A Message from Julia de la Torre

 

October 2017

Dear Friends,

It is with great enthusiasm and humble gratitude that I have accepted the position of Moorestown Friends School’s next Head of School. For more than 230 years, MFS has created and sustained a nurturing environment where students can grow as critical thinkers and contribute to the world as ethical and caring leaders. It is my privilege to follow in Larry Van Meter’s footsteps and to steward this special institution as it moves forward. My husband, Patrick, and I are thrilled to join the community and are excited that our son, Evan, will experience MFS as a student in the Beginnings early childhood program next fall.

The time I spent at Moorestown Friends School felt very much like a return home for me. From the shared commitment to Quaker values and the importance of reflection, to the deeply held belief that young people have the power to change the world — I found in MFS an extension of my own beliefs. I began my study of education at Haverford College over 20 years ago, and in those foundational experiences I gained an appreciation for greeting all students as individuals, each with a unique perspective and history to share. At Haverford, I realized that we teach children first and content second. It is that singular focus on children and their ability to positively impact their own lives, their communities, and their worlds that brings me back to the value of a Quaker education and to leading MFS into the future.

Many years ago, I led a group of K-12 teachers on a study travel experience to Ghana. While visiting a small village outside of Accra, we learned about adinkra symbols — pictures that represent important concepts and the wisdom of the Akan people of West Africa. The one symbol that stayed with me was Sankofa, which loosely translates to return to your roots. The symbol is of a bird with its feet facing forward, its head turning backward, holding an egg that represents the future and all its promise. As the teachers and I talked with the local people, we learned that Sankofa represents a belief that knowledge of the past and critical self-examination is foundational for forward movement. Said simply, the past is a guide for the future.

As I join Moorestown Friends School to serve as your next Head of School, I am keenly aware of the many years of history we have under our feet and look forward to positioning our school for the exciting possibilities of the future. As I engage with all of you in the coming months, I will preserve Sankofa in all that I do as we collectively reflect on our past and shape our school going forward. On a personal note, Patrick, Evan, and I look forward to joining Moorestown Friends School. You’ll be able to find me among the other parents taking first-day pictures of my child next to the MFS hippo! Thank you for inviting us into your family.

Warmly,