Friends School Mullica Hill welcomes new interim head of school, looks ahead to upcoming school…

Friends School Mullica Hill welcomes new interim head of school, looks ahead to upcoming school year

Curriculum additions and building renovations to be expected at the start of the school year

Friends School Mullica Hill welcomed approximately 135 preschool through eighth-grade students to its classrooms last year, from 26 Zip codes. The new interim Head of School Matthew Bradley looks forward to the return of bustling hallways and full classrooms at the start of the school year on Sept. 7.

Bradley was hired as the interim head of school earlier this year and will hold the position while the school’s board of trustees searches for a permanent employee by the end of the school year.

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Bradley grew up outside of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. Upon graduating from both University of Notre Dame and then Columbia University, his first teaching job was at a Friends school in Long Island, N.Y. After 13 years, Bradley was hired as the head of school at West Chester Friends School in Pennsylvania, and during that time served on the Friends School Mullica Hill Board of Trustees. Most recently, Bradley held the head of school position at East Woods School in Oyster Bay, N.Y., while deciding to move back to the Pennsylvania area. When his predecessor Beth Reaves was offered the opportunity to serve as the president of the Washington School for Girls in Washington, D.C., Bradley stepped in to temporarily take her place at Friends School Mullica Hill.

“The whole experience, it’s one of coming home and feeling very connected,” Bradley said. “Being able to come back to the school in a different role, having served on the board previously, this is a different role being able to serve this community. It is meaningful. It really feels like the right way to serve the school.”

According to Director of Communication and Marketing Jared Valdez, Friends School Mullica Hill is the largest nonprofit organization within the Mullica Hill community. Governed by an independent board of trustees, made up of volunteers overseeing the school, the independent learning institution is funded through tuition income, as well as fundraising.

Valdez said many initiatives and programs new and returning students can look forward to this school year include additions and installments made through the school’s Building Greatness campaign. For example, the school has installed a garden space, an outdoor learning space, a gaga pit for recreational fun and made renovations to the school’s art space. Another large improvement, Valdez said, was the redevelopment of the “big, exciting space,” as students and staff refer to it, with new flooring and the addition of an art kiln. Students and families can also anticipate the return of the MakerSpace Fair, expected to be bigger and better than the first annual event held last spring.

Bradley said further changes this year include a new gym floor, funded through the Building Greatness campaign, which is expected to finish near the start of the school year, as well as new energy-saving lights installed in the space.

As for curriculum, the school will be implementing “Math in Focus,” a Singapore Math program that was piloted by two grades last year, and will be applied to all lower grades, through fifth grade, at the start of this school year.

“The school throughout the past couple of years conducted a study on what kind of program would allow us to implement and provide the best possible elementary level math curriculum experience to our students,” Bradley said. “Singapore Math has been widely recognized as a strong, foundational program.”

Valdez said to kick-off the start of the school year, students in sixth through eighth grade will travel on various trip in the fall to bond and set goals for the upcoming school year. Sixth graders will be spending three days and two nights at Camp Onas, while seventh graders will visit the Pocono Environmental Education Center, and eighth graders will spend time at Wallops Island Marine Biology Center.

“The values that are taught and lived here are so incredibly important for the kinds of people we want our students to be when they go out into the world,” Bradley said. “We want them to be caring citizens, engaged citizens, looking out for each other and for the world; those kinds of people emerge from a school like Friends School Mullica Hill. They’re going to go out into the big world, but they are also coming from the Mullica Hill community. It’s a benefit for everybody.”

The new school year for students attending Friends School Mullica Hill begins on Thursday, Sept. 7.

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