Lower School

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There is a saying often repeated in the world of schools: “The whole purpose of education is turning mirrors into windows.” In the Lower School at Germantown Friends, we treasure both the mirrors and the windows, and seek to fill our program with both.

We believe that every learner needs “mirrors” in order to thrive. Self-reflection—or the time and space to find one’s own truth, to plan a course of action towards new goals—is a central part of our program. It can be seen in the curriculum, as students work independently, with teachers and with each other to develop their own identities as readers and writers, or as they evaluate their own strategies as mathematicians. It is evident in weekly Meeting for Worship, where the Lower School community sits together in expectant silence, sharing reflections if they feel led to do so.

We also believe that all children—indeed, all people—need to see themselves mirrored in their learning environment. At GFS, we actively seek to ensure that each member of our diverse student body can find these mirrors: in their affinity with classmates; in older students and faculty who serve as role models and mentors; and in our curriculum. It is essential that our children feel known, seen and heard during their time with us, and these mirrors help us to accomplish this goal.

“Windows”—ways in which children learn to see beyond their own personal experience and gain understanding of others and the broader world—are an integral part of our Lower School as well. A highly interdisciplinary curriculum, woven around topics and projects that are innately fascinating to children, is at the core of what we do. Whether creating an African marketplace in third grade, exploring life in Medieval times in fifth or sharing traditions with classmates during a Thanksgiving feast in Kindergarten, children see into others’ experiences around the globe and throughout history.

Closer to home, the Lower School’s location at the center of the GFS campus in the heart of Germantown gives students the windows to observe, then reach out and expand, their own worlds: First, through building lasting connections with older students who share our campus (and becoming gentle leaders for younger preschool peers); then, by engaging in the life of our larger neighborhood community, learning its history, participating in service opportunities and becoming more aware of their role as members of society as a whole.

Of course, there is so much more to tell about our Lower School. As you peruse the stories on our website, we hope you will find them to be windows into our warm, close-knit community—and see yourself mirrored here.

Welcome to GFS!

Christy Reardon
Head of Lower School

First-Floor Sharing Assembly Playlist

Lower School Glimpses

Contact Information

Lower School Office
(215) 951-2318

Christy Reardon
Head of Lower School

Page Fahrig-Pendse
Director of Curriculum and Instruction,
Early Childhood-Fifth Grade

Norman Bayard
Lower School Dean of Students and Community Life

Duane Sims
Administrative Assistant