by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Anthony Majewski learned at an early age what it means to lose trust in the powers that be.
As a 6th grader, he says he was "jacked up" by a math teacher who told him he was "never going to be anybody."
"Like, he actually jacked me up, and put me up against the wall, 'cause I don't sit still too well," Majewski, 44, said, chuckling. "I don't think they had ADHD back then."
Although he laughs it off now, that moment forged the educational philosophy of the man who is now principal at the Philadelphia School District's Hill-Freedman World Academy.
Dimner Beeber Middle School was headed for extinction.
Since it was barely a quarter full and posted poor academic indicators, the District planned to close it and send a few hundred Beeber 7th and 8th graders to nearby Overbrook High School.
But for Raynae Bosley, a rising 8th grader, Beeber was working.
In 7th grade, she said, “all of the teachers didn’t give up on me and they kept getting me up to the next level.”
“I really didn’t want the school to be closed at all.”
With the new school year just about a month away, parents and students will prepare by attending the District’s Family and Education Reunion, better known in past years as the Back to School Expo or Extravaganza.
The event will be held on Friday, August 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the High School of the Future, 4021 Parkside Avenue. Thousands of parents, students, and community members will converge on the school grounds for a day filled with food, educational workshops, interactive activities, entertainment, and lots of giveaways, including the perennial favorite, free book bags, donated this year by Office Depot. According to the District, about 6,000 of the bags will be given out along with other school supplies.
This is a guest blog, and the ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author. The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Susan Gobreski
Philadelphia is in transition again. District leaders have said that they want to create more high-quality seats and more choices for families, and give schools more autonomy in how they structure academic programs and culture. There is discussion about reorganizing schools -- re-aligning grade configurations, closing some places and expanding others -- and the role of charter schools in the district’s future.
How do I get started?
Talk to the adults in your life, including teachers, counselors, and parents or guardians. Review the articles and school profiles in this guide. Get a copy of the District’s high school directory published every fall and meet with your counselor. Seventh and 8th graders should attend the High School Expo, scheduled this year on September 28 and 29, where all District and charter schools are represented and you can ask questions. In October, the Philadelphia School Partnership will launch its website, greatphillyschools.org, from which you can get information on academics, extracurricular activities, graduation rates, college enrollment, safety and other factors.
There are some glimmers of progress. The percentage of Philadelphia high school graduates who enroll in college immediately after finishing school is on the rise, from 40 percent in 2008 to 44 percent last year.
"It's low, but I definitely think we're moving in the right direction," said Fran Newberg, the District's deputy for accountability and technology
“This lets the city of Philadelphia know that the District is investing in the growth of high-quality, high-performing school options,” said Penny Nixon, chief academic officer.
A total of 1,802 seats will be added in 11 high schools, all of which are either special admission or citywide admission schools. In six elementary and two middle schools, 470 seats will be added. All of the schools are highly rated, with scores of 3 or better on the District’s 10-point School Performance Index (SPI) scale. On that scale, 1 is the top score.
As a recently created high school preparing to graduate its first senior class, the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush in Northeast Philadelphia is just beginning to establish a sporting tradition.
If the school is lucky, it will someday have a legacy to equal that of its principal, Jessica Brown.
A three-time collegiate All-American in lacrosse and a standout field hockey player, Brown was inducted into Kenyon College’s athletic Hall of Fame in September.
The Notebook gathered data including enrollment, student demographics, attendance, and test scores. You can view a PDF of the center spread of data from the print edition, and spreadsheets of District and charter data.