"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."
Bridging The Gap
As Friends Seminary was wrapping up the final weeks of our distance learning program for the 2019-2020 academic year, our faculty and administrative staff responded to the needs of its students by creating an optional program for students called "Summer Bridge," designed to bridge the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters.
The School’s desire to create the summer program was not only to give students optional academic and enrichment pursuits at a time when many summer plans and programs were being canceled, but also to thank families for their understanding and support during a swift move to virtual learning in March. These programs were offered free of charge to enrolled Friends students with over 300 participants eagerly signing up in the early days of registration.
The scope and variety of the Summer Bridge Course Catalog for Middle and Upper School students attests to the strength of the Friends faculty. A special Lower School program, Back in the Saddle for Grades 1-4 provided enrichment and a review of skills to prepare students for the fall. Special programming, including education around the Quaker SPICES for incoming students and parents in Kindergarten was also offered. Staff from the Center for Peace Equity and Justice and the Friends Seminary Outdoor Program (FSOP) created programming for all divisions. Summer Bridge provided opportunities for students and teachers to explore topics of interest at a more relaxed pace.
Middle and Upper School Math Teacher Coleman Hall explains, “Summer Bridge was one of the best teaching experiences that I have had in my 10-year career. Not only was I allowed to teach about some math that I enjoy, I also was able to teach history, how to do statistical analysis through the decades, and have conversations about race, white supremacy, and the importance of diversity, inclusion, and advocacy, which is more important than ever to me as an anti-racist teacher.” In one creative endeavor for his class, Jill ‘21 and Amy ‘21 produced a comic describing gerrymandering.
In addition to the academic hallmarks of Summer Bridge, the program provided the opportunity to connect intellectually with friends and loved ones during prolonged isolation and social distancing. Simon ‘25 loved learning to tie knots of all sorts and put his hobby to use during his FSOP session. This opened the door for his 88-year-old grandfather, who was visiting for their shared birthday celebration, to teach Simon knots he remembered from his time in the Navy. Simon comments, “This summer was hard for everyone, but the Summer Bridge Program was a good way to learn new skills, see friends and even make new ones!”
Leitzel Schoen, Dean of Co-Curricular Programs reflects, “It was gratifying to see students’ natural curiosity flourish when you remove traditional incentives like grades and course credits.”