The Quaker Difference at DVFriends
Delaware Valley Friends School is shaped by two foundational elements: an academic approach driven by best practices in educating students who learn differently and a culture and community based upon Quaker principles and practice. These two aspects of the school’s identity are profoundly interwoven and together create an atmosphere where students and families feel understood, honored, supported, and valued.
Students who learn differently are a profoundly misunderstood group in most schools. Well-meaning teachers often lack the training and experience to understand and provide the supports needed to help our students learn and thrive. As a result, students who learn differently often feel less smart and capable than their peers. They are repeatedly told that if they simply worked harder or were more motivated, that they would do better in school, but such criticisms reveal fundamental misconceptions about students who learn differently. The result is that students who learn differently and their parents are often blamed for their struggles rather than adequately supported.
We know that students with learning differences are smart and they do not lack the desire to do well -- rather, they often work much harder than their peers and what they need to be successful are teachers who understand them as learners and teach them using methods that fit their needs. That is exactly what the DVFriends faculty is trained to do.
But, expert teaching is only half of the equation that makes DVFriends unique. How does the school’s Quaker identity contribute to the power of a DVFriends education?
Inherent to Quakerism is the belief that there is an innate goodness within all individuals, what Quakers call the Inner Light. The Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship (S.P.I.C.E.S.) are not merely words on a piece of paper, they are actively practiced and foundational at DVFriends. Every day, our faculty, staff, and administrators approach their work with our students recognizing the Inner Light within each of them. For students who have been made to feel “less than” by other schooling experiences, it is a powerful and empowering experience to be lifted up as someone who is of infinite worth. What that means is that each and every day our faculty, staff, and administrators actively look for and find the unique gifts, talents, abilities, and value within each of our students. It builds confidence, self-esteem, and the courage to reach beyond what they may have ever imagined they could accomplish.