Art of all kinds has the power to transform. For me, walking into Stokes Hall lobby to see the latest exhibit brings joy and life to my day. This last month at Moorestown Friends School has been brimming with the visual and performing arts. Whether through the winter concerts, early childhood interactive performances, the Fall musical, or student art exhibits - I have been impressed with the quality and depth of the work our students have created.
The large-scale community art projects at Moorestown Friends have been particularly exciting to see. The peace spirals (pictured here) were created by all students in grades Preschool - Grade 5 in order to reflect on the Quaker testimony of peace. What inspires me at MFS is students finding their own identity and voice, while contributing to something larger than themselves. This project, and many others, illustrate the power of collaboration and personal reflection through art.
Alumni Photo Journey
I believe in the power of images to tell stories. In the spirit of visual storytelling, I hosted an MFS photo journey with a group of alumni, which included some current school parents. I taught the group some basic tips and tricks of cell phone photography and then they scattered around campus to capture what MFS means to them through their own lens. We collected the photos and shared with each other what makes the Moorestown Friends community so special. Our group included alumni from the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 00s, who connected over common experiences and personal stories from their own time here. I look forward to hosting more of these photo journeys, so that I can not only learn from our alumni, but also appreciate the diverse experiences that make up our history.
Lower School: Mindfulness and Quaker Values
So far in my time here, I have learned that each member of the MFS community nurtures the spiritual life of others in their own creative ways. Every day, I have seen teachers, students, and adults inspire one another to pay attention to the Inner Light within themselves and in others. Ms. Bloom (2nd grade) supports faculty with a mindful minute during each faculty meeting. She started out the year by teaching LS faculty about how to use breathing balls with their students. Even my son in PK has brought home the practice as a way to settle and center himself. The 4th grade creates classroom rules inspired by six of the Quaker testimonies. Students practice making I-Statements and using empathetic listening throughout their time in the Lower School. Service to community is experienced in myriad ways, whether through the crafts of Thanksgiving Happening or field trips to donate and sort food at the Moorestown Food Pantry through Live Civilly. When visiting Middle School Meeting For Worship, I have been impressed with how vocal our 5th graders are, and I often wonder how they may have harnessed their inner voice during their time in Lower School. The importance of spiritual and ethical growth is a key part of our mission statement, and nothing compares to watching it in practice every single day, especially among our youngest learners.
People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference
From November 28 - December 1, a group of 11 faculty/staff and 6 Upper School students attended the People of Color Conference (PoCC) in tandem with the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Nashville, TN. Both of these events were sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and brought together nearly 6,400 people of color and white allies who share a commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice in our schools. Unlike most education conferences, this one was first and foremost about finding connection with others through shared identity, common challenges, and a collective vision for schools that are inclusive of all voices. Students and faculty attended keynote speakers, breakout workshops, and a variety of affinity groups in order to foster connection among participants. The highlight of the conference was having our student delegation present to our faculty/staff their biggest take-aways from the conference and their hopes for making the Moorestown Friends School community one that isn’t just richly diverse, but equitable and inclusive for everyone.