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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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Meet the Teachers

Sarah McMenamin, Ed.D.
Director of Early Childhood

Sarah began teaching at GFS in 1998, where she taught for four years before becoming Director in 2002. Since then Early Childhood has grown and evolved from a small program to a full division,  but the focus has remained the children, the teachers, and their relationships. Sarah loves what she does because there is never a dull moment. She can spend hours speaking to parents about the curriculum and the teachers, who provide the strength for the program, but the  highlight of her days remains the time she spends with the children.

Sarah received her Master's in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas and her Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Research from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation research examined social class and socioeconomic status in an independent school setting. Sarah enjoys travel, reading and attending local cultural events and museums with her family. Her two sons were superlifers at GFS.

 

Tracey Austin

Tracey Austin joined the GFS community in 2018 as a student intern in a PreK classroom on Main Campus. It was there that she learned about Quaker values and her interest was heightened. The following summer, Tracey was a counselor in the Junior Explorers Camp, and she has continued in that role ever since. In the fall of 2019, Tracey formally joined Early Childhood as a Floater/Extended Day Teacher, during which she worked on both campuses. In September 2020, she became a co-teacher in a Center City Preschool Classroom.

Tracey has a degree in Early Childhood Education and will be pursuing higher education at Arcadia University. She started her teaching career in a non-traditional setting; she was the Preschool Teacher in a multi-family homeschooling community in North Carolina for three years. Before starting at GFS she also worked at two K-8 schools in Special Education classrooms where she learned the importance of socioemotional development through meaningful relationship building. When not at school, Tracey enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, traveling, and reading on her porch.

Madeleine Biletz

Maddi joined Early Childhood as a floater and Extended Day teacher at the Center City campus during the winter of 2019. She graduated from Philadelphia University (now Jefferson) in 2018 with a B.S. in fashion merchandising and spent a year in a corporate setting before realizing that she missed working with young people. Growing up, Maddi spent many summers attending and then working as a counselor at a theatre life skills camp. In addition to early childhood, Maddi has a keen interest in the environment and sustainability. She is an adjunct instructor at Jefferson teaching a sustainability course to freshmen, and in January 2021, she will enter a sustainability leadership graduate certification program. When she's not teaching, Maddi enjoys thrifting, dancing, and baking! 

Michelle Bovill

Michelle Bovill started out at GFS as a Learning Guide in the fall of  2020 and became a Floater Teacher on  the Main Campus as a Floater Teacher when her student returned to school  in March 2021. Michelle formally joined the Early Childhood team in the fall of 2021 as a Floater/Extended Day teacher. Michelle graduated from Bethany College with a degree in Cross-Cultural Studies. She  has had a variety of experiences in working with young children, including working in a Head Start classroom in Northeast Philadelphia and  assisting in orphanages and after school programs in Venezuela and India. Michelle’s favorite parts of working with children are seeing their joy and wonder as they learn and discover new things. She's a great listener and takes time to learn children's interests and needs. 

In addition to her passion for working with young children, Michelle loves experiencing new countries and cultures, an interest that was cultivated in her from growing up in Belize and Venezuela and living eight years in Morocco as a young adult. She also has an interest in languages and enjoys opportunities to practice speaking Spanish and Moroccan Arabic. She enjoys being able to share her experiences and unique perspective of the world with the children. 

Anna Burke

Anna Burke is the Early Childhood Counselor. She provides support to all eight classrooms on both campuses. Most recently, she was a Young Preschool Teacher on the Main Campus, and prior to that, she was one of the founding teachers at the Center City campus. Anna joined the Early Childhood team in the spring of 2017 and immediately fell in love with the classroom environment. The Quaker values used daily to teach the important social-emotional lessons of this age aligned so well with her own values as a mental health professional that it was a seamless transition. She has loved the opportunity to teach and develop curriculum and workshops during her time as a teacher at GFS. 

Anna received her BA in English, Art History, and Classical Languages from Temple University in 2006. She returned to school in 2011 to earn her Master’s degree in Creative Arts Therapies from Drexel University. In her thesis, Anna explored the connection between resiliency and creativity in children who experienced severe environmental challenges, such as homelessness. After completing her degree, Anna focused on working with children both in community mental health and in private practice before coming to GFS. After school Anna enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, cooking, and planning adventures.

Martha Diamond

Martha is a PreK teacher at the Center City location. Martha first joined the GFS community as a Floater/Extended Day teacher on Main Campus in Fall 2021 after relocating to Philadelphia. She initially sought a part-time opportunity while getting to know the city, but quickly fell in love with the joyful, warm EC community and happily moved into a full-time position. 

Martha earned a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.S.W. from the University of Chicago. She began her career as a high school social worker first in Chicago, then as a middle school social worker in Brooklyn. She is grateful to have the opportunity to support young learners through their early school experiences and facilitate environments in which each learner feels loved and empowered. Outside the classroom, Martha enjoys reading, taking long walks, and spending time with her family and friends (which usually involves eating). 

Bianca Desamour

Bianca Desamour joined Early Childhood as a long-term substitute teacher in the fall of 2018. The following year, Bianca led the Extended Day programming in Center City. She organized, created, and implemented the afternoon curriculum and became a Floater teacher during the day before starting as a fulltime classroom teacher in the fall of 2020. In addition, Bianca has been a part of the Summertime at GFS summer camps as the lead in the Junior Explorer Camp in Center City. She is also a proud member of the Early Childhood DEI committee.

Bianca graduated from La Salle University with a BA in Communication and Art History, intending to curate educational programs for children in local museums and explored various opportunities working with children in museum settings. She is passionate about social justice issues and organized service trips abroad to foster youth education and environmental conservation efforts. Before joining GFS, Bianca was a volunteer and substitute teacher for a K-8 school in the midwest for two years. Her time and experience as a volunteer helped cement her love of teaching and working alongside the youngest learners. Currently, Bianca is pursuing her Master’s in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Widener University. She enjoys baking, reading, traveling, and going for long walks along the Wissahickon in her spare time.

John Fuller

John teaches Preschool on Main Campus. He is a South Jersey native and a graduate of Moorestown Friends School. Shortly after receiving his B.A. in Music from the College of Santa Fe (NM), John began his career in Early Childhood Education by volunteering at a small Montessori preschool and working at the Santa Fe Children's Museum. Over the next 15 years, John earned his M.Ed. from Loyola University and worked at such schools as The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in Washington, D.C. and the Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA. In his spare time John enjoys playing music, reading and going for drives in the country with his wife Karen and seven-year-old son, George. At GFS John has taught both Preschool and PreK at the Center City Campus. In this, his fifth year, John is teaching in the Older Preschool on Main Campus.

Tara Gabriel

Tara Gabriel is a PreK teacher at Center City. She joined the GFS Early Childhood community in 2021 teaching Preschool, and she is excited to teach PreK in 2022. Tara had a unique childhood, growing up above (and later teaching at) her mother's preschool on Long Island. This immersive experience gave Tara invaluable insights into early childhood and a wonderful start to her teaching career.

After receiving her B.A. in Music from Vassar College and her M.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Bank Street College of Education, Tara spent 19 years teaching various elementary grades in New York City and Philadelphia.

Tara is grateful for having worked with students from early childhood through high school, both as a classroom teacher and as a tutor. These encounters continue to inform her teaching with a strong sense of child development and an appreciation for the diversity of each child’s individual experience. She uses hands-on, inquiry-based activities to support and challenge students in all academic areas, while strengthening and cultivating their social and collaborative skills. Tara believes that establishing a classroom community where each child feels safe, heard, valued, and engaged is an essential part of raising confident and competent lifelong learners. Tara is honored to partner with families and children to foster a love of learning that inspires students to continue exploring beyond our school walls. Outside of the classroom, Tara enjoys traveling, hiking, eating good food, and indulging in the many cultural offerings of Philadelphia.

Shari Heck

Shari (Shar) is so excited to join the Early Childhood team this year as a Preschool Teacher at the Center City campus. Shar started her journey at GFS as a Foater/Extended Day teacher in 2020, and quickly demonstrated her even-keeled way with children. Shar led the Center City Studio Art Club during the 2021-22 school year and realized that she enjoyed creating curriculum and leading a group. Shar graduated from The University of the Arts in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Design and is passionate about utilizing visual art as a tool to nurture budding self-expression, experimentation, curiosity, and a new way to connect with the world. Aligned with the values of Quakerism, Shar believes in a commitment to leading with love, care, equity, and respect as a foundation in and out of the classroom. In her free time, Shar enjoys doodling, riding her bike around West Philly, reading, and spoiling her sweet cat, Consuelo.

Gabby Marlowe

Gabby Marlowe is an Older Preschool teacher at the Center City campus. She returned to GFS in the fall of 2020 as a Learning Guide then joined the Early Childhood team as a Floater Teacher during which she worked on both campuses. Gabby was a lifer at GFS and graduated in 2016. She graduated from the College of Wooster in 2020, where she studied Psychology and Education. 

Gabby has always had a passion for working with children. She babysat and worked at various summer camps throughout her teens. In college, she worked at the campus preschool and student taught at various elementary schools. Her love of teaching began after assisting at Plymouth Meeting Friends school for her Junior Project at GFS. Outside of the classroom, Gabby enjoys exploring Philly with her friends, hiking with her family, thrifting, listening to records, and attending concerts. 

Kelsey Martelon

Kelsey Martelon began her journey in GFS Early Childhood in 2020 as an intern in the PreK classroom. During that time, she was actively involved in the classroom through leading lessons, engaging with students, and extensively learning Quaker values and philosophy. Shortly after completing her internship, she graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies. After graduation, Kelsey continued her time in Early Childhood as a full-time Floater Teacher. Her passion for working with young children inspired her to become a lead teacher/counselor for the GFS Junior Explorer summer camp.

Kelsey developed a great interest in early childhood development during her time at Penn State. Through her studies, she began to appreciate the practice and benefits of mindfulness in the Early Childhood classroom. Kelsey admires how Quaker values positively impact children. Her teaching philosophy also aligns with this pedagogy through approaches such as believing all children are unique and have something special to bring to their own education, assisting students in expressing themselves and accepting themselves for who they are, embracing the differences of others, and letting children’s natural curiosity direct their learning.

Outside of the classroom, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She also loves to read, write, exercise, and listen to music.

Porter Mason

Porter is a PreK teacher on Main Campus. She started her journey in Early Childhood as a parent who began subbing, and she officially joined the team in 2013. Porter has worn many hats in her time at GFS, from being a Floater teacher and working with all the classrooms in Early Childhood to creating curriculum in the Late Day Program. For the last 6 years, she has settled into teaching in the Pre-K classroom.

Porter graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in Sociology, intending to pursue a career in social work. She took a detour and ended up in New York City working in the fashion industry, where her love of creativity was realized. Once Porter moved back to Philadelphia and became involved with EC through her daughter’s enrollment, she found many of the same creative qualities adaptable to early learning. Porter also has her Yin Yoga teaching certificate, has completed the Penn Mindfulness Program, and has been an active TM meditation practitioner for over 8 years. Porter is a proud member of the Quakerism Committee and has worked to create an Early Childhood Quakerism curriculum for the division. When she’s not teaching, Porter enjoys surfing, yoga, and making slime with her daughter, a student at GFS.

Liz Meyer

Liz began her teaching career as an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia and Baltimore. She joined the ECP as a part-time assistant and has done everything being a co-teacher in the baby room to a pre-Kindergarten teacher. In 2017, Liz became the floater teacher and Director of Late Day.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Emerson College and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley College. In her time away from school, Liz enjoys attending concerts and story slams, sitting on beaches and reading memoirs.

Allegra Millan

Allegra joined Early Childhood as an afternoon assistant in 2013, and currently teaches PreK. Originally from Brooklyn, Allegra and her family relocated to Philadelphia after living in Dusseldorf, Germany, for six-and-a-half years, where she taught first grade in an international school.

Although Allegra has always enjoyed working with children, having worked through college at the campus day care center and babysitting in her spare time, she decided to pursue other interests post-college. She returned to school and earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from Hunter College, CUNY. Allegra is a vital part of the EC team and welcomes the adventure that each day brings. An avid reader and knitter, she also enjoys exploring Philadelphia with her family.

Becky Morales

Becky has been a co-teacher in PreK since 2017. She began her journey in Early Childhood in 2015 as a student teacher from Arcadia University, where she graduated with a BA in PreK-4 Early Childhood and Special Education. After her graduation, she joined the Kindergarten team as an assistant before joining the PreK team. Becky recognizes that there is no one way of learning and devotes time to studying current pedagogical theories and teaching practices that focus on supporting students’ individual learning needs. 

Becky has also worked in the Summertime at GFS camp program since the summer of 2016 as the Lead Counselor/Coordinator in the Jr. Explorers Camp, where she designed a curriculum that creates a space for exploration and discovery of new interests as well as practicing school readiness skills for our youngest campers. Her special brand of joy is sharing her love of singing and music by hosting many dance parties both in her classroom and for the EC community which has earned her the nickname of “DJ Becky Bex”.

Nuge Nguyen

Nuge Nguyen is new to the GFS team starting fall 2021 as both a Floater Teacher and the Nurse at the Center City campus. Following earning a BS in Nursing from UMass Amherst in 2018, Nuge knew he wanted to work in a non-clinical setting. He worked as a Camp Nurse at an overnight summer camp and immediately discovered a passion for youth development and mentorship. This led him to find similar opportunities throughout the whole year. Until the spring of 2020, Nuge was a nurse for a residential environmental education non-profit which provided immersive programming to middle-schoolers outside of the classroom. Through this experience he started to develop his philosophy of nursing; he believes in providing individualized, holistic care to children and their families. In addition, through the power of connection, Nuge builds rapport with others to create safe and supportive spaces to help meet their needs. 

As a life-long learner, Nuge is excited to begin educating and caring for children during the most formative time of their lives. During his free time, Nuge enjoys live music, games, tennis, dancing, trying new foods, traveling, and spending quality time with friends.

Lindsay Roberts

Lindsay has been a part of GFS’ Early Childhood Division since 2011; her goal is to create and maintain an inviting, stimulating, and organized learning environment for the children. She is a co-teacher in the Young Preschool. Lindsay graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. As a Quaker elementary school graduate, she appreciates the Quaker values and philosophy on education and has found they have had a positive impact on her own education, growth, and development.

Lindsay is a trained leader in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (S.E.E.D.), and a facilitator who led a year-long workshop session to educate faculty and staff about multicultural pedagogy, curriculum, and institutional change in schools. She is also the Clerk of the Early Childhood Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Lindsay lives in Germantown with her husband Ben, two children Simone and Ziggy who attend GFS, and their cat Neko.

Corinne Robkin

Corinne both a Floater/Extended Day teacher and the Movement specialist at the Center City campus. She  is a native to center city Philadelphian and a GFS alum (‘00). Corinned graduated from Gallatin (NYU) with a BA in an interdisciplinary study that focused on the use of the body and movement in healing. She’s also a graduate of the San Francisco Clown Conservatory and is certified in children’s and adult yoga. Corinne has performed as a dancer, clown, physical comedian, and actress in Paris, the Bay Area, New York City, and Philadelphia. A child's open spirit, authenticity, curiosity, and sense of play is at the heart of what inspires Corinne in work and every day life. 

Her previous teaching experience includes working as an assistant teacher and floater at the Helen Diller Preschool (SF), teaching creative movement at Dance Mission Theatre (SF), and being a children’s yoga teacher at a number of public and private schools all over the Bay Area. When she’s not at GFS, she’s spending time with her four year old son, collaging, and rediscovering Philadelphia after 20 years of living elsewhere! 

Carlie Sweeney

Carlie is a PreK teacher at the Center City Campus. She joined the Early Childhood Division at GFS as the Floater/Extended Day Teacher and Movement Teacher In the fall of 2018. She immediately fell in love with the students, the GFS community, and the daily use of Quaker values in the classroom. Carlie was thrilled to start as a full-time classroom teacher when a Preschool teacher position became available in the fall of 2019. 

Carlie received bachelor’s Degrees from Temple University in Public Relations and Spanish. Her love for learning Spanish and traveling the world developed when she was a student, and she wanted to share this gift with children, so she returned to Temple University to earn a master’s degree in Education. She began teaching Spanish at Delaware Valley Charter High School. After noticing an increase of English language learners in need of support, she earned her certification to teach English as a second language. Carlie continued her teaching career with Mastery Charter schools at Mann Elementary. During her time there, she taught Spanish, ESL, social-emotional learning, and yoga. When she is not teaching, Carlie enjoys travel, hiking, yoga, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.

Jenny Taylor

Jenny has a unique way of talking with children. She can speak to their concerns in a straightforward manner, freeing them up to express and discuss their feelings and observations. She never avoids questions children raise, and she finds out how much information a child has and what he or she need to know.

What does she like most about her work? “It’s fun! I can’t imagine not working with kids. I also like being part of the larger community here at GFS.” Jenny grew up in Germantown, and has volunteered at both the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences. She is an expert baker and cake decorator and also does beautiful craft projects, interests that she shares with the children in the Preschool. Jenny enjoys photography and maintains an archive of the first 10 years of the Preschool. She is involved with the Penn Literacy Network and traveled to Ireland as part of a teacher exchange. Jenny studied for a dual major BA in English and Spanish in Rhode Island, and then returned to Philadelphia and began working at the Preschool in 1986. Her husband Patrick works at GFS as well, and her two daughters are graduates.

Marissa Vergnetti

Marissa is a PreK teacher on the Main Campus. She joined the Early Childhood Division in 2008, where she began her GFS career working in the Preschool for one year. After that Marissa began teaching PreK, where she has remained. Marissa received a BFA in sculpture from Marywood University and an MS in Elementary Education from Brooklyn College. Marissa is committed to sharing her love of learning with her students and creating a warm, welcoming community of learners. Marissa is passionate about Global Education and with Art Teacher, Lili Sharpless, was awarded the Class of '52 Grant to visit various schools in Israel and the West Bank committed to peace and inclusion.

Marissa's previous teaching experience included the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY, where she taught first grade and was also the Director of the Studio Arts Mini-Camps program during the summer. She also taught seventh and eighth grade Language Arts Enrichment in a public Junior High School in Brooklyn. 

Marissa is an enthusiastic traveler, especially when it comes to spending time in her grandparents ancestral home of Italy. Most recently, she has been helping to organize summer trips off the beaten path for women. In addition, she loves spending time with family and friends, and doting on her two college sons, both of whom are GFS graduates.