Head of School Message
The Future We Seek for Children Begins Here
Westfield Friends School finished a successful, uninterrupted in-person, 2020-2021 school year where all students experienced extraordinary learning. Those who came to Westfield from schools completely shut down in spring 2020 received the support they needed to catch up and then learn on pace with returning Westfield students. Westfield teachers were adept at creating warm, laughter-filled classrooms despite masks, social distance, and some classmates attending online through the school’s hybrid program.
Adult friendships and connections were sustained through Saturday coffee playdates, monthly Parent & Guardian Council meetings, fundraisers, and community speakers. Treasured community events such as art shows, holiday concerts, the 8th-grade performance of “A Winter's Tale,” the 3rd & 5th-grade Poetry Slam, the 4th-grade famous New Jersians living museum, and the 2nd-grade play “Antarctic Antics,” were shared through audio and video recordings. ZOOM extended their reach to distant community members who wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise.
For the 2021-2022 school year, we anticipate a fully in-person learning experience. The faculty and staff are building on the successes of the past year and working together to ensure that we deliver what our mission promises to students and their families. As we moved more activities outdoors this past year, we witnessed how giving children time to be outside at the start of each day and in the middle of the day provides them with needed time to stretch, exercise, and safely visit with friends. I was delighted to hear from a parent that when she told her 3rd-grade daughter that it was too cold to go outside, her daughter responded, “this is nothing, at school we have fun outside in much colder temperatures than this.” We believe this outdoor playtime provided several overlapping health-enhancing benefits as it fostered deep and rich learning opportunities.
Westfield is committed to providing a common learning experience for all students while helping individual children to build on their strengths and improve skills where they face challenges. Westfield students continually prove to be successful and joyful readers of all sorts of genres and thoughtful consumers of various media. We teach effective and powerful self-expression through written and spoken words. Students learn number sense and grow into confident mathematicians able to think through complex problems. We help children become critical thinkers, adept at analyzing and interpreting ideas, topics, and arguments they encounter in this information-saturated world. We have daily community events that give students time to practice leadership across the grades, discuss important events in their lives, learn to appreciate artists as diverse as Bisa Butler and Vincent Van Gogh, appreciate music’s power to move us and to reflect and worship together.
This coming year, we are excited to deliver our science curriculum in a new science lab. This renovated space will allow all grades to have authentic lab experiences, practicing hands-on methods of scientific inquiry. We are also looking forward to using our new art studios, one for two-dimensional art, such as painting and drawing, and the other for pottery. We also happily anticipate the ongoing creativity of our OWLS Lab (Observe, Wonder, Learn, and Share) where students enhance what they study in the social studies, language arts, math, and science curricula with engineering and technology projects. We are also expanding project-based learning where students and teachers collaborate on cross-disciplinary projects. These activities will have age-appropriate, authentic demonstrations of learning with students getting even more opportunities to showcase, share, and celebrate their accomplishments with the greater Westfield community.
As a community we are continuing our work ensuring that every community member knows they can bring their full identity to school, their beliefs and experiences are respected, and space is created for them to thrive. The promise of a Westfield Friends’ education is to nurture each and every person’s gifts – their Divine endowment.
I invite you to join us. Come to an open house, campus visit, or talk to one of our community members. We look forward to having you help us create the world we seek for children.
Dr. Margaret Haviland, Head of School
July 19, 2021