Our rich tapestry of community partnerships is a continually evolving element of our institutional life and our commitment to the region. Encompassing academic, athletic, environmental, service learning and everything in between, we are proud to be so closely enmeshed in the community that surrounds us.
The AFS campus is home to the headwaters of the Jenkintown Creek, a natural setting for creek walks, stream water quality studies, tree and animal track identification, bird adaptations, wildlife habitat gardening and environmental art projects.
A recent addition to our campus is a new riparian buffer along the creek bed, installed through our partnership with the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership and a Delaware River Restoration Fund grant. Students, teachers and families played an active role in establishing and planting the buffer, which has become another highly utilized site on campus for outdoor exploration and education.
Following the installation of the buffer, the new rain garden sits across from the Headwaters Discovery Playground. Funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative to our community partner, the Tookany Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, the rain garden improves the health of our creek and watershed, giving students even more opportunities to study birds, insects, and amphibians firsthand.
A flourishing connection with nearby Meadowbrook Farm gives our 4th graders a chance to deepen their learning at a renowned horticultural estate. Our 4th grade frequently makes the short trip to Meadowbrook Farm to learn about botany and horticulture. During the first year of our partnership, the students participated in a plant-forcing experiment for the Philadelphia Flower Show and compared plants grown at Meadowbrook to plants grown at AFS. Staff from Meadowbrook have also visited AFS to look at our campus trees with students, as well as spend time in the art studio learning how to make ceramic plates alongside our students.
Students enrolled in Arcadia University’s School of Education have visited AFS for the last two years as part of their ESL fieldwork experience. Here on campus, they observe our international students in class to gain an understanding of some of the challenges they face, and then work with the students individually and in small groups. The focus is on helping the students overcome language barriers and also exploring our two cultures, with both American and international students participating in workshops. “The partnership has been great, says Wilf Learning Resource Director Randy Schwartz, “We collaborated closely in designing the program, so it serves their students and our school really well.”
Through a partnership with faculty in the education department at Arcadia University, we are also currently developing a program of professional learning to define best, discipline-based practices in differentiated instruction for all Upper School faculty. We are also developing future educators by placing Arcadia students studying to become learning specialists, ESL and classroom teachers in the Wilf Center and as interns to our faculty.
Located right across Meetinghouse Road, the Abington Art Center has long been a treasured resource for the School. Lower and Middle School students in particular regularly make the short walk across the cemetery to spend time drawing or writing poems on the art center’s beautiful grounds. The School often hosts parties at the Art Center for retiring faculty or other special occasions.
Located in the East Wing of the Abington Monthly Meetinghouse, A Step Up Academy is a private school for children with autism. The academy serves children in preschool and kindergarten through 4th grade. AFS Middle and Upper School students regularly spend time with students at the Academy, playing games and helping the students advance their social skills.
We have a lengthy history of welcoming the Metropolitan Ballet Academy to the AFS campus. Met Ballet, founded in 1996, is a classical ballet school in Jenkintown, serving children as well as adult students. The Muller Auditorium serves as one of the Ballet’s primary performance spaces and since its inception, many AFS students have been students, performers and leaders in the Met Ballet program.
AFS has a neighborhood commitment to youth athletic programs, from field use to sponsorships to player- development programs. Hunter, JYA and Cheltenham soccer all use our fields. We view our fields as a resource for young athletes in our neighborhood, and we partner with organizations that share our belief that sports among young athletes should be about developing teamwork and leadership skills.
AFS recently participated in a Temple University study focusing on different approaches to teaching problem solving in math and science to middle school students. “It’s interesting for teachers and students to see research in the making,” says Wilf Learning Resource Director Randy Schwartz. “And the results might yield new approaches.