New Beginnings at Penn Charter

New Beginnings at Penn Charter

Dear Penn Charter Families and Students, 

The harbingers of autumn are in full swing at Penn Charter as we prepare for the start of the 334th academic year of this exceptional school. It is with joy and anticipation that I welcome you back to campus – and for those of you who are joining us for the first time, I extend my warmest welcome. It is my hope that you will share my burgeoning passion for this special community.

When I officially began my tenure in early July, I was overwhelmed by the support of the entire PC community. Not only have many of you stopped by the campus this summer with warm greetings, but many of our families also have greeted me in the community to express enthusiasm for the upcoming year. I share your excitement and am eager to start this year. I look forward to getting to know each of you as we walk alongside one another on this educational journey, and establish relationships that are based on trust and a shared commitment to your children. 

Over the past year, I have visited campus on several occasions and spent quality time listening to students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and trustees about areas of importance to Penn Charter and what they hold close. Through my visits and interactions with so many of you, as well as our incredible OPCs, it is evident that the ideas and values instilled by Penn Charter have positively impacted many thousands of lives. Now, after eight short weeks of immersing myself in all things PC — listening, learning, asking, planning and strategizing — I am struck by the breadth and depth of knowledge, expertise and experience of my faculty and staff colleagues, and eagerly await our students’ return.

We are honored that you have entrusted your children to Penn Charter. As the world’s oldest Quaker school, Quaker values are at the heart of everything we do and expect of our students and each other. It is a privilege to play a role in our students’ development, and we deeply value and benefit from all they teach us. We continue to be in awe of who they are and who they are becoming.

Our commitment to enlivening the spirit, training the mind, cultivating the aesthetic, and developing the body is a living philosophy. This centuries-old, holistic approach to education endures and continues to position students to live lives that make a difference in an increasingly complex world. You have chosen a school that nurtures and prepares students who are able to thrive amidst this complexity and who will change the world for the better. Without question, Penn Charter offers the best possible environment for today’s students: an academically excellent education centered in a spiritual tradition that values each individual’s diverse strengths while also cultivating a sense of purpose and service. 

As I begin my tenure as head of school, I have mapped out several strategic priorities that will build upon the school’s firm foundation established by my predecessors. Among those priorities are supporting students so that we can ensure they have the highest quality and most meaningful experience, both inside and outside of the classroom; cultivating a teaching and learning environment that encourages innovation, inquiry and interdisciplinary learning; and continuing to lift up and embrace our PC community, including our families, students, faculty, staff and our OPCs.

As we continue on our path forward, we will be guided by our recently-created Portrait of a Penn Charter Learner. Developed over a yearlong process by PC faculty and staff representing all three divisions, and approved by school leadership in spring 2022, the Portrait will support our efforts as we assess and rethink what education looks like at PC now and in the future. It provides a common language and vision and honors the developmental range of our students and their experiences as they move through each division; it will allow us to clearly and consistently articulate our mission and serve as a guidepost for reflection. We will use the Portrait to inform our decisions as we create educational experiences that will equip our students with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of our ever-changing world. 

As the year progresses, you will notice that faculty and staff are gradually incorporating key elements of the Portrait into their work – specifically, the four core domains that were purposefully and intentionally identified during the Portrait’s development: Courageous Learner, Compassionate Friend, Constructive Communicator and Change Cultivator. 

This year, we welcome 147 new students and their families to the Penn Charter community, raising our student population to more than 1,000 scholars – the most in the school’s history. As we reach this milestone, we remain steadfastly committed to our robust academics, and a distinctive, holistic student experience. As a fellow newcomer and the first woman to occupy the head of school role at Penn Charter, I share in the excitement of this milestone. I have learned a great deal from groundbreaking women role models who have inspired and influenced me; I welcome the weight of this responsibility with its potential to awaken aspirations in all students. 

Now, we turn our attention to our passionate and caring students who will arrive on West School House Lane in the coming days, ready to share their summer experiences with friends and teachers, and prepared to dive into all that PC has to offer. As we move ahead, you can expect regular outreach from me, as well as opportunities for in-person engagement. Please don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the year with questions, concerns or ideas. I believe our community will be strengthened by our shared goals and reinforced through steady and constructive dialogue.

This is a tremendous time for Penn Charter, and I am grateful for your partnership as we begin this journey together.  


Karen Warren Coleman
Head of School

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