Service Learning

Service-learning courses work closely with Penn Charter's Center for Public Purpose and combine stewardship with academic instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking, and personal and civic responsibility. These courses expose students to people, communities and resources that form the East Falls neighborhood and the city at large. The purpose is to enhance learning experiences by collaborating with community partners to identify and address needs within the community. By combining academic theory with practical real-life experiences, service-learning provides students with a broader and deeper understanding of the course content, fosters their sense of civic engagement, and encourages personal reflection and intellectual humility.



American Studies is an interdisciplinary course that seeks to explore American culture and identity through the intersection of history and literature and satisfies the graduation requirements of United States History and English XI. Collaboratively, students and teachers build and design curriculum. This course encourages student inquiry and the development of multiple strategies for responding to their own and others queries. It challenges students to listen carefully to each other, build on each others' ideas and experiences, and create new meaning and relationships with each other and with the material. Collaborative discussions and projects with Advanced Placement English, other departments, and organizations beyond Penn Charter are also objectives. The culminating experiences include the Junior Capstone project and the term paper. (11th grade)



This course provides further practice for students interested in improving their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The textbooks Imagina (2015 edition), Revista (2014 edition), and Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice (2014) are used as aids to provide an active learning experience while strengthening language skills. Each lesson presents a discussion topic, which is supplemented by various readings, videos with native speakers and a film at the end of each unit to encourage independent thinking and stimulate class discussion, as well as broaden vocabulary and improve grammar in context. Students will also be exposed to current events articles in order to explore current themes as they relate to the Spanish-speaking community as well as the global community. As such, class discussion will be an integral component of this course, and students will be expected to fully engage with their classmates and teacher in order to make connections with the content as well as maximize their use of the target language. Students will also be given opportunities through various assignments to explore aspects of the Spanish-speaking world that interest them most. One of the primary goals of this course is to aid students in becoming global citizens, an essential 21st century learner skill. In addition, a service-learning component forms an integral part of this course. Regular attendance at the service site, maintaining journal entries and a final project will be key elements of the service-learning component. Prerequisite: minimum grade of B in Spanish, Level IV and/or departmental approval.

PE921, PE922, PE923, PE924


This independent study course encourages students to learn about themselves while providing a particular area of service to a local school or community partner by aiding or collaborating on  an after school project, extracurricular program or introduction of a particular activity. Community partners and possible programs can be explored with the assistance of the Health and Physical Education Department chair as well as the Center of Public Purpose. Students are responsible for completing a minimum of 16 hours of volunteer time, maintaining a daily journal of visits, and developing a final project or product that explores physical activity within the context of the needs, strengths and dynamics of the community partners. Placement in this course is determined by the department chair and needs prior approval before selection. Under normal circumstances, this course cannot be used in place of a level 600 PE course. (11th, 12th grades)

R301, R302


This course explores the history and testimonies of Friends, including simplicity, equality, community, nonviolence and integrity. Beyond this grounding in Quakerism and its modern applications, students will engage in critical writing, speaking and reflection. Students will participate in a bi-weekly service project and reflect on how Quaker beliefs are translated into a pursuit for social change in our community. (Open to second semester 9th graders and all 10th graders. Must be completed before end of 10th grade.)



This course will examine the U.S. civil rights movement in a broad context of 20th-century social movements, with particular emphasis on how the African American freedom movement intersected with and influenced debates about equality, democracy and social justice from the civil rights era ('50s-'60s) to the present day. A major focus of this class will be how religion has inspired movements for radical social, political, economic and ecological change throughout history. In addition, the nature and use of nonviolence will be a central theme as we study the different social movements that brought about significant social change in the nation. The basis of our studies will involve the individuals, organizations, events, legal developments important to the development of civil rights justice, speakers representing leadership and local community groups and fieldwork sites. Students will engage with the course material through a combination of readings, films, images, class discussions and lectures. (11th, 12th grades)



This course will explore the moral dimensions that stem from the relationships between humans, nonhumans and the natural world. Philosophical positions such as conservationism, deep ecology, social ecology and how different religious and secular ideologies contribute to or alleviate our environmental crisis. We will also explore the applied ethics of expanding our human population, animal rights, climate change and the connections between ecological damage to human poverty and conflicts. Students will also be engaged in local environmental projects and stewardship practices both on and off campus during selected long blocks. (11th, 12th grades)



We will examine education in the city of Philadelphia by exploring its history, controversies and prospects for the future. Students will work biweekly with an ESOL class at Taylor Elementary. At Taylor and through our course study, we will examine and experience project-based learning. In addition, we will take a daylong field trip to a variety of innovative schools in the city. Speakers representing a variety of perspectives will come into the classroom on a regular basis, as well. Grading will be based on regular classroom discussions, journaling, participation and a final project. (11th, 12th grades)

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Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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