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Friends Select School

Private | PK-12 | 552 students


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Living in Philadelphia

Situated in an inner city neighborhood. The median home value is $416,300. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,250.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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4 stars

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32 reviews of this school

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Posted November 13, 2014

It's great - until it's terrible. We had kids in all 3 levels but have now pulled them. Lower: can be great - if you get one of the (many) wonderful teachers. Middle: some good teachers but has become increasingly rigid with a negative vibe; there is no flexibility in the (very dated) curriculum and kids who are not in lock-step (whether they are ahead, behind, or sideways) are NOT welcomed. The head of the Middle school is surprisingly rigid and hostile; even the teachers and support staff seem afraid of her. Upper: little innovation, and they rely on wealthy exchange students (who for the most part remain in their own clique and aren't required to speak English when other students are present) to pad their numbers. The Upper school head seems well-intentioned but gets overruled by the Head of school. All levels require an enormous amount of homework despite evidence that it is not useful and in the Middle/Upper schools there are lots of lectures, with self-directed learning almost nonexistent. FSS seems to be becoming just an extremely expensive prep school that happens to have a Quaker name. We also encountered almost every situation described in the 1-2 star reviews below.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 1, 2014

We are delighted to be part of the Friends Select community. Our older child is about to begin her third year at the school and our younger could not be more excited about starting kindergarten this fall. We love that the school devotes as much attention to providing a strong social curriculum (emphasizing Quaker values throughout) and not just a top notch academic program. FSS uses the city (especially but not just Center City) as a classroom in a way unrivaled by other local schools (Independent and otherwise). This multi-sensory, no walls approach to learning impacts the way my daughter interacts with her environment and makes her a more engaged person. Don't expect an emphasis on rote learning and worksheets at FSS; do expect that the teachers and administration will help you raise creative (love the arts program!), caring, inquisitive kids who love to learn in an atmosphere that is inclusive, supportive, and always interesting.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 18, 2013

We are mid-way through our child's second year and we love this school more every day. The teachers that she has had have been wonderful and really centered around developing the whole child. They are certainly preparing the kids academically, but much more significant is the focus on developing their social skills and their capacity to resolve their own conflicts (with support from their teachers and the administration). Everyone really knows our child---her teachers get her. And we love it that, at the end of the school year, the current grade's teachers get together with the next grade's to figure out good placement---not academic tracking--but based on making sure that classes have a good mix, balance of extroverts and introverts, and to break up some cliques and foster other friendships. The other thing we really appreciate is the "book buddy" system: older Lower School kids are buddied up to read and pair off on trips with younger LS kids. This helps the little ones feel more connected and boosts the self esteem of the older ones. All this, and great academics, a pool, a fabulous After School Program, and receptive teachers and administrators make the school great.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 5, 2013

Go somewhere else! This is our 3rd year. To be honest, We had a great experience our first year. We had no reason to interface with the administration, so we had a reasonably good impression of them. They seemed Ike nice people. In our second year, we had a number of issues. We are not complainers - these issues were serious. The administration did not listen to us and did not take our concerns seriously. They tried to made excuses for most of our concerns. They had no warmth or compassion for what our child was experiencing. Bullying is not taken seriously. Not physical bullying, but emotional bullying. By the time we realized how unresponsive and cold the administration was, it was too late to apply to another school. This year is better in terms of the issues we raised last year, but we cannot forget how we were treated last year. One reason we can't forget is that these people don't forget either! They give new meaning to holding a grudge! Unless you know you will never have a problem to bring up with the administration, look elsewhere. We are relocating this summer, so this will be our 3rd and final year.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 30, 2013

As far as I can see, this school is AWESOME! I recently just went for an open house, as I'm applying there for 9th grade. I just wish they had scholarships because I feel like my straight A's and Advanced PSSA scores are sort of going to waste. But the tour was amazing! There's a pool, dance room. roof field, and they have recently retrieved a 3-D printer! I really hope I get to go to this school. The area is amazing and there are lots of things to do outside of school. If you didn't know, there are two buildings. The second building has history and art. I couldn't believe how cool they were! Students were making jewlery, using torches (safely) , and more. The building is safe, friendly, and looks like perfection. I'm sure when I start, if I go, there will be some faults, and I will post them on here. Overall, Friends Select is the place to go, if you have the money for it!

Posted May 29, 2013

We are just coming to the end of our child s second year at FSS. Our experience has been just the opposite of some of the other (negative) reviews of the lower school teachers and administrators. Perhaps we ve been lucky, but it seems that our child got EXACTLY what was needed to in order to flourish. We haven t needed much intervention or interaction with the head of the lower school, but we have seen him only to be very level-headed and focused on the children. We have, however, interacted with everyone in learning support and I can say with confidence that they DO recognize and treat the children with the understanding of their individual needs. I wouldn t say this place is perfect, but since perfection doesn t exist, we are very happy with how close this place comes for us!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 25, 2013

As a lower school parent, I have been so disappointed in the lower school administration, especially the head of the lower school. He is arrogant and does not look out for the students' best interest. I'm sure there are great teachers and great administrators in this school but do you want pay 18$k to find out the school is just 'meh'? All I say is DO YOUR RESEARCH on this school and the lower school administrator before sending your child (and lots of money) here. There are way better (academically, socially, and administratively) schools in the area for your money.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 6, 2013

Why can't someone state their opinion without someone else criticizing and invalidating their concerns? Experience at a school is personal. We have been happy at times and unhappy at other times. But agree with the negative reviews about the lower school administration. They are probably nice to some parents, but we have heard too many disturbing stories. There is so much potential, but we have never seen "amazing" at this school - other than a few talented teachers. New leadership would mean everything. Leaders who better understand how to balance the needs of 3 groups - students, parents, and teachers. This group of administrators falls short.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 12, 2013

So interesting that the 3 negative reviews in the past year were within 3 days of each other! One angry family leaves 3 reviews and creates a false impression of a wonderful school. FSS is amazing, please go check it out to see if it is a good fit for your family. It has been wonderful for my kids, one of whom has a learning disability and has received incredible support.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 11, 2013

I am the parent of 2 lower schoolers, one who suffers with ADHD. The school has been exceptional for my child. He is not an easy child, and they have accomodated him and nurtured him at every chance possible. His teachers have been wonderful. When I read the negative reviews, I think that either a) it is someone with an agenda, b)it is someone who will not be happy anywhere or c) a parent unwilling to admit their child is not perfect. Is Friends Select perfrect? No, but it is pretty darned close. The head of the lower school is AMAZING. He is smart, sincere, and a great leader. He has been incredibly impressive in all of my interactions with him. Teachers humiliating students would never, ever be tolerated at FSS! The school is full of smart , advanced children from high achieveing families. Despite this, there is very little competition as it is actively discouraged. In short, I am thrilled I send my 2 kids here. They are very different kids with different abilities, both of whom are thriving at FSS.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 28, 2013

I went to high school here (public school for 1st-8th grade) and I am sad to read all of the bad reviews by lower school parents, especially those who say their children were humiliated for being "middle of the road" or having disabilities. I have ADD and multiple learning differences and FSS was a perfect fit for me. I thank FSS for challenging me (I did not get the best grades, and still went to my second choice school) to the fullest and emphasizing learning and personal growth rather than test scores and letter grades. I was VERY prepared for college and thank the wonderful teachers and administration for that.

Posted November 18, 2012

As a psychotherapist who treats children with anxiety and self-esteem problems, I would not recommend this school for any child who is not totally "middle of the road" -the current administration acknowledges that they teach to the middle; if your child is more advanced, or will need special attention, he or she could be treated punitively and with public humiliation by the teacher, with the current administration's loyalty and approval. At Friends, the child is NOT the priority, covering teachers' unprofessionalism, inappropriate behavior and the status quo is. Parents who have shared their concerns about their child's treatment there have gotten lip service and experience the same type of humiliation and dismissiveness towards their concerns that their child has experienced. I suggest that you find a school which is more child-oriented and really follows the tenet of the school's written mission, hopefully including respect and compassion for the individual child.

Posted November 17, 2012

Most of the teachers we have had are excellent, the kids are great, but the lower school head has got to go. He is hot tempered, does not listen to parents, and seems to forget people are paying to go to the school. I agree with the last reviewer - if your child has any issues, you will not like how you and your child are treated. The head of school should care that so many parents are unhappy with the lower school head - but she does not seem to at all.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted November 14, 2012

PLEASE think twice before sending your child here! Our child has a teacher who is rigid, punitive, and who does her best to snuff out "the light in each child" (a Quaker value). Our child had a wonderful K teacher, but once she got to 1st grade she comes home crying, anxious and withdrawn because of the environment in her 1st grade class. We begged the administration to help our child and they refused to switch her out of the class (even though there are two other, non-full classes) and the lower school head brushed away our concerns saying it is not in their policy to switch kids and that the Quaker tradition is not to "run away from problems but to face them." Try telling that to a sweet, sensitive, intelligent 6 year old who only wants to have a nice, non-threatening, happy environment in 1st grade, not a punitive, militaristic, rigid one where humiliation is common. Other parents in her class have complained and the administration refuses to listen or do anything. We never write reviews about this sort of thing but felt compelled to in this case. *Please* send your child somewhere else--if he/she has any issues (legitimate at that), the administration won't and doesn't care.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 11, 2012

Pros: beautiful building, located near many institutions that the school can access to supplement lessons (Academy of Science, PMA, etc), sports facilities (pool, roof field). Many excellent teachers. Many involved parents, excellent (and expensive) after school program. Cons: catering ever more to the "elite"- school continues to become less diverse and inclusive (and some might argue, Quaker) as the years go on. Aid awards have been cut back. Tuition rises at an alarming rate every year - you do not know what the following year's tuition bill will be until it is too late to transfer. Rates rise as much as 8% some years. Like all private schools, you are asked several times a year to give more money above and beyond tuition. This school has its issues - there are occasional drug issues in the high school, kids and parents can be cliquey, administration can be very difficult to interface with.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 19, 2012

I am always amazed that with so many choices for schools in the area, private, public, and charter, that an angry, unhappy parent would choose to remain at a school with which they are so unhappy. Our children are current students and we have been extremely satisfied with our experience. Our children have had excellent, caring teachers and we find the curriculum to be appropiately challenging. The specials curriculum is exceptionally well-rounded and enjoyable for the students. I am comfortable recommending Friends Select as a great independent school.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 18, 2012

Go to St. Peters or TPS if you have a choice. There is a judgmental and angry tone in this school that seems to be getting worse with time. Not sure about all these glowing reviews from parents - maybe they are written by teachers who send their kids there. Most parents we know are not thrilled and are evaluating our options for the future.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 8, 2012

All four of our children went to FSS kindergarten through 12th grade. Two went on to Harvard, one to Oberlin and one to Swarthmore. FSS helped us raise four highly functional, compassionate and intelligent children. Some teachers came and went during our time there, but the institution is very strong, and if a good teacher left, his/her replacement was just as good. We could not have raised our children so successfully without the school's support and involvement. I cannot recommend this school highly enough.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 6, 2011

This school is mediocre at best. Kids are expected to uphold Quaker values, but administration and teachers are not. There are some good teachers, but many average or bad teachers. If it were free, that could be tolerated. But, that is not the case. If your child has any differences - gifted or learning issues, this is definitely not the place to go. They do well with the cookie cutter kids and that is probably it.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 3, 2011

I had 2 sons who attended FSS for high school. One graduated in 2002. The other in 2006. FSS brought out the best in both of them, academically, but perhaps more importantly in the appreciation of difference and acceptance of others. One went on to graduate from Pitt and the other from Brown.
—Submitted by a parent

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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
White 70% 71%
Black 10% 15%
Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander 9% 3%
Two or more races 9% 2%
Hispanic 3% 9%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 0%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0% 0%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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School facilities
  • Computer lab
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School basics

School Leader's name
  • Rose Hagan, Head of School
  • Coed
  • Friends
  • FCE
  • NAIS
  • PAIS


Specific academic themes or areas of focus

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  • Religious


School facilities
  • Computer lab
  • Library
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17th St & Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Website: Click here
Phone: (215) 561-5900


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