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A Professional Development Day on Our Quaker Identity

“You are the light of the world,” said the sign standing proudly on a table as people entered Brooklyn Friends School’s Pearl Street building. 

While there were no classes for Brooklyn Friends students on Tuesday, February 22, the classrooms and hallways were far from empty, as those spaces were alive with an exciting All-Colleague Professional Day centered around Quakerism.

Following introductory remarks from Head of School Crissy Cåceres, who framed the day, and Assistant Head of School Suzie Matthews, who was the day’s architect, there was an inspiring panel discussion with experienced Quaker Educators: Ken Aldridge (Wilmington Friends School), Mark Doty (Mary McDowell School), Toni Graves Williamson (Friends Select School),  Rachel Kane (Sidwell Friends School), Chris Kimberly (Friends Meeting School), James Lynch (Brooklyn Friends School), Karyn Payton (Westtown School), and Deborra Sines Pancoe (Friends Council on Education).

Following the panel discussion, colleagues met in smaller groups to reflect on what it means to each individual to be in a Quaker School and how the panel resonated with them.. 

Colleagues then participated in multiple group activities and discussions, centered around the Quaker Testimonies. What are we doing to ensure that this testimony is part of each person’s experience in our school community? That question was posited for each of the Testimonies and was approached from all colleagues’ points of view. 

All colleagues participated in Meeting for Worship with Facing Benches of Jonathan Edmonds and Joy Roberts. 

Perhaps one of the most critical parts of the day was the Gratitude Activity, which was available for all colleagues throughout the day. The activity could not have been more simple—and at the same time—complex. Each colleague had to take a large sticky note that read: “Today, I am grateful for…” with four blank lines. The stickies were filled out as the day went on and were then placed on one of the large columns in the Pearl Street lobby. The gratitude was flowing as colleagues also received a sweet treat from our Brooklyn Friends and Families (the BFF) with the message “We appreciate YOU!” attached to each. 

The powerful day ended with each colleague receiving a small candle to take home, reminding them that they are the “light of the world.”