Last week, we welcomed our students’ grandparents and special people to spend the morning at Friends School of Minnesota. Visitors spent time in classrooms and gathered to hear a little about the school. I shared 10 Great Things Happening at Friends School of Minnesota:
1. It’s a milestone year as we celebrate 25 years of Quaker progressive education. We started in 1988 with 11 students and one teacher in basement rental space in a church, and have grown to our current 168 students in K-8, in this fabulous facility.
2. We are committed to accessibility. We are proud that we have never wavered from committing 1 of every 5 tuition dollars to need based tuition aid. This means over 35% of our students receive aid, which, this year totaled over $460,000. This commitment is remarkable among independent schools, especially small schools like ours.
3. We have amazing teachers who work hard to help students learn and grow. From a recent study, we learned what parents value most about FSM are the strong caring relationships with teachers. While all the teachers shine, I’d like to recognize several special honors received by FSM teachers this year:
- Art teacher Laura Pereira is a 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board grantee. This grant will allow Laura to spend her summer doing entomological research and encaustic painting.
- Middle school science teacher Steve Moe was awarded the Seagate Technology Science Mentor Award for his work with science fair participants
- Based on lower school’s teachers Janet Thometz and Chad Kampe‘s presentation on sexuality education, Friends School of Minnesota won the PFLAG Twin City Educator of the Year Award for promoting Safe schools for LGBT students and families
- Middle school humanities teacher Melissa Andersen was selected as one of 25 in the nation to participate in a three week National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers in Boston this summer.
4. The FSM community is strong and powerfully responsive to FSM families in need. This year, the community care committee raised money for a family for groceries, provided meals and support for a family dealing with terminal illness, and helped a parent recovering from heart surgery. It is a true gift that this support can be relied on, year after year.
5. We continue to incorporate technology into the curriculum in a way that is consistent with our core values and progressive approach. We don’t have technology for technology’s sake, but rather use it as a tool to foster learning. This month we ordered 80 Chrome books for use in 3rd-8th grades, supplementing the 40 laptop computers we use constantly.
6. Our specialist programs are thriving: art, Spanish, physical education, and music are critical not only in and of themselves, but also as ways to think about and approach the world. We are proud to have grown our specialty programs while many schools are cutting them.
7. Our graduates are well prepared for high school. It is gratifying every few years to collect lots of feedback from our former students. We learn that they feel ready for the wide range of high schools they attend, and that they learned life-long skills and values from their time here.
8. Our students, your special people, are incredible. We are diverse, in terms of religion, socio-economic background, racial and ethnic identity, family make-up, and learning strengths and profiles. And we learn to care about, from, and with each other.
9. We’re expanding our building! Our school committee approved a building project that will add art and Spanish classrooms upstairs, as well as spaces for small groups to work. No more Spanish on a cart! We are fundraising a third of the cost and have already raised over half the amount we need to. Donate to Friends School of Minnesota
10. We love sharing our school with you, friends and family of our fabulous students. We are honored you took the time to come see us on our Grandparents & Special Persons Day 2013. Thank you for coming!
-Lili Herbert, Head of School