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
September 29, 2010
This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
There is NO perfect school whether public, charter, or private but this week reminded me of why my two children (5th and 8th gr) attend FCS. Earlier this week, the 5th grade social studies classes held a mock trial in front of a judge. Students argued on both sides of the legal vs. illegal immigration issue! Last night, the 7th and 8th grade students presented their Year End Projects to the community. A culminating activity of 3 months of research, interviews, field experience/service, and advocacy, we listened as the young people (not little kids) shared their knowledge of topics that ranged from foster care to animal rights; from environmental issues to domestic violence. Our 8th graders testified at governmental meetings, wrote letters to the editor of newspapers and governmental officials, and created brochures. The learning that occurred with this process will follow them into high school and beyond. This is why my kids are at FCS!
Amazing to see another review that sounds just like us. This school is excellent for average students...which most of us are. But when it comes to gifted kids, they struggle to accommodate them. The upper middle school, as the other reviewer stated, is in a shambles, and the school resents feedback. One family who is very vocal with suggestions and concerns has virtually been ostracized by the school administration. FCS has a lot to offer, just be sure it is a fit for your child. Don't settle for a glossy description of their program...as HOW they will accomplish certain things, what, specifically, do teachers and staff do. And be prepared to leave after sixth grade.
This is our 9th and final year at FCS, and I am very gratified with my children's education there. After two years in the public school system when "No Child Left Untested" was gathering steam, being able to switch to FCS was such a blessing. Despite changes of personnel, moving into a different building, and growth, the school has never strayed from its core mission of educating the whole child along a set of wonderful Quaker principles. These principles are the bedrock of the institution and, in my opinion, should be how every child worldwide is educated. (I'm not a Quaker, and nor are many of the families at FCS.) I will be honest: This school is not for everyone, but nor should it be. If you are a "Tiger Parent" who wants their child to excel only at math and/or science in order to be competitive on the world stage, this school may not be for you. If you believe in a holistic model of education, where many different aspects of the developing child are addressed to prepare them for a life of service -- with features of positive conflict resolution, stewardship of the environment, and seeing that of God in every human being -- then this is the place for you and your child.
I have two children at FCS, both very bright kids but not necessarily academically inclined. FCS has worked hard to tailor the education to my kids' needs, which they can do without exacting an opportunity cost on the rest of the classes because it is small and because they are committed to such care. My 8th grader, for example, was falling further and further behind in math, even though he was making honor roll at his old school. He's now in a very small class at FCS and is not only all caught up, he *likes* math and is getting high marks. FCS tries hard! And yes, there are some difficult kids (and high maintenance parents, ahem), but welcome to 21st century America. Considering that my child was regularly coming home from public school bruised, I'm not going to get in a big twist about a few bratty kids. To be fair, we fell in love with Quaker pedagogy with its emphasis on character education, but it's not for everyone -- if you're really, really type A, you might feel as though you're stuck in a long conversation with a slow talker.
We originally fell in love with FCS when we visited more than 10 years ago and wished we could do school over again ourselves so we could participate in what we were observing. Since then, both of our kids have or will attend through 8th grade, and overall, we've only seen continuous improvement in many aspects of the school, from administration to teaching to facilities to extra curricular activities. It's not a perfect school -- because no school is -- but we've been impressed with the way the current school head has handled the various situations that arise in any school. FCS is a gem of a school option for this community.
By all means take advantage of the fabulous lower school but be prepared to leave after sixth grade. Sadly, the teaching is eroding more and more, and the curriculum is lackluster. Our daughter is bored every single day in an environment where they claim to meet each child at their level. Upper middle school is a huge disappointment, and the administration is dead set on doing it "their way.". A great school that should stop at sixth grade.
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.