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explore our CAMPUS

What's cool about our campus is that it's spread out over seven acres in Philadelphia's historic neighborhood of Germantown. The buildings are an eclectic mix of old and new, a unique look and feel more consistent with a college campus. With three gyms, three auditoriums, a student center, numerous open, green spaces and nine classroom buildings, it's a place worthy of adoration and exploration. The Meetinghouse, at the center of it all, provides a beautiful and spiritual focal point.

1. Main Building 2. Meetinghouse 3. Sharpless 4. Hargroves 5. Wade Science Center 6. Alumni Building 7. Admissions 8. Living Graveyard 9. Dead Graveyard 10. Loeb Performing Arts Center 11. Smith Gym 12. Cary Building 13. Friends Free Library 14. Field House 15. Scattergood Gym

we have deep roots in this place

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The Pillars of A

Quaker Education

At GFS, students and teachers gather in Meeting for Worship once each week. This is a time for shared, silent contemplation. Anyone who feels moved to speak may rise and do so. It is a simple formula, and can be a remarkably powerful experience.In these days of constant connectivity, the ability and opportunity to sit in silence have special value. Meeting for Worship is a cornerstone of the GFS culture that many come to cherish throughout their lives.

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speak the truth

We strive to deal fairly, equally and honestly with everyone. We aim to do as we say, reflecting our beliefs in our actions. even when it is inconvenient or challenging, we stand by our convictions, striving to lead lives of integrity.

Shine Together

We are all blessed with remarkable gifts. We are equally qualified to seek truth and to hear the voice of God. Every person deserves equal respect. For these reasons, we work against prejudice and discrimination and for equality.

stay connected

"Alone we can do little; together we can do so much."* We know there is strength in cooperation and wisdom to be found when many perspectives come together. We believe in the power of community.*
The words of Helen Keller.

keep it simple

In every way we can, we try to minimize the distractions that can draw our attention from the important things in life. This means not becoming overwhelmed by the busyness of daily routine. It means seeking balance. It means embracing simplicity.

care for all

This planet we inhabit, the talents we've been given, the community of which we are a part- all hold remarkable value. We must be responsible, imaginative and proactive in protecting these gifts and caring for the world and people around us. We must exercise good stewardship.

promote peace

We believe each life is precious and unique. We stand against war and violence and work to eliminate their root causes, including ignorance, racism, hatred and oppression. We are committed to creating peace.

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News

New School Day Schedule

Dear GFS Families,

This fall, we will have a new school-day schedule.

It is the result of more than a year of intensive research, analysis, and planning, which has been led by our intrepid Scheduling Committee, with support from Independent School Management (ISM) and input from countless members of our faculty and student body in all divisions. It prioritizes the well-being of all members of our community; creates opportunities for deeper learning, community connection, and fellowship; allows time for students to meet with their teachers and collaborate with one another (without sacrificing lunch!); and offers weekly professional learning sessions for the full faculty.

We write to share some of the highlights.

Note: Scheduling is highly complex—especially in a multi-divisional school. The new schedule is still being populated, and there may be slight changes to the features described below. We will keep you informed.

Features of the New Schedule

1. What's the structure of the schedule?

We have chosen a 10-day schedule, with an 'A Week' and a 'B Week.' (Previously our schedule was based on the calendar week, with a five-day cycle.)

A ten-day cycle in Middle and Upper School allows for longer classes that meet less often, thereby lessening the number of transitions and making for a less frenetic pace to the school day.

In Lower School, a ten-day cycle means that low frequency classes, such as art, can be placed on different days every other week, thus avoiding loss of class time that can occur when a special is always on a Monday or a Friday.


2. What are the major features/changes?

a. Late Start on Wednesdays (for Middle and Upper School)/Professional Learning Community for Faculty and Staff
On Wednesdays, we will have a late start for our Middle School and Upper School. This will allow for a Professional Learning Community (PLC) hour from 7:45-8:45 a.m., during which faculty and staff across all divisions can come together to plan, develop, and collaborate. Lower School classes will begin at their usual time. (See start times below.)

b. Office Hours (Middle and Upper School)
Students have found it challenging to find common periods with teachers when they can check in and/or get extra help. There will be time allocated in the new schedule (outside of lunch/recess periods) when teachers will be available to meet with students—and students will be free/available to take advantage of this time.

c. "Explore" Periods (Lower School only)
Each grade in the Lower School will have one or two "Explore" periods each week, when specialists who teach in the grade will be available to participate in leading cross-curricular, integrated learning initiatives.

d. Community Block (Middle School only)
A daily, mid-morning opportunity to change gears and take a break from academic work, this 40-minute block will be devoted to activities, assemblies, clubs, advisories, and Meeting For Worship. Clubs will no longer be scheduled during the lunch/recess block, so lunch can be lunch and recess can be recess.

f. Co-Lab (Upper School only)
A substantial block of flexible time midday on Tuesdays, designed for new programming, student-driven ideas, mini teach-ins, local field trips, community-building fun, and social justice work.

g. Big Study (Middle School only)
Once every two weeks, this time with homeroom teachers will be dedicated to organization, backpack clean-up, and binder system repair.

h. Improved Synchronization
Greater synchronization across divisions during the school day will allow for all-school events and provide greater opportunity for cross-divisional teaching and collaboration.


3. What time does the school day start and end?

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Note: Bus/Transportation schedules will remain unchanged from prior years. After-school programming (ASPire) will continue to be available between the end of the school day and 6 p.m. Registration opens in August.


4. What are some of the highlights for the Lower School?

  • At each grade level, classes will have several common blocks of classroom time each week, to be used for special grade-wide activities and flexible learning groups in Reading and Math.
  • Each grade will have one or two "Explore" periods each week, when specialists who teach in the grade will be available to participate in leading cross-curricular, integrated learning initiatives.
  • Greater synchronization with other divisions during the school day will create more flexibility in the Lower School schedule, allowing us to restructure our "specials" in order to provide the most effective conditions for learning. This synchronization will also allow for more cross-divisional learning.
  • Lower School faculty will participate in school-wide Professional Learning Community (PLC) activities, which will promote increased consistency and best teaching practices across grades and divisions.


5. What are some of the highlights for the Middle School?

  • Three classes will be held before lunch, not five.
  • Class periods are longer but meet less often (for example, most major classes met four times per week in the old schedule and will meet three times per week in the new schedule). This means fewer transitions, less time wasted in transit, and class periods that allow for deep focus, punctuated by mental breaks.
  • Dedicated Office Hours will allow students and faculty to more easily schedule check-ins and help sessions.
  • Big Study will occur once every two weeks with homeroom teachers and is dedicated to organization, backpack clean-up, and binder system repair.
  • Community Block, a daily block of time mid-morning, is devoted to activities, assemblies, clubs, advisories, and Meeting For Worship.
  • Clubs will no longer be scheduled during the Lunch/Recess block. (Lunch can be lunch; recess can be recess.)
  • A space for new programming, including a library program, featuring library visits, book recommendations and book check-out time.
  • On Wednesday mornings during faculty's Professional Learning Community (PLC) time, students arriving at 8:10 a.m. will be able to drop into relaxed but supervised games, sports, arts and crafts, and studies. There is no extra cost for being on campus during this time.


6. What are some of the highlights for the Upper School?

  • Classes periods are longer but meet less often (for example, most major classes met four times per week in the old schedule and will meet three times per week in the new schedule). This means fewer transitions, less time wasted in transit, and class periods that allow for deep focus, punctuated by mental breaks.
  • Well-placed, brief breaks between classes, a benefit for Upper School students who are traveling all over our campus as they move from subject to subject.
  • Dedicated Office Hours will allow students and faculty to more easily schedule check-ins and help sessions.
  • Co-Lab, a substantial block of flexible time midday on Tuesdays, is designed for new programming, student-driven ideas, mini teach-ins, local field trips, community-building fun, and social justice work.
  • On Wednesday mornings, faculty and staff will participate in Professional Learning Community hour, and Upper School students will have a late start, beginning the day with homeroom at 9 a.m. Should your child arrive a little early, space will be available for Upper School students to gather.

Middle and Upper School students will receive their schedules on the first day of school (or during orientation for new students).

We are confident that these changes are worthwhile, and we are committed to learning together. We will also be supporting both our students and faculty as they adjust to their routines and practices.

For those who are interested in delving deeper into the goals and intricacies of our new schedule, we look forward to discussing it in greater detail during Back-to-School Nights. We also anticipate some questions when schedules are distributed and will be on hand to work through them with students.

In the meantime, we wish you a wonderful rest of your summer.

In peace,

Dana Weeks
Head of School

Carol Rawlings Miller
Director of Academic Program
Co-Clerk, Scheduling Committee

Matt Zipin
School Scheduler
Co-Clerk, Scheduling Committee

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