Principal: Robert “Bo” Lauder
222 East 16th Street
Award: Outstanding Principal
Describe your school’s core educational philosophy.
Two-hundred and thirty years ago, Friends was founded by Quakers as a coeducational school rooted in the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, equality, peace, and integrity. These testimonies, along with community and stewardship, are still at the core of the school’s philosophy all these many years later. Friends is a school that now provides its 770 students with a rigorous, creative, and experiential academic program.
Tell us about a few of the school’s achievements or distinguishing programs.
We are the only independent school in New York that offers a fully developed Arabic language and culture program for grades 5-12. In response to rising academic pressures and the pressure in families to seek outside tutoring, we opened the Marianna Chapman Academic Center approximately eight years ago to provide academic support to students before, during, and after school. It is staffed for humanities and math/science. We also have a highly integrated service and global studies program which along with our values-centered work is housed in our Center for Peace, Equity, and Justice.
We are currently planning to break ground on a large campus redevelopment project that will add about 25,000 feet to our campus, provide a greenhouse for student “farming” and a meeting hall that will house 275 people, and will have new classrooms that reflect an evolving way to teach that includes more collaboration and “making.”
What do you love about your school?
I love that I work in a school that is 230 years old—one year older than the Constitution! There is so much history here and that history and the hard work of those who’ve come before me fuel my work each day. Further, working at a school whose values have largely remained the same and are present every day is inspiring. I love being surrounded by so many caring, generous, and smart students and their parents. The most gratifying thing to me about being of head of school/principal is that I can make things happen for the school and the people who work and learn here.