One Community, Three Institutions—Guided by Quaker Teachings

Four generations of familial connections embody the bond that exists between George School, Newtown Friends School, and Pennswood Village for Tom ’73 and Kathy ’75 Rogers (ffac), P’05, ’08. Childhood, young adulthood, and elderhood are all represented in the three distinct communities, linked by geographic proximity, but bonded by a shared foundation in Quaker education.

Tom’s experience with the community began when he arrived at George School as a third generation boarding student. While taking an English term course titled Educational Philosophy, he worked as a teaching assistant at adjacent Newtown Friends School. It was there that he first met Kathy’s mom, who was a long-time member of the Newtown Friends teaching community, and who would years later become his mother-in-law.

“I really like the intergenerational connections that take place here,” said Tom. “The geographic proximity of the three campuses creates an accessibility that makes for a natural cross-pollination among the three institutions that opens up a shared learning of each generation of this Quaker enclave.” Kathy pointed out that although George School isn’t the high school for Newtown Friends, many people unfamiliar with NFS and GS assume it is because of the proximity of the two schools as well as the fact that both are Quaker.

“George School is part of us,” Kathy continued. “Our daughters are the fourth generation on both Tom’s and my sides of our families to graduate from George School.” Tom’s grandparents met as GS students, and his father, uncle, and brother all went to GS. Like Tom’s grandparents, Kathy’s grandparents met as students at GS, and her mother, aunts, and sister were also GS graduates.

As mentioned, Kathy’s mother, Esther Stapler Hart ’52, was involved with Newtown Friends for many years. She was a beloved icon who, in her fifty-year association with the NFS community, was a short- and long-term sub; a Kindergarten, 3rd and 5th grade teacher; a member of School Committee; and the founder of the Pennswood Intergenerational group that connects the residents of Pennswood Village with classes at Newtown Friends. When she and Kathy’s father moved to Pennswood in 2003, she became a Pennswood Pal, volunteering once a week for fourteen years to help out in a 2nd grade classroom.

“My earliest memory of Newtown Friends is when I was a 4-year-old taking a nap on a cot with the Kindergarten class that my mom was subbing. But my first formal association with Newtown Friends began when I started 4th grade,” Kathy said. “At that time, most 8th graders went on to George School, and I remember students from GS, often NFS graduates, who sometimes helped out in some of our classes.”

“When I was a student at NFS and then at GS, Pennswood Village was just a huge field,” she noted. “At Newtown Friends, recess and PE classes often took place on a small part of that field, which is now the area that comprises the parking lot next to the gym and the entrance to Pennswood from 413.”

From the beginning of the transformation from that PE and recess area of Newtown Friends to Pennswood Village, Pennswood has played a big part in Kathy’s life.

Her grandmother, Mildred Miller Stapler ’20, was in the first group of people to move into Pennswood Village in 1980. In addition to her grandmother, Kathy’s parents and aunt also lived there.

When her parents lived at Pennswood, Kathy’s father took his daily long and very quick-paced walks around the George School campus, wearing his signature yellow shirt, khaki shorts, and yellow socks. “I remember talking to staff members who didn’t realized that the man who walked around campus wearing bright yellow was Kathy’s dad,” added Tom. “They enjoyed stopping and chatting with him, which was an interaction that never would have happened if he had to get into a car and drive across town. Something this small represents the closeness of the community here. Quakerism underpins the philosophy and nature of the community of each of the three institutions. That commonality is what draws them together and is the reason the three interact on such a deep level,” Tom continued.

“The relationship that involves Newtown Friends, George School, Pennswood Village, and Quakerism is very visible,” said Kathy. “The [Philadelphia’s Twelfth Street] meetinghouse was moved, piece by piece, to the GS campus in 1975 during my senior year; my class was the first one to use it for Commencement meeting for worship. Today, students walk from Newtown Friends to that same meetinghouse weekly for meeting for worship, and Pennswood residents come to the meetinghouse to listen to concerts performed by GS students. Many pre-schoolers from the George School Children’s Center go to Newtown Friends, many Newtown Friends graduates go to George School, and many George School alumni move to Pennswood later in life.”

Tom and Kathy both held numerous roles during their time at George School. Tom landed back at George School unexpectedly, starting as a Dorm Resident in Orton, eventually teaching math, and most recently working in IT. He was also the varsity swim coach for several years. Tom has been working at George School for forty-five years. Kathy always knew that George School was her post-college destination. She did whatever it took to land a job on campus, starting in the Deans’ office until a teaching position opened. Kathy taught at George School for forty years before retiring in 2019. She was a long-time coach of field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. Adding yet another generation of Quaker learning on the George School campus, Tom and Kathy, along with Nancy Bernardini P’05, ’08 (Athletics Department), were founding members of the Children’s Center at George School.

George School has an even deeper connection for Tom, Kathy, and their family. “We were married in the Outdoor Auditorium on June 9, 1979, and our daughter and her husband were married in the Outdoor Auditorium on June 9, 2018,” explained Tom and Kathy. “George School will always be a special place for our family.”

There are few places in the world where one parcel of land, shared by three campus communities, can impact several generations of a family like they have for the Rogers family.