This past Wednesday, many of our Buckingham Friends School Trustees attended “Board Visit Day.” This was an opportunity for them to tour the campus, to visit outdoor classes in action, to witness first-hand the outstanding education that is provided each day here at BFS, and to enjoy lunch and conversation with a member of the Eighth Grade class. They were able to directly speak with me and Associate Head of School Rosanna Zapf – to engage about current matters and future initiatives in the areas of academics, equity and inclusion, finance, and fundraising. I am grateful for their time, their stewardship, and the hard work and care they provide in support of BFS and as we navigate the course for BFS’s future and long-term health and sustainability.
The Mission of BFS’s Board of Trustees
Guided by Quaker practice, our Board of Trustees exists to ensure the vitality of Buckingham Friends School’s mission and vision.
I received the following notes from a few trustees, sharing their reflections after their visit. While individual teachers and students were noted, these observations speak to the quality and caliber of our entire faculty and the integrity and spirit of every student. I have included them below.
While walking around campus, being with all of the kids again, seeing the interactions, feeling the energy of the faculty, smelling the damp fall air, I was struck, yet again, at what a precious gift Buckingham Friends School is to not only the children and parents currently attending, but also the alumni, the outside community and even as far reaching as across the globe. I am so grateful that I can serve this community, to steward the values that BFS instills in each child.
I’m delighted to hear about the advancements and attention being paid to curriculum and the physical plant. While many institutions are being sidelined with political drama we are so fortunate to be in a place where education and community are still at the heart of each discussion and decision. This was apparent during my interaction on campus. It is a relief to know that there is a place where children can thrive, feel empowered and still have an awareness of what is going on in the greater world and be taught the skills they will need to navigate those waters.
My lunch with Charlotte was a perfect example of these values. Her explanation of choosing BFS for seventh and eighth grade as well as her comparisons of BFS to her prior school was heartening. Her finding a sense of belonging in not only a group of peers but also in a group of faculty was reassuring to hear. Her incredible openness was so poignant and mature, I was glad to have had the time to sit with her.Thank you for hosting the Trustees. It was impactful to say the least.
Reflecting on my time at BFS today. Sometimes we get so involved in our work and solving problems that we forget to stop and look. I got that chance today and really enjoyed all of the feelings and memories flowing around me today. From the smell of the leaves and acorns to the windows in the lower school building, everything was one big “feeling”. Seeing those whose paths that I crossed many years ago pop up today… who would have guessed that I would see Elena Harris on this day. Someone who was and is very special to me! I loved my lunch conversation with Emilia and was pleasantly surprised that we had so much in common. The day was glorious and the kids, well they were fabulous and very open and friendly! Thank you for asking me to be a part of this BFS journey!!!
During Sparkles, I had a wonderful conversation with a K/3 parent whom I know well and a K parent whom I met for the first time (and who, it turns out, had sought out BFS this year after her daughter’s first day at another school). In the course of this conversation, the new BFS parent–in talking about parenting–described the gift of being able to look at the world through the eyes of someone who is both very different from yourself and who is seeing things for the first time. This struck me as a helpful way of thinking about what we mean when we say we “honor the Light in every person” and is what the very best parents and the very best educators learn to do without necessarily articulating it.
This theme of focusing on the gift and the power of looking at the world from new perspectives echoed throughout the day. When Paul spoke of the Lower School focus on Indigenous Peoples Day and the move to non-gendered restrooms he was describing how the school is helping to give the current generation of students a new understanding of what “normal” is and that “normal” is inclusive. When Daisy paid such close attention to how each 5th grade student was processing (or not) new vocabulary and looked for opportunities to celebrate and build on success it was clear that she was both enjoying the gift of being able to see Spanish through the eyes of someone to whom it was new and honoring the Light by meeting each student where they were. When Stephanie taught map skills she was looking at the campus and the science skills and the connection of people to place through the eyes of students who had not thought about the campus from a birds’ eye perspective before. When Olive and Kinley talked about swapping graphic novel and “regular” versions of the Babysitters’ Club books, they spoke of discovering new aspects of the stories and learning to appreciate the delivery method that their friend preferred.
I am grateful to all of these folks, and more (including my lunch friend, Fiona, who gave me the gift of a vision of BFS through her eyes), for providing such a range of lenses on the bigger theme during a single morning. What amazing things must happen in a whole year, or nine!
It was a wonderful day to return to campus, to reconnect with faculty and staff we have missed seeing (except by Zoom) for so long; a re-awakening! I was impressed by the maturity of Mirabella during our lunch meeting; but not surprised. One clear observation: the faculty were having as much fun as the kids in every class. How could the love of learning be more infectious?
Today was joyous. Everyone there – kids, parents, teachers, DeeDee, Katelynn, Fran, Melissa, my colleagues and I – felt it. The Light in every parent, kid and teacher I spoke to today was glowing. The exchanges were brilliant. If I never see Dan or Iona again, the short time we spent together today enriched my soul.
“Take a trustee to lunch” is a great idea. And, I confess that watching the teachers work their magic – no less having to do so outside – was so much fun, and made me (continue to) realize how amazing they are. I did not see them all, but I know they are all devoted, inspired, inspiring, and love the kids they are teaching.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 was the best display of Buckingham “Friendliness”. Teachers, parents, administration, students, and trustees all interacted in a manner that should be considered the finest example of what education should be all about. From Meeting, to Sparkles, to the tour, to the observation of classes, to recess and lunch, the morning provided a wonderful live display of honoring the Light within each person. And, the day certainly showed how BFS inspires scholarship and spiritual community, as well as instilling the value of caring for others and our world.
It was an honor to be able to once again smell the wood of the meeting house while enjoying the in person camaraderie of fellow board members. As I contemplated the day during silent worship I was so pleased to have witnessed the joy of our students and teachers as they experienced our lovely campus.
the delight in an old board member being told thank you for your service by a young man after I mentioned I had been a local fireman many years ago. And my jaw simply dropped. This is a level of respectful behavior that is heartwarming beyond words.
the joy and satisfaction of hearing a quiet thank you when I helped a 1st grader solve several of their math problems. Their eager correction of the answer by lively eraser work was a triumph for both of us.
tapping my feet to the beat of the African music being taught with great skill and patience, by a teacher expertly cajoling the kids to pay attention and sing along.
the wonderful old Quaker Meeting smell of Buckingham Friends.
the lasting smile on the Spanish teacher’s face when I said “mucho gracias” in leaving to the class and quite a few students responded immediately in proper Spanish.
DEJA QUE TU VIDA HABLE!