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A City Life, a Country School: How a West Philly Family Found the Perfect Balance

Julie Shapiro and Quinn Bauriedel are hard-core city dwellers. But they love the semi-rural setting their sons experience at Friends' Central in Wynnewood.

Julie Shapiro and Quinn Bauriedel had planned to send their sons, Axel and Oskar, to their neighborhood West Philly public school. A quirk of the school lottery system later, they found themselves looking at independent schools.


Bauriedel, who is the co-artistic director at Pig Iron Theatre Company, had worked with Terry Guerin, the Upper School drama teacher at Friends’ Central School, and some of her students. They’d made an impression.


“They were good collaborators, they were interested in what we were there to teach,” Bauriedel said.


And something about the school felt familiar, too. Talking to Guerin, Bauriedel said, he had an “aha” moment: Friends’ Central is a Quaker school, and both he and Shapiro had gone to a Quaker college.


“I believe wholeheartedly in their values,” Bauriedel said.


The couple was initially uncertain about the commute to the Lower School campus, a bucolic site on Old Gulph Road in Wynnewood that feels like a rural farm. But thanks to the school bus, Oskar and Axel have the best of both worlds.


“Here we were, living in the city and really loving that experience of being an artist in the city, and the proximity to all the culture, and yet our kids could have this rural experience in nature building bird blinds in the forest and looking under the microscope at what’s in the water in the creek,” Bauriedel said. “That to me was such an appeal.”


Oskar, who’s now in fourth grade, started at Friends’ Central in kindergarten. Axel, now a second grader, began the pre-K program a year later.


The boys — and the family — move easily between their neighborhood, the school, and the rest of the city. Because Friends’ Central attracts a lot of families from Philadelphia as well as the suburbs, play dates and birthday parties happen all over.


Both parents are on campus frequently, since Bauriedel is a trustee and Shapiro, an executive coach, is on the Lower School service committee. The trip doesn’t feel very far, and taking the bus has given the boys a chance to be a bit more independent.


Shapiro said she loves how the campus is part of the curriculum. If kids are studying rivers, they can go outside and look at the creek. She also values the school’s approach to each child as an individual, a major component of the Quaker mindset.


Oskar and Axel have become more confident at Friends’ Central, she said, because they can be themselves.


“It’s such a nurturing place, and in the early phases of life and development, that’s so crucial,” she said. “I’ve seen the growth, and it’s amazing.”

Want to know more? Visit us online for more information, or stop by one of our upcoming admissions events:

March 7:  Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)
April 19:  Spring Open House (9 — 11 am)
April 21:  Nursery Open House (9:30 am)
April 4: Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)
May 2:  Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)


Photographs by Ivory Tree Portraits. 

Friends’ Central School is a Quaker, independent, co-educational, college-preparatory day school for students in nursery through grade 12. Located on 41 acres across two campuses in Wynnewood, Pa., Friends’ Central cultivates the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of our students. Guided by Quaker values, since 1845, we have been educating for excellence, inspiring tomorrow’s leaders, honoring each individual, and encouraging our students to peacefully transform the world.


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