A Pre-K to Grade 12 Independent Quaker Day School Serving the Greater Durham-Chapel Hill Area

A Quaker School

Quakers are humble. Quakers are thoughtful.

We are an independent Quaker school, which means that we are secular, inclusive, and deeply guided by Quaker values. We retain close relationships with the Durham and Chapel Hill Friends Meetings (with at least eight members serving on our Board of Trustees at any time), and we hold membership in the Friends Council on Education (FCE). Most students, parents, and teachers at CFS are not Quaker. They follow varied religious traditions or none at all, but our identity as a Friends School is central to who we are.

Quakers believe in the ability of each individual to become their best self, the power of community, and the importance of acting for the greater good.

The Religious Society of Friends began in mid-seventeenth century England as a Christian group focused on the “Inner Light” of each individual, empowering direct personal spiritual experience without creeds, doctrine, or clergy.

While there are no set beliefs in Quakerism, you will often see a common group of goals, called testimonies: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship (SPICES). These testimonies are threads in the larger organic life of Quaker query and practice: to ask important questions in order to discern what actions are motivated by those questions. This requires reflection, mindfulness, and a balancing of the inner self and outer world.

Our School’s philosophy is shaped by Quaker values, and our educational practices are informed by that philosophy through:

  • Collaboration
  • Inquiry
  • Reflection
  • Service

Some examples of the ways in which Quakerism is lived in our daily life include showing mutual respect through community members (including students and teachers) referring to each other by first name, teaching peace education and conflict resolution at every age, and choosing a method of assessment that is based not on competition but on personal growth and considerations for the whole student.

We are Quakers, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Bahá’í, and beyond. One thing we all believe in: the power of education.Rebecca Lanning, alumni parent

History of Quaker Education

The first Quaker school in America was founded in 1682, and today there are about 80 in the country as well as many in the rest of the world, from Australia to Costa Rica. While each school is different, they are guided by common principles. According to the Friends Council on Education:

“Quaker education does not seek to inculcate a particular set of beliefs or doctrines; it seeks to nurture a particular sort of personhood - a person who knows deep down that sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing are not all there are to life; a person who, in an age of rampant materialism, has first-hand experience of the reality and importance of the Spirit in life; a person rooted as much in the unseen as in the seen, as much in the spiritual as in the physical; a person who has a capacity for reverence, and who is as well equipped to experience the Spirit as to do work in the world.”

Settling In and Out

Settling into shared silence is a meaningful way to make oneself present in the moment, focus or redirect attention, and create a shared energy and sense of intention with a community. It is used at Carolina Friends School to begin and end the school day, committee meetings, Meeting for Worship, as well as in an ad hoc manner in classrooms. It is a time to mark commitment to oneself and to the group and it invokes a time for mindfulness and meditation.

Meeting for Worship

Quaker Meeting is a gathering of community where Friends sit together in reflective silence and, if they feel led, to share an insight, concern, or experience with the group. Often, Meeting for Worship is focused on a particular query. With an unstructured nature and focus on the power of the gathered group, Quaker Meeting gives everyone, regardless of faith or belief practice, a powerful tool for spiritual growth. The Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools each hold a weekly Meeting, and periodically throughout the year we hold All-School Meetings for Worship. These powerful gatherings are central to the life of our school and help build a purposeful sense of community.