October 19, 2017

Traditions: In with the Old, In with the New

Preschool families enjoying Harvest Celebration 
In the past two weeks, our preschool, elementary, and middle school students all honored a 30-year Friends School tradition of celebrating Harvest and the change of the seasons.

Many of our school’s traditions, that are still such an essential part of our program, began three decades ago in a house on Marine Street just a few blocks west of the Boulder Public Library. It was there in 170 square feet that the first eight children went to school. Our Founders hired a teacher and the magic began.

Our Harvest Celebration was born there, along with our Silver and Gold graduation ceremony, Winter Celebration, and many of the other traditions that are still at the heart of who we are as a school.

Elementary students acting out 'Stone Soup'
In the preschool, teachers told and acted out the story of the Giant Pumpkin and families celebrated together with cider and school-made pumpkin bread.  In the elementary school, I told and helped others act out the story of Stone Soup, and families sat down together to share soup and other foods that all had contributed to.  In the middle school, our newest program, we love taking the best of the old traditions and also creating new:  our 6th and 7th grade students participated in community service, planting garlic and harvesting vegetables at Cure Organic Farm. They used some of the vegetables from the farm to create soup and other dishes to share with their senior partners at the  Brookdale Senior Living Community.

Middle Schoolers sharing a meal together
At all our Harvest Celebrations, we emphasize the importance of community and sharing.

As our school continues to evolve and grow, we keep many of our important traditions initiate new ones, and reshape old ones, just as we always have.

This year, our teachers have made the choice to reshape our traditional Elementary Movin’ & Boppin’ event.  A couple of years ago, we changed this tradition from a fund-raiser to a fitness-and-fun event only.  This year, teachers decided that instead of doing a one day Movin’ and Boppin’ event, they would make each of their team lunches a "Mini Boppin’ ".  Each month PE teacher (and Friends parent) Lindsey Hilliard gives our teachers a fitness-and-fun challenge for their team.   This way, our students will Move & Bop each and every month, rather than just once.  We think it’s an important enhancement!

At Friends School, we believe that a great education is founded in the myriad of life’s meaningful personal experiences and connections. Being part of a community where everyone feels connected significantly enhances learning. Our school is a place where everyone is nurtured and respected for his or her individuality and contributions to the good of the whole. We hold in high esteem rituals and traditions that help children develop self-awareness and understanding of themselves as part of the bigger world.

In our new Middle School, traditions are important and evolving. Our oldest students participate in some of our most cherished traditions, such as Winter Celebration, buddy classes, and the upcoming Halloween costume parade. Traditions help us feel a sense of belonging to our larger community. At a time when middle school students may face pressures to grow up quickly and to think of school as less than a joyful and exciting place, these connections provide a different, more nurturing perspective.

We love our Friends School traditions and celebrations. As Tevye says, “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as a fiddler on the roof!" 

October 12, 2017

Building Resilience through an Inventive Process

Our North campus was alive with students from four different grades on Tuesday of this week: the sixth and seventh graders who call the campus home and our fourth and fifth grade classes as well.

The fifth grade class spent the morning at our annual Step Up Day, which gives our oldest elementary students a taste of the middle school experience that will soon be upon them.

Leigh Houser’s fourth grade class joined the fifth graders for the afternoon, as the students took over our amazing middle school Maker Space and our dedicated Teacher Preparation Program classroom to work on their fantastic inventions.

Leigh, and fifth grade teacher Liz Richards, have been inspiring their classes jointly in an integrated unit of study that combines science, entrepreneurism, art, field trips, language arts, history, and an inventive spirit!

They’ve taken field trips to factories in the area, and hosted a panel of experts last week who discussed the role of inventiveness in business, as well as the patent process.

Liz and Leigh have designed an energizing course, which will culminate in an Invention Convention, which challenges their students through a generative and creative thinking process called S.C.A.M.P.E.R. 

SCAMPER was first introduced by educational administrator and author Bob Eberle to address targeted questions that help solve problems or ignite creativity during brainstorming meetings. The name SCAMPER is an acronym for seven techniques: (S) substitute, (C) combine, (A) adapt, (M) modify, (P) put to another use, (E) eliminate and (R)

Liz and Leigh have challenged their students to think about common everyday problems and to create a devise to help solve the problem. They shared stories of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and how often they failed before succeeding.

Our fourth and fifth graders came up with a long list of irksome everyday problems.  A few of my favorites include inventions that:

- help you not run out of snacks at parties
- provide a safe for your school locker
- retract bristles on a hairbrush to avoid entanglement
- combine your toothbrush and flosser
- reduce waste at the water fountain
- help Leigh remember where her keys are
- reduce the stink in your cat’s litterbox
 - prevent Callie’s rabbit of dragging straw around the house

Using the tools available in our Maker Space, and materials gathered by teachers and families, our students spent the afternoon building and testing and re-building their prototypes.  Creativity was everywhere!

On the car ride back to the South campus, three fourth grade boys excitedly shared with me numerous details about their inventions, their process, their need to be resilient, their teamwork with fifth graders, and their hopes for success.

Extensions of the invention work include logo design, creating ad campaigns, persuasive writing, and mini research projects on different inventors.

When I asked Liz what the biggest take-away that she thought her students would get from this process, she didn’t hesitate to say resilience, or what she called stick-to-it-ness!  There have been ideas, and revised ideas, and attempts, and failures and success.

I am grateful to these two master teachers, Leigh and Liz, for the amazing learning experience they provide for their students every day. 

October 5, 2017

Guest author: It Takes a (Friends School) Village

Melanie Leggett, our Director of Admissions, takes the pen this week to write a guest blog. What a wonderful story!

Roy, Willa and Mel Leggett
Everyone’s heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child. Unfortunately, there’s all kinds of research out there that our society no longer has those villages, and that raising a kid today is an entirely different proposition then it used to be, without the support that used to be there for new parents. To those researchers I say… you must not have talked to anyone at Friends School. My daughter Willa turns one on Monday, and writing this blog brings tears to my eyes as I reflect on what a powerful village this place has been for my family over the past year.

The Friends village was there for my family before Willa was even born. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and taking a 3-month break from my job would normally give me extreme anxiety. In this case though, Mari Engle Friedman, our former Admissions Director, out of her love for the school, agreed to step briefly out of retirement. Having Mari in charge was a huge relief, and let me truly concentrate on Willa, knowing everything was in great hands and would be here when I came back.

Parent and trustee Mo Espinoza holding
Willa at a meeting
Once Willa was home, the Friends village continued to provide, this time in the form of food – almost more food than one family could handle! It was so nice in those first weeks of maternity leave to have visitors bringing us treats and sneaking in a few Willa snuggles. We were so spoiled, from so many people, that I can’t name them all. However, special thanks go out to Mandy Stepanovsky, who stopped by every other day for weeks on end making deliveries from Friends.

When my maternity leave was over, a few truly challenging months were upon us. I know that I am so fortunate to have a healthy baby and a safe and comfortable life to raise her in, but that being said, my first few months back at work were hard!! Willa refused to take a bottle, which took all of our well thought out plans for my return to work, and threw them right out the window. My Friends village took this in stride, told me they had been there too, and asked what they could do to help. Willa’s very first babysitter was Steve’s daughter Emma, who watched her at Friends during my first week back at school. Over the next few months, I essentially had to set up a nursery above the preschool, and between my husband, a babysitter, and various staff members and parents volunteering to be Willa holders, I was able to do my job, and Willa was able to be fed. Where else can you work where the board chair offers to take your kid for a walk so she can sleep and you can give a tour?!

In addition to helping me take care of Willa, Friends School also took care of me. Somehow it seems like this story keeps coming back to food, but I couldn’t talk about the village without mentioning its chef, Dacia. Dacia’s lunches were bright spots in my busy days, and gave me the fuel I needed to be a working mom. I was also sent home with quite a few dinners, and as everyone knows, food = love.

Just another day in the office!
Although those first months back at work were challenging, they were also lovely. Having Willa around led to many new connections with parents, staff, and kids. From conversations on the playground commiserating about our kids refusing bottles, to casual offers of amazing baby gear (basically every stroller and carseat that Willa has came from a Friends parent!), the parent community wrapped Willa and I in their collective arms. One parent told me about a story she had heard on NPR about how happy lives aren’t necessarily made up of huge moments, but instead a bunch of small positive moments, and that when she heard that, she thought of our middle schoolers lighting up when they got to see Willa. I think that was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Instead of feeling like having Willa at work was a burden, everyone – from kids, to parents, to teachers, to staff – made me feel like getting to see her was a privilege. Even now, the most common greeting I get most days is “where’s Willa?!”

Today is a momentous day for me – it’s the first day since I went back to work last January where I didn’t need to go feed Willa on my lunch hour. She’s drinking milk from a sippy cup now (never did get that bottle!), and eating food, and can make it through the day without me. But it feels great to know that if she couldn’t, my village would help make it work.

This is just my small story of how our community was there for me. I’ve seen hundreds of more examples, big and small, of our village being there for people over my three years at Friends. Our village is powerful, and it’s real. I challenge all of you to think about our village, and how you contribute to it. Think about how you can make someone’s day, be it parent, student, or staff, a little brighter. And know that if the day comes when you or your child needs a little help, the village will be there for you, too. 

September 28, 2017

A New Head of School for Friends

Honor Taft, our Head-Elect
By now, you have heard the news that Friends School’s Community Board has named Honor Taft as our next head of school, to begin on July 1, 2018.  If you missed the announcement, you can read it here.

I am tremendously excited by this news.  I am confident that Honor is the best person to take the helm at Friends and I look forward to working with her to assure the best transition of leadership possible. 

Honor’s background at both Bank Street College of Education and The Klingenstein Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, both in New York City, give her the finest education and training for headship in a progressive, child-centered school like ours.  She has extensive leadership experience in multiple roles in independent schools and she has already told me how thrilled she is to have been selected as our next head of school.

Honor, as well as other finalist candidates, spent two full days at our school.  Over those days, she met with the Community Board and with a number of search support committees, our teachers and staff, parents, students, and alumni.  Many members of our community, myself included, spent a brief amount of time with her.

However, our Search Committee has been working diligently since last spring preparing for this moment.  They have put in countless hours in reading applications and resumes, holding interviews, reflecting, conducting research, debating, making reference calls, and making sure that Friends left no stoned unturned in finding the best new head.

On behalf of the entire Friends School community, I would like to extend my deep appreciation for the unseen and dedicated work of our search committee, ably led by Board Chair Elizabeth Henna.  They are Maureen Espinoza, Diane Hullet, Anne Hunter, Mindy Mullins, Howard Rubin, Chris Wirth, Liz Richards, Jessie Vanden Hogen, Erika Norman, Meg Hansen, and our Founder Trustees Bev Cole, Larry Gold, and Hope Morrissett.

We also owe gratitude to our search consultants from the firm Carney Sandoe & Associates who guided our process to this excellent conclusion: Jake Dresden and Ben Bolté. Many groups and individuals deserve thanks for their participation in this process, and Elizabeth Henna expresses those thanks in her earlier letter to the community.

While the search committee did the bulk of the heavy lifting, it is ultimately our Community Board who had the final vote on selecting the new head of school.  The fact that the vote was unanimous speaks volumes for our community’s faith that Honor is indeed the best person for the job.

Now that we know the identity of our next head, it becomes our collective responsibility to make sure Honor is successful in her new role.  I am very much looking forward to connecting frequently with Honor in the coming months to pass on my knowledge and understanding of Friends School, and I will remain available to her even after formally passing the torch.  We have already been in touch.

Trustee Jenefer Donovan will lead the school’s Head Transition Committee.  Jenny has rich experience in independent school governance and will lead a fantastic team in planning and achieving as smooth a transition as possible.  Working alongside Jenny and her team, I will do all that I can to create a seamless handoff.

In the meantime, there is still plenty to do, and many months ahead, for me to work with the staff, teachers and trustees, and of course our students, to ensure our school remains a happy and connected place of learning, moving forward, and fulfilling our goals for the year ahead.

The future of Friends School is in great hands. 

September 21, 2017

Science, Bike Racing, Photography, Massage – He’s Done It All!

Kevin Nugent, in a 7th grade science lab class this week
One of the unique aspects of my job is that I get to spend part of most days on each of our campuses. Perhaps more than most of my colleagues, I am lucky enough to witness first hand all of the amazing learning happening at Friends in all four of our programs: preschool, elementary, middle school, and teacher preparation.

Many of you on our South Campus do not yet know Kevin Nugent, one of our middle school teachers.  His is a fascinating story to tell. Very few of our teachers have the following on their resumés: 

  • professional bike racer
  • massage therapist
  • professional photographer
  • HTML coder/web page designer
  • dermatology research assistant
  • science teacher
  • and stay-at-home dad!
All that, and last year Kevin won the Outstanding Teacher Award at the 2016 Front Range Regional Science Fair.

He presents annual workshops at GESTEM (Girls Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Math). One of his projects involves harvesting DNA from cheek cells, isolating it and creating DNA necklaces from pipettes! He has run botany/ecology-based camps for low income elementary and middle school students at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal wildlife refuge and has enjoyed being a Big Brother mentor to the same person for the last 23 years!

In addition to his full-time teaching work, Kevin has also taught at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where he created a professional development program for elementary teachers (funded by the Colorado School of Mines) on the neurologic benefits of integrating movement-based learning to improve classroom outcomes.

And now, for the second year, he is our middle school science and homeroom teacher.

With a resumé like his, Kevin came to teaching relatively late, in his late thirties.  An eleven-year veteran now, he is thrilled to be part of the pioneer teaching team at Friends middle school.

Every day, I see him with our middle school students and I appreciate how much he truly loves teaching this age group. He simply ‘gets’ their energy, thinking, humor, and individuality. He helps each of his students explore their passions while preparing them for the academic, social and emotional opportunities that lie ahead as they continue their journey beyond our classrooms. As their teacher, he sees each student, not only academically, but as a dynamic, perpetually changing and evolving person.

Kevin graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication. Since then he has followed what you might say is a non-linear vocational and personal path.

As an eager bike racer, Kevin endured being teased in middle and high school about his shaved legs and irregular tan lines! He went to the mountain biking world championships in Mammoth Mountain, California before switching to racing road bikes in college.  He did not turn professional initially in the hopes of competing at the Olympic trials.  He also fell in love with track racing.  Kevin still commutes on his bike to our north Boulder campus from his home in central Denver.  While he often combines his bike ride with the bus, he has been known to ride all the way home.  Just last school year alone, Kevin clocked 3,600 commuter miles getting to Friends middle school! No small feat!

Kevin’s students experience him as passionate, knowledgeable teacher who has boundless energy.  Kevin is dedicated to Friends, telling me that he is proud to be part of the team that originated our
new middle school program last year and he is thrilled to be continuing to help grow it this year. He is in love with our school philosophy of knowing and teaching to the whole child and he appreciates being given the flexibility to use his diverse background and expertise to cultivate individual relationships with each learner.

As well as an obviously keen cyclist, Kevin loves high altitude mountaineering, snowboarding, camping, chess, all things technology, learning to play the guitar, in-line skate racing, and photography (he still maintains his professional studio in Denver). 

He is an all-go kind of guy, and we’re fortunate to have his energy on our middle school team. 

September 14, 2017

Friends is a Leader in Technological Learning

5th grade students build racing chariots from Sphero robots. 6th graders create security systems for their lockers from Little Bits components. 3rd grade students use a design process to identify problems and innovate solutions using Google SketchUp. 

7th graders construct rubber-band powered cars utilizing the 3D printer in the Maker Space at our North Campus. 1st graders develop and test solutions on Kodable and during their Hour of Code.  Middle schoolers research the origins of the minerals used in computer parts and study the impact on the local communities, as well as designing and building their own electronic circuits.

In both our middle and elementary schools, students have been pushing the bounds of their learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math.)

Our talented technology teachers, Librarian deana harragarra waters in the elementary school and Director of Technology Stephen Butler in the middle school, inspire our students every day with an ever-evolving curriculum that stays current with the times.  Through PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) and keeping up with latest research, our teachers ensure that Friends School’s technology curriculum is ahead of the curve.

The goals of our technology courses are broad and deep, preparing students for high school, college and professional careers that await them, careers that may not yet exist. We want our students to be informed global and digital citizens, creative problem solvers, constructors of knowledge and meaning, design solution innovators, outstanding communicators, and thoughtful collaborators.

“Over the past 100 years, literally thousands of studies have shown benefits from the use of technology, while others report higher achievement with classroom instruction, and even more result in “no significant difference.” I, like others, believe that such mixed results reveal that the design of instruction makes the difference in learning, not the medium used to deliver the instruction. The question is no longer if technology
enhances learning, but rather how do we improve our use of technology to enhance learning?”
- Atsusi Hirumi, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Central Florida

That final question drives our instruction.  How do we at Friends improve our use of technology to improve learning? Meeting or exceeding ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards, Stephen and deana support their students in leveraging technology in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in STEM.

With enough iPads and laptops in the middle school for every student and, in the elementary building our iPad cart of 20 devices, enough for every class, and 12 computers in our library-based computer
deana harragarra waters
lab, as well as a growing arsenal of robotics kits and coding tools, Friends School is well equipped to remain on the cutting edge of technological learning.

Resources used in our technology classrooms include, but are not limited to:
Stephen Butler
Kahoot, Sumdog, Brain Pop, NoREDInk, Starfall, Follett Destiny Discover, Biblionasium, Google Classroom, Kid Blog, Google Be Internet Awesome, ReadWriteThink, Internet Library for Kids, Google SketchUp, Scratch, Hour of Code, Kodable, Google CS First, Keynote, iBook, Doogle Draw, Android Yourself, Storybird, Canva, Padlet, AutoDraw, Lego WeDo, Sphero, Cubelets, and more…..

Our students are challenged to create, to make, to invent and to problem solve in a wide range of modalities that spark their creativity and interest. Thank you to deana and Stephen for their expertise, passion and leadership for our school. 

September 7, 2017

Meet Fe – Welcome Home!

We have a new face at the front door of the elementary school.  New, but not really.

All of our elementary families, and many of our other families, have now met Fe (pronounced “Fay”) Baran who began last month as our front desk coordinator.  And if you haven’t connected with Fe yet, please stop by the elementary building and introduce yourself.

This is not Fe’s first tour of duty with Friends School. Her two children have now flown the nest as college students.  Lucy started at Friends as a Kindergartner and is now a junior at Mills College in Oakland.   Brewer, who went through Friends School from preschool to 5th grade, is a freshman at Columbia College in Chicago, Fe’s hometown.  Fe is also the aunt of current Friends 7th grader Tanner.

As a parent, Fe was a volunteer-supreme for our community.  At various moments, she was the Parent Council co-Chair, she co-chaired the school’s annual auction, she produced the yearbook, chaired and helped organize Parent Work Day, volunteered in the classroom, and drove on countless field trips.  This was a time Fe likes to call the ‘unpaid years’!  Now she is back, on the payroll, and extremely happy to serve as the face and voice of Friends School.

Brewer, Lucy and Fe during their early years at Friends
Fe and her husband Mark chose Friends for their children for many reasons.  As they toured our
school for the very first time, they were struck by how aesthetically pleasing the campus was, how much art they saw everywhere, and the celebration of childhood that was evident throughout. It felt like home.

Fifteen years after that first impression, Fe is back helping to create the same warm welcoming atmosphere for today’s families and visitors.

Fe says that Friends has been and continues to be a second family for her.  The teachers, parents and staff who were here when Brewer and Lucy attended Friends (many of whom are still here!) were her village who helped her and Mark raise their kids.

Fe was born and raised in Chicago, under the shadows of Wrigley Field, home to her beloved Cubbies.  Last year, of course, was a huge one for a lifelong Cubs fan when the team finally won the World Series after 108 years!  She followed her two older siblings to CU as an undergraduate studying biology, and never left Boulder. It is Chief Niwot’s curse, she reminds me.

Mark and Fe's company 'Distinctive Threads' donated
our 30th Anniversary shirts to the whole staff!
After her children graduated to middle school, Fe began volunteering at Platt and soon was hired on as a part-time registrar, and then as a health room and school support assistant. She also worked for Starfall Education Foundation, a resource created to help children learn to read.

Now back at Friends School, she has returned home and is having so much fun! She notices the same core values at the school that were here fifteen years ago: the small class sizes, the importance of teachers knowing children deeply, the focus on social and emotional learning, the great feeling of community.  In addition to all of that, she also remarks that, over the years, Friends has developed into even more of a streamlined and professional operation.

The supportive and inspiring teachers and staff at Friends helped Fe and Mark raise their children.  Fe is excited and honored to be back so that she can return that favor to our children and families today.

We are excited and honored that she is back. Welcome home, Fe! 

August 31, 2017

Friends School Publishes Updated Curriculum for Preschool-8th grade

Our teaching faculty is proud to share with you our newly revised curriculum guide that spans all ages and grades across all subject areas.

While Friends teachers have always had a clear and well-articulated curriculum, we have not had an easy-to-follow guide for parents on our website.

Our newly updated curriculum guide not only articulates the skills and concepts that our students learn, it also captures the essence of what makes the Friends School program so distinctive, engaging, and successful. It is a worthwhile and useful tool for both current and prospective parents. 

Friends School’s curriculum meets or exceeds all standards and guidelines for accreditation with the Association of Colorado Independent Schools as well as Colorado state standards.

You will discover a new beautifully designed grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject chart.  All subjects are documented, in preschool, elementary school and middle school. (The only exceptions are technology and library skills, which are coming soon.)

In addition we have refreshed, re-written, and re-titled the former Curriculum Updates, which give a more holistic overview of each school subject. These Curriculum Overviews in math, science, reading, Spanish, social emotional learning and assessment, will be up on the website in a few short weeks. Overviews on social studies and writing are in the works. Other subjects will be forthcoming. These Overviews are comprehensive essays that describe Friends School’s philosophy and curriculum from Preschool through 8th grade, lucidating the essence of our dynamic academic programs. 

The preschool, elementary school and middle school sections of our website also contain other useful information that highlight our programs.

All of our Friends School teachers believe deeply in engaging our students by emphasizing an experiential and integrated curriculum, focused on academics, problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, and social responsibility. Skilled teachers identify children’s
natural curiosity as building blocks for a flexible yet structured curriculum that engages students, stretches their abilities, and simultaneously helps them develop their respect for others.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all of our teachers who have worked for a year on this project.  In particular, I am extremely grateful to Associate Head of School Mandy Stepanovsky for spearheading and being the lead writer on the elementary curriculum project, to Middle School Director Shelby Pawlina and her team for the middle school project, to our entire preschool team, and to Director of Marketing and Communications Meg Hansen for all her design work on making everything so aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. 

Please take some time to check out our new curriculum guide.  All feedback is very welcome. 

August 24, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Dear Friends School parents and friends,

Welcome back to school and to this Among Friends column for the 2017-18 year.  Each week, I will share stories of many of the great people and events that occur in and around the school.  I like to think of this as a place for me to share my window on life at school with all of you.

On Monday, in an event that was highlighted on the front page of the New York Times of August 14, 1932 (yes, THIRTY TWO!) we all looked skyward.  Here in Boulder the moon eclipsed only 93% of the sun.  The day before our elementary and middle schools opened, our teachers left their planning meetings and our administrative staff took a break from their desks to marvel at the sight.
5th graders viewing the eclipse

Many of our Friends School families, and several of our staff, traveled northward to parts of Wyoming and Nebraska to experience totality. Despite the teeming traffic, everyone I spoke with told me that to witness a total eclipse of the sun, even for only two minutes, was an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Reports of 360º sunsets, rapidly falling temperatures, and the opportunity to see the sun’s corona were impressive enough.  For many people however, the physical occurrences did not seem to match the emotional transformations that they experienced.

Articles have been written on the energetic impact of a total solar eclipse.  Some have indicated that a unique moment like this may change our moods or perhaps even have an impact on shifting our collective consciousness.  This is powerful stuff.  

Joining our elementary students at their back to school gathering
Many people who witnessed totality firsthand were completely awestruck, in the true sense of the word. They were overcome with emotions at what they saw.

An eclipse can be a time of new beginnings.

So how appropriate was it that we invited our Kindergarten and new elementary families to picnic with us at school on the very same day?

New beginnings….and a new school year that we fully anticipate will also go beyond the physical and will be emotionally transformative for our students and families.

Middle school students on the first day of school
Beyond the standard things that all schools do – reading and writing and math and science and PE and recess (and more) – our aim is that our skilled teachers will connect with your children energetically.  They will support our students’ social and emotional development.  They will help them to learn new friendship skills, inspire them to reach new heights both academically and intrapersonally, and hold them up when they need a hand.

That’s why we are all here at Friends School: not simply for school as you and I may have experienced school, but for a transformative experience that will last a lifetime.

At Friends School, we are both challenging minds and nurturing spirits. Welcome to the journey. 

June 13, 2017

Summer at Friends School

Welcome to summer at Friends School.  Blog posts will not appear over the summer, but there are plenty of other good things happening at Friends while school is out.

Our fabulous summer programs are in session through the end of July – both the Backyard Camp for preschoolers and day camps in the arts (theater, cooking, creative writing, circus and more!) and STEAM (science, computer programming and more!).  You can get all the information you need here.

Several of our teachers and staff are busy attending conferences and other professional development opportunities both in Colorado and out of state. A few examples:  Directors of the Middle and Elementary Schools, Shelby Pawlina and Mandy Stepanovsky, are attending an independent schools division directors’ conference in Santa Fe.  Kindergarten teacher Annika Nygren is at a multi-day math training in Denver. Admissions Director Melanie Leggett is attending a national conference in Orange County, CA.  5th grade teacher Liz Richards and 6th/7th grade teacher Diane Bramble will be at Teachers’ College at Columbia University in New York.

There is a lot of work going on at both campuses.

At our South (preschool and elementary school) campus, we will be replacing the Great Room floor with a specialized gym floor and replacing all of the lighting.  We will upgrade the parking lot, top-seed our preschool and elementary lawns, update the preschool bathrooms, and modernize our signage to reflect our new brand.

At our North (middle school and Teacher Preparation Program) campus, we will finish the vestibule, move forward with Phase II of our landscaping project, open our new TPP teaching classroom, and also upgrade the parking lot, fencing, and signage.

In addition, behind the scenes, we will be finalizing our ACIS Accreditation First Year Response, updating the website and other collateral with the new brand, reviewing and updating our curriculum overviews in each academic area, planning for a new orientation for our new families, finalizing plans for 7th grade, planning parent education events and communications on school safety, and continuing to build our online curriculum.

On this Among Friends website, you can peruse back at various stories from this past school year as well as the last few years.  Please take time to visit our school’s website to learn more about our school.

Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful summer!