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  Fall 2018

Our Mission: Friends School of Portland challenges and empowers students to develop their intellectual, physical, emotional, creative and spiritual potential. We honor our students' natural gifts as they learn to enter the world with confidence, competence, joy and a sense of purpose. We are guided by the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship, and truth.

Important Dates
In This Issue
ConnectEd & SPICES
Not So New at FSP
Teaching & Continuing Revelation
Hopes and Dreams
Plant Study in 3-4
"What is an American?"
"What is Truth?"
Completing the Vision
Growth vs. Fixed Mindset
Annual Fund
Alumni News
Harvest Fest Thank You
Admissions Open House

Quick Links


Board of Directors  
Lyn Ballou
Deqa Dhalac
Andrew Dixon
James Grumbach
Eben Jose
Doug McCown
Sharon McDonnell
Rob Ravenelle
Kirk Read
Nat Shed
Sam Solish
Lise Wagner, Clerk
Jason Wentworth

Advisory Committee

William Bickley
Charmarie Blaisdell
Nancy Appel Boothby
Chris Branson
George Chappell
Stephen Gefvert
Robert Knight
Adelaide Solomon-Jordan
Sarah Standiford
Nancy Stearns
Jackie Stillwell
Elizabeth Tarasevich
Tom Welch

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ConnectEd & Quaker SPICES
In Kindergarten-grade 4, weekly ConnectEd classes with Billy Maley provide time for students to focus on and engage with Quaker practices and values. Using the Inquiry, Reflection, and Action model, students explore what it means to live the "SPICES": Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. This means practicing mindfulness, awareness of others, and communication and conflict resolution skills in the context of practicing stewardship of our community and the earth.
This fall in ConnectEd, students were busy chasing monarch butterflies. They started by learning how to identify monarchs in the field and how to distinguish them from lookalike species. Students reported their own sightings, and as a class contributed their findings to a citizen science program that helps track monarch populations throughout the seasons. In an excellent example of stewardship, the students have transplanted native plants around the school playground to provide habitat for monarchs. In addition, classrooms watched monarchs hatch from their chrysalises and were able to release the beautiful new butterflies into the wild!  
Not So New at FSP
Four new faculty members have enlivened Friends School of Portland this year: Xanthe Charov, Marie Reimensnyder, Aila Tholl, and Matt Loosigian. After the first six weeks of school, here are some of their impressions.
  Our new teachers, from left: Aila, Marie, Xanthe, and Matt. 
Xanthe, co-teacher in Aliza Gordon's 1-2 classroom, has found it especially fun to be able to work in small groups. With two teachers, each has "the luxury" of focusing on math and reading with half the class at a time in a way that is developmentally right. More broadly, Xanthe finds that children are so valued at FSP. She feels lucky to work in a place where everyone is treated well and respected. She has been learning from the other 1-2 team of Sally and Katie; together they drill down to figure out what each child needs. Her biggest surprise is the respect, love, and affirmation of children as individuals, which allows them to be who they are. For Xanthe, this is the "big umbrella" under which we all operate at FSP.
Preschool lead teacher Marie is happy that her young students are feeling comfortable in their little community. They've made the transition from home to school now and are ready to go! Marie and assistant Jonathan have welcomed the chance to include older buddies from the 7-8 grades into their classroom each week and recently a bunch of parents who accompanied the excited kids to an apple orchard. Marie finds unexpected satisfaction in how comfortable it is to sit in silence with faculty members each morning before the students arrive and when the preschoolers sit quietly in circle, listening to the singing bowl.
Matt  feels really excited about his recent work with the older kids in music class, finding ways to help them create complex musical rhythms--"They are playing polyrhythms!" Most surprising and delightful, says Matt, are the many thoughtful and kind people at FSP who go out of their way to offer him help. He feels supported and happy to be here.

Aila spent a lot of time preparing for her 7-8 Language Arts classes over the summer, but it wasn't until she stepped into the classroom that she felt things fully come into focus: " This is who they are. This is what we'll do." Aila was surprised by how much she enjoyed preparing for and holding parent-teacher conferences, focusing on individual students' strengths, next steps, and appreciating one more facet of each of the young people she teaches every day.

With the arrival of folks like these, we see the fabric of the fabulous teaching community become even stronger and more intricate. Thanks to all for being part of their welcome.
Teaching and Continuing Revelation
Nell Sears, Director of Studies
"I've been teaching math for 44 years, and I feel like I'm finally beginning to understand it!"
-Sally Plourde, to parents of her first and second grade students 
on Parent Night, September 2018

Lindsay's 3rd/4th grade class does a math exercise with raisins,  
including estimating, adding, and dividing.
In 2016-2017, the FSP faculty identified math as a common, yearlong area for professional study.  That year we discussed professional reading about math teaching and learning, visited other math teachers, and hosted a math conference for educators from other schools.  Though we've moved on to other areas of focus since, the journey we began that year has continued to unfold in unexpected and exciting ways. For teachers at Friends School, the work of learning how to be the best teachers we can be is one of continuing revelation.  Just as we ask our students to come with a growth mindset about their own learning processes, teachers recognize that the journey toward excellent teaching is lifelong. Below are a few of the math professional development activities that teachers have engaged in since we finished our year of math:
  • Aja Stephan (Kindergarten) and Katie Nowak (Grades 1-2) attended a conference at Bank Street in NYC on early numeracy, and they returned to share ideas and methods with other teachers.
  • The Kindergarten team subsequently focused on how to weave this work into their emergent model, so that students are, through play and exploration, encountering quantity, pattern, and other critical early math concepts.
  • The 1-2 team followed up by reading some of the newest literature about math development and pedagogy, and they shared resources with the rest of us at faculty meetings and in informal conversations.
  • In 3-4 and 5-6, teachers have been working on introducing complex, open-ended problems, games that target critical developmental math concepts, and balancing those with practice and direct instruction.
  • Sally Plourde, a 1-2 teacher, spent the summer of 2018 engaged in online professional development around methods for re-conceptualizing numeracy development, assessment,  and instruction. After sharing what she learned with the rest of the 1-2 team, the team agreed to pilot a new individualized math assessment method, called "math running records."
Teachers' commitment to their students and their support of one another foster a professional learning community that supports teacher growth and student growth alike. We aren't expected to have all of the answers, but we do expect ourselves, and one another, to ask the questions.  Through collegial discussions, independent professional development work, and team planning, teachers have continued to ask and discuss the question, How can I understand and support each individual student's math success? As a result, our pedagogy and our curriculum continues to evolve in concert with our deepening understanding of our own practice and the ways in which our students learn best.
Our Students' Hopes and Dreams in Kindergarten & 1st/2nd Grade

Plant Study in the 3rd/4th Grade
Our third and fourth graders dove right into science this fall, starting off the school year with a unit on plants! They began by looking very closely at a chosen flower, noticing and wondering about their plants and recording their observations. They then learned about the parts of a flower and what they do, and applied that knowledge to create beautiful flower collages detailing each of the parts.  Next, students conducted experiments on seeds, stems, leaves and flowers, followed by an in-depth study of roots guided by the query, "Why are dandelions so successful in our lawns?"  
Because this year's essential question in third-fourth grade is "How do borders and boundaries affect our lives?" the particular focus of this science unit is on native plants and habitats in Maine. Aided by a parent expert, students have learned to identify various wildflowers found on our school grounds. They have each chosen a different one to study, and are painting them in the style of Maine botanical artist Kate Furbish. Later, these paintings will be put brought together to create a guide to the wildflowers of FSP!
Both Nicole Favreau and Lindsay Holt's classes have embarked on a variety of field trips to support their learning: to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, where they experienced the "Five Senses Garden"; to local garden store Allen, Sterling & Lothrup, where they visited the seed room; and to the Bowdoin Museum of Art, where they were lucky enough to see an exhibition of the work of Kate Furbish.
Finally, as the "action" part of this unit, both classes visited Broadturn Farm to glean the remaining flowers from the fields before the frost. They made bouquets and hand-delivered them to a nearby assisted living facility (Legacy Memory Care at OceanView in Falmouth).  Then, together with their Kindergarten buddies, students planted bulbs on the FSP grounds--we look forward to seeing the results of their efforts this spring!
5th/6th Grade: What is An American?
This year's essential question in the fifth-sixth grade is, "What does it mean to be an American?" To jump start this conversation, the students went to the University of Southern Maine campus to witness a citizenship ceremony. Below, two sixth graders describe the experience.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the U.S citizenship ceremony, the day you have all been waiting for." These were the words that Judge Nancy Torresen said on Monday, September 17th to all the people that had been waiting many anxious moments to become an American. Some maybe fled, some saved lives by marrying, some just came to live in America, but each person had a different background, and people from all over the world came to that very place.
The judge was very expressive when she declared everyone no longer an immigrant, and now an American. The Holy Cross School led us all in the pledge of allegiance. Closer to the end of the citizenship ceremony, Judge Nancy called out the names of countries the new citizens were originally from, and they would stand up when their country was named. There were many new citizens from Iran and countries all over Africa. Some of the new citizens had children who were also becoming U.S. citizens that day. It was a full audience and some people had to stand because there weren't enough seats. You could tell everyone was happy to be there.
The best part for me was the cupcakes afterwards--I had vanilla with blue frosting! YUMMY! Just kidding, the best part for me was that all these strangers were receiving an American citizenship and seeing how they expressed themselves--some tears were shed, some "wahoos!!!!" were hollered and MANY hugs were given. It was an amazing experience to see all the new citizens and their families on this day. This experience let me see how many different people are in the world and how many stories they have.
"What is Truth?" in the 7th/8th Grade
An important foundation of Quakerism is the belief in the continual revelation of truth, and that truth is available to each of us. Our seventh/eighth grade is studying this concept in depth this year with their essential question, "What is Truth?"
Students use a refractometer to test salinity.
In Human Ecology--an inquiry-based course inspired by topics of study in science and social studies--students are taking an in-depth look at truth in science with their teacher Susan Hayhurst. They have been discussing how scientists find truth; terminology like hypothesis, law, and theory; and credibility or dependability of different sources including popular science articles, white papers, and peer-reviewed journals. For their first unit, they are focusing on coastal impacts of climate change as an area that has controversy and "doubters." The students are researching and presenting about topics in climate change and its current or potential future impacts on coastal environments and communities. Parallel to their research on coastal environments and climate change, the students are doing their own study of water quality and physical parameters at the coast of Casco Bay by visiting Falmouth Town Landing multiple times to record depth, salinity, pH, temperature, and other observations. At the conclusion of this unit, they will write formal lab reports, from forming hypotheses to graphing results to drawing conclusions.

The social studies half of this year's Human Ecology class will provide another chance for students to dive deeply into ideas related to truth in a hands-on, collaborative way. They will begin right around Election Day by looking at truth and the media. After that, they'll study truth and conflict, using Israel and Palestine as their working example. Finally, they'll consider truth and reconciliation, this time focusing on apartheid in South Africa as well as the relationship between native peoples and European Americans closer to home. For all of these topics, the teacher, Pete Nowak, will provide background information and will then give students the chance to ask questions and work together.   
Completing the Vision of FSP
Dear Friends of FSP,

Have you ever heard of Dunbar's Number , also called the Rule of 150? I learned about it from one erudite faculty member at an important decision-making meeting back in 2016.    
Anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar posited that 150 is the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships-- relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person .
It also happens to be the number of students FSP will have once every double grade after Kindergarten has expanded to two sections.  
We were told by many that if we built the new school, students would come.  And it has proven true! We've generated a lot of interest, as evidenced by inquiries, well-attended admissions events, and visits by curious families.  
What we weren't expecting was that more students would stay.   Specifically, more preschoolers have gone on to our Kindergarten, and more Kindergartners have gone on to FSP's primary grades.  Several months into our first year in the new building, we realized it was likely we'd need to add a second section of grade 1-2-in fact, after our first year here, 100% of the K class enrolled in the first grade! And it wasn't long before it was clear that two years later, that enthusiastic group of learners would require a second section of grade 3-4.
You can see where this is headed.  
Knowing that a second section of grade 5-6 youngsters is coming down the pipeline, and given that we now have deployed the last existing classroom, we have taken up the glorious challenge of planning for a middle school wing, to open in September 2020.  Four simple classrooms, built to Passive House standards, will join the existing ones upstairs, with a glassed-in room connecting old and new classrooms (goodbye, long outdoor bridge).
In 2022, a second section of grade 7-8 will complete this thoughtful growth.  Imagine the opportunity to send twice as many amazing Friends School graduates out into the world!
And there's even more exciting news: The Building Committee, Kaplan Thompson Architects, and Warren Construction Group have undertaken not only the design of the classroom wing, but also a Community Hall that will serve as performance space and a gymnasium and will allow us to gather as a school community to play, perform, and appreciate as an audience. We'll also be adding more parking spaces, simply because we have to.
Our first priority, however, must be the middle school wing. We've formed a committee to secure the funds for this addition, and the effort to raise the required $2.3 million is quietly underway.  Once we have this in hand, we can turn to the $1.1 million Community Hall. (Wouldn't it be great to be able to do both at once? We'll see how the fundraising goes.)
We hope you'll ask us more about how, together, we can complete this vision.  There's so much to dream about and to do, and our remarkable success comes from the faith and efforts of so many in the FSP community.
We will keep you posted; count on that!

Jenny's signature

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

Our 3rd and 4th grade students students started out the school year with a discussion of growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, as defined by teacher Lindsay Holt: People with a growth mindset know they can get better by working hard. They tend to keep trying even when things are tough and they say things such as, 'I can't do this...yet' or
'Mistakes help me learn.' Others feel differently -- like they are stuck with the way things are. This is a fixed mindset and it happens to everyone sometimes. But we can choose to have a growth mindset when we stick with challenges and keep trying.
Annual Fund
Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to FSP's Annual Fund, which provides significant financial aid to a third of our students, funds field trips to explore and serve, and allows our culture of joyful learning to thrive.  Thank you for helping our students learn to care for people and the earth. Together we are helping each child at FSP find their path.   
Alumni News
One of FSP's very first graduates, Josselyn Richards-Daniels ('09) was recently featured in an article by Maine Farmland Trust. A fantastic natural science illustrator, Josselyn completed an artist residency at Joseph A. Fiore Art Center located at Rolling Acres Farm in Damariscotta, Maine. Previously a student at Laguna College of Art and Design in California, Josselyn is now studying Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, where she will expand her understanding of environmental science and continue to build her portfolio of biological illustrations. Click here to read more about Josselyn and to see photos of her beautiful artwork.  
Harvest Fest Thank You
Thank you to everyone who attended Harvest Fest at Broadturn Farm on Sunday, October 14th!  We had well over 200 people join the festivities of pressing cider, eating tacos, and contradancing all to support financial assistance for FSP students! 

A big thank you to everyone who volunteered and made another Harvest Fest such a wonderful success. 

An especially big thank you to: 
Stacy Brenner & John Bliss, Broadturn Farm
Melanie Kratovil & Pliny Reynolds, Terlingua  
David & Julia Redding, Goodfire Brewing Co.
Jason & Julie Perkins, Allagash Brewing Co.   
Jason & Carrie Cianchette, SAVVY Event Rental
Brandi & Casey Lawrence, makers of the delicious soups
Xander Berkeley, who painted this year's Harvest Fest poster
Erik Boucher, who brought the cider press   
Nat Scrimshaw, cider maker 
Lindsay and Nicole's 3-4 classes, who picked apples and flowers  
Hansel's Orchards
and Kelsey Kobik for taking such wonderful photos! 
Admissions Open House--October 27
Come learn more about us this Saturday, October 27th, 10:00am-12 noon. Tour our energy-efficient school building, meet the teachers, spend time in classrooms, and talk to current parents and students. Learn more about Quaker education and get a feel for our culture of joyful learning. Our Head of School and Director of Studies will be on hand to answer your questions. This event is for families with children entering preschool through 8th grade. Prospective students and their siblings are welcome! If you would like to attend, please click here to RSVP or email Jen McNally, Admissions Director.