Why NFA? – A Message from the Head of School
Welcome to Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, a school of excellence full of life. As Philadelphia’s oldest Catholic and independent elementary school, NFA offers 94 years of excellence in developing students for leadership and scholarship.
Experience has demonstrated that excellence is not something that is achieved, but rather something that is consistently maintained. It is the gradual result of always striving for MORE. At NFA, we are in the continual pursuit of maintaining our excellence for our students, our families and our graduates.
NFA stands apart from other area schools. Our signature curriculum, that combines both Montessori and Primary education, provides outstanding academic preparation and placement in the area’s most prestigious high schools. Our unparalleled service learning program is central to our school’s mission and extends to all age levels. NFA’s spirited and involved parents support and invigorate our unique family community. With a 14-acre city campus and 65+ co-curricular offerings, our program rivals that of many large independent schools yet provides a small, nurturing elementary school experience for our students.
As you consider schools for your child, I encourage you to explore what sets NFA apart. I offer you the following points to help you more fully understand NFA’s unique areas of pride. I thank you for exploring our website and I invite you to witness our excellence in person by visiting our campus during an Open House or on a private tour. Upcoming Admissions events can be found here in our website. We welcome you– potential families, current parents, alums, friends and guest readers– to Norwood-Fontbonne Academy. We daily appreciate God’s gift of life to us and we are honored to share it with you.
Sr. Mary Helen Beirne, SSJ, Ed.D
Catholic and Independent
As a Catholic independent school, Norwood-Fontbonne Academy reaches beyond the scope of a parish. As a sponsored work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph (SSJ), NFA espouses clearly the SSJ mission “to live and work so that all persons may be united with God and with one another.” Each day NFA embraces its Catholicity in a manner that welcomes those of other faiths who value shared morals and ideals. Given its independence, NFA develops programs by making institutional choices based on what is best for children. NFA’s diverse student community reflects the social and economic realities of the real world and our program empowers all students to develop a social conscience, an awareness of others and a commitment to Gospel values.
Dual-Path Curriculum: Montessori and Primary
NFA’s dual-path curriculum in early education is unique in the Philadelphia area and is designed to offer families a choice for each of the different learners in their family. Our 46 year-old Montessori program is one of only six accredited programs in Pennsylvania and offers children a hands-on learning experience in a multi-age classroom environment from ages 3 through third grade. Our Primary program offers a creative, interactive experience with teacher-led activities and lessons for students ages 3 through third grade.
Signature Academic Program
Our Signature academic program that extends through Eighth Grade nurtures and challenges students to excel above grade level. When students from the Montessori program and the Primary program merge into the Fourth Grade class, they are well grounded in creative interactive learning. Our students are engaged learners, working in small groups and small classes with individualized attention at all grade levels. A focus on reading, writing, mathematics, organization, and public speaking ensures a timelessness of preparation while the emphasis on science, social studies, and technology at all levels prepares students for the ever-changing world of the future. Our diverse, talented, and highly qualified faculty are experts in Montessori, Primary, Intermediate, and Middle School education. As professionals, they offer our students a unique level of wisdom, experience, and confidence.
NFA proudly offers over 65 co-curricular opportunities annually. Available to preschool through Eighth Grade, the choices include science, drama, writing, cooking, music, art, and sports, enabling students to try, pursue and excel in their interests which extend NFA’s Signature curriculum. As a small school community of approximately 400 students, the diverse skills and talents of every NFA child are valued and encouraged. Co-curriculars are held on Norwood-Fontbonne’s 14-acre Chestnut Hill campus, a space that rivals that of larger PK- 12 independent schools, yet is for the exclusive enjoyment of elementary-age children.
At NFA, service learning is not simply outreach or charity; it is a highly-valued curricular focus that starts with our youngest students and is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The program incorporates age-appropriate lessons on care for the Earth, the elderly, children who are immigrants or poor or who learn differently, and those who are homeless and hungry. With such awareness of others, students visit persons in varied settings and then they reflect on their challenge to help shape a more compassionate and just society. NFA excels at placing a prominent emphasis on service learning at the elementary level.
Profile of the Graduate
The NFA graduate exemplifies the excellence that is nurtured, encouraged and expected. The NFA graduate is a self-directed leader who enjoys learning, lives Gospel values, makes reflective choices, and treasures oneself, others and the Earth. Our Eighth Graders are actively recruited by the best Catholic and independent high schools and are rewarded with scholarships, named awards, and financial grants. They achieve leadership positions and academic honors at their on-going schools and matriculate to the nation’s best colleges, demonstrating excellence long after their years on NFA’s campus. Throughout all their achievements, NFA graduates exemplify the commitment to social justice and social consciousness that is engendered during their early formation at NFA.
A key component of NFA’s excellence is the support, trust and involvement of our parents. Over the course of 95 years, a vibrant culture of school spirit, pride and participation has been solidified. Norwood-Fontbonne Academy believes that the family’s participation in the child’s education is essential for success. Parents appreciate regular engagement with teachers and administrators and direct access to class expectations, homework assignments, and grades through teacher websites and the electronic grade book. With nearly twenty-five family events annually, the NFA Parents Association nurtures a true sense of community throughout the entire school. Excellent home-school communication generates energy about student success and elicits community support. Families pray together at liturgies, celebrate each other at events like the Ice Cream Social or the Father-Daughter Dance, console one another on the death of a loved one, and prepare meals for families in need.