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The Presley-Dougherty Family: Friends’ Central School

Learn how this family found just the right mix of academic rigor and diversity for their son Phinneas.

When their eldest child Phinneas approached first grade, Germantown parents Charisma Presley and Joseph Dougherty explored public, private, charter, and parochial schools, looking for a nurturing environment for their often shy and reserved child. They also sought an academically challenging curriculum and a school that prioritizes diversity, but mostly they were looking for a school that “just felt right.”


Longtime Harry Potter fans, Charisma said that she, Joseph, and Phinneas felt like they had “arrived at Hogwarts” when they toured Friends’ Central’s beautiful 18-acre Lower School campus. For this city family looking for the right fit, FCS has indeed proven to be magical. The Friends’ Central staff got to know Phinneas quickly, encouraged the family to apply, and even helped them with the financial aid process.


Friends’ Central School is an independent, coed Quaker school that operates on two campuses: the Lower School campus for students in nursery through grade five tucked away on a bucolic campus on Old Gulph Road in Wynnewood, and the Middle and Upper School campus for students in grades six through twelve on City Avenue in Wynnewood. The school’s mission is to cultivate the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of its students. To this end, teachers get to know each child, as a person and as a learner, nurturing their passions and challenging them in age-appropriate ways to promote deeper learning and helping every student to thrive. Students in all grades participate in FCS’s intellectually challenging signature programs, service learning, and STEAM maker education.


In addition to a strong academic curriculum, FCS does all things with the Quaker belief in Continuing Revelation—that the pursuit of learning is never-ending; and that students should not just learn, but develop a true joy for lifelong learning; asking and answering great questions.


In this endeavor, Phinneas has thrived. Last fall, he could not wait to get to school on his first day, and his excitement has not waned. Phinneas’ interest in math exploded when he could explore STEAM-related subjects and projects in the Ulmer Family Light Lab, a groundbreaking building with four different makerspace studios focused on Natural Sciences, Media & Computing, Fabrication, and Design. And when Phinneas developed a special interest in coding, his teacher shared an additional independent project for him to work on over the summer; expanding on what Phinneas studied during the school year.


This attention each student’s areas of affinity is just part of what makes Friends’ Central School a nurturing and academically exciting community in which to learn. Charisma and Joseph say that the FCS community also  makes it a point to get to know the whole family. The myriad school events like plays, music presentations, PJ Movie Night, and Pumpkin Fair make the their younger children feel right at home.


Has your child found the right fit at Friends’ Central School or do you have questions for Friends’ Central School parents?

Connecting Philly parents with each other has been our mission since 2013!
Join the conversation in the comments and visit Friends’ Central School:
  • Early Childhood Open House – Saturday, September 22 at 9:30 am (Lower School campus) – special activities for Nursery and Pre-K students and parents!
  • All-School Fall Open House – Monday, October 8 at 9:30 am (Lower and City Avenue campuses)
  • Parent Info Session – Wednesday, November 7 (Lower School: 9 am; Middle & Upper School: 8:30 am)

Click here to register for an open house or sign up for a personal tour.


Photo by Abbe Foreman

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.