Posted September 29, 2010
As the Director of Admissions and Outreach at FCS, I would like to correct the erroneous categorical statement attributed to the director of admissions in the posting of July 12, 2010, and affirm the related statement in the posting of August 4, 2010. (It appears that the entire July 12 posting may refer to a situation of several years ago, before my time in this position.) FCS embraces students with a range of learning styles, and in so doing we are able to serve students with mild learning differences (as well as students with advanced abilities). However, we cannot accommodate students with substantial learning differences who need specialized services across the curriculum. Our teachers are excellent and well-qualified, but they do not have the credentials required for teaching students with special needs. I welcome inquiries, and urge all to attend one of our Open Houses, dates and times to be found on our website, www.friendscommunityschool.org. Connie Belfiore Director of Admissions and Outreach Friends Community School Connie@friendscommunityschool.org 301-441-2100 x129
Our daughter has attended Friends Community School (FCS) since kindergarden. We could not be more happy with the environment the school provides. She is being challenged academically, is learning to work collaboratively with other children, and is developing a sense of responsibility to care for the environment and make the world a better place. We value the school's richly diverse student body (reflecting diversity's many dimensions) and their extremely nice parents (it's sort of a chicken and the egg to figure out what came first nice parents or nice kids and how that relates to the school's magical ability to attract parents whose occupations and volunterism reflect the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship). We also appreciate the school's zero tolerance for bullying. FCS is selective and not everyone who has the money and applies can get in. There is, however, modest financial aid (up to half off) for those who do get in but cannot afford the tuition.
After completing a tour of the school, I was extremely impress with its philosophy; administration; and small class sizes. Weeks after the decision deadline,I received an outdated template with the incorrect date, spacing and foreign characters; stating the applicant was on the wait list.3 days later I discovered the school was still recruiting for this program.I immediately called the school and determined it was a mistake.Weeks later I realized the website had the same information. After calling the school head,I was finally informed that she did not get accepted into the school.The reason for this review is to simply inform applicants/parents-if you do not meet a certain criteria or do not appear to be the perfect fit , you will not be accepted. The criterion is not related to education which should be an important evaluation tool.Although the school suggests it supports diversity;equality; respect; and integrity-failure to disclose truthful information to any applicant does not uphold these values the school so proudly promote! If you are a prospective parent and meet the predetermined criteria-you shouldn t encounter any problem; however, for those who do not, please beware!
Update on some of the comments made previously. As a parent who is known to throw temper tantrums when the school isn't doing what I feel they should be, I have looked at MANY schools for points of comparison. Guess what? We're still here. FCS has been on a continuum learning to balance their kind, open and understanding approach to kids with one of discipline. I can tell you first hand that this school year has shown DRAMATIC progress in this area, and discipline is much more effective. The school has put in place more formal guidelines for what is and isn't acceptable, and for what is expected of teachers in their treatment of kids who misbehave. The results are extremely noticeable. Also, with this year's addition of specific lower and middle school heads, FCS has had marked success in defining and enforcing expectations overall. Come visit...ask the "hard questions." You won't be disappointed. And you absolutely will not find a more kind, open, accepting, safe and challenging school in the county.
I have to distinctly disagree with the recent posts about bullying and lack of inclusiveness. I have two children at FCS, both of whom are thriving. I do understand the dynamics that the posters are referencing. A few of the classes seem to have a large number of very strong personalities, and because FCS is a small school the strong personalities can take some time and effort to balance. This is true of any small school, in my experience. However, FCS is markedly low on the human behaviors that I have seen everywhere in my life that would qualify as bullying or aggressive behavior. One of my children was bullied in another school; at FCS that same child has felt included from the very beginning. I have spent time working on projects with the students at FCS myself, including some of the students that anyone could plainly see have more dominant personalities. I have found them all to be accessible, good-hearted, and enthusiastic about their schoolwork. Given that this is accomplished in a school environment that grants all the students far more independence than many traditional schools, I find it to be a wonderful teaching model for skills that will last a lifetime.
I just ended my 7th grade year at FCS today and i feel so lucky to be going to such an amazing school. I began here in 2nd grade. Of course there are a couple teachers here and there with whom my learning style doesn't work so well, but my adviser/homeroom teacher is happy to help me in any way. The kids are so accepting and teachers feel like friends rather than teachers. This is the perfect school for me, and when my sibling was having some issues at school, they were willing to bend over backwards to help her and supported me so much just when I needed it. The academics program is wonderful. Pre-algebra was easy for me, so I got extra, harder work and I helped other kids. The teachers have prepared so many ways to accommodate learning styles in one class. I love the meeting partners program too, and how I'm allowed to read to the Kindergarteners at their lunchtime! They're adding a lot on to the school between this year and next---a stage, lockers for MS, new art room and LS science lab. I'm really excited for next year and sad it's summer...
We witnessed this as well. Our child attended a trial day here and came back home complaining that a few kids simply dominated the class, walking around, shouting out, talking during classtime, interrupting, and the worst thing is that the teacher didn't succeed in doing a thing to stop it, like this is a normal occurrence. My child is normally pretty social but felt belittled and disrespected by the other students.
Re: the november 22 comment. There isn't much in terms of physical bullying at fcs -- but i have to agree that the rough, loud kids do have control of the school. The problem is that there really is no repercussion for misbehavior in class. For instance, lets say a boys acts up and hits someone. He won't be punished... the whole class instead will be forced to stay inside for recess. The boy learns only that he will not be held responsible for his actions... and the other kids learn that they may as well misbehave too, what do they have to lose? So classes often start out with only a few bad apples, but within a few months the rudeness and aggressiveness have spread to the whole class. We've been lucky to have been in a class without any such problems, but we've seen other classes in the school suffer because the school refuses to do anything about disrespectful or disruptive behavior. I know several other parents who are leaving because of this.
I feel compelled to respond to the parent posting of November 22, to address the statement that mean kids run roughshod over the more timid kids. We have a child with learning differences and have felt nothing but acceptance from the teachers, administrative staff and students. We see no evidence of exclusion, bullying or mean spiritedness from the students at FCS. I can't help but wonder if this parent tried to work out their differences with the teachers and staff . I wish them the best in their new school
This school has so much potential but it never quite lives up to its lofty goals. While it deems itself as green, the kids hardly ever go outside for any time with nature (despite it being right next to Greenbelt National Forest). It claims to handle conflict resolution well, yet in many classes, the mean girls (and boys) run roughshod over the more timid kids, and our teacher didn't notice or care or do much about it. We left last year, so can't speak to the recent personnel changes, so maybe they are trying to improve things. There are some great teachers here, but overall, things could be better if they actually were as respectful, inclusive, progressive, and as green as they think they are.
We are finishing eight great years at FCS and can testify that the school is both academically challenging and socially engaging. Students are taught the Quaker values of conflict resolution from first grade, and the academic environment thrives with a student focused education, instead of the teacher focused education found in local public schools. Highly recommended.
Our son is in his second year at FCS. We are very pleased with the atmosphere, staff professionalism, progressive teaching and individualized instruction that our son has received. This school is dedicated to celebrating each person as they are and helping them to reach their full potential. We highly recommend this school.
We are new to FCS this year, but feel like we have finally found a home, with integrity, true diversity, and an emphasis on ethics and values over the bells and whistles. We'll weigh in more as the year goes on.
Our children have attended FCS for 8 years now and we believe they have gotten an excellent education. The school is able to focus on meeting children where they are (academically) and urging them to reach new heights. We love the emphasis on Quaker values such as simplicity, integrity, peace and community. We know our children's friends and families very well and cherish the years we have spent at Friends Community School.
We are nearing the end of our 5th year at FCS. We have two children in the school and are very happy with it. It offers a well-rounded education for the whole human being, with a minimum of testing. It emphasizes cooperation over competition. The teachers and staff are very keen on helping each child achieve his/her potential in a positive, values-based way. The arts are given significant weight; concepts learned in the classroom are reinforced through projects, presentations and field trips; and responsibility for the earth is emphasized. While a brilliant child who is working several grades above his or her age level may not find the curriculum demanding enough, for the majority of children, this is a great school. The current head of school is such a blessing compared to the individual he replaced, and teachers seem genuinely happy.
Quaker values are an important part of FCS, which really gives children a supportive and loving community to grow in. My child is in her 6th year at the school and has thrived there. All her teachers have been excellent. The school has a strong focus on experiential learning including many field trips and service projects and the academics are exciting. The kids often work together and an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competition is fostered. If you are looking for a place for your child to learn rather than constantly be assessed with standardized tests, where children are known and valued as unique individuals, you should be looking at FCS.
The school has greatly benefited from the addition of a strong head of school in the last 2 years. While there were some issues with turnover during the transition to a new head, the staff has stabilized and are doing a wonderful job. I have had two children there for the last 3 years and they are progressing well in all areas. The small classrooms allow the teachers to accommodate a wide variety of learning styles including some special needs but they are not specifically a special needs school. They do encourage parents to participate in the classroom particularly at younger ages. I found this very helpful.there,
It would be difficult to rate this school as "great" because there is such a wide discrepancy in teaching qualifications and aptitude from classroom to classroom. There have been many transitions in the first/second grade classrooms over the last several years, a grade level that needs confident and well-qualified teachers. There have been so many staff changes over the last 3-5 years, and it seems that many of the veteran teachers left and the school has had trouble filling vacancies, resorting to hiring a large percentage of parents as teachers. The school probably works well for easy going, bright students whose parents just want them to be happy, but when the director of admissions says that they are unable to accommodate students who need extra attention due to learning differences, as she did to us, she means it categorically.
Both of my children have always been very happy at FCS. They have been there since kindergarten and are now in 5th and 3rd grades. They have always loved their teachers and they have thrived at the school. The Head is fabulous as are the teachers.
We are very pleased with our Kindergartener's experience at FCS. It is such a nuturing school and we love the small class sizes. We are very confident our child will flourish here!
We have two children at this school and have been here ..this is our 5th year. This school is unbelievable - an amazing education delivered in a manner that ensures children develop confidence in their capacity to learn. The teachers and administration it top notch -- all this and a progressive environment with a diverse population. The kids all treat each other with enormous respect. You can't beat the critical thinking and writing skills at this school.
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