School Life & Curriculum
At PFMS, school life and curriculum are steeped in Quaker values. At every level, we promote a commitment to learning through inquiry, reflection, action, and discovery — an approach that stems from the Quaker belief that learning should be an ongoing and never-ending process of fresh and joy-filled discovery, not only throughout adolescence but our entire adult lives.
The City Is Our Classroom
The PFMS curriculum builds foundational skills for success in our school and for choices of high schools in the future. Our teachers employ methods for skills-building that are best suited for each child at his/her/their particular stage of development. Classes are small, and your child will receive immediate, relevant feedback and then additional practice. The ensuing dialogue will ask for more than the correct answer; it will require thoughtfulness and self-knowledge. “I don’t know” will never be an acceptable answer—it will be replaced with “I don’t know yet.”
Friends believe that social responsibility is important to carrying out their faith. George Fox wrote in 1650 that Friends were called to live "in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars." For this reason, a hallmark of Quaker schools is service. In addition, the responsibility of citizenship means that Quaker schools teach not only civics but how to use the knowledge of civics to help foster democracy and make it work for the betterment of the world.
For Phoenix Friends Middle Schoolers, each grade level has a service learning theme and is paired with a service partner. What follows are possible collaborations, selected from many under consideration:
Imagine a classroom where questioning and inquiry feed a sense of wonder and progress, where teachers acknowledge their own continuing growth, and discovery can be collaborative. The collegiality that emerges between “student” and “expert” is one important factor in shaping the powerful and unusual quality of student-teacher relationships. For each grade, PFMS expects students to stand up for what they believe and behave respectfully everywhere and at all times.
Coding, Robotics, and Technological Stewardship
Computer technology is a ubiquitous part of our society, and so it’s increasingly important for younger generations to become both competent users — as well as good stewards — of technological platforms. In our program, students will gain experiential knowledge of computing and discover how code underpins all digital applications. This understanding, coupled with hands-on robotics exploration, will give students the opportunity to write real software and implement it through purposeful interaction with the physical world. In building this foundation, your child will mature beyond a passive point-and-touch relationship with technology, as he or she becomes an active learner and developer in the digital landscape. Using the iRobot Root technology — first developed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for the purpose of teaching children how to write code — students will develop a foundation for software engineering through a process of successive steps, initially using a graphical interface to control a robot’s basic movements and later advancing to language-specific code to perform more complicated tasks. This approach allows students to better absorb abstract coding principles, as the consequences of each line of code are made concrete to them in a real-time environment through the algorithmically articulated motions of the Root robot.