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Thank you!

Thank you to Cynthia Stan Mellow, Rick Morrison, Javier Ergueta, Stephanie Gramiak, and Mike Benner as they dedicated a combined 122 years of service to WFS!
Cynthia Stan Mellow 
After 44 years of teaching at WFS, upper school visual arts teacher Cynthia Stan Mellow has decided to "graduate" with the Class of 2022! When totaled, over 5,200 students learned the visual arts through Cynthia’s creativity, humor, and steady encouragement to push artificial boundaries. Regardless of the medium of instruction, Cynthia has encouraged her students to understand that there is a dynamic equilibrium and interplay between art and life. Students experience the joy in “reading between the lines” and discover newfound opportunities when coloring outside the lines. Here is a tribute to what Cynthia means to her students, friends and family. Thank you, Cynthia, for building and nurturing the incredible upper school visual arts program at WFS!

Rick Morrison
After 35 years of unparalleled service, WFS Supervisor of Building Services Rick Morrison is retiring. Rick always leads with grace, composure, and confidence. Detail-oriented and proactive in his planning, Rick’s contributions to our school community have been immeasurable. As our campus has grown since 1987, so have Rick’s connections to our community members. At any of our events, but especially at Homecoming and Commencement, visitors to campus find Rick so that they can catch up with him for a good conversation and laugh. In those conversations, one will soon learn of his love for fishing, and when asked about what he will do after Friends, Rick will let you know that he plans to spend time with family and do as much fishing as possible. Thank you Rick!

Javier Ergueta 
After 20 years of teaching at WFS, Javier Ergueta is retiring and moving to Germany with his family. During his years at Friends, Javier has consistently raised the bar of intellectual engagement and critical thinking in the upper school. Javier is passionate as well about the Theory of Knowledge course, a cornerstone of the International Baccalaureate diploma program. He has introduced hundreds of students to new ways of thinking critically about knowledge sources and creation. Since his sabbatical in 2018-19 Javier has raised the climate change alarm in the WFS community and engaged students in climate change activism. We thank you, Javier, and hope you enjoy these words from some of your students!

Stephanie Gramiak
After being an integral part of the community for 15 years, Nurse Stephanie Gramiak is moving on. From loose teeth, to stomach aches, to broken bones (and much more!), Stephanie has been there for our youngest community members, her medical expertise and incredible warmth helping heal them on a daily basis. Stephanie was key in tackling the challenges of the COVID pandemic, providing insight and guidance, and helping families, faculty, and staff with a wide variety of questions and concerns. Stephanie, thank you, and you will be missed!

Mike Benner 
When he arrived at Friends in 2015, Mike initiated many conversations around scope and sequence, across all three divisions. We relied upon his expertise and passion for teaching and learning to help focus our professional development opportunities and planning. Mike believes that schools best serve students and teachers when they excel in the following areas: learner-centered, knowledge-centered, community-centered, and assessment-centered. Mike has helped steward and facilitate the our Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) visit; our 5-year PAIS/Association of Maryland and DC Schools (AIMS) self-study; an IB 10-year self-study; our membership renewal process for Friends Council on Education; and the production of the School’s version of its own Faith in Practice.

In his application to Friends, Mike used the following quote from Doug Reeves, “Only an educational system based on equity, shared values, and unremitting commitment to excellence will cause an intersection between the interests of educational leaders and needs of our world.”

That quote reflects Mike’s approach to education, and it certainly showed in all of his endeavors.

Good luck to you all as you embark on new adventures!
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