Sandy Spring Friends School



Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-Based and Hands-On Education
Upper School Intersession Trips
Student Learning Support
College Counseling
Inquiry based education through Question-Reflection-Action model


QRA—our student-centered approach—encourages students to  question  concepts and ideas,  reflect  upon inquiry and experience, and put learning into  action. 

Sandy Spring Friends School is an exceptional school seeking to prepare students for life and further education. At SSFS, knowing why we learn, and how we learn, are just as important as what we learn. Our educational program is grounded in a deep respect for individual students and intellectual rigor. The School's teachers help students internalize a process we call "QRA"—Question, Reflection, Action—which ensures that they think critically, integrate new knowledge, and apply what they learn. We help students develop their individual sense of purpose as they become caring citizens of the world.

Reflection: Academics at SSFS

Read more about SSFS' educational philosophy by reading David's posts on the 7 characteristics.

Seven Characteristics of a SSFS Progressive Education

Close, cooperative relationships between teachers and students are the firmest foundation for effective learning.

Young minds learn best in an environment of trust and respect where each student is valued as a unique, gifted individual.

A Sandy Spring Friends education is rigorous.

Students are expected to move beyond just memorizing facts to “higher order thinking skills” to analyze, interpret, synthesize, and create. For this reason, multiple-choice tests are uncommon at SSFS. Working within an above-grade-level curriculum, students become skilled at prioritizing and managing academic challenges as they progress from pre-kindergarten to high school graduation.

Students learn best when they are acknowledged and included in the classroom.

For this reason, SSFS values small class sizes where every voice is heard. At all grade levels, most academic sections have between 10 and 16 students.

Sandy Spring Friends students interact with the natural world as a part of their learning environment.

Daily routines allow students to be outside as they travel between commitments. The School’s 140-acre campus is a natural laboratory for physical, scientific, and artistic exploration.

SSFS seeks to provide students a global perspective.

In a world that is increasingly international and cross-cultural, we emphasize our students' development of cultural competence and the ability to view each challenge and opportunity from multiple perspectives.

Classroom learning must be authenticated by real-world experience.

Signature trips and projects, the Upper School Intersession and Internship programs, and our outdoor education program all reflect our desire the make the world our classroom.

The School’s motto, “Let Your Lives Speak,” represents the Quaker belief that how we live our lives is the most direct indicator of what we believe.

The School’s programs are grounded in an ethical framework of the six Quaker “SPICES:” simplicity, peaceful resolution of conflict, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. These guiding values are infused through all areas of study and community life. Students of all ages participate in silent worship/reflection as they explore and develop their own moral compass.

Barbie Bungee: Will She Survive?

Each year, our Algebra I students put their math and engineering skills to the test to create an exclusive bungee jumping company that has one VIP clienta Barbie. 

A Journey On The Math Trail

In the fall, 5th graders were asked to engage in a Math Trail around campus. By taking 5th graders outside—taking them away from pencils and workbooks—our teachers helped students see math as it applies to everyday life and gain a new appreciation for it.

Graph From 7th Grade Experiment

After reading research about the benefits of taking notes by hand, our seventh-grade science students decided to challenge the research and conduct an experiment in their classroom to support or refute these conclusions. 

Upper School Intro To Engineering Students test out their Trebuchets

Introduction To Engineering students explored mechanisms that convert gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy by designing and building trebuchets to launch tennis balls within a range of 20 meters. Read about their process

Lower School Cardboard Challenge: Design Meets Engineering!

Did you ever find an empty box and imagine what else it could be? In Lower School, we have explored this idea as an expression of our understanding of the engineering design process (ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve) in conjunction with introduced science concepts.