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SAIS Featured School: New Garden Friends School

Wednesday, October 4, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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At New Garden Friends School in Greensboro, NC, values matter. Preschool through 12th grade students are part of a community built on Quaker principles of equality, inclusivity, peace, simplicity, and social justice. Students learn these values in everyday practice through a purposeful social curriculum aimed at teaching children the importance of cooperating with others, responsibility, self-control, self-advocacy, empathy, and understanding that every voice matters. This is evident in small moments. Children of all ages are encouraged to speak out of the silence in Meeting for Worship if they feel moved to do so; students address teachers by their first names, which stems from the belief that every person deserves respect; all members of the community are challenged to both see themselves as agents of change and to actively engage in the world around them.

It is these embodied values that contribute to a successful service learning program at NGFS, and a cornerstone of a Quaker education. Every Friday in the lower school, and once per month in the middle and upper schools, students give back to the communities they are a part of through on and off-campus service learning. Totaling 5,000 hours of service each year, the integration of service into everyday life becomes something that is taught early on. Students come to own these skills and as they grow, they become aware of the needs of the community. Instead of viewing service as something that happens only once in a while, children get to experience what it means to truly help others on an ongoing basis. They form relationships and connections to the various partnerships and organizations. Many students, no longer content to simply learn about social issues, take initiative and became active participants in solutions.

In addition to a robust service learning program, another distinguishing facet of the New Garden Friends School experience is outdoor education. Learning goes beyond the classroom on extensive class level trips that enhance the curriculum and support the development of independence, adaptability, compassion, resiliency, and social responsibility. Beginning in third grade, students take fall and spring overnight trips that immerse them in a world outside their comfort zone. Children are challenged to apply life skills in a variety of situations: learning how to set up a tent, camping in the woods, rock climbing, hiking, comforting a homesick classmate, navigating a ropes course, canoeing, and, most of all, how to interact with their teachers and peers in a new and challenging environment. It is though these experiences that students become aware of their obligations as responsible local and global citizens.

New Garden Friends School seeks to be an inclusive, innovative educational community guided by Quaker beliefs and committed to honoring and developing each person's gifts. To learn more, visit www.ngfs.org

 

 


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