Our Mission & What Makes HFS Unique
Haddonfield Friends School prepares joyful and inquisitive young minds to carry the light of confidence, critical thinking, creativity, and stewardship in a diverse community of learners.
We believe there is “that of God” in everyone. By recognizing this Inner Light, we strive to inspire students to approach learning opportunities with excitement, and a healthy optimism about the world and self. Our peaceful, joyful community (of extended family, as some would say) encourages our students to discover, nurture, and exercise the gifts they have been given, and to do so among learners who also seek understanding, compassion, and strive to lead lives of integrity.
We believe that the best education is one that nurtures children’s innate and insatiable curiosity. We encourage students to ask challenging questions, to wonder, to deviate from a prescribed syllabus for the sake of depth and mastery. We want our children to enjoy the journey of lifelong learning – it is not a sprint to college, it is a marathon that is… life.
Our students and graduates are consistently celebrated for their inner confidence – whether presenting at the Coriell Institute Science Fair or speaking to teachers, parents, and peers, our students are comfortable articulating their ideas and opinions effectively and exercising simple but powerful practices of a hand shake, eye contact, listening, and silent reflection. Intimate class sizes, depth of student engagement, and ample co-curricular opportunities contribute to an environment that cultivates confidence, from Early Childhood up through Lower and Middle Schools. Upon matriculating to high school, HFS students hit the ground running, eager to make an impact both in and out of the classroom.
Our rigorous, inquiry-based curriculum is designed with the goal of graduating critical thinkers who can peacefully solve our world’s ever-changing challenges. We hope our students are more than grades on a report card. We want them to have a robust point of view and voice, informed by deep research and refined through debate. We also want our students to be aware – of themselves, of their peers, of their world – and use this awareness when problem solving for the 21st century life.
Creativity is putting one’s imagination to work,* and we believe our learning community provides the space and opportunity for students to cultivate and express creativity. We are fortunate to have Spanish, Music, Health/PE, and Art Centers, taught by passionate educators and practitioners in their fields. And, our multidisciplinary, experiential approach to learning (both within and outside of the classroom) empowers our students with different ways to internalize lessons and concepts. Our broad range of after school enrichment activities also fosters creativity within our students, exposing them to new forms and methods of expression.
We endeavor to inspire HFS students to share their gifts and talents with their communities. We seek opportunities to serve others and tend to the environment in the context of community/global outreach and daily practice. From our service-based learning trips to Costa Rica and Ronald McDonald House, we teach our students to be good stewards of relationships, resources, and the planet.
Diverse Community of Learners
A community is only as vibrant and successful as the members within it. At HFS, we welcome and embrace diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. It is the celebration of these varied points of view and recognition of “that of God” in everyone that enriches our learning experiences, enables us to collaborate respectfully, and ultimately, prepare our students for their futures.
What Makes HFS Unique
Our parents, students, teachers, and alumni consistently cite our safe, nurturing environment; teachers; approach to learning and focus on community service/Engagement as what makes HFS unique.
SAFE, NURTURING ENVIRONMENT
We believe a nurturing learning environment of mutual respect, safety, and cooperative learning is the critical foundation, for it consequently empowers students to contribute freely and meaningfully to the classroom, dive into learning, value oneself, and respect different points of view. Our students are comfortable expressing and testing their thinking and feel supported by teachers, classmates, and older HFS students on their journey of learning and growth.
Some examples of what this looks like at HFS:
- The Quaker S.P.I.C.E.S. are built into everything we do at HFS. Our curriculum is presented with an eye toward the overriding values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community equality, and stewardship; these values are built into discussions, and referenced and considered in each situation presented in the learning environment. Kindness is taught proactively and cooperation, peaceful mediation, and conflict resolution techniques are part of our day in every class and recess, PE, and other activities.
- Student-to-Teacher Ratio of 7:1 and our small class sizes creates an environment where we can focus on engaging learning approaches, debate, and explore student opinions and solutions.
- Students are invited into every learning experience, from the local spelling bee to the Coriell Science Fair (where every student participates) to clubs, US-based and International class trips, theater and Model UN experiences. There are few, if any, prerequisites or conditions, beyond age appropriateness of the experience. Students who show interest, cooperation, and willingness to try are invited to participate.
- Each and every student is known by the crossing guard to Head of School, teachers to Main Office staff. Through both formal initiatives (like our cross-grade mentoring program and Middle School team-building trip to Camp Dark Waters) and informal gatherings (an impromptu soccer game between Lower and Middle Schoolers), we also nurture student relationships across divisions and support students as they discover their unique contributions and value in our learning community.
CARING, DEDICATED AND HIGH-QUALITY TEACHERS
Our teachers are committed to delivering a learning experience that meets HFS students where they are — in mind, body, and spirit. Together, our teachers bring over 225 years of career experience and training from leading independent schools across the world — from New England to New Jersey, Europe to Asia, Main Line to Philadelphia. HFS families consistently cite how well teachers, administration, and staff understand their students’ learning styles, strengths, opportunities, and interests, and how equally well our teachers translate this important information into engaging, innovative, and individualized instruction.
Some examples of what this looks like at HFS:
- Teachers actively seek to understand learning styles, interests, and motivators and strive to meet, engage, and challenge each student where s/he is. For example, in the Early Childhood Center, teachers reach out to parents before the start of the school year to ask for observations about their child’s personality, learning style, social-emotional development, and interests (academic or otherwise) and factor this into their lesson planning and classroom management.
- Math Specialist available for support and enrichment
- Teacher training/professional development
- Student support
FLEXIBLE, INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING EXPERIENCES
A major benefit of our dedicated teachers and intimate class sizes is the ability to organically deliver flexible and inquiry-based learning experiences. Our students go beyond knowing the facts; they are active learners who refine their thinking through questions and discussion, investigation and project-based learning. This approach rings true throughout all grades at HFS, from our Early Childhood Center up through Lower and Middle Schools.
Some examples of what this looks like at HFS:
- Middle Schoolers debate current events and take field trips to area museums and environmental centers to complement their classroom lessons on bird migration and social justice issues. They utilize our location in the heart of downtown Haddonfield to expand on lessons – for example, students visited Inkwood Books, a local bookstore, to learn about how small businesses operate, and what challenges and opportunities they face. The 7th grade visits the Haddonfield Public Library weekly for research and reading during a portion of their Humanities class.
- Lower School students raise their own Monarch butterflies to understand the science and beauty of the butterfly life cycle. This may then inspire students to learn more about Mexico (where hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies end their migration route every year), where they may then be inspired to learn about history, social justice issues, and design a community service project to help Mexican families in need.
- Our youngest learners in the Early Childhood Center dive into theme-based multidisciplinary lessons on apples, germs, and fire prevention. For example, teachers may present a theme of the week (apples). They use this theme to learn different skills/subjects – science (cut the apple open to see its different parts), art (use the apple to dip into different color paints and stamp away!), math (count how many different color apples are on the page), pre-reading/writing, and then read several books about apples.
- Students and parents appreciate the flexibility of the curriculum, where teachers start with a syllabus based on grade-level curriculum, but diverge from it to expand on various topics, develop more nuanced points, and to utilize deeper thought and critical thinking. Students can also steer the classroom discussion and content to suit their interests and learning styles and increase its relatability.
FOCUS ON COMMUNITY SERVICE AND ENGAGEMENT
Whether designing and running a coat drive for children of immigrants, volunteering with several Camden County-based NGOs, taking a walk to a local ice cream shop in Downtown Haddonfield to deepen understanding of chemistry, attending school on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to participate in community projects, or performing service work in Costa Rica, our students are constantly engaging with, learning from and contributing productively to their communities. Inspired by our Quaker values, HFS strives to create numerous opportunities for students to internalize the importance of stewardship, community service, and engagement.