How will the closing of grades 6, 7, 8 affect Friends School Haverford going forward?
Friends School Haverford began its middle school program in 2012 by introducing its first 7th-grade class, who graduated as 8th graders in 2014. Before 2012, Friends School Haverford was a through-sixth-grade elementary school for 126 years. As part of the school’s strategic plan, we want to maximize our financial resources by allocating them to the parts of the School that are growing--our early childhood program and elementary grades. While we are deeply saddened to close our middle school program, it focuses our investments in our School’s strongest aspects.
With a new terminal year of 5th grade, how will the elementary grades be configured next year and in the future?
Next year, we plan to have vertically-grouped classrooms as follows: K/1, 2/3, and 4/5. In recent years, we have been discussing that these new vertical groupings are more advantageous, particularly when it comes to social-emotional growth and reading instruction. In anticipation of a sizeable rising kindergarten group and the continued need for social-distancing in the fall, we are prepared to hire an additional lead K-1 teacher. As part of our strategic plan, we are growing enrollment in our early childhood program with the intention of separating the vertically-grouped classrooms over the next several years.
How will the closure of the MS impact coordinate classes and other areas of the academic program?
Friends School Haverford will offer a comprehensive and rich program including Art, Music, Physical Education, and Foreign Language. For the 2021-22 academic year, our elementary teachers will teach Science as part of their classroom program. With the temporary transformation of our Science Lab and Makerspace into classrooms (to accommodate social-distancing during the pandemic), we will not be hiring a K-5 coordinate Science teacher at this time.
We are pleased to announce that our part-time Reading Specialist, Marie Hawley, will have a full-time role beginning next fall. As the full-time Reading Specialist, Marie will serve as a school-wide leader and coordinator of our literacy instruction, working closely with classroom teachers as well as providing support to K-5 classes during Guided Literacy.
Beginning next year, each of our elementary classes (K/1, 2/3, and 4/5) will have a full-time assistant teacher who will collaborate with and support the lead teacher.
How will the closure of the MS impact the current Head of School search?
Our consultants at Carney, Sandoe, and Associates--Bob Vitalo and Burke Zalosh--have shared that the school’s new configuration will attract more candidates, especially those with extensive experience in early childhood and elementary education. The closing of the middle school grades will provide the next Head of School with a clearer focus for implementing the strategic plan, including growing enrollment.
How will Friends School Haverford’s Health and Safety plan change for the 2021-22 school year?
While it’s impossible to know for certain, we are planning to continue with many of the health and safety measures we’ve established this year. We will continue to follow all guidelines put forth by local, state, and federal agencies. We imagine this means that faculty, staff, and students will be masked throughout the school day and maintain social-distancing practices. We anticipate the continued use of the FeverFree app to monitor symptoms and make informed decisions to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. Given the information currently available, we are planning for students to be in family groups of 10-12 students per room. We are hopeful that by September, all of our faculty and staff will receive the COVID-19 vaccine.