The Head's Perspective December 2018

Join me for periodic updates from Moorestown Friends School through The Head's Perspective. I hope to connect you with the exciting learning that is taking place every day on our campus. Please enjoy this snapshot of life at MFS.

Peace Feels...

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.

Students created "Peace-Full" bowls to capture some of the peace-inspired words that tie together the community project.
Celebrating the arts at MFS

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.

Alumni practice taking photos with Julia de la Torre.

Division Feature

In each issue of The Head's Perspective, I feature an activity or initiative taking place in our Lower, Middle, or Upper Schools. I hope you enjoy learning about some of the experiences that make Moorestown Friends School so special.

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.

Sorting food with 4th graders at the Food Pantry with Live Civilly; (at left) settling with breathing balls

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.

Spending time with NAIS President Donna Orem and MFS Director of Diversity and Inclusion Karen Washington

Dear Community Members: As the daughter of an Argentine and a German, I was incredibly proud to participate in the PoCC/SDLC with our students and faculty last month, not only as a school leader, but as Moorestown Friends School’s first female head of color. Women of color make up only 4% of heads of school in independent schools. People of color—both men and women—make up only 8% of independent school heads. Yet our schools are growing more diverse every year with multiracial students being the fastest growing minority population, and our country is predicted to be majority non-white by 2045. Representation matters in schools. It matters that our students see teachers and administrators who look like them, and it matters for students to see themselves and hear their voices in the books and materials used by their teachers. Representation matters, but it’s only one step towards creating a learning environment that is accessible to and supportive of all students. There is always work to be done in schools, and we are no exception. Yet during this season of gratitude, I am so thankful and proud to be a part of the Moorestown Friends School community, where there is a commitment not only to academic excellence but also to the Quaker values of equality and social justice, where all children are valued, heard, and seen. I am thankful for our student leaders who care deeply about our school, and I look forward to learning from and with them in the years to come. In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to thank you for being a part of the MFS community, and I wish you a peaceful winter break.

Happy Holidays