Quaker Lower Schools - Karyn Robinson Payton, Westtown School
  • Implementing Restorative Approaches (RA): Nesting Quaker Values with an Emerging Social Science - Frederick Clemens Pratt, Friends' Central School
  • Being and Becoming: The Development of Identity during Middle School - Andrew Salverda, San Francisco Friends School
  • Supporting Assistant Teachers, Interns, Associate Teachers - Oh My! - Marceline Sosa, William Penn Charter School
  • The Potential of Summer Camp - John Zimmerman, Princeton Friends School

Action Research Summary Archive

2015-2017 Cohort

Action Research 2015-17

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2015-2017 Institute for Engaging LeadersClick below to view.

Included in this summary are:

  • Creating and Sustaining Maker Spacess - Justin Brandon, Moorestown Friends School
  • Giving Voice to Learning Differences and Quaker Education - David Calamaro, Delaware Valley Friends School
  • Best practices for supporting new teachers and staff: enhancing support systems for those new to a school culture - Maggie Chiles, Greene Street Friends School
  • In The Manner of Friends: What Might A Quaker Approach to Education Look Like In A Public Charter School - Christen Higgins Clougherty, Nobis Project
  • Mixing It Up in the 21st Century - Angela Di Maria, Media Providence Friends School
  • Overparenting: Reexamining its Origins and Evolution - Page Fahrig-Pendse, Germantown Friends School
  • Wellness and Support Programming: Bolstering, Enriching, and Strengthening - Natan Gottesman, Friends Select School
  • The Challenge of Course Viability in the Context of Course Offerings - Mamadou Guèye, Sidwell Friends School
  • Building a Stronger Quaker Community in a Challenging Economy- Dennis Haupert, Buckingham Friends School
  • The Argument for Policy in Addition to Practice: Quaker Schools’ Responsibility to Transgender and Gender Expansive Community Members - Rachel Kane, Sidwell Friends School
  • The New England Youth Identity Summit: The Building Blocks of Dialogue - Lydia Maier, Waynflete School
  • Sustaining and Nurturing Faculty - Katie Marion, Cambridge Friends School
  • The Call to Support All Students: Meeting the Academic Support Needs of Students in a Financially Sustainable Manner - Will Nisbet, Maret School
  • Enrollment Feasibility Dashboard: A Tool for Monitoring Growth - Rebecca Niszczak, Newtown Friends School
  • Retention of Faculty of Color in Friends Schools - Celeste Payne, Westtown School
  • The 3 Secret Sauces of Institutional Decision-Making - Chris Searle, Princeton Friends School
  • Building a Sustainable Model for Continuous Learning: A Collaborative Interview About Our Shared Work - Rachel Wellborn, The Friends School of Atlanta
  • Building on Our Strengths Using Professional Learning Communities - Toni Graves Williamson, Abington Friends School
  • Building a Sustainable Model for Continuous Learning: A Collaborative Interview About Our Shared Work - Alexandra Zinnes, Friends School of Atlanta

2013-2015 Cohort

Action Research 2013-15

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2013-2015 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • Peer Coaches Network: Tapping Into Friends Schools’ Greatest Resources - Kathryn Park Cook, Moorestown Friends School
  • In Search of a Unified Quaker Pedagogy - Karen Cumberbatch, Sandy Spring Friends School
  • Connecting North Carolina’s Quaker School Students from the Mountains to the Sea - Cameron Francisco, Friends School of Wilmington
  • Effectively Teaching Students with Diverse Learning Needs - Lisa Gamble, State College Friends School
  • What does leadership look like in strategic planning at a Friends elementary school? - Tom Hoopes, George School
  • How can the adults in a Friends school community best support Lower School students’ experiences of Meeting for Worship? - Ben Horner, Friends Seminary
  • Developing Core Competencies for Learning about Race - Nic James, Friends Select School
  • Crafting Effective Structures of Feedback: Who is the audience for a narrative comment? - Elise London, St. Mark’s School
  • Using Design Thinking to Find Ways to Support Students of Color - Jim Miller, Friends Select School
  • Hello. My name is... (An Orientation to Penn Charter’s Middle School) - Josh Oberfield, William Penn Charter School
  • Growth and Renewal:Developing a Staff Evaluation Process Aligned with Quaker Values - Jeanne Phizacklea, Friends School of Baltimore
  • Learning to Lead - Jay Rapp, The National Association of Independent Schools
  • When A Startup Grows Up: The Evolution and Care of Faculty Culture in a Young Quaker School - Gwen Rino, San Francisco Friends School
  • Fostering Meaningful Collaboration and Empathy - Christopher Sparks, Haddonfield Friends School
  • Joining Place and Person: A Four-Tiered Model for Global Justice Programming in Friends Schools - Shields Sundberg, Sidwell Friends School

2011-2013 Cohort

Action Research 2011-13

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2011-2013 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • Unfolding - Creating a Parent Journal for the Journey from Pre-Primary to First Grade - Cynthia L. Fox Barney, Friends School of Baltimore
  • Purposefully communicating in a small Quaker school - Michelle D. Blackwell, Goshen Friends School
  • Personal Learning Networks: Enhancing Relationships, Increasing Productivity, Growing Practices - Melissa Carroll, Buckingham Friends School
  • Adding Value to Teacher Evaluations - Mark Doty, Mary McDowell Friends School
  • Creating and sustaining an international program in a Quaker school - Jesse Dougherty, Friends Select School
  • Using Their Powers for Good: Student Government in the Manner of Friends - Kiri Harris, Greene Street Friends School
  • Factors Influencing Quaker Views on Friends Schools - Louis Herbst, United Friends School
  • New Revenue Streams for Small Quaker Schools - Drew Jennings, William Penn Charter School
  • Knowing Each Student Deeply: How do we pass on the knowledge and relationships to those who will care for our students next: How do we tell each student's story effectively and fully? - Dan Ohl, Moses Brown School
  • Peer Coaching and Collaboration as A Strategy for Teacher Feedback and Evaluation - A. Renee Prillaman, Carolina Friends School
  • Cultivating Collaboration: How can administrators foster and support meaningful collaboration between teachers? - Christy Reardon, Wilmington Friends School
  • How can peer-to-peer visitation evliven our practice as teachers? In what ways might the culture of a department or a school shift by opening doors to one another? - Christoper S. Singler, Germantown Friends School
  • How do low GPA's affect college matriculation and retention rates of African-American male students? - Brandon Woods, The Latin School of Chicago
  • Raising the Bar: Elevating Student Leadership - Anastasia Zink, Westtown School

2009-2011 Cohort

Action Research 2009-11

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2009-2011 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • Guiding a Friends School Community toward Answering to That of God in Everyone by Creating a Culture of Mentoring - Lauren Brownlee, Sidwell Friends School
  • Fostering a Connection with and Retaining Families of Color in a Friends School Environment - Melissa J. Brown, Wilmington Friends School
  • How do school leaders create an environment that honors the strong commitment of faculty and staff to their own work and builds and nurtures a trusting, ever-advancing professional community? - Shu Shu Costa, Princeton Friends School
  • How to Improve Retention and Enrollment in the Upper Division - Darrell Cotton, New Garden Friends School
  • How do schools create reflective spaces for teachers to encourage professional learning? - Trefor Davies, Brooklyn Friends School
  • How does curriculum coordination and development occur in a school culture characterized by teacher autonomy? How can such coordination occur in a way that acknowledges the culture, while encouraging the kind of collaboration that improves the educational experience of students? - Alexa Dunnington, Friends' Central School
  • Healthy Dynamics of Leadership and Involvement in Parent Groups - Annette Hearing, Westtown School
  • Stewarding the evolution of an established and multi-faceted program: How do you hold onto meaningful elements of the past while allowing a program to grow in operational and strategic dimensions? - Christopher R. Kimberly
  • What role does Simplicity play in the life of a Friends secondary school? - Travis J. Larrabee, William Penn Charter School
  • New Directions for Olney Friends School - Mary Ellen A. Newport, Olney Friends School
  • Creating a Truly Interdisciplinary Team-taught American Studies Course - Lee Payton, William Penn Charter School
  • Developing a meaningful Middle School Service Program that Serves as the Link Between the Lower School and Upper School Programs - Rachel Gomez Peterson, Friends Seminary
  • Closing The Gap: Supporting Urban Students and Families in Suburban Schools - Alexandra L. Rogers, Sprague Elementary School
  • Navigating the Transition to School Headship - Russell Shaw, Georgetown Day School
  • Founding a Quaker Upper School for Students with Learning Disabilities - Kirk Smothers, Mary McDowell Friends School

2007-2009 Cohort

Action Research 2007-09

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2007-2009 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • Communication and Outreach to Parents During a Time of Transition - Ken Aldridge, Germantown Friends School
  • How can school leaders effectively gather and decode honest, timely, and necessary feedback from their constituencies beyond the formal evaluation? - Brenda Boggess, Greenwood Friends School
  • How do Friends schools support students who are struggling academically? - David Brightbill, William Penn Charter School
  • What would it look like if clearness process were given a central place in Quaker education, similar to the place of Meeting for Worship? What are the possibilities for weaving reflective discernment, or its building blocks, into Friends education in an intentional way? - Janet Chance, William Penn Charter School
  • Learning Friends Schools: Explorations in Culture, Community and Idiosyncracy - Frank Fisher, Friends' Central School
  • The Role of Quaker Practices in Counseling in Friends Schools - Jennifer Gorzelany, Friends Select School
  • In what ways is Quakerism embraced in the leadership practices of Friends Schools? - Michelle Holland, Friends School of Baltimore
  • As a faculty leader, what is my role in helping to create empowering, engaging morale-building among faculty? - Sharon Andrews Livingston, Friends School Haverford
  • Determining the Future of Friends Schools - Dorothy Lopez, Moorestown Friends School
  • How can the structures and practices of a Quaker school nurture leadership and enhance collegiality within its faculty as a body? How can enhanced collegiality and the development of a culture that values leadership from within the faculty as a whole help fulfill a Friends school mission? - Laura Novo, Friends' Central School
  • The Role of Meeting for Worship at Sidwell Friends School - Michael Saxenian, Sidwell Friends School
  • In my new school, how can I work with parents effectively when I very rarely see them? - Marcy Seitel, Oakwood Friends School
  • Quaker Life for Non-Teaching Staff in Friends Schools: Lived Experience - Sarah Sweeney-Denham, Friends Council on Education
  • What role can veteran staff play in growing, fostering, and nurturing the sense of spirit in our schools and how can we best utilize their wisdom and expertise? - Ida Trisolini, Carolina Friends School
  • Forming a Collegial Support Group for Middle School Principals - Nancy van Arkel, Westtown School

2005-2007 Cohort

Action Research 2005-07

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2005-2007 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • How can teacher observation contribute to professional development? - Nancy Aranda, Westbury Friends School
  • How can we better listen to the voices of our international students and their families? - Anna Bertucci, Oakwood Friends School
  • How do Friends schools cultivate healthy governing bodies, providing strong leadership through strategic policy development and guiding fiscal support, within a framework of Quaker values? - Ari M. Betof, George School
  • Just Teaching: The development and sustainability of educators engaging in social justice work in K-12 Friends schools - Elaine K. Brigham, Opequon Quaker Camp
  • In what ways can Quaker schools incorporate Quaker faith and practice into the internal workings of the school? - Sean Compagnucci, Thornton Friends School
    Faculty decision making in a manner of Friends - Nancy Donnelly, United Friends School
  • Putting the "Friends" in Critical Friends Groups - Benjamin Dziedzic, William Penn Charter School
  • College Admission Process Anxieties - Peter Gaines, Abington Friends School
  • What does a head of school need to know about budgeting and finance to run the school, and how does a new head effectively "get up to speed" in a short time? - Lili Herbert, Friends School of Minnesota
  • Independent Projects at Friends Schools - Marianne Master, William Penn Charter School
  • Composing a Sustainable Headship - Eric Mayer, Westtown School
  • How can Friends Schools collectively address the absence and critical need for more diversity among senior level administrators in our schools? - Nathaniel A. McKee, George School
  • The Challenges of Leadership in Admission Directing - Laura Sharpless Myran, Germantown Friends School
  • Effective Functioning of Faculty Committees in Quaker Schools - Earl Sissell, Media-Providence Friends School
  • Current Mentoring Practices in Friends Schools and Developing a Mentoring Curriculum - Abigail Smith, Friends Select School
  • Co-Headship - Whitney Thompson, Brooklyn Friends School
  • Developing a new Faculty Evaluation and Professional Development Program at Sidwell Friends School - Rebecca Zug, Sidwell Friends School

2003-2005 Cohort

Action Research 2003-05

An Overview of Action Learning projects undertaken by members of the 2003-2005 Institute for Engaging Leaders

Included in this summary are:

  • Math, Race, and Evolving Ideas on Leadership - Dorothy Cary, Germantown Friends School
  • Building Sustainability Among Quaker Elementary Schools - David Eldridge, Friends School Mullica Hill
  • Counseling Out in Quaker Schools: Best Practices & Common Mistakes - Wilson Felter, Sandy Spring Friends School
  • Maintaining The Friendliness of a Quaker School in Today’s World - Terry Kessel, Friends Select School
  • Reflection in Action Research - Ted Lutkus, Westtown School
  • Action Research – Planned and Unplanned - Matt Micciche, Wilmington Friends School
  • Professional Development Action Research Project - Cecily Selling, Stratford Friends School
  • Nurturing Care Relationships: An Aspect of Leadership in Friends Meetings and Schools - Deborra Sines Pancoe, Abington Friends School
  • A Path Towards Cultural Change - Carol Swainson, Sidwell Friends School
  • Addressing Diversity Through a Coordinated Foundational Curriculum - Colette Weber, George School
  • Parent Education at Sidwell Friends Upper School - Bryan Garman, Sidwell Friends School
  • Capital Campaigns in Small Schools - Danny Karpf, Wilmington Friends School
Program Leadership
Joseph Marchese
Irene McHenry
Drew Smith
Retreat Dates for 2019-21 Cohort

November 11-13, 2019
Monday to Wednesday

April 1-3, 2020
Wednesday - Friday

November 11-13, 2020
Wednesday - Friday

April 20-22, 2021
Tuesday to Thursday

All retreats are held at Pendle Hill, 338 Plush Mill Road, Wallingford, PA 19086

Each fully residential retreat begins with gathering at 1:00 pm on the first day and ends at noon on the last, except the final retreat, which ends at 3:00 pm followed by a reunion of all Leadership Institute graduates.