Yesterday, most of our Buckingham School Board members attended “Board Visiting Day.” This was an opportunity for trustees to tour the entire campus, to get the big picture, to visit classes in action, to witness first-hand the outstanding education that is provided each day, and to think about their role in shaping the future of our beloved school. I am grateful for their time, stewardship, and the hard work and care they provide in support of BFS and as we chart the course for BFS’s future and long-term health and sustainability.
I received the following reflections from a few trustees, each sharing their impressions and thoughts after their visit. While individual teachers were noted, these observations speak to the quality and caliber of our entire faculty, I believe, and I have included them below.
“Classroom visits always remind me of the strengths of BFS – our student and faculty reflect the core of what it means to be a part of the BFS community. I observed deep commitment to student individuality and success – the search for that moment of student “aha” present in every classroom. I also observed and experienced the joy of students fully engaged and truly enjoying learning. The essence of a BFS education flows through each experience – mundane and extraordinary- observed in the many interactions I observed today.”
“I loved our lunchtime surprise! Having lunch with Olivia was such a treat. We engaged in a wonderful conversation about what the board does, how is it different from PTAC, what sports we both love, why we each love Buckingham Friends School, and how a Quaker School differs from other schools. It is this higher-level thinking and the ability and capacity to participate in a conversation with adults and others that makes BFS students successful, compassionate, empathetic, and engaged citizens of the world.
Seeing our treasured and beloved teachers in their classroom spaces is such a wonderful reminder of the gifts they share with families and students – this classroom experience is exactly why we all do what we do (the administration, faculty, staff, trustees, and parents). I loved the opportunity to think critically and deeply about the future of Buckingham Friends School. The conversations around our programs and our spaces was fantastic. I thank you for inviting us to the campus for the morning. “
“Thank you very much for a wonderful morning and lunch at BFS. There were so many highlights, including 1st grade weather forecasts from last year, 4th grade lists and pet peeves, 3rd grade math, and 2nd grade “just plain energy”. As always, Art, Music, and Shop are great to witness. I particularly liked seeing the clocks being designed since I saw two appear at my home many years ago. I very much enjoyed having lunch with Henry L. and learning about his current interests and plans for the future. And, being with fellow board members is always a pleasure.”
“What I gleaned from the visit was that the children were content. The children at BFS come from a diverse variety of homes and parents with incredibly different values. How does a school, one with simpler buildings and systems, harness and engage a student’s desire to learn, co-create and solve relational challenges? BFS answered that question in almost every setting I came across today. The faculty answered the question of how do we create a balanced, thoughtful and academically motivated student with their approaches to both the course material as well as the relational guidance and assurance. Again, the contentment that I sensed in the students is not easy to cultivate in any child or adult, for that matter!”
“I enjoyed the opportunity to see the teachers and children in action. It’s one thing to talk about it but quite another to experience it. The lunch with children was a great idea – I had a nice visit with Matthew. I appreciate that he took time from recess to sit and chat. In addition, thanks for taking the time to discuss topics such as classroom size and the current pedagogy, future needs, etc. – a picture is worth a thousand words.”
“Thank you for preparing such a thoughtful day. While I wished I could have been there at 8, my time at BFS was worthwhile. The positive energy coupled with a calm command of his classroom made the music room magical. Sydney Fox had such a beautiful Quaker spirit and heartfelt appreciation of her subject matter and students. Mr. H. Knows how to command a classroom. There was such a feeling of camaraderie and we can master this while having fun! Fourth grade… first what a wonderful space. We were integrated into the lesson in such a thoughtful and professional manner. I had the sense that kindness prevails. Mr. B… he never disappoints. What a wonderful teacher. He brought every student into the discussion and made the board members relevant.”
” I was in the Kindergarten classroom observing a French lesson. Suddenly one boy said, “He just called me a liar”. Without missing a beat, Madame told the boy: “This is your friend, you need to apologize,” he did, and then she told him how to apologize in French, and it seamlessly became part of the lesson. It was wonderful.”
“I always find visiting classes enlightening: what is being taught, how it is being taught, the interactions between the students and the teachers, and the interactions with the teachers. The day was flanked with two events, seeing the school through your eyes, and seeing it close up through Ollie’s, which were special. This opportunity helps make our work as trustees meaningful and informed. I truly appreciate the time and effort you contributed to make this possible. Asher, in a fifth grade math class, was eager to answer the question, “What is a variable?” He got the part about the letter right, but the letter only changes if the result changes, which is what keeps the equation valid. The kids in that class, working together (with kudos to the substitute, who was reading one sentence ahead of a very bright group of kids), are the variables. They will change as we change the results we expect – year by year, class by class, child by child – and where we put the parentheses. It is up to us to keep the result a valid, worthwhile one.”
I want to express my deepest appreciation to you and all of the faculty and staff for making this year’s Board Visiting Day a wonderfully inspiring experience for each of the Trustees. I also want to thank each of the students that participated in the lunch with the Trustees. That was an added bonus to visiting day that was appreciated by all of the Trustees.
I could have written a short story based on all of the wonderful experiences I had visiting each of the classes today. Instead of writing a story I will apply what I learned from Teacher Jennifer and I will leave you with two simple lists of words or phrases from my “Writer’s Notebook”. The first list is labeled “Classroom Visits”: class greeter, Morning Meeting, “Dodgeball Day”, multiplication and sequencing, JEM, Writer’s Notebook, atmosphere, voice, gym memories, French, alliteration, Spanish, variables, music, art, woodshop. The second list was labeled “Faculty and Staff Reflections”: Dedicated, enthusiastic, committed, respectful, caring, insightful, skilled, passionate, talented, professional, kind, intellectual, innovative, sincere, artistic, nurturing, challenging, supportive, exciting, devoted, forward-thinking, engaged…
And as I learned from the 4th grade, a list may not have an end, we can always keep adding to the list. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity to experience a BFS day with you, the faculty, staff and students.
With much appreciation,
Clerk of the Board”
Thank you very much for this thorough, thoughtful, and meaningful reflection. It meant a great deal to me to read this and to feel your commitment to BFS, and everyone’s engagement, during the visit yesterday. I, too, was impressed with the students at lunch. They had not been coached in any way – they just said “sure” when asked and showed up, ready to bring their authentic best selves to the encounter, open to the unexpected and new possibilities before them, another reflection of BFS at its best.