October 2017

From the Director's Chair

Peace as a way of being, feeling, interacting in Lower School ...

While it may feel like summer, Lower School has settled into the rhythm and hum of late September where students feel ownership and engagement in their classrooms and parents can finally take a deep breath knowing that another year was launched successfully. This is one of my favorite times of year, when the weather cools down but the energy and enthusiasm of students and teachers alike continues to grow.

On Back-to-School Night, I shared two quotes: the first from Head of School Darryl Ford’s opening meetings with faculty and staff, and the second, from a discussion with my husband as we navigate the beginnings of our daughter’s toddlerhood.

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.”  Unknown

“Strong-willed children often grow into strong-willed adults who become world leaders, world shapers, and world changers. Parenting them peacefully is not only possible, it is imperative. Sowing peace in their hearts now while they’re in our care grows a future of peace later when the world is in their care.” L. R. Knost

I share them one more time because as I continue to learn more about Lower School and the Penn Charter community, I realize that these two frameworks are at the heart of the teaching and learning that happens each day. We live the Quaker testimony of peace each day by working with you to help children know and practice what it means to embrace peace as a way of being, a way of feeling, and a way of interacting that builds confidence and a sense of belonging. It is practice across grade levels; from the feeling of “a warm blanket” described by a pre-K parent, to brain breaks and energizers in first grade, all the way up to the cooperative team-building challenges posed on the fifth grade camping trip.

This is most evident in the way our teachers use Responsive Classroom as a framework for launching the school year, and a practice throughout. This evidence-based approach to teaching and learning focuses on all aspects of the Lower School, including engaging academics that value student choice, routines that promote autonomy and independence, and intentional community-building and language focused on honoring each individual child. Responsive classroom is a vital component of our efforts to instill a sense of calm and peace in our students while also helping them learn to maintain this composure in the face of adversity. The passionate work done over the summer by 11 Lower School faculty members through a VITAL grant is evident in the launch of the school year, and continues through the work of the Responsive Classroom Committee. I am grateful to be part of a community with such intense focus on creating an academic, social and emotional space for children to grow and thrive!

Spotlight on… our faculty authors and illustrators!

The faculty and staff here at Penn Charter are a multi-talented and passionate group of professionals. In addition to their outstanding professional practice and commitment to lifelong learning, many of our teachers bring their talents from outside the classroom into the work they do with students each day.

Monique Durso, one of our second grade team members, has always dreamed of writing children’s books. While looking for a book on Quakerism for her son, she realized that there were few to be found. With this in mind, Monique wrote the text for a book on Quakerism that could be shared with Lower School students. She then arranged for her students to work closely with the Center for Public Purpose and Alyson Goodner’s Upper School Quakerism class to design and illustrate an interactive picture book that includes moving parts and LED lights to emphasize elements of the Quaker testimonies. As a result of their hard work, CulinArt, which provides our dining hall service, has provided a donation to help publish the text!  We look forward to seeing how this project continues to grow and flourish.

In addition, Michelle Dowd partnered with the Global Philadelphia Association to author and illustrate the "Philadelphia World Heritage Coloring Book.” The third grade team will be using the text as a wonderful teaching tool in their social studies unit on Philadelphia in the coming years! The book is being passed out all over town, including to visitors at the Philadelphia International Airport. First printing 15,000, and second printing in the planning!

I hope that your year has gotten off to a great start! I look forward to our partnership in helping your child to have an outstanding 2017-2018 school year. Please plan to join us on the evening of October 20 for a special announcement!

Kate McCallum
Director of Lower School

In the Classroom

Penn Charter is unique in the fact that we have a technology coordinator whose sole focus is the Lower School students and faculty. Working in the Lower School IdeaLab, Daniel Stahl has launched an exciting curriculum that begins with developing digital citizenship across grade levels, and provides a wide range of hands-on learning experiences utilizing technology to create and solve real-world problems.

The focus for the beginning of the year is on ensuring that all of our students are learning, exploring and staying safe online and becoming upstanding digital citizens.The digital world in which our kids are learning and growing up is incredibly exciting. Through technology, kids have access to new tools, to an incredible range of resources, and to stimulating opportunities to participate in novel ways. At the same time, teaching and parenting kids who are immersed in so many different technologies and apps can be daunting. At Penn Charter, we are teaching our students to:

  • think critically and evaluate online sources;
  • protect themselves from online threats, including bullies and scams;
  • get smart about sharing: what, when, and with whom;
  • be kind and respectful toward other people and their privacy;
  • ask for help from a parent or other adult with tricky situations.

Be sure to ask your child about the exciting work they are doing in the IdeaLab working with Mr. Stahl!

Join Us!

Friday, Oct. 20, 6-8 pm; Dooney Field House
Food, fellowship, illuminating conversations and student performances when Head of School Darryl J. Ford reveals the plan for Penn Charter's future and the campaign that will fund it. Look for your invitation in the mail and join us. RSVP and sign up for child care

First Day in Pre-K and Kindergarten

More pre-K and kindergarten "first day" photos

Fall Festival Rocked!

More Fall Festival photos

Save the Dates

  • 10/6: No School, Pre-K to 12; Sign up for full-day child care if you need it.
  • 10/11: Specials Night
  • 10/20: Capital Campaign Kickoff
  • 10/27: Family Visiting Day & LS Movies that Matter
  • 10/31: Halloween Parade
  • 11/3: End of Q1
  • 11/6: No School for Students (Faculty workday)
  • 11/20: No School, Pre-K to 12, Parent Conference Day
  • 11/21: No School, Faculty In-Service Day




By the Light of Our Charter, How Far Can We See? – our new campaign unveiled!
Scores, MVPs, photos.
Friends and family honor five student-athletes.

Calendar Events

    • FriNov17 Winter varsity and JV sports begin
    • MonNov20 No classes pre-K to 12
    • MonNov20 Pre-K to 12 parent conferences
    • TueNov21 No classes pre-K to 12
    • TueNov21 Pre-K to 12 faculty in-service day service day
    • WedNov22 School closed
    • ThuNov23 School closed
    • ThuNov23 Thanksgiving Day
    • FriNov24 School closed
    • SunNov26 Yellow week
    • MonNov27 Middle School sports begin
    • WedNov29 Fall Sports Awards Presentation (KC) 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
    • FriDec01 Lower School Breakfast with Your Child (DH) 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM
    • FriDec01 4th grade parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • SatDec02 SAT Reasoning Test & SAT Subject Tests
    • SunDec03 Blue week
    • MonDec04 Upper School Parent Forum (OR) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • TueDec05 11th grade parents College Kickoff Night (MR) 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
    • ThuDec07 Parent Meeting for Worship (MR) 8:15 AM to 8:45 AM
    • FriDec08 Kindergarten parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • FriDec08 Parent Community Executive Committee meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • SatDec09 ACT Test

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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