Friends' Central Lower School

Our Lower School (Nursery to grade 5) is a place where joy-filled learning is embedded in play, exploration, and discovery. Whether at a desk or in the garden, maker space, or playground, learning is engaging as “skills and drills” take their place alongside teamwork, collaboration, and critical questioning—why?, how?, what if? The experience is as academically challenging and exciting as it is supportive and structured.

At the core are our Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service. These values guide children and adults to treat one another with respect and appreciation, creating a safe and inclusive atmosphere that inspires the very best in children.

The broad and varied lower school curriculum offers opportunities for each child to explore, discover new interests, and shine. Classes are small and instruction is individualized, allowing students to progress at their own rate, with many students excelling far beyond their grade levels.

Our thematic approach to education unifies learning across disciplines, from the core subjects of literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies to electives like art, music, physical education, and foreign languages. This unified method allows Friends’ Central Students to develop the confidence to serve as advocates and allies, as well as the skills to articulate their thoughts insightfully and effectively.

Lower School students learn to be good problem solvers—both academically and interpersonally. Through a careful balance of expectations and freedom, students are held accountable for their words and actions while they learn to develop internal judgment and control. Individual social development and awareness of others are nurtured in tandem with academic benchmarks.

Early Childhood Programming

The Nature Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten programs offer a stimulating and nurturing environment where young children can grow—academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.


The curriculum for Lower School students in each grade is exciting, challenging, and developmentally appropriate.

Meeting for Worship

Meeting for worship is 25 minutes of quiet reflection and truth seeking that are an essential part of life at the Lower School. Our School is enriched and strengthened by weekly Meeting for Worship.

Meet the Lower School Principals

Melody R. Acinapura

Melody R. AcinapuraPrincipal

Melody joined Friends' Central in July 2017 as Assistant Principal, before becoming Lower School Principal in July 2019. Previously, she served as Dean of Lower School and Director of Student Support Services at Greene Street Friends School. Melody has a BA in elementary and special education from Saint Joseph's University and a master's in school counseling psychology from Boston College. She received a certificate from the New and Aspiring School Leadership Institute at Harvard University. Melody is also the Founding Executive Director of Horizons, a six-week summer program, the first Philadelphia-based affiliate of this national program that supports underserved youth ages kindergarten - grade 8.

Rowena Lesher

Rowena LesherAssistant Principal
Rowena Lesher joined the Friends’ Central community as our Lower School Assistant Principal in August 2020. Rowena received her bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in education from UC Berkeley and her master’s in bilingual and bicultural education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also a PA-certified teacher in K-6 elementary education. Prior to FCS, Rowena taught Kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade during her eight-year tenure at Episcopal Academy. In 2013, she became Founding Executive Director of Horizons at EA and continued as Program Director through 2020. Rowena first discovered her passion for education when she joined the Peace Corps in 2004. She also served as a bilingual educator at PS 89 in New York and as a founding teacher at two KIPP public charter schools, one in New York and one in Philadelphia.