Dear Friends,

The vision of a Friends School in Phoenix is fast coming to life with a Head of School and staff members in place, a national Board meeting regularly, and two outside firms assisting with marketing and PR. In other words, Phoenix Friends School is really happening. It’s now.

In the past, I posted reasons for developing a new private school in Phoenix, one with the academic rigor of our top performing schools paired with Quaker practices that include conflict-resolution and community service, values that appeal to families across many sectors. Sometimes, I sound as if filling a void with a new Friends School is the only goal, one modeled on East Coast institutions celebrated for inclusivity and civility while not stinting on skills development. There’s more to it.

My life experience and professional career lead to conclusions about what’s missing in K-12 education. Many students entering high schools and colleges lack the most basic skills to succeed. It’s a fact. While teaching at a university in Illinois, I worked with students who had never been asked to write a paragraph let alone an essay, students who could not name the states surrounding Illinois, students who could not multiply or divide numbers without a calculator, students who could not name the three branches of US government or describe their functions. Illinois is not alone. We hear similar reports from every state, including Arizona. The decline in learning standards is a national trend and a national challenge.

At Phoenix Friends School, academics are both rigorous and relevant for our times. At an age when a child’s natural curiosity about the world is often tested by developmental changes and peer pressures, we don’t need to dumb down basic skills of literacy, math, science and the arts. Our Founding Head of School Andy knows well the behaviors of middle-schoolers during a period of rapid growth and change. We ask our students to stretch intellectually and socially. It’s a time where students will either be lost or become competent, confident pre-teens prepared for high school and, more importantly, for independence and adulthood.

Willard E. White, PhD, Founder & CEO

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