What Is the Penn Charter Difference? 

A Fully Integrated Pre-K to 12 Curriculum

Penn Charter offers a fully integrated curriculum, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, designed to develop a student's mind, body, heart and spirit.This curriculum is the map we use from one grade to the next, guiding students as they gain knowledge and master skills, step-by-step, with ever-increasing depth and sophistication. The core of these essential skills includes analytical reading and clear writing: the use and understanding of mathematical concepts; the ability to use the tools of observation, inference and logic; and the development of creativity and physical potential.

At our private school in Philadelphia, we urge students to engage in the challenges of their education with pride in their intellect, persistence, commitment and a sense of wonder.

Voices from the PC Community

Dive Into Our Academic Programs

A couple of Lower School boys working on an architecture class project with straws.

Lower School

A program of cognitive and character development rooted in a rich knowledge of how young children learn best.

We know that children learn best when ideas are connected. We know that children learn by doing and by working together. So, our curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary, collaborative, hands-on learning. Our students ask questions, think critically, write effectively, listen carefully and put all those pieces together.


Two middle school girls walking on campus with lacrosse sticks.

Middle School

Fostering intellectual, physical and emotional growth through an age-appropriate curriculum and a facility designed to support our learners.

Our curriculum, taught by a faculty devoted to teaching ages 11-14, reflects a department-based program enhanced by cross-cultural themes and projects with true intellectual weight. Students begin immediately to undertake tasks calling for more personal organization, study skills, critical thinking, and independent and group work.

Upper School students playing trumpets in a band.

Upper School

What would it mean to work at the edge of what you already know? To step out beyond the safe answers and the talents that have always come naturally? To pursue ideas with real depth?

Our vigorous college preparatory program is rooted in the breadth of the arts and sciences as well as new fields of inquiry and skills such as environmental issues, global awareness, commitment to community and technology.


The Penn Charter Difference

Three A's: Academics, Arts, Athletics

Too often academics, arts, and athletics are pitted against one another. Penn Charter recognizes the worthiness of each. We’re a school with nationally recognized teachers and students in the sciences, visual arts, history, literature, music, writing, mathematics, languages and theater. We have a proud history of championship athletics with graduates who go on to be professional sports stars, Olympians, and NCAA recruits. Students here have mentors, programs, and state-of-the-art spaces in all three of our hallmark three A’s. Some achieve great heights in one area or another but every student has an extraordinary education in the process.

Quaker Moral Compass

Our Quaker values are about who our students are as developing adults. Our students are people who will run companies, shape economic policy, design new technologies, make scientific breakthroughs, and mentor future generations. When they are in these positions of power one day, we want them to be people who can use the Quaker values they learned at this school to inform their decisions. Simplicity and excellence. Tolerance and accountability. Reflection and rigor. These are the directions our Quaker compass takes students. It is an education that is more valuable in today’s world than perhaps ever before.

Reinventing Classic

A banner that reads %22Let Your Life Speak%22 at William Penn Charter School.

A classic education has always been about gaining the keys of knowledge to unlock any door. In short, access to the world.

The difference at Penn Charter is that along with classic academic keys, we give students a Quaker moral compass to guide them and friends of all backgrounds with whom to travel and explore the world. We integrate the power of arts and athletics into a vigorous academic experience. We give students a culture of service and leadership in which to grow.

Classically educated, only better.

A History of Access

When you walk through Penn Charter’s red doors there’s a reason our formal-looking school suddenly feels down to earth. Penn Charter was founded not for some people but for all people. It was one of the first schools to educate children of all religions and races, to educate girls, and to offer financial aid. It was a school for the public at a time when public schools didn’t exist. Today, families from more than 100 zip codes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, from all backgrounds, cultures, faiths, and means are at home at Penn Charter. Our history of access has evolved over three centuries; this school was founded for the new world and that is as true today as it was in 1689. 

7 high school students cluster arm in arm looking at camera. Photo is from 1998.
Boys soccer game in foreground with school building and clock tower in background.

Timeless Skill Set

It is the combination of the three A’s – academics, arts, and athletics – plus the decision-making values of a Quaker education that creates an experience uniquely Penn Charter. And it is the embrace of this unique combination that gives our graduates a thinking skill set to excel. It is the reason they thrive at top colleges and make an impact in every field. Self reliance, healthy risk-taking, leadership, and a sense of responsibility to use one’s individual strengths and talents to contribute to the world is the direct result of the skills students develop here. It is a timeless skill set that endures, grows and sustains each graduate successfully throughout his or her entire life.

Synergy of People, Space, Resources

On 47 acres in the City you will find a green campus with state-of-the-art pre-K through 12th grade classes, laboratories, field houses and playing fields, and the fabulous Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts. Each division –  LowerMiddle and Upper – has its own age-appropriate building on campus. We focus on having “the right people on the bus” to lead and guide our school. Our teachers are people who like to stretch. They are innovators who inspire students with their own constant thirst for knowledge. Parents often talk about how much they would love to take the classes offered here because the faculty is such an exceptional group. A synergy of people, space and resources has made our mission of academic, artistic, and athletic excellence, Quaker values and access for students from all backgrounds a reality.

Lower School students taking a group photo together.

Visionary Leadership

Never a school to rest on its laurels, we’re constantly thinking about what’s next. And we’re fortunate enough to have a leader to take us there. Head of School Karen Warren Coleman is a distinguished educator and education leader with 25 years of experience in elementary, secondary and higher education, and in both independent and public institutions. She continues to immerse herself in Quaker values and practices as Penn Charter supports students in finding their purpose by drawing on the strength of Penn Charter’s Quaker identity. “Karen comes to Penn Charter with a demonstrated record of building and nurturing teams to support education and students,” Darryl Ford said. “She is an extraordinary and inspirational leader for this moment at Penn Charter." Penn Charter's Board, a group established by William Penn to govern his school, is still responsible for the operation of PC.

Explore Academic Life at Penn Charter

Functions and Trigonometry: Considering All the Angles

Functions and Trigonometry, an Upper School math course, is designed to reinforce and build upon topics learned in algebra and geometry, with an emphasis on problem solving, multiple representations of functions, and written and verbal communication skills.

Blonde third grade boy looks at camera as he plants in a garden

Third grade designed, created and planted a pollinator garden with curricular connetions.

High school boy demonstrates a forensic engineering stress test

Independent studies allow students to investigate a topic that they are interested in or passionate about that goes beyond PC’s Upper School course offerings.