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Seeking Solutions

By Alesha Jackson on Apr 3, 2009 08:55 AM
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyinnyc

In a lively online discussion, you responded to teachers at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, where a shift in student behavior has teachers concerned about the future of the school. Last week, Feltonville’s recently-appointed principal talked back to the school community in a public meeting with parents. Teachers also widely attended, as well as Lucy Feria, the Regional Superintendent for the North Region here in Philly. 

Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As a mentor to new teachers placed in challenging schools, I’ve grown accustomed to grimy buildings reflecting decades of wear.  Often, these schools are less than inviting with their clusters of metal detectors and thick wire covering windows and staircases; at times the buildings seem to reflect the distress going on inside. I pulled up to the school, which was set between a cemetery and an old factory, expecting a similar state.

Not so. Feltonville glows.

The gleaming corridor is filled with displays of student work.  Posters and artwork show thoughtful planning and enthusiastic response. It is obvious that there is a lot of pride in this tucked-away gem of a school.

Less than a month ago, Lucy Feria collaborated with teachers to generate an aggressive plan to improve conditions in the school. Wednesday’s brief meeting was part of a planned check-in about those developments.

Nelson Reyes, the school’s principal, addressed concerns point-by-point, noting where improvements had been made and where challenges remained.  Dismissal and lunchroom safety were topics of focus, as well as consistency in discipline and concerns over classroom disruptions. Reyes’ presentation left little time for questions, an issue some parents noted at the close of the meeting. 

The meeting appeared hopeful despite concerns: parents voiced that they hadn’t felt “heard” in the meeting, and teachers were vocal about ongoing frustrations they said continued to be pushed toward the margins.  In addition, staff and parents opposed the short notice given about the meeting date and time. 

“We’re developing deliberate structures for progress-monitoring,” said Feria, who mediated the sometimes heated interactions between teachers and Reyes.  “We are all feeling the same sense of urgency to get things done.” 

As an outsider looking in, I could see evidence of a plan in place, but wonder about the reality of day-to-day life at Feltonville.  The principal has stated his action plan, but are parents' and teachers' concerns being addressed effectively? Weigh in by posting your comment here or emailing me at aleshaj@thenotebook.org.

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Comments (7)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2009 1:19 pm

As a parent we need more support from our parents and other community members so students see and acknowledge the behavior thought in the school they belong to. We need God back into our schools.
thank you

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2009 5:14 pm

God back in our schools is your answer? And for those that don't believe in god? Following the rules that are set forth may be a better way to deal with current issues. How about parents taking an interest in their childrens lives? Or teaching what is right and wrong? That might be to easy.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2009 8:25 pm

We have to stop putting the blame on others.... What can be done school based is not toleranting certain behaviors. Comminication of expectations and carry through of reactions to an action.
Whether one has the belief in God is a personal matter. Remeber seperation of school and state. Start with a pledge.Get the words right and practice living it.
It is also about respect for one self first, and then others.

Submitted by Down in the Basement (not verified) on April 4, 2009 8:34 am

What are you talking about...?

You do have God back in the schools...

Her name is Arlene Ackerman...

In fact, with her enormous salary...she would have to be God...

She makes more in salary than the Mayor, President of the United States, or the District Attorney...

With that salary, you would think the district would have a higher graduation rate.

As of now, Philly has a 50 percent drop out rate...

Way to go...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 5, 2009 9:43 am

I am disappointed at the tone and level of responses to this new article about Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences. This is especially upsetting because most of the responses to the original article were thoughtful and heartfelt.

Submitted by Erika Owens (not verified) on April 5, 2009 2:25 pm

I think a lot of people already expressed themselves (and continue to!) on the original post, so you're reading posts from people who don't have the same familiarity with the situation.

Do you have any updates to add on this post? It has many fewer responses than the original post, so you have a great opportunity to direct the dialogue in the way you would like. The first poster started a thread about God in schools, what thread would you like people to discuss?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 17, 2013 4:45 am
Good job. Thanks for the discussion. Wonderful writing. black hermes bag

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