I am well into my second year as marketing and communications manager at FSA. Last year, I spent the majority of my time in classrooms, getting to know the students and teachers and generally trying to figure out what made this school special, and, most importantly from a marketing standpoint, unique.
I tried my hand at making jewelry out of chain mail, I made animals and habitats out of Legos, I sat with the second graders while they tagged Monarch butterflies (and later jumped for joy with them outside as the monarchs were released into the wild), I marveled over the process and resulting masterpieces in art class, I learned how Buddies grow to love and rely on one another, I finally understood simple machines, I learned that I could actually be silent and still for at least 15 minutes (heck, if the 4-year-old kids could do it, so could I) and just how important downtime and play at recess was to the psyche.
I learned that FSA’s values-based approach informed by more than 325 years of Quaker Education was truly transformational; diversity was not contrived; it was simply part of the school’s fiber; the learning experience was hands-on and organically produced critical thinking and problem solving skills; the children were having a good time learning and they truly seemed to love their teachers; the teachers showed deep respect for the students, and the students showed deep respect for their fellow students and their teachers; and, finally, that our teachers are vulnerable. There were times I watched them learn something new along with the kids. Don’t get me wrong, this group of teachers here is as good as it gets; but how freeing to realize there is always something new to learn?
By the time Winter Break (2015/16) rolled around I was pretty sure I understood what made FSA special and unique. After all, only Friends schools can claim 325 years of experience and an oh-so-fun sounding acronym to communicate the pillars of a Quaker Education: SPICES! (Simplicity-Peace-Integrity-Community-Equality-Stewardship)
With my newfound knowledge and understanding, I attempted to reach more families and let them know about all of the wonderful learning happening here. I felt confident that I understood all facets of this place.
Indeed, I had it all figured out.
This was my belief…until graduation. That messed me up. I watched eighth graders dance down the aisle and across the stage to receive their diplomas. I heard their words of appreciation for their teachers, friends and an FSA education. These young people were full of courage and confidence in their ability to make a difference in this crazy world. I realized as the last graduate danced out of the Community Meeting Room that I had just witnessed something amazing and truly unique: PURE JOY. At that moment I also realized that the benefits of a Quaker education are profound, and I’ve only just begun to see the value.
By Marci Mitchell
Marketing and Communications Manager