By Donna Peterson, Guilford Campus Head, New Garden Friends School
We teach through a lens of respect.
Our students are given the honor and responsibility of being known.
The Quaker aspects of New Garden Friends School are seen foremost in the relationships among students, teachers, and parents. The belief that there is that of God in everyone essentially means that each person is worthy and deserving of respect, and has goodness within. Therefore, students observe the interactions between teachers and students as those of people who respect each other as individuals and treat one another with care and kindness. It is important to us that the uniqueness of each person is allowed to thrive at our school so that each student can be their true self and not have the need to pretend otherwise.
We accomplish this by being good observers of behavior and interactions, noticing small things and nuances that may affect someone and could be easily overlooked rather than addressed. We teach our students how to advocate for themselves and for others in the area of social justice. They expect to be treated fairly and also expect the same for their peers and teachers.
Our students are ordinary children who have conflicts with one another. What is different about a Friends school is that we teach our children the language to problem solve at a young age, to have their voices heard by others in a way that is earnest and heartfelt rather than filled with anger. Quakers practice non-violent conflict resolution and have a historical connection to a testimony of peace. Quakers believe that non-violence is the only possible response to aggression. This belief in non-violence permeates our school and gives students as well as their parents the peace of mind that NGFS is a safe place to be and to learn.
Seeing that of God in each person, advocating for equality and fairness, and using non-violent conflict resolution naturally develops into a community of learners. The environment that has been created is safe and happy and allows students to take academic risks as they learn.
Students learn to respect and practice truth and to know the various ways it can be found — through scientific investigation, creative expression, conversation, worship, service within the school community, and beyond. They are encouraged by word and example to respect the talents and perspectives of others, and include them in a cooperative, rather than competitive search for knowledge. *
In Teaching Children to Care, Ruth Charney states, “To feel safe, children must feel seen.”** The “Social Curriculum” helps us provide a safe, enriching school environment for every child. At NGFS, students experience the security of being seen and known. Mutual trust is born from this security. When our students feel seen, they are released to focus on their work. We take a proactive, explicit approach to teaching expected behaviors in the classroom. Through modeling, role-playing, and discussion, we explore appropriate attitudes and responses. Time is devoted to these fundamental skills, believing that they lay the foundation to encourage learning. In developmentally appropriate ways students are given opportunities to build the interpersonal skills necessary for the peaceful resolution of conflict.
We welcome you to visit our campus, located at 2015 Pleasant Ridge Road in Greensboro, to see this vibrant community in action and to envision your child as a part of our school.
*”What does a Friends School Have to Offer?” Friends Council on Education
**Charney, Ruth. Teaching Children to Care. Northeast Foundation for Children, 1992. Print.
~ Sponsored by New Garden Friends School