San Francisco Friends School
The San Francisco Friends School, located in the heart of the Mission, is a K-8 school dedicated to community engagement. Based on their Quaker values and a commitment to partnerships that are authentic, reciprocal and sustainable, the San Francisco Friends School maintains two distinct forms of partnerships: those that are based on the academic curriculum and those that are generated for the benefit of the entire school community.
Curricular Based Service Learning Partnerships
At the San Francisco Friends School, each grade level (K-8) participates in a partnership with a community organization. These projects enhance and enrich curricula and happen throughout the year as well as year after year. These relationships have grown from isolated projects and curricular units to authentic and reciprocal community connections. They are as follows:
K-Fundraising for goat donation with the Heifer Foundation
1st- Dancing with residents at the Francis of Assisi Senior Center
2nd-Fundraisers and pet adoptions with the SPCA
3rd- Collection drives and photo project with the International Refugee Committee
4th- Reading with pre-school buddies at Holy Family Day Home
5th- Oral history drama project with seniors at the Francis of Assisi Senior Center
6th- Collection drives and gardening project with Growing Home Community Garden and the San Francisco Dept of Public Works
7th- Volunteering at the San Francisco Food Bank, coordinated with a curricular-based study on nutrition
8th- Student driven project associated with class trip to the California Central Valley
For a complete description on the Grade-Level service, please click here.
In the Friends Middle School, students participate in service trips that bridge their curricular work to service in another part of the world.
7th grade- Nicaragua In 7th grade, the students travel to Nicaragua to work and live in a small village. In addition to their service, the students also look closely at the concepts of hunger and nutrition. Before their trip the students conduct a number of trips to the SF Food Bank and then compare what is done at home to combat hunger with how the problem is treated in Nicaragua.
8th grade-Central Valley In 8th grade, the students travel to the Central Valley of California. Primarily an agricultural region, the students are able to learn about farming, food, and also social justice. Prior to their trip the students read a number of pieces including Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and Harvest Gypsies as well a few contemporary pieces that address current geo-political issues including immigration, water and worker rights, and health concerns. The trip also allows the students to see first hand the science that they have been studying such as the nitrogen and carbon cycles, chemical and water issues and historical climate and tectonic cycles.
Upon return, both trips share their stories, reflections, photos, and takeaways in presentations to each other and to their parents. The goal through all of this is more than just taking them to new destinations, but rather taking them to new ideas, new understandings, and like Henry Miller says, “a new way of seeing things.”
San Francisco Friends School not only values the engagement of its students with the community, but also finds it imperative that the institution as a whole also be dedicated to community engagement. To that end they have three distinct programs that ensure that the community as a whole is consistent in their service goals.
The San Francisco Friends School Board of Trustees has a committee dedicated to ensuring that the school is an active steward in the greater community. It helps monitor and guide the school’s commitment to service and engagement through ongoing programs, partnerships, and positive community relationships. It also ensures active engagement with and participation from the school community to help sustain and promote this essential work. In addition to attending monthly meetings, members are asked to get involved with projects that speak to their interests and areas of expertise. These include:
- Communications/messaging: publicize and promote this work and how to get involved (photo/video, CB articles, PAge postings, wiki updates, webpage, etc...)
- Alumni involvement: service days, reunion events, etc...
- School events: community luncheons (fall and spring), school-wide service days, Quaker pantry service project, collection drives, Craft Fair, etc
- Meetings/outreach: city meetings, neighborhood meetings, district meetings, police station meetings, maintaining relations with local vendors and businesses
- City development (as it relates to/impacts our school): parks, housing, parking, bike lanes, etc...
In addition, when issues or challenges come up in the neighborhood that impact our school, our families, or students, the committee helps to respond quickly and appropriately.
San Francisco Friends School will launch a Horizons program in 2014. The first of its kind on the West Coast, this program will be a six week academic enrichment summer program for low income students in grades K-5 from the surrounding neighborhood. You can read more about Horizons National here.
Friends Community Scholars
San Francisco Friends School has launched the Friends Community Scholars program. This scholarship is for high-achieving, economically disadvantaged middle school students from neighborhoods surrounding the school. Friends Community Scholars, twelve in all, will be supported with funds for tuition, tutoring, enrichment, music lessons, student travel and experiential learning. ?Friends Community Scholars will be chosen for their demonstrated academic ability, capacity for hard work, and willingness to participate in the life of the school. The school will recruit Scholars through community partners and outreach efforts, with a focus on families who demonstrate significant financial need and with whom the school’s mission and values resonate. As well as increasing accessibility to the school and deepening its connection with the neighborhood, FCS will enhance the overall diversity of students and families at Friends.