Lower School Handbook
- After-School Program
- Annual Fund
- Class Trips
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Dress Code
- Enrichment for Grades 4 & 5
- Gift Policy
- Health Services and Guidelines
- Lost and Found
- Meeting for Worship
- Parent Community
- Penns, Charters, and Quakers
- Physical Education Equipment
- Progress Reports and Conferences
- School Closings and Delayed Openings
- School Store
- Service Learning
- Support Services
- Wearable Digital Devices
- Campus Map
Please report absences to the pre-K office (215-849-1983) by 8:45 am.
Grades K - 5
Please report absences to the Lower School office (215-844-3460, ext. 118) or email@example.com by 8:30 am. Arrangements can be made for homework assignments and books to be picked up after school, or to be sent home with another student who lives nearby. If an absence is due to illness, a doctor’s note is required for absences longer than three days. If the absence is three days or less, a doctor’s note is not required.
In the case of a communicable illness, a doctor’s note is required before a student may return to school, regardless of the length of the absence. (See the Health Services section for more information.)
If parents know in advance that their child will be absent for one or more days for reasons other than illness, a parent note explaining the reason for the absence, regardless of the length of the absence, must be brought to school. Please do not plan non-essential absences (e.g. vacation trips) during scheduled school time.
The After-School Program is available to all Lower School students. It operates from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm every regular school day. Parents may contract on a full-or part-time basis.
Children in grades pre-K to 2 will be escorted from their classrooms to the After-School Program, and children in grades 3-5 will be dismissed from their classrooms.
The goal of the program is to provide children with a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. There will be a variety of activities, including outdoor play, arts and crafts, stories, music, "homework time," computers, and games. Nutritious snacks are provided every day.
Each year, every Penn Charter family is asked to make a voluntary contribution to the Annual Fund.The Annual Fund provides unrestricted support that the school can designate where it is needed most. Money raised during one academic year is used for education programs in the next academic year to ensure fiscal responsibility and not spent in excess of available funds.
Contributions are vital to the success of our academic programs and are tax deductible.
The Annual Fund represents more than five percent of the school’s annual operating budget. A robust fund is critically important to fulfilling Penn Charter’s vision.
For 2021-22, Arrival and Dismissal Is Different
Our school day will begin at 8:00 am. Students may arrive as early as 7:45 am. They will be screened at their assigned locations and walk directly to their classrooms. The school day ends at 3:00 pm. If a student is not attending enrichment or after-school program, they will need to be picked up by 3:15 pm. If your child has siblings in the Lower School, you would go to the youngest child’s assigned location. This location will be your family’s designated area.
We will continue to use a car line this year. Families will come in through their chid’s assigned entrance and faculty will open vehicle doors to welcome students. Refer to the Arrival, Dismissal and Screening Location for your child/children’s entrance location. If you have multiple children in the division, go to the youngest child’s assigned location. We will again be using SchoolPass to support our dismissal process. More information will be provided soon.
Children who must arrive at school early may report directly to their pre-K classrooms. Children may not be dropped off prior to 7:45 am. Please respect our neighbors by not parking in front of any driveways. If parking on Stokley Street, pull up as close as you can to the brick path, and if the car ahead of you leaves, pull into that spot to avoid parking near Midvale Avenue. Please do not park on or near the bend (corner of Stokley & Coulter). Parents/caregivers may also park on The Oak Road and use the side entrance of the Church of the Good Shepherd. Please be careful as cars and buses can come quickly around the corner at Stokley Street.
The K-5 school day begins at 8:00 am, and students who arrive after this time are marked late. Students who arrive after 8:15 am should sign in at the LS office and should indicate their dismissal plan. It is important that students arrive on time each morning as some grades have Special classes and other grades have morning meetings at 8:00 am. Lower School children who arrive before 8:05 am must go directly to the morning drop-off location (the playground or, in inclement weather, the Activities Room) and check in with the faculty member on duty. To ensure their safety, children may not be dropped off prior to 7:45 am. Lower School students may not visit their classrooms to drop off book bags or coats before 7:55 a.m. When accompanied by a parent, caregivers, or MS/US sibling, Lower School students may visit the cafeteria with a supervising adult before school, as long as they are then escorted by the same person to the morning drop-off location (before 7:55 am) or classroom (after 7:55 am).
Bills for tuition are sent out in July and November. We offer several payment plans that will fit your needs. Please contact the Business Office for more information. Tuition bills also include a request for a contribution of 5 percent of your child’s tuition to the Teachers’ Retirement Fund.
The flat fee for Lower School supplies for the year, as well as charges for contract lunches and transportation, is included on the November billing statement.
Bills for the After-School Program are issued at least three times a year, at the beginning of each trimester.
If you would like to celebrate your child’s birthday in school, you are welcome to contact your child’s teachers to bring in a special birthday treat, such as cupcakes, for the class.
If you choose to invite all members of your child’s class to your child’s birthday party, you are welcome to distribute invitations at school. However, if you cannot invite the entire class, we ask that birthday invitations not be distributed at school in order to be sensitive to the feelings of the students. When planning celebrations, please take extra care to avoid situations that will cause misunderstandings (for example, inviting all of the girls in a class except for one or two).
If you wish to make special accommodations to pick up students for birthday parties after school, contact the homeroom teacher and email Jenny Barone, firstname.lastname@example.org, at least one day in advance to discuss your plans.
Field trips are an important extension of the Lower School curriculum. Grade specific information will be provided by the classroom teacher. Costs for trips may vary. Some financial assistance may be available; please contact the Lower School director for more information about this.
The majority of classroom field trips are covered within Lower School tuition. Any exceptions will be communicated well in advance and financial assistance may be available. Please contact the Lower School director for more information.
Communicating effectively between home and school is a vital component of successful Lower School education. We use a mix of online and print tools to communicate between the school and parents. Classroom teachers sometimes use hard copies of notices and student paperwork, but this is less the norm.
The following communications are divided into two categories:
- communications between parents and classroom teachers
- communications between the school and parents.
If you have questions and/or concerns, you are asked to first contact the classroom teacher or teachers. In order to arrange an appointment, please contact the teacher via email, voice mail, a note, or by leaving a message with the Lower School office (ext. 118) or the pre-K office (215-849-1983). Teachers will respond within 48 hours of receiving the message.
Progress Reporting and Conferences
Student progress reports and conferences, an important component of communication to parents, are more fully explained here.
The Lower School classroom pages, found on the PC Hub, are a key communication tool and should be viewed by parents on a regular basis. Classroom pages, maintained by Lower School classroom teachers, contain information about curriculum, field trips, class celebrations, and homework (in grades where this applies), as well as photographs and videos. Links to Special Area curriculum pages can also be found in this section of the Hub. In addition, classroom teachers can email families directly about important news or events. The Parent Community also maintains a page for grades in LS where parents can find grade-specific information and reminders.
At a time when more and more curriculum resources are available online, the classroom pages provide a portal to such resources. This is particularly so for the Lower School math program, Math in Focus, which offers important online resources through the LS Math curriculum page.
Listed below are the communications that are important for Lower School life. We encourage each family to build a habit of looking at these publications and staying closely connected to the Lower School.
A paper copy of the All-School Calendar is mailed to families in July. The calendar is also available online at www.penncharter.com/calendar. The online version of the calendar is updated throughout the year as dates or times change, or as events are added; PC parents may also sign up online for electronic alerts for events of particular interest.
In early September, every family receives a printed copy of the Community Directory, a comprehensive reference of the Overseers (the school’s governing body), school administrative officers, faculty and staff, and the Alumni Society. The directory also lists Parent Community officers, class parents and standing committees, and contains an alphabetical student and family listing, class lists and zip code lists. The directory is available online and, unlike the printed directory, the online version is updated throughout the year as email, phone or address information changes.
Lower School Life
Each month during the school year, Director of Lower School Kate McCallum publishes LS Life, an online newsletter with content about Lower School curriculum, initiatives and events. The newsletter is emailed directly to your inbox during the first week of the month. The newsletter is an insight into the classroom and a source of practical information about Lower School activities and protocols.
Parent Post, an electronic mailing for families, is the primary source of school information for families, and we encourage parents to read it regularly. Parent Post contains important announcements and reminders about events, deadlines and news. In addition, Parent Post contains links to webpages maintained by the Parent Community class chairs for each grade; when the chairs want to communicate grade-specific information, reminders or news, they post that information on their webpage, with links from the Parent Post. Parent Post publishes each Friday during the academic year (the schedule is modified for winter and spring break) and the school emails families each new issue; the Parent Post is also published on the school website.
Penn Charter Magazine
Penn Charter, the school magazine, publishes twice each year and is mailed directly to alumni, parents and friends. Issues are archived on the website.
The school website at www.penncharter.com is a comprehensive source of information about daily life at Penn Charter. It contains more than a thousand pages of content about academics, arts, athletics, service and PC History – plus the school calendar, daily menu, faculty and staff directory, and news releases about PC. The Parent Portal of the website provides quick links to Lower School teacher pages, the Community Directory, this handbook and other key resources.
Penn Charter is active on many social media channels, including Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube. Lower School also has its own Twitter and Instagram. Each LS grade has have their own Instagram handles, too. This handle will travel with your child throughout their LS years, creating a collection of photos that document this special time for our youngest students. Ask your homeroom teacher for the handle for your child's class.
Video and Photo Sharing
As it has become easier, sharing videos and photographs has become an increasingly important part of our community, both in school and with families. While we have guidelines for faculty/staff/students regarding web publishing, including videos and photographs, we recognize we have to be sensitive to the varying degrees of comfort families may have posting videos/photos of their children online. The following guidelines are meant to help us with this process. We ask that these guidelines be followed when parents are taking and sharing videos/photos of Penn Charter students other than their own children:
- Ask for parental permission to take and share pictures of a student before you take videos or photos.
- If you post the photos to an online photo sharing site, please use password protection to view the set.
- If you write captions about individual students, if you must, use only first names; do not use a caption with names if it will be easy to identify the students in the photo (i.e. three boys and a girl).
- Do not tag your photos with student names.
The mission of Penn Charter states that we “develop students to act in a moral, civil and responsible manner.” A central belief of Friends schools is that each person strives to see the Light of God in themselves and in everyone else. Implied in this belief is the notion that, along with continually seeing the goodness in others, we each strive to bring our most engaged, most responsible, most compassionate self to school every day. Much of the structure of Penn Charter is based on this idea: that each person actively chooses to behave simultaneously in the best light for themselves and the community. When we join with Penn Charter, we mutually agree that we are a learning community that is based on this agreed-upon trust.
While we recognize that learning to behave in the above manner is a lifelong endeavor, the Lower School program is designed to provide our students with the necessary structure and support to thrive as members of our Lower School community. We expect our students to exemplify the values of the Restorative Practice approach where they take responsibility for their actions, and respect and care for oneself and others, the environment, and ideas.
When routine conflicts arise, we would like the first attempt at reaching an agreed-upon resolution to be accomplished by the students directly involved. Such attempts are usually monitored first by our classroom teachers, with possible support from Lisa Reedich, the counselor or "feelings teacher" for the Lower School. The approach used is guided by our social curriculum, the Responsive Classroom, in combination with the Friends manner of finding peaceful solutions to conflict. Students are often encouraged to sit at a “peace table,” use “I” statements in the discussion of the conflict, and follow the “Ice Cream Cone” steps in order to reach agreement on a mutually beneficial resolution. This is based on logical rules and consequences; following this approach, appropriate action is taken to solve each problem as it arises. We want students to learn from their mistakes and from the particular resolutions to actual conflicts. We believe the best outcome in any disciplinary action is to support students in taking responsibility for their actions, to develop empathy for others, and to teach alternative ways to solve the problems that motivated the questionable behavior. A key component to this approach is that we expect to see a decrease in conflictive behavior over time for each of our students. More serious or recurring incidents are infrequent, but when they occur they are addressed by the classroom teacher along with the Lower School administrative team: Assistant Director Marcy Sosa, Director of Pre-K Joan Rosen and Director Kate McCallum.
In Lower School, most first-time discipline problems, even those of a more serious nature, are usually viewed as mistakes in judgment that can be corrected with naturally connected consequences and then developing a plan to replace the misbehavior with a positive behavior. Students own the mistakes they have made, perform actions that heal relationships with those directly affected, restore themselves within the community, and as quickly as possible return to positive engagement with school. However, if similar problems persist and are not reaching proper resolution, then the school may take more serious action. Such action may include being held out from class, being suspended from school for part of a school day or up to several days, and, in the most egregious cases, being asked to leave the school permanently.
While each discipline problem is unique, here is a listing of behaviors which, when persisting over time, are viewed as more serious in nature:
- Misrepresenting the truth on a more continuous basis. In the case of many discipline procedures, lying about one’s involvement in the initial problem may be seen as more problematic than the original situation.
- Any physical violence or verbal violence (bullying and/or threatening) directed at others. Conflicts and disagreements should never be handled by aggressively placing one’s hands on another person and/or threatening them verbally in anger.
- Harassment or “bullying” behavior. This includes, but is not limited to, “bullying” over the Internet and/or through electronic media. Harassment or “bullying” is any recurring action that is targeted at a specific student or group of students in order to exclude them from any part of school life, belittle them within the classroom or grade community, or evoke fear of physical harm and/or emotional distress. Such behavior cannot occur in any area of school, including before and after-school programs, on the playgrounds, and during bus transit.
- Theft of school and/or personal property. Destruction of school and/or personal property.
- Inappropriate behavior while representing Penn Charter in public and/or on public and private buses.
- Plagiarism, misrepresenting other’s work as one’s own. This usually becomes more of a concern as our students reach fourth and fifth grades.
At the end of the school day children are dismissed from their classrooms to the following options: taking a public or Penn Charter bus home (see Transportation), being picked up by a parent or guardian to go home, or remaining on campus to attend the After-School Program or the Lower School Enrichment Program. The following dismissal details are given by designated grade levels.
Car Line We will continue to use a car line this year. Families will come in through their chid’s assigned entrance and faculty will open vehicle doors to welcome students. Refer to the Arrival, Dismissal and Screening Location for your child/children’s entrance location. If you have multiple children in the division, go to the youngest child’s assigned location. We will again be using SchoolPass to support our dismissal process. More information will be provided soon.
The pre-K school day ends at 2:45 pm. When picking up your child(ren), please do not park in front of any driveways. If parking on Stokley Street, pull up as close as you can to the brick path, and if the car ahead of you leaves, pull into their spot to avoid parking near Midvale Avenue. Please do not park on or near the bend (corner of Stokley & Coulter). Parents/caregivers may also park on The Oak Road and use the side entrance of the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Pre-K children attending the After-School Program are escorted to the program by Pre-K and After-School staff. Pre-K children taking a bus home are also escorted to the bus by pre-K staff.
The school day ends at 2:50 pm, and families/caregivers must pick up students in the classroom at this time. Students enrolled in the After-School Program will be escorted to the program by the After-School staff. Students taking the bus will be escorted to the buses by faculty members.
The school day ends at 2:50 pm, and students in Grades 3–5 who are enrolled in the After-School Program or Enrichment Program will report directly to those areas. Students in second grade who are enrolled in the After-School Program will be escorted to the program by the After-School staff. Students taking the bus in grades 3–5 will go to the bus duty teacher’s classroom, and will then be escorted to the buses by a faculty member.
All other students will be dismissed from the classroom and will go directly to the front of the Lower School to be picked up. Students may not go to the playground, vending machines, etc., unless they are accompanied by an adult. Students with younger siblings in K and first grade may be dismissed from their classroom to pick up their sibling(s), and then they must report to the front of the Lower School. There are two pick-up areas. Families/caregivers may park in a designated parking space and pick up students on the front steps of the Lower School. Families/caregivers may also form a car line in front of the Kurtz Center for Performing Arts with a dismissal duty teacher. Families/caregivers may not park and leave their cars in this area.
In both pick-up areas, students may not leave until they have been checked out with one of the dismissal duty teachers. In the morning, please communicate with your child as to where he/she is to report.
Additional Dismissal Information
Students who leave early must be signed out by an adult at the Lower School office. Any changes in a child’s dismissal plan must be communicated to the Lower School office and the homeroom teachers as early in the day as possible. All students should be picked up promptly after school. Students who are still at school after 3:15 pm, and who are not involved in the Enrichment or After-School Programs, will need to be signed out from the Lower School office. If students from Enrichment are not picked up after their activity ends, or if other children are still waiting at 4:15 pm, they will be taken to the main lobby in the Upper School and may be picked up there. Children may not play on the playground unless they are supervised by an adult.
Penn Charter is grounded in Quaker beliefs and tradition. Among Penn Charter’s core values is a commitment to equity and diversity. This commitment is honored by the Overseers, administration, faculty, staff, students and their families and serves as a means to achieving all the goals of a Penn Charter education. The Strategic Vision’s goal on diversity defines Penn Charter as "a place where equity and diversity are understood, represented, and valued.” Admissions, hiring goals, curriculum design and pedagogy are rooted in the school’s vision for a thriving, diverse community. An important objective is the engagement of the entire school in “honest discussions about diversity.”
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Antonio Williams, works with Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and parents to promote and support the school’s goals on diversity, helping to create a community that fosters equity, inclusion and an appreciation of diverse cultures, lifestyles and perspectives.
Each division in the school has a Diversity Coordinator and Committee that works with the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Each committee works on programming, curriculum and specific goals tailored to its assigned division.
The school-wide Diversity Committee, which includes Trustees, administrators, parents, and faculty and staff representatives, serves as a resource and sounding board, and is currently engaged in creating a five-year strategic plan for diversity for Penn Charter.
Each part of this network is committed to supporting all kinds of families, expanding the anti-bias curriculum, and honoring the voices of every member of the community.
Our dress code, in line with much of our program, is designed to guide students in the process of making solid individual choices that take into account the well-being of the community. As a Quaker school, we feel that it is appropriate for our physical appearance to be a reflection of our institutional values. Along with considering safety, we also want to reflect our belief in simplicity and non-violence. In addition, we want children to wear clothing that is affordable, neat in appearance and comfortable for participating in the variety of daily activities. Based on these values and guidelines, the following items of clothing are not permitted:
- camouflage or paramilitary items
- depictions of war or other violent acts, sayings or images
All shoes should be chosen with playground safety in mind as students will participate in recess on a daily basis. Sneakers, tennis shoes, and footwear that have both a closed toe and back or heel strap are ideal. Flip-flops and shoes with heels are strongly discouraged. All shirts and tops should cover the top of skirt or pant waistbands (no bare midriffs). Hats and hoods are permitted outdoors only.
There are several days each year which are stipulated as special dress days for all students (pre-K to 12). These include: opening assembly, concert days and some field trips. The attire for special dress days includes: collared shirts, button down shirts, knit shirts, sweaters; dresses, skirts, nice/khaki shorts, pants. Students are not permitted to wear jeans or sneakers on these days, however it is highly encouraged to bring an alternative pair of footwear for recess.
The Enrichment Program is an optional after-school opportunity, for no additional fee, for students in grades 4 and 5. It is offered for a period of eight weeks three times per year on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:15 to 4:15 pm. Intramural sports teams and a variety of extracurricular activities such as handbell choir, cooking, community service and dance are offered. Activities may vary yearly. Parents will receive information advising them of the specific choices prior to each session's starting date.
Please note that Enrichment may be cancelled due to pre-K to 12 faculty meetings.
1st Session Dates: Sept. 14 to Nov. 4
2nd Session Dates: Jan. 4 to Feb. 24
3rd Session Dates: April 6 to May 26
First and foremost, education in the Lower School is a full community affair created by our teachers, students and families. The following events are designed for the enrichment of the Lower School community and attending these events adds to everyone’s understanding and enjoyment. There are many other events throughout the year, but these are especially popular with Lower School families.
The following events will be listed each year on the school's printed All-School calendar, which is available online and can be easily downloaded to your tech device.
All-School Book Fair
The All-School Book Fair is a multi-day annual event honoring our love of reading, giving readers of all ages exposure to new books. Students visit the fair with their homeroom teachers and may purchase books at that time and/or create a “wish list” to bring home for parents and guardians to review. The Book Fair is open during the day and after school, and families are encouraged to visit the fair together. Parents/guardians are encouraged to help their children choose books that are just right for them and their families. There is no obligation or pressure to purchase books. Proceeds benefit the Lower School Library and are used to purchase more books and materials.
Within the first few weeks of school, Lower School parents are invited to meet their children’s teachers and hear about the curriculum for the year. This is also a good opportunity to meet other parents. This evening is not designed for individual parent conferences, but rather to provide an overview of the year.
Blue and Yellow Night
This evening of friendly competition gives Lower School parents an opportunity to participate in races and activities similar to the events children participate in during Color Day (below). Usually scheduled on a Saturday in May, this free evening of food and entertainment is sponsored by the Parent Community. This event does not happen every year.
Breakfast with Your Child, Fall and Winter
You are invited to join your child for breakfast in the dining hall beginning at 7:30 a.m. on these mornings.
During the last few weeks of school, each class holds a picnic for most of the day, to celebrate the end of their year together. The date and location is determined by each grade.
Color Day is an annual and cherished Penn Charter tradition. Pre-K children will be dismissed early to parents/caregivers to cheer on the teams. All children in grades kindergarten through 12 are assigned to either the blue or yellow team (and will remain on that team throughout their years at Penn Charter), and participate in events by grade. This is a family and alumni event intended to bring everyone together for an afternoon of fun, food and recreation. All students should wear blue shorts with the appropriate blue or yellow shirts. Students in grades third through fifth can wear their clothes for PE class, and students in grades kindergarten through second grade can purchase their team's color shirt at the School Store.
Drop and Stop
Several times during the school year, including in the early fall, the Lower School Community hosts a casual get-together for parents after drop-off, simply to promote a sense of community and conversation in the Lower School. Coffee and light breakfast is served in either Chigwell Close or the Lower School lobby.
This festival, organized and staffed by the Parent Community, is a chance to meet and socialize with other Penn Charter families, teachers and administrators in an informal way. Games, activities, crafts and snacks are free. The Grill Squad, a group of senior students and parents, fire up their grills to cook burgers and hot dogs for the crowd – and also to raise money for the Senior Prom's post-prom party.
Parents and caregivers of currently enrolled fifth grade students will have an opportunity to meet with the Middle School director in February of the fifth grade year.
Lower School Family Fun Night
The Lower School Family Fun Night, sponsored by the Parent Community, is an evening of free food and entertainment for Lower School families, typically held outdoors in the Spring, weather permitting. This is a great way for families to interact in a casual, fun atmosphere.
Lower School Visiting Day
Family members of children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to spend the morning with their children in classes and activities so that they can observe the school program in action.
New Student Orientation
An orientation for new students in grades 1-5 is held in September, before classes start, in the Lower School. This provides new children and their parents with an opportunity to meet their classroom teachers, as well as other new families.
Lower School grades have social events for parents at some time during the school year, usually in the fall. The Parent Social is an opportunity for grade-level parents to enjoy each others company in a relaxed, social atmosphere. The social is usually a potluck dinner, and the location is often at Timmons House on the Penn Charter campus. Parent Socials are coordinated by the grade co-chairs and PC Parent Community leadership.
The oldest continuous interscholastic football rivalry in the country, PC/GA Day (Penn Charter/Germantown Academy) is celebrated with competition of all fall varsity teams and with various social functions. Additionally, students participate in a K-12 art show at the hosting school (Penn Charter and Germantown Academy host the event in alternating years). Lower, Middle and Upper school students are encouraged to come and cheer Penn Charter’s Upper School varsity teams to victory. Parents and alumni are also encouraged to attend.
Spring Plant Sale
In early May, the Parent Community sells plants as a fund-raiser. The Lower School lobby is set up like a plant and flower shop, and parents may stop by before or after school, or during the day, to purchase potted plants or annuals ready for planting in the garden.
Valentine's Day Bake Sale
Parents hold a bake sale in the Lower School lobby and in the school dining hall on or near Valentine’s Day. Parents are asked to bake peanut-free goodies, wrap them individually, and bring them to school. Gluten free options are also available. Proceeds go to charity.
Winter Holiday & Spring Concerts
Kindergarten through fifth grade students all participate in two main concerts a year: one just before winter vacation and the other in May; the pre-K class participates in the Spring Concert. The programs are designed to share with parents the musical activities in singing, instrumental accompaniment and movement that have been an integral part of the general music experience at PC. The fifth grade chorus and the Hand Bell Choir, an Enrichment program, also perform. Concerts are special dress days for all students, pre-K to 5. The attire for special dress days includes: collared shirts, button down shirts, knit shirts, sweaters; dresses, skirts, nice/khaki shorts, pants. Students are not permitted to wear jeans or sneakers on these days, however, it is highly encouraged to bring an alternative pair of footwear for recess.
Generally, there are two times of the year when gifts are given to teachers and staff: the winter holiday period in December and the end of the school year in June. In both seasons the Quaker testimony of Simplicity should guide gift giving. While these expressions of gratitude are always appreciated, please know that they are not expected.
In December, small, individual hand-made gifts are the appropriate expression of thanks. We strongly encourage you to include your children in the creation and giving of these gifts. In June, along with small, individual gifts, each individual class may choose to give a class gift to the teacher. If this is to be done, the Parent Community representatives from each class will coordinate the effort. It is up to each family to choose to participate, but all children will be included in a class gift whether or not a family chooses to participate financially. Each family may contribute any amount up to $10.
The school nurse, whose office is located on the ground floor of the main building, is on duty during the school day.
Parents should contact their divisional office for any absences. However, please contact the health office for any unusual or prolonged medical injuries or illnesses. This will help us better prepare and support your child upon his or her return to school.
Parents are required to immediately notify the health office upon diagnosis of a communicable disease such as chicken pox, impetigo, conjunctivitis, strep throat, scabies, pinworm, ringworm or pediculosis (lice).
The school nurses are only permitted to administer emergency first aid and to assess and treat illnesses or injuries that occur during the school day. Students are not permitted to excuse themselves from school when ill, but must see the nurse for evaluation. Parents/guardians must be contacted prior to dismissal from school.
Parents are notified if a student is ill or has an injury that requires further medical evaluation. Transportation for medical evaluation is the responsibility of the parent/guardian for non-emergent situations. If a serious illness or injury occurs, the nurses will activate the 911 emergency system for transport to the hospital.
All emergency medical information must be updated yearly within the electronic form system. The health office should be updated on any changes during the school year.
In accordance with the school's drug policy, students are not permitted to carry or self-administer any prescription or non-prescription medications without prior authorization. Families must submit written documentation to the health office for notification and approval of any self-administered medications while on campus. Currently, the only approved self-administered medications are asthmatic meter dose inhalers, insulin for diabetic students and emergency anaphylactic medications (Epi-pens). All other medications must be administered in the health office and follow the medication policy protocol.
The school nurse may administer acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antacids (Tums) or sore throat/cough lozenges to your child during school hours with consent from the parent/guardian. An electronic signature authorizing this medication is requested annually.
Children are the largest population group affected by anaphylactic food allergies. At Penn Charter, we are food-allergen aware. We have instituted a team approach to educate faculty, staff and other students regarding a student's specific food allergy. Our food allergy program focuses on identification of students and developing a working individualized plan to meet their needs as a member of our school community.
Faculty and staff are instructed yearly on the food allergy program protocol, signs and symptoms of severe reactions and the use of emergency medications, like the Epi-pen. New families with children who have food allergies are required to meet with the school nurse prior to the start of classes.
Our food allergy program has proven to be effective and empathetic to the needs of all members of our community. We strive to provide a safe, developmentally appropriate environment in which the student learns to navigate his world.
More information on Penn Charter food allergy programs:
Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) have been companions of the human species since ancient times. Head lice is not associated with any disease but causes a high level of anxiety among parents of school-aged children. Although lice are not considered a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene, infestations cause a significant stigma resulting in children being ostracized from their school, friends and social events.
According to research published in 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), lice are not as contagious as previously assumed. Lice do not hop or jump; they can only crawl. Therefore, transmission at school is less likely than the home or other close head-to-head contact activities, like sleepovers. School screenings for head lice by school nurses has proven to be ineffective since it does not decrease the number of cases of head lice in the school community over time.
Penn Charter recommends that all Lower School families perform weekly head checks on their children and inform the health office for any infestation. This video on how to detect lice may help.
Head lice are small, brown insects no larger than the size of sesame seeds. They live and feed on the human scalp. The female louse lays eggs, called nits, on the hair close to the scalp. The nits, which look like tiny, whitish ovals and are firmly glued to the hair shafts, usually hatch within two weeks. If you suspect head lice, check your child's hair closely. Head lice may be hard to locate because they move to avoid light. Nits may be easier to find. If left untreated, head lice will quickly increase in number, so you should be sure to treat head lice as soon as detected.
Our school has adopted the following policy to manage an active infestation of head lice. If a student is identified with an active infestation of lice, the student will be assessed by the school nurse and returned to the class and/or dismissed to home at the discretion of the nurse. The nurse will assess siblings and may assess close contacts. Parents/guardians of all children in the affected grade will be notified when two or more cases are identified. The family will be expected to treat the infestation and must be checked by the school nurse prior to returning to school. Parents must accompany the student to this compliance exam. It is then recommended that the student's hair be combed nightly for 7-10 days to remove any nits (eggs). As an alternative to home treatments, lice-removing hair salons can assist you in the treatment of head lice. Please contact our health office for referrals.
The role of the school nurse and this policy is to inform parents regarding treatment, prevent stigmatization of the student and maintain the students/families’ privacy.
The purpose of homework in the Lower School is two-fold:
- to reinforce and enrich in-class instruction
- to help students develop the independent work habits to successfully complete assignments
Homework, which begins more regularly in second grade, varies appropriately in length and intensity by grade and subject. There is a general expectation in all grades that students will engage in reading (or being read to) for 30 minutes each night. Beyond this, the Lower School keeps homework to a reasonable amount. If you have questions or concerns regarding homework, please contact your child’s classroom or homeroom teacher.
Trask Library plays a central role in the life of the Lower School. Its mission is to promote a love of reading and to ensure that students become effective users and sharers of information and ideas. The library is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm each school day; students and families are welcome after school, as long as students are accompanied by a parent or guardian. The library also serves as the site for special meetings and gatherings that take place throughout the school year, and may close at times to support these programs.
Pre-K families should check with the pre-K teachers for missing items. For students in K-5, the Lost and Found is located in the Lower School, at the bottom of the ramp leading to Chigwell Close. Please help us return items to you by putting your child's name in all articles of outerwear clothing such as jackets, sweaters, hats and gloves, and in lunch boxes. Unclaimed items will be donated to charity at the end of each trimester.
As we become more aware of the importance of eating nutritious food, it is our desire to have children eat healthy food and to learn to make healthy choices for themselves regarding food. This is true for all children, but it is especially true for children who have attentional needs or have particular dietary needs. Typically, we do have children in Lower School who are allergic to certain foods (See Health Services and Guidelines). If a child does have food allergies, please make sure the nurse and classroom teacher are notified. We also ask everyone in our school community to be sensitive to food allergies and to make choices with food that will not endanger any other student.
Pre-K, K and Grade 1
Pre-K, kindergartners and first graders eat lunch in their classrooms. Pre-K children must bring their own lunch and snack; however, they have the option of purchasing a beverage contract. No contract lunches are provided for pre-K.
Kindergartners and first graders may bring their lunch to school or purchase a boxed lunch contract.
Students in grades 2-5 eat lunch in the school cafeteria. They may bring their lunch to school, purchase a “beverage only” contract, or purchase a lunch contract that includes hot or cold lunch options.
Sign-up forms for lunch contracts can be found in the summer mailing. Students in grades 2-5 who are not on contract can buy a complete lunch, or separate items, any day. A weekly menu is available on the main page of the website.
The Religious Society of Friends has used Meeting for Worship as its central worship process since its inception nearly 400 years ago. Meeting for Worship, usually held in a community group, is a time for silent reflection based on the Quaker belief that each person communes individually with God. Meeting is held regularly at Penn Charter and is respectful of all faiths. It is marked by periods of silence, or silence broken by the sharing of students’ or teachers’ thoughts. The individual and community aspects of Quaker worship, occurring together, stem from the Quaker belief that a life goal for each person is to stay true to oneself while at the same time working to be a fully responsible member of one’s community.
While adopting these practices, Lower School Meeting is held every Wednesday, 8:30-9:00 a.m. Lower School Meeting for Worship is respectful of all faiths. Usually, in a one-month period, students in K-5 attend two all-Lower School Meetings, one Meeting by grade level, and one Worship Sharing Meeting with a mixed group of students from each Lower School grade level (except K). Parents and caregivers will be invited to a specific Meeting for Worship with their child’s class, and are welcome to join us any Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.
Pre-K children attend Meeting for Worship once a week in their classroom.
Once a year, usually in the spring, Penn Charter has an all-school Meeting for Worship attended by every grade in the school.
The Parent Community is the parent organization at Penn Charter, working in support of our school to help make the overall experience one that is engaging, enriching and meaningful for both parents and students alike. We use the term “parents” to include grandparents, guardians or whoever is significantly involved in the student’s life. We help new families become acclimated and involved in school life; provide volunteers for school activities and events; sponsor and organize Parent Community events; and promote closer cooperation, understanding and unity of spirit among parents, administrators, faculty and staff.
The best resources for answering questions you may have about Penn Charter are your child’s classroom teacher, the administration and the Parent Community members who have volunteered as class chairs for your child’s grade-level. In addition, the Parent Community section of this website provides detailed information about the Parent Community:
- Volunteer opportunities
- Leadership and committees
- Parent Community forms
- Summaries of Parent Community Meetings
Getting Involved: Why It's Important
The Parent Community is only able to function through the efforts of parents who volunteer to help. We welcome your support in any way you can participate, from making donations for food or clothing drives, to signing up for a 30-minute time slot at an event, to serving on committees. In addition to providing needed help, volunteering is a great way to make some new friends. Please consider the opportunities and get involved in your child's school!
Each grade – except pre-K and kindergarten, which remain in classroom groups – is divided into two to three groups for special classes (art, library, music, physical education, science, Spanish and technology). The groups, which remain constant throughout the school year, are called Penns, Charters, and Quakers. Your child will be assigned to a group, and these lists are included with the class lists sent home at the end of summer.
Beginning in third grade, a uniform and a combination lock are required for Physical Education. These items may be purchased at the School Store.
Acquiring a uniform and locker is part of the larger process of helping our students better organize themselves. Supporting our students in being well organized for each Physical Education class is an important step in this process.
In the Lower School, which is a non-graded program, student assessment is an ongoing process that is meant to give a complete, fair and accurate view of the student’s learning progress and needs. This process includes regular classroom observations and feedback, classroom assessments including the benchmarking of reading progress and end-of-chapter math assessments, and standardized assessments coordinated by the Lower School learning specialist.
We value a developmental approach toward learning; thus, we strive to assess each student in relation to the individual progress each student is making. Progress reports are shared with families three times per year: November, February, and June. The reports are intended to inform parents and students about how the child is progressing in each curriculum area, within study skills, and as a member of the classroom community. They are formatted as a combination of skills checklists that provide insight into a child’s progress as related to grade-level expectations, and a brief narrative for each subject describing particular areas of progress, strength or in need of development.
In addition to the report cards, there are parent-teacher conferences held in November and March. Parent-teacher conferences are an important time to obtain a clear picture of your child’s progress and establish concise plans for future success.
Reports are meant to give students, families and teachers a clear reflection of a student’s progress to date. Reports should also assist parents in better understanding their child’s learning needs and performance, and should reflect information that has been communicated throughout the trimester or school year. We strive to partner with parents and caretakers in the education of our students. Therefore, continuous communication is expected with all parents but is especially necessary before any strong or concerning report is written.
In upper grades, students will participate in a portfolio conference, where they are encouraged to reflect on their learning and partner with teachers to set goals for their future growth and development.
School closings or delayed openings are announced on www.penncharter.com and communicated to families by email. Parents may also sign up to receive text messages. Parents may also listen to radio station KYW-1060 (school closing number 122), go online at 6abc.com or CBS3.com to check for William Penn Charter School, or call 215-844-1800 after 7:00 am to hear a recorded message for any school closing announcements.
It is Penn Charter’s policy that once open, the school will remain open for the entire academic day. On a rare occasion, we may have an early dismissal. Parents will be notified as early as possible. School personnel will supervise all children until appropriate transportation home is arranged, either by Penn Charter bus, public school bus or private car. If snow is falling and school is in session, students are not permitted to call home to request that parents pick them up from school. However, if parents feel it is necessary to pick up their children because of weather conditions, they may do so. Students will be dismissed only if there has been direct contact with a parent or guardian, and after signing out from the division's front office. A Penn Charter faculty member or administrator will be present until every student has been safely picked up by a parent or guardian.
In an event of a delayed opening, morning care will begin at 8:00 a.m.
Penn Charter students arrive and depart from school in a variety of ways, including public school and private (Penn Charter) buses, SEPTA buses and regional rail, and by car and carpooling. To arrange for public school or Penn Charter transportation, parents need to contact the PC Business Office.
All Lower School students who ride a bus are met by an adult when they arrive in the morning. Students will be escorted by an adult to the bus lane after school.
Car and Carpooling
The Penn Charter Community Directory includes all families by zip code, so parents looking to carpool can reach out to families in close proximity. Carpooling is a terrific way to build community and friendships, ease parent schedules, and save energy.
Guidelines for Guest Bus Riders
If your child is registered as a rider on a bus, he or she may exit the bus with a friend at the friend’s stop, provided the friend is also registered on that same bus route. However, both students must bring a note from their caregiver to be given to their teacher. The notes will then be given to the Division Office with the daily attendance sheet and finally to the bus driver for the afternoon trip home. If your child is registered to ride a public school district township bus and would like to bring a friend home, the friend must live in the same township and be registered to ride that bus. Permission notes will not be accepted under any circumstances unless both students are residents of the township.
For information about Penn Charter private buses and public school district and township buses, click here.
Reflective of the Quaker belief that each person has a responsibility to the larger community, the Lower School at Penn Charter participates in service projects throughout the year. Each grade is responsible for organizing and running specific service learning projects. Traditionally, the Lower School as a whole undertakes additional projects throughout the year.
One such project that most of the Lower School student and parent community takes part in is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. On this national holiday, the Lower School provides meaningful service in the Philadelphia region.
A professional Learning Support Team works with the Lower School community (students, faculty, staff and parents) around learning, social and emotional issues. The team partners with classroom teachers to help each child find success and is available to consult with parents.
In Lower School, the team consists of the Lower School learning specialist (Tamara Southerling), the Lower School counselor (Lisa Reedich), the language arts coordinator (Nina Wojtowicz), the math coordinator (Janique Timmons), and the school nurses (Debra Foley, Nancy Hirschfeld and Katie Mulrain).
Policy related to wearable digital devices that connect to wifi or cellular service in Lower School.
These tools are very helpful to families outside of the school day, however, we ask that families either keep them at home or that students turn them off during the day and keep them in their school bags. Should you need to contact your child directly, please call the main office and we will make sure that a message is delivered to your child. Fitbits, or other similar fitness tracking devices that do not have internet or cellular capabilities are welcome.
The integration of technology and curriculum is increasingly evident in the day-to-day life of our students. Lower School students are introduced to, and use, a wide range of technology tools, including interactive whiteboards, Chromebooks, cloud computing (Google Apps for Education), iPads, digital cameras and video recorders. As students grow and mature, their access to and use of technology tools also expands, along with expectations that they will use these tools responsibly and with integrity. The Lower School IdeaLab is a place for both technology skill lessons as well for student-designed projects.
All students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, receive technology instruction at least once during the blue/yellow week cycle. A key objective of the Lower School technology curriculum is to help students develop and expand their computing skills, moving from basic to more sophisticated skills (including cloud computing) as they move up through the grades. Technology skills are taught using activities in support of curriculum with an emphasis on stewardship, integrity, and good cyber-citizenship.
For kindergarten through second grade students, the focus of the technology classes is on developing basic computing skills (navigation, mouse skills. keyboard awareness). Students in third, fourth, and fifth grades hone and expand their skills through grade-level projects that include writing, research, and often multi-media presentations.
Acceptable Use of Technology Policy
The use of technology, including the William Penn Charter School network, is a privilege meant to enhance learning. Penn Charter regulates the technology program by principles consistent with the Quaker values expressed in the Mission and Philosophy of the school. Such values include honesty and integrity, the individual’s responsibility to the community, and the respectful treatment of every person. Technology users are expected and required to avoid actions that are dishonest, unkind, invasive, illegal or in other ways inappropriate.
Within the Penn Charter community, Acceptable Use of Technology Policy (AUP) provides the framework for technology instruction and use, particularly as students become increasingly more independent and collaborative technology users. Based on Quaker values, including honesty, responsibility, community, respect, and stewardship, the AUP outlines the expectations and responsibilities for using Penn Charter technology resources. While all Lower School student use of technology is supervised, we expect students in grades 3-5 to begin developing an understanding of what it means to be a responsible technology user. The AUP has been rephrased for Lower School students with age-appropriate language. Parents/Guardians should review with their third, fourth, and fifth grades students Lower School's Student Use of Technology Guidelines and Responsibilities.
Google Apps for Education in Lower School
Google Apps for Education is a suite of online tools, including documents, calendars, websites, and e-mail, used by the Penn Charter community for communication and collaboration. These tools are introduced to Lower School student, in age-appropriate ways, beginning in second grade so that students can begin to develop the skills needed for their journey through Penn Charter. These tools are introduced, during Technology classes, in a clearly defined framework with an emphasis on both skills development and the responsible, safe, and ethical use of technology.
1:1 Chromebook Program for 4th and 5th Grades
Each fourth and fifth grade student in the William Penn Charter School is given a Samsung Chromebook to use both in the classroom and at home for school-related work. For specific information about the 1:1 Chromebook Program, please click here.
Typing Club, a structured and managed web-based typing program, is used for teaching keyboarding to third, fourth, and fifth grade students. Typing Club is an educational program and is designed to help students learn to type quickly and accurately. Fourth and fifth grade students can easily access lessons using their Chromebooks both on and off-campus. Third grade students use this program on-campus.
Lower School teachers routinely use technology in their classrooms to actively engage students. Lower School classrooms are equipped with a Smart Board (interactive whiteboard), projector, and a computer. In addition, teachers have access to a wide variety of technology tools, including online tools, iPads, video and audio recorders and digital cameras, which they and their students use in a wide variety of projects.