Good school stories.
I mentioned to a friend that I had visited some great schools recently as part of a PCCY "successful schools" project. My friend turned to me and said, "In Philadelphia?" Ouch. Yes...in the Philadelphia public schools! Each time I walked away thinking, "Everybody should see this place!" and "Who wouldn't want their kids to go here?" Calm places, active, engaged classrooms and well-behaved youngsters. Teachers and other staff comfortable with visitors, even the principal hanging around their rooms. Folks were proud of what they were doing. There were interesting similarities among them:
-Stable principals and staff with a "let's figure this out together" mentality
-Lots of work being put into using available resources to keep class sizes small and let teachers talk and plan together
-Multiple partnerships with outside organizations to bring in additional resources.
-Lots data that’s now available put together so that is useful, not just a pile of paper and numbers.
Each was also unique:
Meade, near Temple, has developed terrific partnerships with organizations to make sure arts are a big part of the school program.
Fairhill, in a large Latino neighborhood, has nurtured strong relationships with its parents, sponsoring meetings to help families out with their needs, developing a strong trust in the school's ability to take good care of their kids.
Kearny, on the edge of Northern Liberties, finds creative, fun, ways to push literacy and higher order thinking skills while using all of its resources to keep class sizes small.
E.M. Stanton persistently reviews benchmark data, to inform not only the instructional practices, but also to empowering students to be in control of their own successes.
We have to wonder why schools like this are not only highlighted more often, but why their "secrets" are not shared more with others. A lot depends on the quality of leadership. Are we doing the best at helping these good leaders grow more? How many other fine schools are out there that never get “their day in the sun?”