What is a Quaker School? 5 Reasons to Choose a Quaker Education for Your ChildWritten 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.
Parents often explore alternatives to public school for a number of reasons. Many parents look for a school that teaches values and has a welcoming community. More personalized instruction and the opportunity for parents to be intimately involved in their children’s educational journey are also traits parents may be searching for in a school. And of course, parents hope the school will ensure that their child will graduate well prepared for 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. Additionally, thought-provoking questions, called queries, are a cornerstone of Quaker belief. Quakers use intentional silence to reflect on these queries during Meeting for Worship. Some well known Quakers include historical figures William Penn and Susan B. Anthony, author James Michener, philanthropist Johns Hopkins, and actors Judi Dench and James Dean.
At a Quaker school (also called a Friends school), these beliefs come to life in the classroom in a number of ways:
- Respecting others’ views and voices is a priority.
- Students are encouraged to ask questions, and learning is largely inquiry-based. Rather than simply memorizing facts or being lectured to, students engage with the material, explore curiosities, and share ideas.
- Silence and reflection are woven into the academic process, leading to deeper learning and understanding.
Students and families at a Friends school do not need to be Quaker. In fact, at most Quaker institutions, including Friends Academy, only a small portion of the population is Quaker. Additionally, Quakers value a diverse religious environment and do not engage in self-proselytizing.
Nonetheless, 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 kids to a Quaker School?
1. Quaker schools have values woven into their 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 testimonies 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 in to 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. Private 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 – which all 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. At Friends Academy, 100 percent of graduates matriculate to college, enrolling in some of the most competitive institutions around the country and world.
3. In a Quaker school, parent-teacher partnerships are valued and nurtured.
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 are both achieving their goals and developing strong morals. These partnerships are also at the heart of creating the warm and welcoming community that so many Quaker schools are known for.
4. A Quaker school cultivates 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.
- Personalized instruction.
Because a cornerstone of Quaker education is to see the unique potential in each student, small class sizes and personalized instruction allow each student to be seen, heard, and valued. Teachers are able to meet students where they are and more effectively cater to each student’s needs – both academic and social-emotional.
5. Quaker schools are home to an inclusive, welcoming community.
Community is one of the core values of Quakerism, and at many Quaker schools, your school community often feels like family. 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 ethnic and racial story through sharing of music, language, art, storytelling, and cuisine.
Because students at a Quaker school are therefore 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.
Learn more about Friends Academy by downloading our Virtual Viewbook!