By Lindsay Roberts, Early Childhood teacher and member of the Early Childhood Diversity Committee at Germantown Friends School

Published by NBC’s Parent Toolkit in December 2019

At school or at home, adults can provide a framework for young children to embrace different perspectives and diverse cultures, reducing bias and fostering empathy.

Multiple studies, including research at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, have documented that children as early as six months old notice and react to race and show signs of racial bias.

With this developmental process in mind, families and teachers can…


Nationally recognized, GFS is now on the cutting-edge of progressive education in the early 1930s with an array of Upper School electives to in-depth, year-long studies in the lower grades. Theater productions are found throughout the school, including a wooden, two-story, student-built Trojan Horse. When the Depression hits, the school struggles to keep tuition affordable, enacting multiple budget cuts and large faculty lay-offs.

(Introduction to this series)

Irvin Poley always credited his Quaker ancestors for his interest in the theater. There were two stories about them he loved to tell.

“My great-grandfather, a very plain Friend, was informed by a…


It’s the 1920s, and athletics continue to expand, with GFS dominating the soccer season. Tensions with the Meeting grow as the school plans to enlarge both its student body and its campus footprint. New pricing means that tuition for seniors is now $300 and Kindergartners $100 — but they get their own newly-built stand-alone building. And, for the first time, teachers receive pensions.

The 1925 expansion of Main Building, in progress

(Introduction to this series)

Stanley Yarnall was still dreaming of expansion and new buildings. In 1919 he asked his teachers to divide into sub-committees to prepare a comprehensive plan “for the school’s physical needs.” It was quite…


by Rachel Reynolds, Middle School English Teacher, Germantown Friends School

If adolescence is marked by a quality of unknowing — of curiosity and uncertainty, a sense that anything might be possible — then to be an adolescent during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to experience this sensation writ large. Thrown into an ephemeral landscape of blue-lit boxes, straddling the world of home and school without preparation or prior experience to rely on, middle schoolers (like the rest of us) suddenly found themselves everywhere and nowhere at once in spring of 2020, meeting people who otherwise would never have set foot…


GFS Fourth Grade Students Create iPhone App to Address Real-World Problems with VineyardAppCamp

Isabel Schmidt ’16, Assistant Director of Summer Day Camp Programs

When we think of mobile applications, we often think of utility and functionality — we aren’t usually brought to tears. However, dry eyes were not an option for Ola Boswell, Executive Director of Deep Roots, a homeless shelter in Earleville, Maryland. Ola had just been shown the app that GFS fourth grade students had designed and built for her organization through the Coding and Entrepreneurship after school club, taught by Steffen Cornwell, Amy Yeung, and Andri Hail…


Stanley Yarnall, one of the most influential figures in GFS history, takes the lead. The school is now bursting at the seams; a bigger school, Yarnall says, means a greater Quaker influence. In some areas, GFS adheres to Quaker tenets such as girls prohibited from wearing jewelry. But the school also introduces music, theater, and sex education. The “finest gym in the city” is built (the Little Gym!).

(Introduction to this series)

Stanley Yarnall was a handsome man. A group photograph of GFS students and teachers taken the year he arrived, 1898, shows “Master Stanley” as generations would remember him…


Even a global pandemic couldn’t dampen the excitement surrounding Germantown Friends School’s fourth annual Philadelphia Youth Film Festival (PHYFF), which took place on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Created and managed by Upper School students at GFS, the festival went virtual this year, but the program still maintained its core essence: workshops led by experts in the field, an awards ceremony, and a keynote speaker — this year, award-winning documentarian Dawn Porter.

As with the past three years, the festival is free and open to high school filmmakers anywhere in the world; this year’s 200 submissions, entered in four categories, came…


The dust settles and the school re-opens with only six students in 1864. The following decades bring robust enrollment and exciting campus transformations including new buildings and a community-facing library. Students participate in the first football game in 1893 and sneak onto campus to pull off a graffiti prank.

(Introduction to this series)

A watercolor of the school painted by John Collins in 1869.

April 28, 1945 was “Centennial Saturday,” a very big occasion. School had been cancelled Friday to prepare for it and would be cancelled again Monday to recover. …


In 1989, Bill Koons, an Upper School history teacher, was asked to write a narrative history of Germantown Friends School. Bill began by mining the GFS Archives, then spent hours at the Quaker Archives at Haverford College, reading more than a century of School Committee minutes and researching the early Quakers who formed the school. Bringing his deep knowledge of Philadelphian and American history to bear, he was able to contextualize the school’s history.

Bill’s research languished for several years, until Sid Cook, GFS Archivist, asked us to take it up. With the support of Dick Wade, the Advancement Department…


The school is founded — small, all-Quaker, located in a house in Germantown. But there are struggles and questions. Must all the students be Quaker? Maybe it should be located nearer to the Meetinghouse? What is the appropriate education for these students? Tensions are evident and the school’s beginning is turbulent.

(Introduction to this series)

Alfred Cope was an old-fashioned man. His grandson said of him, “He was a gentleman of the older order.” He believed that honesty, simplicity, discipline and hard work were fundamental principles that added up to a world of “good order” a favorite phrase. In surviving…

Irony of A

Reflections on teaching + learning. Catalyst to inspire equality, integrity & community in ed. Send in your ideas! Curated by Germantown Friends School.

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