- LS Life
Dear Lower School Families,
Welcome back! We have been anxiously awaiting your return and are excited for another incredible school year here in the Lower School. It was an absolute joy to see the students return yesterday morning, and I look forward to watching and supporting their growth throughout the year. (And, the day before, it was a joy to welcome our newest Lower School students, many of whom are shown here in Chigwell Close.)
As we head into this new year, I'd like to share some of the brilliant work that was done over the summer by faculty and staff. While summer may seem like a more relaxed time for teachers, we were fortunate to participate in a wide variety of professional development this summer as teachers traveled far and wide, and met here on campus, to add to their teaching toolbox.
- Monica Freely, Kellyn Zeuner and Whitney Kerner spent a week at Columbia University at the the 36th Annual June Institute on the Teaching of Writing, and Jill Einbender attended the 25th Annual June Institute on the Teaching of Reading later in the summer.
- Jessica Stusnick-Czyzewski began her Wilson Reading System Training at AIM Academy and will continue this work in the coming year.
- The second grade team (Monique Durso, Joel Eckel and Sue Shelly) as well as Marcy Sosa and Dan Stahl won a Penn Charter VITAL grant to attend the Buck Institute for Education to focus on enhancing project-based learning and will utilize this in their Costa Rica study and work with PC’s Center for Public Purpose.
- Naveena Bembry traveled to Japan on her 20-year travel grant and connected with Tokyo Friends School, in addition to other learning experiences related to the testimonies of Peace and Community. We are excited to see all that she brings to her Social Studies curriculum this year as a result!
- 13 Lower School teachers attended the week-long Responsive Classroom Course or Advanced Course in Wayne, Pa., this summer, continuing the work done last year.
- Our divisional work prior to the start of the school year also focused on continuing to develop a new reports framework, and providing additional learning opportunities for students related to recess and play.
One of my favorite things about Penn Charter is our commitment to ongoing learning and a strong emphasis on growth mindset. While these formal professional development opportunities highlight much of what was done over the summer, this does not account for all of the work that individual teachers did personally to continue to develop their practice.
I am excited to see what this summer work looks like in classrooms and for student learning and engagement!
Social Media Insights
To share more with you about Lower School teaching, learning and events, we will renew our social media efforts. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Each grade also has an account; the address, or handle, is pcclassof plus the graduation year.
You can also follow the art teachers' account, or the technology account:
Bus Expectations and Safety
As we enter into one of the most exciting times of the school year, we thought it might be helpful to revisit the rules and expectations for students riding the bus to and from school, as well as on field trips. Please take some time to review these with your child: Bus Expectations and Rules for 2018-2019.
Also, I have been asked to offer two important reminders for parents and caregivers:
1. In the mornings, please be sure to have your child at his/her bus stop at least five minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time. This makes it possible for each subsequent student pick-up to occur on time.
2. If at any time you would like to arrange for your child to get off the bus in the afternoon with another student, and not at the regularly designated stop for your child, then the school must receive written notification from both you and from the other student’s parents or caregivers. For the safety of all involved, we must adhere strictly to this policy.
New Faculty and New Roles
We are incredibly lucky to have talented educators join our team, and to have a few others in new roles. Below, please see more information about each of these individuals and their role this school year.
Sarah Black, fifth grade reading teacher: Sarah has spent many years working at Penn Charter and returns to us full-time as the newest member of the fifth grade team. Sarah graduated from Brown University and earned her master's degree from Columbia University Teachers College. She has experience teaching in almost every lower school grade and holds teaching certifications in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York.
Indira Corales, fifth grade Spanish teacher: Indira joins us from Pittsburgh and will be teaching fifth grade and Upper School Spanish. Indira is originally from Chile, but moved to the United States to study music performance at Carnegie Mellon University. Indira holds a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University, where she majored in Spanish, and she earned a master's in teaching foreign language from the University of Pittsburgh. Indira is certified to teach in Pennsylvania and has taught all levels of Spanish.
Clare Dolan, first grade teacher: Clare returns as a lead teacher in first grade after spending the past year in the assistant role. She joined us last school year from Raleigh, N.C., where she was a third grade teacher for two years at Thales Academy. Clare is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she majored in elementary education.
Monica Freely, kindergarten teacher: Monica has joined the kindergarten team as a lead teacher in partnership with Lindsay Franklin after eight years of experience with Reggio Emilia as a teaching assistant in our pre-K. Monica earned a bachelor's degree in communication from Seton Hall University and a master's in early childhood education from Chestnut Hill College; she is certified to teach K-4 in Pennsylvania.
Crystal Jean, teaching assistant: Crystal will serve as an assistant teacher in our Lower School. She has over 25 years of experience in childcare and early childhood education, including positions of assistant director and director in child care centers, as well as lead teacher for the Philadelphia School District's comprehensive daycare, Head Start, and Pre-K Counts programs. She holds a bachelor's degree from Chestnut Hill College in early childhood education and childcare management, and a master’s in education from West Chester University.
Millie Lockyer, pre-K teaching assistant: Millie will join our pre-K program and serve as an assistant teacher in Megan Kafer's classroom. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Temple University and holds Pennsylvania teaching certificates in early childhood and elementary education. Prior to coming to Penn Charter, Millie worked for over 10 years as a Pre-K Counts teacher at Special People in Northeast, a nonprofit organization for individuals with special needs.
Kirsten Tiroly, music teaching assistant: Kirsten joins our Lower School team as an assistant teacher in our Music program. She will also assist with morning drop-off and usher our youngest learners from the bus lane to the Lower School building each morning. Finally, she will conclude each day by working in our After-School Program as a member of Kathy MacMurray's team. Kirsten recently graduated from Temple University, where she majored in Music Education.
Linh Tran, pre-K teaching assistant: Linh will serve as a pre-K assistant teacher in Caroline Studdy's classroom. Linh first became familiar with our pre-K program back in 2010 when her daughter was enrolled. Since then she has served as a volunteer. Previously, Linh worked as an architect, designing and planning university buildings and campuses. She earned a master of architecture degree from Yale University and a bachelor of arts and science degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Last, but certainly not least, Marcy Sosa will continue in the role of literacy coordinator and will take on the additional title of Assistant Director of Lower School, in partnership with Charlie Kaesshaefer. Marcy has been a critical member of the Lower School Learning Team for over a decade and brings both her experience and expertise in a variety of areas to this role. She will also serve as the point person for Lower School while I am out on maternity leave (for approximately three months later this year). Baby McCallum is expected around the winter holidays, and we know that Lower School will be in excellent hands while I care for the newest addition to my family.
With that, I think I’ve exhausted the critical and exciting information necessary to share for our opening days. We are thrilled to have you back on campus! We look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks!
Director of Lower School
P.S. Important dates to mark on your calendar:
- Lower School Back-to-School Night: Monday, Sept. 17, 7 pm
- New Parents Reception: Saturday, Sept. 15, 4-6 pm, Head's Residence
- Kindergarten Parent Social: Friday, Sept. 14, 6-8pm, Timmons RSVP
- Pre-K Parent Social: Saturday, Sept. 22, 6-8 pm, Timmons