Student Support Services
“At Friends' Central, the teachers set a really high bar, but instead of using the bar to separate the stronger kids from the weaker kids, they work like crazy to get everyone over the bar. That difference changes the way everyone in their classrooms feels about learning.”
Friends’ Central students flourish in a culture of learning that requires a dedication to excellence. Our goal is to provide every student at Friends' Central with the tools he or she needs to thrive in our School and in life. Whether we are nurturing our students as learners or supporting their emotional, social, or physical well-being, we are developing young people who will achieve their promise in the context of our challenging curriculum, in our community, and in the world.
Our Support Services program is divided into three areas of expertise: Health Services, Learning Support, and Counseling.
The Support Services Team supports students and teachers in a comprehensive and thoughtful way. Services they provide are coordinated to facilitate their understanding and cultivation of each student.
Each of our two campuses has a full time, board certified nurse overseeing the health of our student body. The City Avenue campus also has a certified athletic trainer. Students and parents are encouraged to contact one of our nurses with questions about managing illness, allergies, or medication at school.
At Friends’ Central, we support all students’ learning. We recognize that to cultivate individual students’ academic promise will require support for some and enrichment for others.
It is our belief that children learn best when they feel safe, nurtured, and happy. Our counselors and teachers work together closely to create and perpetuate an environment in which our students will thrive.
Meet the Student Support Services Team
Jennie Nemroff, R.N.
Lower School Nurse
Lower School nurse Jennie Nemroff began working at FCS in 2004 and has seen all three of her sons graduate from the School ('09, '12, and '15). For six consecutive summers (2008-2013), she was a nurse at an overnight camp. Prior to coming to FCS, she worked for 13 years in two different doctors’ offices – a busy, high-risk ob/gyn practice and an infertility practice. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Temple University, and she is a Registered Nurse and a certified CPR Instructor.
Joshua Van Dyke, E.M.T.-P., R.N.
Middle & Upper School Nurse
Josh Van Dyke is the Middle and Upper School Nurse at Friends' Central School. He is from Pittsburgh, PA. Josh began working at FCS in 2021. Josh was a nurse at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia before coming to Friends' Central. Josh attended Drexel University and received his BSN.
Frederick Pratt, M.A., M.S., L.P.C.
Director of Support Services
MS & US Clinical Counselor
Frederick serves as the school leader for N-12 Support Services, which includes health services, learning support, and counseling. After earning a BSW at Siena College in 1997, Frederick worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) before joining the Ordo Fratrum Minorum, an international fraternity called to live on the margins of society and committed to working for peace in a troubled and divided world. During those years, he pursued graduate studies in clinical and community social work as well as spirituality and lived in Boston, MA, New York, NY, Wilmington, DE, Bolivia, and Washington, D.C. After leaving his life with the Franciscans and moving to Philadelphia, he began teaching – first at the Romero Center in Camden, NJ and then for a decade at Merion Mercy Academy. At Merion, he taught World Religions, Ethics, Spirituality, and Social Justice courses and served as a mental health counselor. During those first 10 years in education, he earned two graduate degrees and completed post-graduate studies at Villanova University, Bryn Mawr College, and the International Institute for Restorative Practices. In addition to providing leadership and consultation for student and family supports at Friends’ Central, Frederick serves as a clinical counselor in both the Middle and Upper Schools and is passionate about the integration of Quaker pedagogy and the field of Social and Emotional Learning, particularly mindfulness and restorative practices.
Jenn Curren, L.C.S.W.
Lower School Counselor
Jenn joined the Lower School community in the fall of 2018 after more than a decade of working in education as both a clinical social worker and elementary school teacher. Most recently, she was working as a social worker in the Mastery Charter Schools system in Philadelphia, where she provided individual and group counseling, play therapy, social skills instruction, implementation of schoolwide mindfulness initiatives, and supervised the social emotional learning curriculum. Prior to a career in counseling, Jenn worked as a first grade teacher. She received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and has her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Education from The College of New Jersey.
Jackie Merchant, M.Ed.
Lower School Literacy & Learning Specialist
Before joining Friends' Central in the fall of 2017, Jackie most recently worked as a reading specialist, implementing Reader's and Writer's Workshop, and differentiating instruction and assessments to meet the needs and monitor progress of both instructional and remedial learners. She holds an undergraduate degree from New England College, a Masters in Education from Temple University, and a Teacher Certification in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Jackie holds Pennsylvania certifications in Elementary Education, Secondary English, and Reading.
Middle & Upper School
Sports Counseling & Wellness Fellow
Hailing from the west coast, Brett Blackiston is excited to join Friends Central School as the Sports Counseling and Wellness Fellow this year. After graduating from UCLA, Brett made the jump to the east coast as a part of Teach for America. After finishing the program, Brett pursued his master’s degree in Sport Psychology from Capella University, gaining practical experience from his time with IMG Academy and the Philadelphia Union youth program. Brett joins us from YSC Academy, the educational affiliate of the Philadelphia Union, where he taught sports psychology and mental wellness classes to the youth athletes there. He also works as a mental skills coach and consultant with Inner-Edge Sport Psychology. He recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with his M.S.Ed in School and Mental Health Counseling in order to expand his skill set in supporting the mental wellness and holistic development of young people.
Upper School Learning Specialist
Elizabeth comes to Friends' Central School after 15 years at DV Friends in a variety of roles including Director of College Counseling, Director of Alumni Relations, English Teacher, and most recently as the Coordinator of both Service Learning and Mindfulness Education. She is a certified academic language practitioner (CALP) who provides explicit, systematic, sequential Multisensory Structured Language instruction which builds a high degree of accuracy, knowledge, and independence for students with written-language disorders, including dyslexia. She is a graduate of the College of Wooster and of Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English where her masters coursework focused on World Literature and the teaching of writing. Additionally, Elizabeth is a certified yoga teacher, a graduate of two Friends Council on Education leadership programs (SPARC and IEFSL), and has been the board president of the Mindfulness in Education Network (MiEN) since 2017. She is a student of the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn, the founder of the International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism.
Jill MacDougall, M.S.Ed.
Middle & Upper School Learning Specialist
Jill MacDougall has extensive experience teaching and supporting a wide variety of learners at the middle level. Prior to joining the FCS community in 2018 she served for 15 years as a primary & middle school learning specialist in independent and public schools in Wisconsin. Jill has training in developmental literacy, assistive technology, trauma-informed school practices, education of the gifted, and supporting executive functions in the classroom setting. Jill holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carthage College in elementary/middle education and learning disabilities, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Heather Tomes, M.Ed.
Middle and Upper School Counselor
Heather joined the FCS community in 2012, working in the Upper School Office. She earned a BA in Psychology and a M.Ed in School Counseling from West Chester University and holds Level I, Educational Specialist certification in K-12 School Counseling from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Heather is currently working towards national board certification and independent licensure as a clinical counselor. She is passionate about supporting and encouraging all students to strive for their personal best and partnering with FCS families and her fellow educators in providing a holistic education that peacefully transforms the world.