Last week, many of our Buckingham Friends School Trustees attended “Board Visiting Day.” This was an opportunity for them to tour the entire campus, to visit classes in action, and to witness first-hand the outstanding education that is provided each day here at BFS. They were able to directly speak with me and to engage with one another about current matters and future initiatives. 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 notes from a few trustees, sharing their reflections after visiting that day. While individual teachers are referred to here and there, these observations speak to the quality and caliber of our entire faculty. I have included them below:
I enjoyed the in-person connection after two years of social distancing and the interaction between board members, staff, students, and our campus. In a world of turmoil and stress… the oasis that is Buckingham Friends School transcends the exponential changes that we are experiencing.
Our lower school staff is inspiring and vibrant. Our art and shop classes were full of energy and enthusiasm. My lunch with 7th graders was so satisfying. All four students were new to the school. They were united in their praise of their teachers, campus, and classmates. It was refreshing to hear them validate the efforts we have been putting forward on their behalf.
I am grateful that I am able to share my talents with such a forward-thinking and worthwhile organization. Fondly, Lisa Pretecrum
Thanks again for hosting a beautiful day on campus. I have been on the board for years and always enjoy the board visitation days. However, this year held something special. I witnessed the deep sense of community and connection between the school grounds (including the trees, paths and open spaces), faculty, administration, and the students.
It was like the flow of a river, quiet flowing moments of stories being read in the library, rough boisterous rapids during recess with children running about in the fall leaves, deep cool waters and thoughtful moments of a group of middle school teachers working together to find the best path forward for their students, and finally the confidence instilled in the students to let go of the edge of the river and let the exploration of learning happen.
From a distance, BFS looks like a great school with lots of fun learning opportunities, but when you get to jump in the raft you see all of the tiny details that make the school a magical journey through childhood filled with love, empathy and a deep passion for learning.
I also want to thank the four Seventh Grade students for a terrific lunch conversation. It is obvious that the children at the school and their families are part of what makes the river flow. Peace, Alexis Ridge-Simek
What a great day it was in so many ways!
The kids – What a treat it was to greet them and to see that even in the youngest of them there was the confidence to engage with people that they did not know and how they trusted that if you told them to shake hands that it was okay to do because I am doing this for Paul.
The faculty – They are so proud of what they do and the idea that they know they have the room to try new things in the classroom and that it is okay! They all love being with kids; showing them that it is okay to make mistakes and that it is okay to express yourself and be happy about it!
The staff – they know the ropes and they know that they are very much appreciated by everyone else who needs them. They are like glue!!
The Meetinghouse – Having the opportunity to be there for our meeting only made me feel more connected. I am committed to making that building shine because it is so important to the lives of anyone who has passed through the door. Annette Miller ‘73
To be back on campus again. The smell of the wood in the Meetinghouse. The paint on the floor of the woodshop.
To see the teachers, students and administrators in their element, learning from and enjoying one another. The enthusiasm.
The love and support found in every action and every minute. What a wonderful world in which to learn and grow.
A student’s smile and inquisitiveness. Chris Kerr
It was a great day! Special thanks to you, the admin team and all of the teachers for accommodating us.
Having an opportunity to greet the kids at drop off was very special for me. There were a number of children who I recognized before I remembered their names simply because of the family resemblance to their siblings and parents who I knew from my children’s time here. I attended K and 2nd grade classes, K for snack and the letter “M” and 2nd for Math. Singapore Math, where were you in the ’70’s when I needed you! The energy level in those classes was off the charts from both students and teachers! Special thanks to 2nd graders, one for showing me “693” in 6 different ways, and to another, who heard me speaking of my own daughter and said “That’s my name too. Could you and Mr. T. keep it down please? I’m trying to learn!” Peace, Andrew Garrett ‘80
lot of hands raised
highly capable teachers using a variety of methods
the big smile on a student’s face as she did a lap around the upper field with her classmates
teachers very patient with students, skilled with follow up questions, fun to watch
kids sitting close to each other, larger classrooms will sure help
grounds are nicely maintained
even the substitutes were great.
some very smart kids, heard one 7th grader use “epidemiology” in an intelligent answer regarding ancient Rome.
useful tech seen in action, laptops, whiteboards, large screens.
Buckingham Monthly Meeting is a wonderful heart of the School.
after seven hours, I was worn out. Drew Augenblick
During Board Visit Day, several people I met on campus talked about what it was like getting back out in public and socially interacting face to face with people. It truly is a wonderful experience.
But it can be tiring. It will be a long process for us all to completely recover from the impact of the pandemic. I was reminded that this feeling of being tired from the new ways in which we have to work and interact with one another was not new for everyone.
The faculty and staff and students at BFS have been fully engaged throughout the pandemic. The school continued to move forward, making the necessary adjustments to ensure they were doing all they could to keep everyone healthy and safe. It is not lost on me that while there was a very positive energy on campus, and everyone enjoyed seeing others and being seen, beneath the surface everyone is a little tired. It is the kind of tired that doesn’t go away from sleeping in until noon.
The power of community at BFS is such that there is caring, understanding and patience as we look for and see the Light within each other. I saw and experienced the sharing of energy that made everyone’s Light shine a little brighter. Thank you to all of the students, faculty and admin team members for making this a wonderful day. Michael Godshall
Highlights of my day at BFS included:
- Coffee–thanks, Melissa!
- Lunch (thank you, Fran) with Emily, Logan, Cece, and Claire, who spoke eloquently and joyfully about BFS, reflecting on things ranging from the level of independence that BFS students are entrusted with to anticipation of this year’s Ghost Walk.
- Substitute teacher Ann’s impromptu sharing of how impressed she’s been with BFS students in her brief time at the school.
- Conversation with Noah and Erica–as they worked on their clocks–about woodworking, axolotls, and Medusa. I learned a lot, and Noah assured me that all I needed to do to learn more about axolotls was to type “ax” into Google. Indeed, he was correct.
- Interactive story/snack time in second grade, where way more than “just” a story was happening! For example, students were reflecting on (and following the graph of) the story arc, making predictions about what might happen next, listening to one another, and thinking and talking about ways in which characters were showing integrity
- Watching a Yoshi game in PE, seeing how students participated when asked to reflect on whether they were doing their best and hearing talk of integrity woven into the action
- Leaning from Kris about the nature-as-both-canvas-and-media art of Andy Goldsworthy, and hearing about Kris’s spur-of-the-moment decision to change the lesson plan to a Goldsworthy-inspired one on such a beautiful fall day; and sensing the joyful anticipation of a dance party at the end of art/shop class
- The chances that arose throughout the day for conversation and connection
Thanks, Paul and everyone who prepared for us and welcomed us so warmly! Laura Kinnel
It was a fantastic day for me! I left that day with my cup full to the brim with positive feelings and impressions. Having the opportunity to sit in on classes, see the students and teachers in action, and to share a meal with seventh graders, was a lot of icing on top of an already, in my eyes, amazing cake. Seriously, the school and its people- kids, faculty, and staff, never cease to amaze me!
Receiving morning handshakes and friendly greetings from all the kids practically brought me to tears. I find this ability of BFS kids to make eye contact and speak directly, maturely, and cheerfully to adults so impressive! It’s a social gift to be able to do this at an early age, any age really, and I feel very thankful that BFS is intentionally promoting confidence, social graces and communicative success in our children.
I was equally impressed observing second graders raise their hands and calmly, confidently, and intelligently reflect on the story Miss B was reading during snack time. She asked them about integrity, and they knew what it was!! Second graders learning about and understanding the concept of integrity-that’s amazing!! This theme of integrity also came up while observing the 4th grade during PE class. During a game of Yoshi Yoshi, Miss Maschi encouraged the kids to demonstrate integrity by truthfully identifying when they had been tagged, reinforcing the importance of honesty in sports and in life. Bravo BFS!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I feel so grateful that we are able to send our kids to this magnificent school. Julie Spears