What's New at LFS

One of the qualities that sets Lansdowne Friends School apart is the culture of shared responsibility; the students are expected to create problems as well as solutions, and prepared to see that sometimes the right answer is that the answer is still unknown. 

I give to Lansdowne Friends School as a means of practicing my commitment to the school and declaring my belief in its mission. I give because it makes a difference to families with children right now in the Philadelphia area and because it makes a difference to the future we (all humans) are living into. 

- Maura Leeper, LFS Parent, School Committee Member 

This year, Lansdowne Friends School marks Martin Luther King Day with a day of service on Friday, January 16. Students will spend part of the day creating placemats, lunch bags and greeting cards for Meals on Wheels, and will share a simple all-school lunch to benefit the Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan Foundation, a foundation established in memory of a medical doctor in Sierra Leone who lost his life helping his country battle ebola. 

LFS Lasers and LFS Stars attended the First Lego League robotics qualifier at the Franklin Institute on Saturday, December 6, in the hopes of earning a spot at Finals held at the University of Pennsylvania in February. 

The Lasers and Stars are coached by T. Deb and Ashley Hazen, an engineer with Johnson Matthey. Both teams are mentored by Bob Hazen, and engineer at Boeing. 

The competition challenge this year was World Class. Teams had to develop an innovative way to teach others in a 21st century learning environment. Our teams have worked with experts to research and develop their projects. The Lasers developed plans for an App that would assist families in teaching children who are born deaf how to read. The Stars developed an innovative way to assess students that supports the development of Growth Mindsets. Both teams incorporated complex arms and sensors into their robot designs. Their programming is sophisticated and allows their robots to accomplish multiple objectives at one time. 

On December 6, Students arrived at 8:00 a.m. and competed until 4:00 p.m., in a number of areas. First, they were judged on core values. Three judged watched the teams complete a teamwork challenge, evaluating how students balanced the challenge and motivation. Afterwards, in a question and answer session, the judges asked students about how they worked together and took charge of the challenge as a group.  

Then the teams presented their research projects: each team had five minutes to present, followed by ten minutes of questions from a panel of experts (engineers and computer programmers) who asked about sources of their research, the cost of implementation, and the potential impact of their projects on the real-life target market. 

Then the teams faced a panel of three experts who evaluated their robot design. Students ran a robotics program and answered questions about why they built their program, and had to produce copies of the programming code. Throughout the day, judges circulated to observe how students interacted with each other, with their adult coaches, and with other teams and adults. Finally, the teams each ran a two-and-a-half minute timed match on the robotics board, trying to accomplish as many trials as possible within that period. Afterwards, judges went through the scoring rubric with each team, and each member had the opportunity to agree or respectfully disagree with each score. 

One real challenge of this part of the competition is that the competition boards are always slightly different from the practice boards. Another potential complication is that the challenge document is twenty pages along-and in the case of both the board and the document, changes can be made leading up to the morning of competition, which means students are also responsible for keeping up with those changes and constantly tweaking their work.

At the end of the day, the students took part in an end-of-competition dance party. 

"Their performance was a good example of grace under pressure," said 5/6 teacher and robotic mentor Deb Hazen, who pointed out that in competitions the rubrics are thorough and rigorous and that the First Lego League runs through eighth grade, so LFS students were among the youngest in the competition. The sixth grade team brought home a trophy for their research. Go LFS! 

Each Grand Friends Day, Lansdowne Friends School welcomes grandparents and students' other special friends to come to school. Grand friends share meeting for worship and classroom time with their students, and the morning ends with an all-school sing -- a beautiful way to begin Thanksgiving break.

More photos are on our Flickr page.

grand friends day

The motto from the earliest days of Lansdowne Friends School has been “Service over Self.”  At LFS, service is important in our curriculum and takes many forms.  At the most basic level, students are expected to take personal responsibility for the school, and are therefore expected to clean up after themselves and take care of the campus. Older classes work with the younger classes as another form of service.  We also have days of service where we go out into the community and partner with community organizations.

On October 2, most of the school spent the day in our surrounding community. Our fifth and sixth graders tended to street trees in Upper Darby, Lansdowne and East Lansdowne with members of the Darby Creek Valley Association. Third and fourth graders cooked for the Life Center of Eastern Delaware County, part of Lansdowne Friends School’s monthly commitment to help provide meals for those experiencing homelessness. First and second graders picked up trash on our campus and in our neighborhood.


On a broader level, service is an expression in our belief in learning through personal experience.  It requires collaboration, fosters empathy and a sense of civic and social responsibility. It also engages students in active learning, and encourages them to be connected to and part of the larger local and world community.  Service enriches the classroom experience and allows for active expression of what goes on in the classroom and in meeting for worship.  Ultimately, we hope it will help students internalize a strong sense of purpose and will help then decide what they will do in their adult lives.

On Friday, September 19, Lansdowne Friends marked the International Day of Peace with an all-school gathering and a parade around campus with our enormous peace dove puppet, carried by sixth grade students.

Summer hours are in effect at LFS!  You can find us here at school between 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 on Fridays.  Come say hello!

Narissa Bajjo, Kindergarten teacher

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Narissa Bajjo as our second Kindergarten teacher. Narissa Bajjo is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in history. After two years at Westtown School as a teaching fellow, she taught another year there as a lower school assistant teacher, a dorm parent, an advisor, and a Senior Project leader. As a Kindergarten teacher, she taught Singapore Math, Handwriting without Tears, lessons using the Lucy Caulkins Reading Workshop, and Spanish, and incorporated technology including iPad applications and international Skype collaborations. Since then, she has been a lower school assistant teacher at Wilmington Friends School where she planned and implemented word study lessons using the Wilson Fundations curriculum.

She also brings a strong understanding of Friends education, having the four years of experience at Westtown and Wilmington Friends. In her demonstration lesson, she was able to frame the lesson around the testimony of simplicity. She also brings strengths of enriching the diversity of our teaching staff and curriculum. While at Westtown, she assumed the leadership of the school's observation of Martin Luther King Day, and she led a group of 17 students on a service trip to Heritage Academy in Ghana, West Africa. There at Heritage, she created and implemented a course focused on the connections between the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Apartheid in South Africa.

Most importantly, we are impressed with her ability to connect with our present Kindergarteners, to make each of them feel welcome, respected and heard.


Amy Keilbaugh, Art Teacher

We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Amy Keilbaugh as our new art teacher. Amy has strong qualifications, great experience, and very enthusiastic references. She is a graduate of Guilford College in Fine Arts, majoring in printmaking and minoring in art history. She continued her education at Temple's Tyler School of Art, and completed the art education Post-Baccalaureate Program at the Moore College of Art and Design.

Her teaching experience includes LaSalle Academy, the Henry C. Lea School, the Belmont Charter School in Philadelphia and most recently Springfield School District.

From our own experience on the day she visited, we were impressed with Amy's demonstration lesson called Cloudscape for our students, which began with a discussion of N.C. Wyeth's The Giant and the possible stories contained therein. The lesson had as its objective for students to create peace of artwork based on clouds and their imaginations. The class was very engaged and we noted in particular her ability to help students succeed and discover through art.

Misha Horsey

Misha graduated from Stony Brook University where she majored in sociology, and where she started all four years on its Division I Women's Basketball team.  She is studying for her masters in Multicultural Education from Eastern University, which she expects to complete in December.  She has been a successful coach and physical education teacher in many settings, most recently at Germantown Friends School, where she taught PE in all three divisions, and coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She has been part of the Black Women in Sports Foundation where she worked closely with school aged children in urban communities developing lesson plans for fitness and team sports. 

The president and executive director of the Black Women in Sports Foundation praised her as an outstanding coach and teacher of students 3-years old up through high school. She noted her excellent relationship with children, and also the fact that she is an elite basketball player.  Other references for her have praised her initiative and conscientiousness, her athletic prowess and her strong rapport with children and young people.  For example, at Cheltenham, a community in which she grew up, she arranged for many basketball players to play in the community league to raise money for charity.

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