Masked teacher teaching elementary school children.
All Heads Gathering and Honoring Five Longtime Heads

Friends Council provides programming and support for heads of Friends schools as they lead and guide our 76 member schools. In addition to monthly virtual gatherings for heads, Friends Council continued our longtime tradition of gathering heads of schools for the Fall Heads Gathering. This year 33 heads gathered in October for lunch, conversation and support at the Arch Street Meetinghouse. Heads then re-convened for an evening program hosted by Darryl J. Ford and William Penn Charter School (PA) to celebrate and honor five longtime heads retiring this coming spring: Brenda Esch, Darryl J. Ford, Waman French, Ed Marshall, and Debbie Zlotowitz. 

Daytime Conversations: anti-racism work and financial sustainability

Following lunch, the heads gathering kicked off with small-group meetings by race-alike affinity. Heads of color met with one another to share common issues and support. Heads who identify as white met to talk about how racism and white supremacy filter into their schools and what steps they might take to interrupt or uproot the entrenched patterns of racism. The goal was for heads to become a more active, anti-racist group of educators who can help one another uproot racism in schools and in society. 

Financial sustainability was also on the agenda. Heads engaged in rigorous dialogue, thinking together about the economic future of Quaker education. Drew Smith gave an update on the research study concerning strategic multi-campus schools being conducted by Rational Partners and Friends Council, supported by grants from the E.E. Ford and BLBB Foundations.

Evening Program: Honoring five heads retiring at the end of 2022-2023

October 27 veteran heads panel, from L to R: Darryl J. Ford, Debbie Zlotowitz, Waman French, Ed Marshall, Brenda Esch. 

What happens when you are the longtime head of the oldest Quaker school in the country and you are due to retire in the spring of 2023? When you are Darryl Ford, head of William Penn Charter School, you offer to not only host the Fall Heads Dinner at your school but also to collaborate with Friends Council to create a panel of peer weighty retiring heads as a means for lifting up their wisdom and celebrating their tenures.

On the evening of October 27, 2022 heads of schools gathered at William Penn Charter School for camaraderie and conversation during a reception and dinner hosted by Penn Charter and sponsored by CulinArt Group Following dinner, heads heard from a panel of five retiring heads who shared insights as they looked back on their long careers. They emphasized the importance of Friends Council’s support during their headship and presented remarks in response to the query, “Why does Quaker education matter to your school population and the world?”

We invite you to read the full remarks from the following longtime heads of school:

Brenda Esch, Head, Friends School of Wilmington (NC)  

Darryl J. Ford, Head, William Penn Charter School (PA)  

Waman French, Head, Friends School of Atlanta (GA)

Edward Marshall, Head, Greene Street Friends School  (PA)

Debbie Zlotowitz, Head, Mary McDowell Friends School (NY)

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