A Quaker Education

The Quaker belief that there is “that of God” in everyone shapes everything we do at Sidwell Friends.

We see it in the classroom, where teachers value the unique gifts that each student offers. We hear it in Meeting for Worship, when we listen deeply to those who feel moved to speak into the silence. We experience it in service to others, when we encounter worldviews and cultures that challenge our own.

At Sidwell Friends, truth is not a rigid set of facts imparted from teacher to student. Instead, it is continuously revealed through dialogue, inquiry, and reflection. Whether in the classroom or in weekly silent worship, all voices are honored as our community of learners seeks truth together.

By nurturing children’s innate curiosity within a framework of Quaker values, we encourage our students to live adventurous, imaginative, and ethical lives. Our students graduate not only with skills and knowledge but with an internal set of queries to guide them. In this way, Sidwell Friends prepares students to “let their lives speak.”

Quaker Values

Silent meeting provides respite from the busy week.

Silent Reflection

Each week, all students and teachers gather together in Meeting for Worship, a time for quiet reflection in the midst of our busy lives. Although we meet in shared silence, any member of the community may choose to speak if moved to share a message.

In place of formal doctrine, students collaboratively generate guiding questions, or queries, as a means to examine their lives and measure their actions. Students from a wide range of faiths, as well as those without a religious tradition, gather strength from this communal time together.

Each week, students and faculty in all divisions gather for Meeting for Worship.

Equity, Justice, and Community

Quakers believe that there is “that of God” in everyone—that goodness and dignity are inherent in all human beings. We seek and honor a multiplicity of voices as we reflect on the query, How do we nurture a sense of belonging in our community and demonstrate our commitment to a just world?

At Sidwell Friends, exploring and confronting questions of race, equality, and empowerment shape how we teach and learn. Together, we expand our vision of social justice to prepare our students to be in the world, as well as to serve it.

Students concerned about inequality and exclusion show solidarity with local religious communities.
Equity, justice, and community are woven into all aspects of school life, including the PK play “Peace.”
The BSU banded together to encourage community members to share their commitment to social justice and #BlackLivesMatter.
Upper School students work alongside students from the Appalachian region of West Virginia to renovate homes during a Quaker work camp.
On Wednesdays, Lower School students bring in and chop vegetables for a community organization that addresses food security issues.


Sidwell Friends students are actively engaged in the world and think critically about what is going on around them. Through a commitment to service, we graduate students who are empathetic, collaborative, and reflective.

Students and teachers partner with local and global nonprofit organizations focusing on a range of social justice issues. We aim to serve these community partners while providing opportunities for our students to “let their lives speak.”

Environmental Stewardship

The Quaker tenet of stewardship shapes the Sidwell Friends community, from the design of our school buildings to the food our students eat each day. Our collective responsibility to care for the earth is instilled in students at all grade levels.

Whether they are collecting waste for recycling in Lower School, studying how their building treats wastewater in Middle School, or composting food scraps in the Upper School dining room, our students learn to see their own impact on the natural world.

Our LEED Platinum Middle School building shows students innovative green technologies in action, including a constructed wetland wastewater treatment system and a green roof.
Lower School students gather samples from different areas of campus to study soil composition.
Photovoltaic panels on three of our green buildings convert the sun's energy into electricity for our classrooms.
The China Fieldwork program gives students an opportunity to live and conduct research in China while earning school credit.

Global Citizenship

As a Friends school in the nation’s capital, we prepare our students to see themselves as citizens of the world. Our community fosters self-awareness, empathy, a knowledge of global interconnectedness, and a deep understanding of other cultures.

Through travel opportunities, exchange programs, and curricular offerings, students at Sidwell Friends learn about and engage with worldviews other than their own. This process of “decentering” forms a pathway to responsible global citizenship.

The annual Heritage Festival celebrates the many cultures and traditions of the families in our school community.

Explore Quaker Values in Our Classrooms