This is one parent’s opinion on why they chose Germantown Friends School. Help other parents–take five minutes to complete an anonymous survey to tell PSS and our readers about your school choice!
Date Submitted: 2/3/2011
What school did you decide on? Germantown Friends School
Calendar year your children entered: 2007
Grade your children entered K and 2nd grade
What neighborhood are you in? Center City
What schools did you consider? Friends Select, William Penn Charter, Friends Central, Greene Street Friends, Penn Alexander Public School (University City)
What factors were most important to you? Reputation, Teaching Philosophy, Teacher Quality
What first attracted you to the school? We were relocating to Philadelphia from New York where our elder child had attended Kindergarten and first grade at Friends Seminary (a K-12 Quaker school in Manhattan). We were looking for a school with a similar philosophy so we chose to look at the Quaker schools in Philadelphia. GFS came up often in discussions with friends and family, many of whom have never lived near Philadelphia (but knew of the school’s excellent academic reputation).
What were the critical factors that led to your choice? In short, my method for evaluating schools was just to “go with my gut.” More specifically, though, we were looking for a community that would not only cultivate excellent academic skills but would also provide an ethical framework to serve as a context for applying these skills. I looked around at middle and upper school students and asked myself, “Is this what I want my kids to be like when they get older?” At GFS, the answer to that question was an unequivocal “Yes!” At GFS I saw self-possessed, articulate teenagers who were not only excelling academically, but who also seemed to possess an unusual sense of perspective about the community and world around them (during what is stereotypically a very self-centered time in life). I saw students who were not passive recipients of information, but whose sense of ownership of their school community was evident just through brief glimpses into their interactions with each other, younger students, faculty, and staff at GFS. After three and a half years with two kids at GFS, it is still tough to even begin to articulate all of the factors that come together to create that inscrutable “something” that makes GFS so special.
Did you relocate in order to choose this school? No
On the political spectrum, I consider myself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative
Please share anything else about your experience When our family moved to Philadelphia, we had gone through the ridiculously involved process of applying to private schools in Manhattan just two years earlier. (Where, even coming from a “feeder” nursery school, it was recommended that you apply to at least 10-12 schools!) I had watched as some of my friends became consumed by anxiety and had seen parents who could quote statistics about different schools (student-teacher ratios, when foreign language instruction began, etc.) like kids who had memorized the stats of their favorite baseball players. Early on I decided that there was simply no list of pros and cons, no algorithm that would give me the “right” answer as to which school would be the best fit for our family. I did not spend my time in school tours studying the facts in the brochures, asking a lot of questions, and taking lots of notes. I looked around and watched how people interacted with one another – students, faculty, staff, and parents. I got there early and hung out outside the school’s entrance to watch kids coming to school. Teenage students greeting younger students, an administrator stopping on the way past the kitchen to thank the cafeteria workers for the muffins they had made – these things made a bigger impression on me than the size of the athletic facilities and the lists of recent graduates’ college choices. Now, in my children’s fourth year at GFS, I am happy to report that my “method” (or lack of one) hasn’t ever failed me!
Help other parents–take five minutes to complete an anonymous survey to tell PSS and our readers about your school choice!