Virtual Red Folder
February 15, 2018

Letter from Sarah

Dear Families,

This morning, we hold the community of Parkside, Florida, in the light, as we learn more about the tragic shooting in the high school there yesterday afternoon. I imagine that, like me, many of you are experiencing very strong feelings today: of deep sadness, of frustration, and of fear, as we have heard too many times about these unspeakable events.

I wanted to remind you about the ways that we as a school prepare for emergencies. In order to ensure our students’ safety in case of dangerous situations, PMFS holds regular safety drills including for fire, lockdown, and shelter-in-place. Teachers discuss and practice drills both on their own and with students, through both announced and unannounced drills. In many ways, the regular practice that our students have in working effectively as a community prepare all of us well for emergency situations.

Plymouth faculty and staff are incredibly dedicated””to our work, to our values, and especially, to our care for your children. Please contact me or Joyce Colzani and Kelley Lishon, co-clerks of the Health Safety & Security Committee, with questions or to discuss further. May we and our children be the change we hope to see in this world.



Notes from Phyllis’ Parent Talk: Talking to Your Children about Hard News and Tragedy

Plymouth parents joined our school social worker Phyllis Ivey on January 31 in discussion and reflection on challenges in navigating how to address conflict with children. Phyllis made myriad age-appropriate recommendations and provided strategies for how to have open-hearted conversations around tough topics. The group explored the importance of mindfulness practice and Phyllis highlighted ways in which our teachers are applying this in the classroom. We invite you to review the resources that Phyllis provided to parents in attendance.

Talking with Kids about News: Discussion Starters – PBS

“Ubuntu- ‘I am what I am because of who we all are'” “” Motivation, Inspiration, and Life

Thoughts from Fred Rogers on Tragic Events – The Fred Rogers Company

Believe! The Fourth Grade Circus

Featuring Slings and Tight Ropes and (of course) Unicycles

Taking place under the “big top” of the Steinbright, the circus awaits you on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 at 7:00 pm. Tickets for both performances are available for $7 each. Send cash or checks to the Main Office.

Curriculum Redux on the Plymouth Website

Have yet to peruse our new website, with our curriculum articulated by grade? This week, we feature Social Studies!

Who am I? Who are we? How are we connected to each other? How do our interactions and values shape our social systems? How do our actions affect our natural and our human-made environment? How does our past shape the present and influence the future?

At every age, children are curious to expand their sense of self and their sense of belonging. Plymouth Meeting Friends School nurtures a natural drive to find community, helping children broaden their understanding of place and influence in expanding circles: our class, our school, our country, our continent, our world. Becoming passionate and compassionate global citizens occurs when students experience how small actions lead to big impact. In this Quaker school, children gain the perspective that “that of God in everyone” does not imply that people should be the same, but that understanding and celebrating our similarities and differences is invaluable.

Click here to read more on the website about our Social Studies program at each grade level Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.

“Global education at its heart is teaching students how to be compassionate members of our world community.” -Sixth Grade Teacher Varley Paul

A Recent Look at Social Studies in Sixth Grade

Recently, Sixth Grade learned about the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire, contracts between the Ottoman Empire and European powers. As a result of these contracts, factors were imposed on the Ottomans during the late 1700s that made it easier for the British to trade in the Ottoman Empire. Students learned the history, then played a game consisting of three rounds, created by Sixth Grade Assistant Teacher Matt to highlight inequalities in trade and the effects it has on nations.

Students were split into three teams: Ottoman Elites, Ottoman Merchants, and British Merchants. The Ottoman Elites needed to buy supplies for a dinner party. Overhead for both groups of Merchants was the cost of the material, the cost of the labor, and taxes. These funds had to be paid out from whatever profit the Merchants held before they could count a net yield, with the British Merchants having significantly lower overhead rates than the Ottoman Merchants.

In the first round, played as if taking place before the British Merchants started selling their goods in the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Elites bought solely from the Ottoman Merchants, who were selling paper plates and plastic forks. The second round took place when the British Merchants started selling in the Ottoman Empire; the British Merchants offered much nicer plates and silverware; they were able to bring better quality products with a lower overhead. The third round featured the Ottoman Merchants’ response to the British Merchants and the Capitulations, wherein they marked down prices and cut labor costs.  The Ottoman Merchants also had to buy the British Merchants’ better-quality goods to compete with the British Merchants.

In the end, the Ottoman Merchants were left with two shekels profit, while the British Merchants had 35 shekels. The Ottoman Elites were the richest group, as they earned even more than the British Merchants after collecting taxes (3% of sales from the British Merchants and 15% from the Ottoman Merchants).

This complex exercise integrates math, history, economics, and more. It highlighted for students the complexities of trade and systems, in this case showing how foreign nations can dismantle a middle class while benefiting elite benefactors of that foreign nation.

The Ottoman Elites buying lower-quality goods from the Ottoman Merchants

The competition begins: British Merchants (background) creeping in on Ottoman Merchant’s (foreground) territory

The Ottoman Elites setting their dinner tables with British Merchants’ goods

Head of School Search Committee and Invitation

By now you should have received an email announcing the members of our Head of School Search Committee, and laying out the next steps of the search process. In case you missed it, you can view the full announcement here.

That email also contained an invitation. In preparation for the communal work that will be led by the Search Committee, the School Committee is inviting you to reflect on your experience as a member of the PMFS community and share your reflections with us, either in writing or in person. You can view more details about this opportunity here.

Your Ex-Day Round-Up

2/20 Vacation Care

We have limited availability for vacation care on Tuesday, February 20; please email Dayna to inquire further.

Spring Break Vacation Care

Stay tuned for the signup for Spring Break Vacation Care. We will be open the week of March 26″”March 30 and on Tuesday, April 3. There will be no Vacation Care on March 23 or April 2. Please note that individual Vacation Care dates may close if we do not have sufficient enrollment by the advance registration deadline, so please do not delay once sign-up begins.

Ex-Day News

What an exciting week! We built complicated Magna-Tile structures, experimented with washi tape and other materials for our valentine cards, and created magical worlds through imaginative play.

Enrollment Contracts: Due TODAY

Dear Families,

Your signed contract secures your child’s space in the class and also secures your financial aid award. Please return your contracts as soon as possible so we can continue our planning efforts for the coming school year. Should you have any questions or require a special extension please contact me in the admissions office.

Many thanks!

Save the Date: Next Parent Coffee

When: Friday, March 2, 8:00 – 9:15 am

Where: Annie H.

Who: All Current PMFS Parents (and some folks who can lend some experience on the topic)

Topic: Life After PMFS

Save Another Date: Building Bridges

From Sarah’s Letter in the Last VRF:

“Please join us Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 pm as we check in about people’s needs in relation to social justice work, as well as share ideas about a collaborative community activity to put our thoughts into action. Current ideas include deepening our school’s relationship with Fairhill or ACLAMO, and we look forward to considering others. What issues would you like to support, in collaboration with other parents? Thanks to PMFS parents Rebecca Heider and Trina Berk for facilitating our discussion.”

Thinking Ahead: Yearbook Messages and Memories

Each year, the Plymouth Meeting Friends School’s graduating Sixth Grade class publishes a beautiful full-color yearbook, given to each student and faculty member free of charge.

The students would like to offer you an opportunity to support their work through the purchase of an advertisement for inclusion in the 2018 PMFS yearbook. Ad prices range from $20 – $125 depending upon the size. To place an ad, please reference the size layout guide and complete an order form. Email completed ads to Kelly Tallman at; payment can be made in the form of a check sent to PMFS. Don’t delay: because of print deadlines, all items are due by April 4. We thank you for helping us provide yearbooks to our students and for supporting the Sixth Grade!

Yearbook Order Form and Layout Information

Letter that Went Home to Families

Seedlings Summer Camp 2018

Registration is now open! 

June 25 – July 27 ·
Five 1-week sessions

For Campers 3 – 6 years of age (entering First Grade)

Directed by Kate McInerney-Rowley””PMFS Early Childhood Butterfly Teacher & PMFS alum””Seedlings summer camp is open-ended exploration and nature and water play on the playground, in the woods, and on the fields. Campers experience the joy of spending their days outdoors in a supportive play environment in a program designed specifically for children, 3-6 years of age (entering first grade). Additional weekly activities will include children’s yoga, dance and movement classes, and fun group games throughout our beautiful campus. Open to all-tell your friends and neighbors!

Join us for any or all five weeks.

$350 per week ($280 for four-day week of July 2)

June 25 – June 29
July 2  – 6 (closed july 4)
July 9 – 13
July 16 – 20
July 23 – 27

Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

Upcoming @PMFS

Monday, February 19 and Tuesday, February 20
School Closed

Wednesday, February 21
(expected) 100 Day
Open Library, 3:15 – 4:15 pm

Thursday, February 22
Meeting for Worship

Looking Ahead
March 1 – March 15
Mexican Exchange Program: Part 2
Fifth Grade in Mexico

Want more info on happenings at school?
Go to, where you can subscribe to the new PMFS Public Calendar.

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