This past year, our incredible faculty and staff developed innovative strategies to power us through COVID-19 challenges, keep our students engaged and healthy, and support meaningful lessons about injustice, advocacy, and community. We are thrilled to share the 2021 Maguire Innovation Fund for Progressive Education recipients—highlighting exciting new ideas for meaningful experiences in teaching and learning. You will see that the following projects align with GFS’ mission and support the fund’s goal of encouraging inventive solutions and approaches that optimize the potential of our students and advance educational access for others in the Philadelphia area.
Thank you to Jamie Maguire and Lisa Maguire (parents of four GFS alumni)—and the Maguire Foundation—for believing in the power of GFS educators and providing funding for these important pilot projects and seed ideas. We will share more details about each project this fall. Congratulations to our 2021 recipients!
Seventh-Grade Capstone Project: The Service Collaborative
- Keino Terrell, Director of Middle School
- Hannah Jacoby-Rupp, Middle School teacher
Through an advisory curriculum designed around three focus areas—Food Access, Housing Justice, and Environmental Stewardship—students will gain a better and more nuanced understanding of the meaning of service, activism, and citizenship. With guidance from Director of Community Engagement Dr. Zarah Adams, students will pursue one of seven collaborative relationships with a local organization to further their learning and contribute in meaningful ways, creating reciprocal learning experiences through visits at least once every two weeks. The Service Collaborative is an extension of our institution’s Quaker ethos to engage and energize students within our surrounding community, and is designed to capitalize on the innate energy, curiosity, and engagement of our students.
GFS Center for Journalism: Ethics and Activism
- Meg Cohen Ragas, Director of Publications & Marketing Projects and Journalism teacher
In the six years since GFS added journalism to its curriculum, interest among students has grown substantially. The recent political climate, the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement have further fueled student involvement in social justice and activism. The goal of the GFS Center for Journalism: Ethics and Activism is to develop student writing and support community engagement across divisions through journalism by building our capacity and resources, augmenting our student programming, connecting with working journalists, and collaborating with area media outlets. Students will also connect with non-profit organizations that support human rights and open expression in the US and worldwide. The work of the Center will give voice to multiple perspectives, educate students in ethical decision-making, and consider humanitarian issues locally and globally, connecting students to truth-seeking in an age of misinformation and compromised integrity.
Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia and GFS: Community Connections
- Michelle Palmer, Executive Director of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia
- Robin Friedman, Upper School teacher
Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia and GFS—partners for over 26 years—officially merged this year, with Michelle Palmer serving as the program’s Executive Director. Michelle and teacher Robin Friedman want to ensure that students from both GFS and Breakthrough have opportunities to collaborate, connect, and learn from each other. The pilot program will feature a Thursday night academic enrichment, mentoring, and community building program with Breakthrough eighth graders and GFS Upper School students in the Education Justice Club and the Peer Writing Advisors program. The Community Connections program will meet every other week for two hours, and will include community building, dinner, and an engaging and participatory hour-and-a-half class with focus areas on test preparation, public speaking, and essay writing. Additionally, the program will include peer-to-peer mentoring, where each Breakthrough student will be paired with a GFS Upper School student mentor.