Friday, July 3, 2020
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Spiritual character develops at a Friends school

We get a tiny glimpse into life at the Friends Meeting School in Frederick County, Md., and learn a little about developing in children those things that are most important to Quakers, such as serving others and developing a strong spiritual character in themselves.

William Penn negotiates with Native Americans. The Society of Friends, or Quakers, have always believed people should be deliberate in using their resources, including money and time, to fill life with true values that develop their own and others’ spiritual character, e.g. by using everyday life, including schooling, to serve others.

Students at the Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, Md., receive a well rounded education from prekindergarten through 12th grade in a modern learning environment that relies on centuries-old Quaker values:

  • Simplicity
  • Peace
  • Equality
  • Service
  • Experiential education

The Frederick News-Post reports that Mara Nicastro, head of the school, came there in March 2014 and is now finishing up her first academic year in charge. She has emphasized diversity in hiring decisions and, perhaps more importantly, used what the paper called a magnetism that attracts students to her wherever she goes to promote a sense of community and learning through direct experiences in the world.

One tradition she has started is to have a 10-minute meeting with all 100 or so students in the school in the same room every morning. At the meeting, she tells them all about what’s going on that day, and then they split up into their individual classes.

“Just by having that moment every day together, it’s really built a greater sense of community for all of us,” the paper quoted Charlotte Murphy, head of the school’s lower grades, as saying.

A few students traveled over spring break to the southern border of Arizona to learn about immigration and see firsthand how we protect our borders. Earlier this year, students at the school started an organic farm on the campus. This not only teaches students about agriculture, but it also opens up a service opportunity, as they donate what they grow to the Frederick Community Action Agency’s soup kitchen.

“I love how happy and friendly the students are. I love how committed the teachers are,” Ms Nicastro was quoted as saying. She said she hopes the school will have more students in the fall. The school depends on tuition and donations; it receives no federal, state, or county funding.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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