GSFS Appears on WURD
Erica Snowden, Clerk of GSFS’s Diversity Committee and 3rd
Grade Teacher and Shayna Bayard, Former President of the GSFS Parents
Association and current Board of Trustees Member, recently sat down with WURD
to discuss diversity at Greene Street Friends School. During their
conversation, Erica and Shayna shared their experiences as GSFS parents and
community members. Both spoke about why they chose GSFS for their children and
the unique emphasis GSFS places on affirming the individual identities of each
Here’s a brief overview of their conversation:
What Does Diversity Look Like at GSFS?
ES: Quaker schools were founded on certain values like equality, leading Quakers to be involved in various equality movements. You see Quakers, for example, in the Abolitionist Movement. So, our foundation and mission goes back to equality. We want to provide an affordable education that’s available to all and affirms the identities of each student. We have a really diverse population, in terms of race, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. We have strong programs like affinity groups in 7th-8th grade, our PA Cares group to talk about racism and what’s going on right now, and our teachers participate in a variety of professional development opportunities. Our preschoolers, all the way up to the adults, take a moment of silence to center ourselves and think about who we are and how we can be better in this world before each meeting.
Shayna, Talk About Both Being a GSFS Parent and Your Involvement In These Programs
SB: As a parent, you have to be intimately involved in their education. You have to go there, see the teachers, know who they are, and be very involved. We immediately became involved 4 years ago to become partners with GSFS.
Shayne, What Did You See at GSFS That Made You Think This Was a Place Your Children Would Thrive?
SB: For me and my husband, it was an immediate feeling of warmth, safety, and assurance that our children could be exactly who they are. All of the childrens’ identities are celebrated. If the leader of that school speaks that, it filters down and ours does.
Erika, What’s Coming Up in the Spring?
ES: Last night we had our Winter Concert that really displayed our warmth and welcome. Each of our students is invited to find their inner Light and what shines about them. We love helping them blossom and cultivate their gifts, empowering them to confidently sing in front of 300 some people. This morning our Head of School talked with Lower School about the new building that’s coming in 2018. Right now we’re a school of 305 kids, two classes per grades, PreK-8th grade. The new building allows us to have more programs at the school. The great thing about our strategic vision is that the building will also help us reach out to the Germantown community. We currently have partnerships with Wister and an Assisted Living Home that our 2nd graders go to and read to residents. We have sports, a new drama program, spring musical, and lots going on. Interested parents should come and take a tour, see who we are. You see a diverse community and kids learning in different ways, at their own pace.
What Are the Real Time Costs In Providing This Kind of World Class Education?
The Board of Trustees are all dedicated to making sure GSFS’s mission is made reality. The school has grown over the past several years and we want to make sure it’s a safe, open space that’s open to the community. As Erika mentioned, GSFS has programming with a local elementary school and the new building will allow this relationship to deepen.
Erika, Discuss the Choices Parents Are Making Sending Their Children to GSFS
ES: I’m a product of public school education, but started my teaching career at a Quaker school. My daughter has been going to Quaker schools from Pre-K to 8th grade. The type of education you get at GSFS is a 360 degree circle that develops the full child. Will my child have a sound academic curriculum? Absolutely. But we’re also trying to form productive citizens of this world. Our 8th graders might go to a public high school, but we hear back that they take our values into the public high school. Maybe they notice cliques in the cafeteria or build relationships with their teachers to advocate for themselves. They learn conflict resolution techniques in our Life Skills Curriculum. This will be our second summer hosting Horizons at Greene Street Friends, which invites 15 children from the neighborhood for an 8 week summer enrichment program. They got reading, writing, fresh lunches, music, and art. We’ve made this connection with Wister Elementary to do this. We are trying to give back to the community so that we all can grow.
How Can Parents Learn More?
Visit the GSFS website, talk with our Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Leanne Clancy, and come for an Open House or tour.
You can hear their full conversation here.