Peter Mackie is a colleague at Brooklyn Friends School. He is the Design, Advancement, and Data Systems Specialist and works in the Communications and Advancement departments. That, however, is what would go on his resume—and does not begin to tell the story of how he and his family are connected to this community—especially when it comes to Quaker Education.
Peter’s family has spent much of their lives at BFS. His mom, Diane, was a teacher and leader here for nearly 40 years, and his sister, Anna, was a Lifetime Friend and graduated as part of the Class of 2014. Peter attended BFS from first through eighth grade and went to high school at Brooklyn Tech—where his father and grandfather attended. Three generations of Mackie men attending Brooklyn Tech was the only thing that could lure Peter away from BFS. He returned, however, as a colleague in 2015. There has now been at least one member of the Mackie family here at Pearl Street since 1980.
“That’s a really good example to prove how impactful an institution can be on someone’s life,” Peter said. “Particularly because it shows how my mom really trusted BFS to teach her children. It’s really proof that this is a school that people can really call home.”
Although Peter and his family are not Quakers, our Quaker values—which he first learned as a young boy—are still a big part of how he lives his life. Throughout the years, Peter has been able to gain a clear perspective of what BFS Quakerism means.
“One of the things I learned here was that because of the Quaker belief that there is a light in everyone—which was instilled in me by my teachers and peers and environment in general—you had to really feel comfortable in yourself and feel that you are allowed to be yourself,” he said. “The strength that each individual has and really the power that everyone has within themselves to build a community and be a part of a community, and really have an impact on everyone you interact with. I think that is what Brooklyn Friends really helped to teach and that was all based around the core Quaker tenet that there is a divine light in everyone.”
Peter has been at BFS longer than he hasn’t been—a striking fact that shows how much Peter respects and lives our Quaker values.
“One of the great things about Brooklyn Friends that is so powerful, is that because it is a Quaker institution and our mission is really driven by those core Quaker values, it is a place that is really welcoming of everyone,” Peter said. “Everyone is going to have their own impact in their own way, and there really is a strong sense that this is a place that wants to welcome you.”
So as Quakers and Quaker Schools in Brooklyn, the nation, and the world, celebrate World Quaker Day, Peter feels stronger than ever that Brooklyn Friends School—and all of its Quaker values—is where he is supposed to be.
“I feel that I can have an impact here,” he said. “The role that I have now straddles a number of different offices. I have experienced this community, first as a student, and now I am actually colleagues with some of my former teachers. BFS has always spoken to me. It continues to help me grow my strengths and also use them here on a daily basis.”
Despite the fact he doesn’t meet the official criteria, I think we can all agree that Peter Mackie is truly a Lifetime Friend.