Buckingham Friends School Head of School Opportunity Statement
Buckingham Friends School (www.bfs.org), established in 1794 by the Buckingham Monthly Meeting, is one of the twelve oldest continuously operating schools in the United States, and has served students in its current location for more than 220 years. The Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship are woven into the fabric of everyday life at the school. A purposefully small community, the school currently enrolls 136 students in Kindergarten through Grade Eight. Located on a 44-acre wooded campus in beautiful Bucks County, the school seeks a Head of School for 2018.
BFS strives to create a nurturing environment in which young people look forward to being together in a community where accomplishment becomes a shared celebration. BFS believes in encouraging children to develop a practical approach to life where responsibilities are assumed, challenges are faced, and adversity is handled with the support of others. Within this context, BFS students learn to respect both each other and the diversity of society. The school endeavors to teach lasting values by which the students can contribute positively to their local and world communities.
Academic preparation and social and intellectual development are central purposes. Children are encouraged to develop high educational goals and to participate in a variety of activities that promote poise and self-worth. At BFS, each student is supported in embracing day-to-day responsibility for work and using the mind clearly, accurately, and carefully. Children are given opportunities to make choices and to experience the joy and satisfaction that can be found in work and in serving others.
Buckingham Friends School is a special community that generates tremendous loyalty from its stakeholders, evidenced in part by long-serving faculty and dedicated Board members. This is a tremendous opportunity for an eager individual to invest in and lead a small, vibrant school community infused with Quaker values.
Buckingham Friends School inspires a lifelong love of learning, nurtures a respect for the Light in every person, and fosters a sense of spiritual community.
Buckingham Friends School is dedicated to the academic preparation of our students. The school promotes opportunities for family involvement and fosters a sense of spiritual community. An essential part of Friends’ (Quaker) belief is” there is that of God in Everyone”. As a Quaker school, we uphold this belief through opportunities for worship, and by developing a foundation of simplicity, non-violence, integrity, mutual respect and trust. By having faith in our students and guiding them, we believe that as they grow they can develop an inner discipline to sustain them personally, and in academic and social settings. (Please see BFS’s website for complete philosophy)
Program and Structure
The 2016-2017 school year began with a well-received transition in leadership under an experienced Head of School, Helen Marter, who is serving a two-year interim appointment. Her leadership is focused on enhancing systems and processes to advance initiatives; these include a school marketing undertaking and an assessment of the school’s technology infrastructure and future needs. Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, the school has recently completed an evaluation of all buildings on campus.
In addition to a Head of School, the administration consists of a Director of Admissions & Marketing, Director of Advancement & Communications, and Director of Finance & Facilities. Additionally, there are Faculty who also serve as Directors for the Lower (K-2), Middle (3-5) and Upper (6-8) Schools. The faculty is comprised of 21 full and part-time teachers.
The Lower School is located in its own building, surrounded by a wooded playground that also serves as an outdoor classroom. The Lower School building, renovated in 2014, is light-filled, and provides open, cheerful classrooms for the school’s youngest children. In the Lower School, social, emotional, physical and spiritual growth are considered as important as academic achievement. Class sizes allow students to be flexibly grouped to receive whole group, small group, or individual instruction. Along with the support of specialists, homeroom teachers address different learning styles and offer each child the opportunity to progress at his or her own rate. The academic program includes the study of language arts, math, science, social studies, music, art, physical education, mindfulness, French and library. First and second graders also enjoy woodworking classes.
During the Middle School years, teachers continue to focus on individual children’s needs and growth both academically and socially. Students extend their work in the core areas of language arts, math, social studies and science while continuing to develop skills and interests in French, art, music, shop, physical education, mindfulness and human development. Religion and health are also introduced into the curriculum. Students begin to assume more responsibility for and independence in their learning by volunteering to serve as Peer Mediators in fifth grade and by serving on student committees such as Assembly, Meeting for Worship, JEM and Outreach. Fourth and fifth graders serve in the role of Big Friend for students in two area nursery/preschools.
Upper School students are taught through an increasingly departmentalized program while studying language arts, math, science, social studies, French or Spanish, art, music, health, shop, and physical education. During a weekly, hour-long elective period students have the opportunity to explore interests in small group classes that include a range of offerings such as photography, cooking, yoga, archery, and focused topics such as science dissection, stone sculpture, and computer programming. Every Upper School student serves as a Big Friend to a Lower School student, a treasured program that Upper School students describe with pride and appreciation.
Annual multi-day, curriculum-related field trips begin in the fifth grade year. The fifth graders experience outdoor, science-based, team building activities at the Pocono Environmental Education Center. The sixth grade travels to Washington, D.C., seventh graders travel to the Wallops Island Marine Science Center in Virginia, and eighth graders take part in the Heifer International Program in Massachusetts.
One of BFS’s most unique and valued programs is the JEM program: Joint Environmental Mission. This program enables international travel and hosting opportunities for students with sister schools in Russia, Australia, India, Kenya, Ecuador, France, Hawaii, and China.
Beyond the school day, there are opportunities for Before and After School Programs to meet the needs of both children and parents. Upper School students can participate in athletic opportunities which include field hockey, soccer, archery, basketball, softball, and lacrosse, while a dynamic Club Program offers a variety of changing options, including yoga, engineering, guitar, piano, Zumba, chess, knitting, Lego, acting, sustainable organic farming, and computer programming.
Governance, Budget & Facilities
The Board of Buckingham Friends School is composed of members from the Buckingham, Solebury, Wrightstown, and Doylestown Monthly Meetings, a Bucks Quarter representative, three parent representatives, and two members of the community at large. Buckingham Friends School is under the care of the Buckingham Friends Meeting. The Board works to adhere to principles of good practice for school governance and has grown in this area in recent years. A new Head of School can count on support and thoughtful partnership from this group.
Buckingham’s operating budget is $3M with no long-term debt. The financial aid budget for FY2017 is $544K with 37% of students receiving financial assistance. The school is on pace to achieve its 2016-17 Annual Giving goal of $225K. The school has an endowment of $4.4M. While planning for the renovation of the Lower School building, BFS successfully raised $600K in support of the project.
Over the course of the past five years, the school has engaged in the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Due to a change in leadership, some aspects of the plan require additional focus in order to implement specific areas of the plan. The Board of Trustees remains committed and engaged to move forward with the Strategic Plan. The five strategic goals for Buckingham Friends School are as follows:
To integrate knowledge and practices of Quaker testimonies into the daily life of the school to foster the school’s ethos.
To prepare each child to have the ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
To establish diversity as a cornerstone of the school community and further integrate culturally inclusive perspectives within the curriculum.
To create and implement a sustainable financial plan to secure the present and respond to the future.
To support an appropriate and well-maintained campus that fosters learning, demonstrates Quaker testimonies and reflects the school’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
Buckingham Friends School is accredited through the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) and is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Friends Council on Education (FCE), and the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS).
Opportunities and Challenges
Like many independent schools serving elementary aged students, Buckingham Friends has experienced enrollment decline in recent years. Many stakeholders characterize the school as a “best kept secret,” and families often seek out the school for the small class sizes, the absence of mandated state tests, and the strengths of community and Quaker values. It is essential for the long-term well being of BFS that new leadership partner effectively with others in the school community to ensure the school’s visibility is expanded and there is a clearly articulated message that compellingly captures the significant value-added advantages of a BFS education.
Through the years, BFS has had the great benefit of numerous loyal and long-tenured faculty members. The school has begun to adjust to the retirements of some of these culture keepers, a trend that will continue over the next five-plus years. A new Head of School will have the opportunity to hire well to ensure the continuation of a strong, nurturing culture—one of BFS’s most distinguishing characterizations.
Because of the very strong school culture, the loyalty of numerous faculty, and multiple leadership transitions in recent years, it will be important for the new Head of School to be adept at building positive relationships throughout the school community, listening well, and being keenly invested in understanding the school’s history and traditions.
BFS has begun the work of examining the curriculum to ensure scope, sequence, and intentionality, and further focus on this endeavor will continue in the early years of a new Head’s tenure. There are differing opinions within the school community regarding the direction of the academic program. A Head of School who is not only well-versed in pedagogical best practices, but can also articulate and demonstrate that a great school can be both academically dynamic and wonderfully nurturing, will serve BFS well. The professional community will respond well to knowledgeable, respectful, and inspirational leadership. Thus, a leader who is collaborative, respectful, and understands how to facilitate inclusive, professional conversations to generate shared vision and goals, will be a successful leader for the BFS professional community.
A leader who understands the essential importance of intentional and consistent communication will serve BFS effectively. As relationships are enhanced throughout the school community, developing shared and respectful communication protocols will provide helpful parameters for exploring differing perspectives. Moreover, BFS will benefit from leadership that is more keenly attuned to the opportunities newer communication vehicles provide to generate support and interest in the school.
While quality improvements have been made to the campus in recent years, the aging physical plant will need to be thoughtfully addressed in the coming years. The Head of School will need to work effectively with the BFS Board, the Director of Facilities, and the Buckingham Friends Meeting to develop a plan for plant enhancement.
Buckingham Friends School seeks a Head of School who will embrace its strong community and commitment to Quaker values. The ideal next leader will be an individual who thrives in a small school setting, energized by the opportunity to know every student, faculty member, and family, and the opportunity such a school allows to balance the internal and external demands of school leadership. BFS seeks an inspirational, energetic, elementary and middle school educational leader who joyfully interacts with children aged 4-14, the faculty who teach them and the parents who love them. The successful candidate Head of School candidate should:
Possess extraordinary personal and communication skills, building strong, positive relationships throughout the school community and supporting a spirit of strong community
Demonstrate a successful track record of developing and implementing a collaboratively built vision, nurturing leadership in others, building teams, and delegating effectively
Be strategic and goal-oriented, partnering well with stakeholders to thoughtfully tackle the challenges before the school
Understand the fine art of seeking input, listening well, and moving forward decisively
Revel in being a visible, accessible and hands on leader
Have both experience in and comfort with fundraising and advancement activities
Be knowledgeable in the area of educational best practices with an understanding of how to build an effective professional learning community; hiring, supporting, and mentoring a range of teaching practices while supporting and guiding a diverse group toward shared goals and outcomes
Have the capacity to be empathetic, optimistic, and a person of unwavering integrity.
The opportunity to lead Buckingham Friends School is an opportunity to lead a special school in a beautiful setting. It is a school that highly values community and successfully nurtures its students to be hard working, confident, good citizens. It is a school that will thrive with personable, energetic, inspirational leadership which reflects the Quaker values of community, positive conflict resolution, respect, and integrity. This is a great opportunity for an individual who is eager to invest in a close community, enthusiastic to build a collaborative vision, and dedicated to the mission of Buckingham Friends School.
Please send (electronically): Resume, Letter of Interest and/or Personal Statement or Educational Philosophy to:
Jane Armstrong or Bill Lyons, Managing Partners
All inquiries will be treated confidentially and a review of candidate files will begin immediately.
Buckingham Friends School believes that each individual is entitled to equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, non-job-related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal because of blindness, deafness, or physical handicap, or any other characteristic protected under federal, state, or local anti-discrimination laws.
Buckingham Friends School, founded in 1794 is a Quaker school located on 44 acres in Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. 136 students, kindergarten through grade 8, are served through a rigorous, hands-on curriculum with significant parent support and involvement. There is one class per grade level. Quaker values guide the school's mission and practice.