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Heads Up: A Continuous Commitment to Improvement

A student concentrates on an assignment at their desk.

The following message from Head of School Ben Kennedy appeared in this weekend’s Heads Up, a weekly email for Friends Academy families.

Each week, I have the pleasure of meeting with prospective families as they tour campus. One of the questions I am often asked is: What do you love most about Friends Academy? 

I usually answer by saying, “Where do I start?” The truth is, I could go on and on about all the things I love about our school. When talking to families just getting to know Friends, however, here are a few of the things I share that I love:

  • How well the teachers and staff know our children. They are able to both appreciate children for who they are and challenge them to be the best versions of themselves.
  • All-School Meeting each Wednesday – the opportunity to hear from the varied voices of our community, and the energy and warmth on display when we are together in the Commons.
  • We understand that belonging is more than a word: it is work that we must do every day to ensure that all members of the community are respected and able to do their best.
  • Our students hold doors for one another and for their teachers. They know that little demonstrations of care make a big difference.
  • We believe in children and see children as capable and responsible. Student triumphs, missteps, and everything in between are valuable and essential for their long-term growth.
  • We embrace “the process,” taking the long view and steadfastly committing to improvement.

This last one is particularly important to me as an educator and a parent. Individually and collectively, there is always work to be done. As the Head of School, then, I am perhaps proudest of our students and teachers for committing to improvement. We see this every day in small and large ways, such as portfolios and Student-Led Conferences.

On the adult side, it is also the purpose of Friday afternoon faculty professional development, which takes place after the 2pm student dismissal each week. Last Friday after school, for example, teachers were working on the scope and sequence of some of our academic programs. In one space, teachers from Early Childhood through eighth grade were sharing student work to evaluate how writing skills are taught and assessed throughout all grade levels. 

In another space, math teachers were working together to continue to transform the way we think about and teach mathematics. After adding math instruction time across the school this year, teachers are not only seeing the value of this additional time – I heard them wondering if we might be able to add even more time next year and strategizing how to do it. I was impressed by their ongoing work to implement, evaluate, and continue to improve an exciting and challenging new approach to math instruction, one which is already benefiting our students.

I know that fellow Friends Academy families share this belief in and commitment to the process. Whether we are young or old, ongoing work is necessary for improvement, both personally and collectively. There is already so much to be proud of – and it is also exciting to think about all the great things yet to come.

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