The F. Parvin Sharpless Faculty and Curricular Advancement Program (FACA), Park’s innovative program for professional development, provides teachers time and funding for intensive study that directly benefits Park students. Projects address a range of curricular and guidance issues identified as priorities for the school. Faculty work collaboratively, draw on the expertise of outside professionals, read, research, write, and discuss. The results are evident in an expansive, stimulating, and challenging curriculum that provides the best possible education for Park students.
Since its inauguration in 1989, FACA has garnered national attention as a model for professional development. In 25 years, over 1000 grants have supported 239 projects and 82% of Park’s faculty. All areas of school life — academic, athletic, artistic, social, and technological — have been studied.
"Good scholarship is exacting. It involves taking time and taking risks. The spirit of FACA is expansive and experimental, stimulating teachers to encounter new ideas and to seek breadth and depth in their knowledge. Every stage of learning—from its initial enchantment to its inevitable frustrations—is honored and celebrated."
Laura Amy Schlitz
Lower School Librarian
In summer 2016, 66 grants were made for 10 projects with 54 participants. Projects spanned one, two, three, and four weeks over the summer.
While numerous book projects have received FACA funding, four have been published to great acclaim. Lower School librarian Laura Amy Schlitz won the 2008 John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children for her collection of medieval monologues, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, originally written for her fifth grade students. With FACA support, Laura also wrote a biography, The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug For Troy. School Library Journal wrote, "[The book] paints a colorful picture of a selfish man who used his shrewdness and earned wealth to create a mythological and romantic legend. This intriguing, well-documented biography is made more compelling by information boxes on history and such literary figures as Homer." A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama received the 2006 Cybil Award for Middle School Fiction and glowing reviews in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Book Review.
Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent’s Guide to Talking Sense about Sex by human sexuality and life skills teacher Deborah Roffman was published by Perseus in January 2001. Library Journal called it an “intellectual primer [that] will appeal to parents who want to know the theoretical as well as the practical whys and hows of talking to children about sex.”
FACA was established by Park’s 75th Anniversary Campaign to celebrate and advance Park’s commitment to its faculty and to educational leadership. A $1 million challenge grant from the Joseph Meyerhoff Trusts established the original endowment. Additional funding was provided through the Nathan L. Cohen Faculty Enhancement Fund. The Campaign for Park in the mid-1990s added $1 million to the endowment, with establishment of the Louis B. Kohn II ’34 Fund for Student Life and Values, and with a gift from the Hecht-Levi Family Foundation. Additional support has come from the Lee Meyerhoff Hendler ’70 Ancillary Support Fund, E. E. Ford Foundation, and the Sheridan Foundation.