Updated on 15 February 2021
In Philadelphia, this modern representation of the Penn Charter School Seal hangs on the back wall of school’s Meeting Room.
The seal bears William Penn’s coat of arms and an open book with a message in Greek, ‘Love one another.’
Good Instruction Is Better Than Riches
The original name of the school appears on the inner circle: Philadelphia Public School. All the elements are encircled by Penn Charter’s motto, ‘Good Instruction Is Better than Riches’.
Founded in 1689, Penn Charter School is the oldest Quaker school in the world, the oldest elementary school in Pennsylvania, and the fifth oldest elementary school in the United States. The ‘charter’ in its name refers to the document Penn signed to establish the school.
The original 1689 charter declared that the school should be open to children of all religions. In 1701, the charter was amended to include poorer students who needed financial aid and it was amended once again in 1770 to educate children regardless of race.
The school newspaper, The Mirror, is the oldest secondary school student newspaper in the United States, having been published since 1777.
Penn Charter says of its teaching:
Through a loving and supportive school community, students grow as intellectual, emotional, social and moral beings. Ultimately, we are concerned less with what students will become than with who they will become.
Penn Charter School
Quakers And School Education
Wherever you find groups of Quakers in the world you will invariably find schools that have been set up from them. Worldwide there are over 100 Friends’ Schools. The vast majority today are in the United States and Kenya, but there are schools in Britain, Ireland, the Middle East, elsewhere in Africa, Australia, Tokyo, Central America and Bolivia. There is also a Friends’ school in the Palestinian West Bank.
Across the continents, Friends schools vary greatly – both in their interpretation of Quaker principles and in how they relate to formal organizations that make up the Society of Friends.
However, most Friends’ schools are similar in their mission however to provide an academically sound education while also instilling values of community, spirituality, responsibility and stewardship in their students.
In Britain and Ireland there are eleven existing secondary Friends’ Schools, which collectively state they connect with Quakerism through the following:
- Silent reflection to help both students and staff develop as individuals
- Promoting truth and integrity in all that they do
- All learning should promote social responsibility and global sustainability
- Encouraging positive and peaceful resolutions to conflict
- Everyone is of equal worth and diversity is celebrated
- Developing open-mindedness and confidence without arrogance
Images from www.penncharter.com/