What is a Quaker School? 5 Reasons to Choose a Quaker EducationWritten by Friends Academy
Choosing the right school for your children is a crucial decision that can greatly impact their future. When choosing an alternative to public school, parents have an overwhelming number of options that can make it difficult to know where to start.
There are many reasons to explore alternatives to public school. Private schools often provide more personalized instruction and more opportunities to be intimately involved in their children's education. Many parents look for a school that teaches values in addition to a rigorous curriculum. And of course, parents hope the school will prepare their children for success in college and beyond.
Quaker schools — particularly Friends Academy, the #1 ranked K-12 private school and college prep school in Nassau County by Niche.com — provide the perfect blend of a rich academic program and timeless values to illuminate your child’s unique purpose.
What is a Quaker school?
A Quaker education is based on the beliefs of the Quakers, a Christian-based faith also known as the Religious Society of Friends. Often known for their focus on peace and non-violence, Quakers believe that there is that of God (or good) in everyone, referred to as the Inner Light.
Quaker schools make up some of the oldest and most established K-12 schools in the world. Also called Friends schools, these institutions continue to build a reputation as dynamic and impressive academic institutions.
In the US alone, there are 76 Quaker schools in 21 states, with approximately:
- 4,900 educators
- 20,000 students
- 1,160 estimated trustees or board members
Quaker values and beliefs come to life in the classroom in the form of robust student experiences and academically rigorous curriculums.
- Students at Quaker schools explore curiosities, share ideas, and build upon their peers’ ideas. Through thoughtful reflection, inquiry and a mutual respect for others’ views and experiences students gain a deeper understanding of each other and the course material.
- The curriculum at Quaker schools is largely inquiry-based. Students are encouraged to be curious, ask questions, work collaboratively and seek out new ideas. Thought-provoking questions, called queries, are a cornerstone of the Quaker educational system.
- Quaker schools help students connect the dots between what they learn and why it matters. Quakers believe that it’s critical to practice one’s values in the real-world. At Friends Academy, a vigorous school-wide thread of real-world learning connects students to each other and community partners.
- Diversity in education is crucial to a Quaker school experience. Students at Quaker schools are exposed to different ideas and ways of thinking, while also building respect for other people’s voices and opinions. Learning in a diverse environment presents students with opportunities to focus on positive identity formation, norm-setting, civic engagement, community building, and leadership skill development.
Students and families at a Friends school do not need to be Quakers. In fact, Quakers are only a small portion of the population in most Quaker institutions, including Friends Academy. Quakers value a diverse religious environment and do not engage in self-proselytizing.
The values that Quaker schools infuse into their academic program are unmatched, and Friends schools are often highly regarded for their educational excellence. As a result, there are a number of reasons parents looking for an excellent academic alternative to public school may be drawn to a Quaker school.
Why should parents send their children to a Quaker School?
1. Quaker schools weave values into the curriculum
The Quaker testimonies are often simplified into the acronym SPICESS — simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equity or equality, service, and stewardship. With even the youngest learners at a Friends school able to identify them, these values are woven seamlessly into the academic program.
For example, at Friends Academy:
- Three-year-old students in Playgroup learn about important “peacemakers” in history, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi.
- In fourth grade science, stewardship is intentionally tied into lessons about renewable energy resources.
- Eighth grade history students end their unit on the Holocaust with a Meeting for Worship with an equity-focused query.
In Upper School chemistry, students are tasked with finding alternative substances to make common products, all while considering financial, social, health, and environmental impact.
In today’s ever-changing world, a values-based education is more important than ever. A Quaker education prepares students to collaborate effectively, approach problems from a variety of perspectives, and use reflection as a tool for critical thinking.
2. Quaker schools develop smart and creative students who are well prepared for college.
Parents often gravitate toward private or independent schools for their academic rigor. Without the obligation to administer state-mandated standardized tests, private and independent schools have the freedom to dive more deeply into curriculum and offer students a more diverse and personalized course of study.
Many private and independent schools are also well known for their AP and honors programs, their high-quality arts and co-curricular programs, and their robust college counseling process — all of which help to develop well-rounded, college-ready students. In fact, 85 percent of independent school students enroll in college immediately following high school, compared to 69 percent of public school students, a 2018 NAIS-Gallup survey found.
Quaker schools are no exception. At Friends Academy, 100 percent of graduates matriculate to college, enrolling in some of the most competitive institutions around the country and world.
3. Quaker schools value and nurture parent-teacher partnerships.
The Quaker belief of seeing the light in everyone most certainly extends to parents and caregivers. In a Quaker school, teachers and administrators intentionally build and cultivate partnerships with parents and families through continuous dialogue.
Educators in Friends schools recognize that it does truly “take a village” to raise children who achieve their goals and develop strong morals. These partnerships are also at the heart of the warm and welcoming community that so many Quaker schools are known for.
4. Quaker schools cultivate an intimate learning environment
Another major draw of a Friends school is the inclusive, intimate environment in the classroom. This typically stems from two directly related priorities:
Small class sizes.
Because a cornerstone of Quaker education is to see the unique potential in each student, these priorities allow each student to be seen, heard, and valued. Teachers are able to meet students where they are and more effectively cater to their needs — both academic and social-emotional.
5. Quaker schools provide an inclusive, welcoming community.
Community is one of the core Quaker principles. Many Quaker schools strive to create a family-like community for parents and students. Friends schools often attract a diverse student body, welcoming families from different racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds — to name a few.
At Friends Academy in particular, community-building events are held throughout the school year. One favorite is Family Night, an event that celebrates each family’s unique cultural story through the sharing of music, language, art, storytelling, and cuisine.
Because students at a Quaker school are exposed to a variety of perspectives and encouraged to see the good in everyone, they are well prepared to be productive, empathetic members of their communities and the world at large.
Looking for a respected private school on Long Island? Connect with Friends Academy!
Long Island parents have so many options when it comes to choosing a great private school for their children. As the only K-12 Quaker school on Long Island, Friends Academy provides an unparalleled combination of academic excellence and enduring values.
To learn more about how Friends Academy can illuminate your child’s unique purpose and let their lives speak, you can download our guide to Understanding Quakerism as a Non Quaker below, request more information or review our admissions process. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Learn more about what a Quaker education offers by downloading our virtual guide!