July 10, 2020 - By Melissa Carroll, Head of School

As I arrived on campus July 1, there was a magical quality in the stillness and beauty of the Princeton Friends campus. While opening the door for the first time, I noticed a resting spider settled into her web. Tucked into the elegant loops and swirls of her workings were the glistening drops of morning dew. Perhaps a metaphor for the hope and complexity and wonder of the coming school year.

“Salutations are greetings; it’s my fancy way of saying hello.”

– Charlotte’s Web

It is indeed an exciting and hopeful time for our School. This week we welcomed two new administrators to our community. I invite you to read their welcome letters to learn more and to stop by campus to say hello.

Dr. Robbin Washington-Smart is taking the lead as Director of Strategic Enrollment and Financial Aid. She comes to us with extensive experience in education, diversity, and leadership.

(Robbin’s letter...)

Sherika Campbell is our new Director of Advancement. Sherika has demonstrated success in the work of development, diversity, and communications.

(Sherika’s letter...)

Additionally, the School Committee has welcomed five new members: Brandon Jacobs, Caroline Clarke, Steve Fox, Nadir Jeevanjee, and Allison Sommers-Sayre. Each brings a wealth of professional experience and expertise that will inform our strategic planning for the future.

New 2020-2021 School Committee Members

Brandon Jacobs is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at The Shipley School (PA) where he leads the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and programs that sustain an inclusive school community and curriculum and fulfill the school’s diversity and inclusion goals. Previously, Brandon held various roles at The Hill School and served as the Multicultural Recruiter for Rider University.

Caroline is an attorney who works passionately for social justice reform. She has previously worked for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development as a government representative and equal employment opportunity officer. Caroline is the parent of Tafari and Kai, both graduates of PFS. Caroline has served two previous terms on the PFS School Committee and comes back to the board after a brief hiatus.

Nadir is a member of Princeton Monthly Meeting as well as a current PFS parent. He is a climate scientist at a federal research laboratory in Princeton, and hails from a family of builders, architects, and realtors. He brings to the School Committee both a technical background as well as a familiarity with property and development.

Allison Sommers- Sayre is the Assistant Vice President for Advancement at Princeton University. She is an expert in organizational growth and development, leveraging information and data to drive strategy and effective change management. Allison is the parent of Adaline, a 6th grader at PFS.

Stephen Fox has spent his career working in life sciences on both the client side and the consulting side. His experience spans medical research, commercial, and IT. As a leader in innovation, he’s managed departments and budgets in excess of $300 million. Most recently, he has served on the Facilities Committee for PFS. Stephen’s daughters, Ona and Maia, currently attend PFS.

In June, we also bid farewell to several beloved members of the faculty as they embarked on new adventures. We celebrated the many accomplishments of John Zimmerman, Chris Searle, Kelsi Kosinski, Jeff Weber, Emily Vite, and Carol Saggiomo, and sent them off with the promise of our enduring friendship and gratitude. We have been working diligently to hire new faculty to fill their shoes and we will introduce them to you in the coming weeks.

“A spider’s web is stronger than it looks. Although it is made of thin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken.”

– Charlotte’s Web

Planning for the new school year has illuminated the strength and commitment of the faculty and families within our community. The administration and faculty have been meeting and planning for the complexities of our new normal. We are researching, developing curriculum, and re-envisioning the delivery of PFS’s excellent educational program. The classrooms and physical spaces on campus are being prepped, cleaned and painted. We are listening closely to the guidance offered by the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Education and developing protocols for health and safety accordingly. While the challenges we face are complex, our community is rising to the occasion and working collaboratively with one another, once again showing the strength and resilience that makes our community special. We plan to welcome students for a robust re-entry to campus on September 9. In the coming weeks, we will share specific details of the plan with the community.

“With the right words, you can change the world.”

– Charlotte’s Web

This summer, the School Committee and the faculty are engaged in professional development on social justice, equity, and belonging. A selection of books, films and articles have been assigned for individual study and self-reflection. In August, we will be engaged in workshops to further our understandings and lean into conversations. This meaningful work is crucial to our path forward and to our Quaker values and progressive mission. There will be opportunities in the fall for you to join this conversation and partner with us as a learning community.

“The light strengthened; the mornings came sooner.”

– Charlotte’s Web

While the uncertainties of September and the 2020-21 school year are tangible, the desire to reconnect and serve children is palpable. We are hopeful and optimistic, answering the question “Is it possible?” with a firm “Yes.” When we return, the campus may look and feel different in some ways, yet the familiarity of our relationships will endure. The academic program will be enriched by our thoughtful and meaningful adjustments. And, through the lens of windows and mirrors, we will lean in to understand our own responsibilities to uphold, honor, and serve one another. Our light shines bright.