Breadcrumbs

Independent School Teaching Fellows Program of Greater Philadelphia (ISTF) 

Introduction: The Creation of the ISTF Program to Address a Need . . . The why? 

In 2016, Darryl Ford and Jacquelyn Hamilton created the ISTF program to address the perennial need for teachers from underrepresented groups, particularly BIPOC/teachers of color, in independent schools. The program’s mission is to recruit, train, and retain talented college graduates of color to become effective, empathic, and creative teachers. Through this process, teaching fellows become integral members in a variety of independent schools and learning communities that aim to educate students to become contributors to their school and home communities, enhancing those communities to continue to build spaces that value and embrace educators of color. 

Since its inception, William Penn Charter School has served as the lead institution responsible for managing and administrating this program, which has grown from a partnership with two schools to a multi-school collaborative with six independent school partners and one higher education partner.

The ISTF program is a 2-year teaching fellowship which includes hands-on classroom experiences, mentorship, weekly professional development, and an opportunity to earn an advanced degree at a reduced cost. While some teaching fellowship programs are based solely in one school, the ISTF program is a unique multi-school collaborative. 

This program is supported by the generosity of our donors. We are fortunate to also be the recipient of an E. E. Ford Leadership Grant. Contact Nicole Martz, director of development to learn more or make your gift today. 


 

ISTF Partner Schools 2023 - 2024 School Year:

William Penn Charter School Logo
Community Partnership School Logo
SCH Logo
Holy Child School At Rosemont Logo

Intentional Design . . . The how?

The program follows a cohort model and is designed to provide its teaching fellows with vital building blocks for success in independent schools: 

  • Hands-on classroom teaching experience in a variety of independent school communities;
  • Teaching Fellows rotate each semester to a different school and gain insight into a variety of independent school communities;
  • Mentorship and opportunities for collaboration with experienced teachers and education specialists;
  • Professional development each week where the facilitators and cohort work collaboratively to explore on best practices in teaching and learning, salient cutting-edge research in education, and culturally responsive approaches to teaching;
  • Options for an advanced degree in education through a partnership with Rosemont College.
     

Results  . . . Where are they now?

  • The ISTF program has launched our Teaching Fellows into a variety of independent schools across the region and beyond: Shady Hill School, Moses Brown School, Georgetown Day School, William Penn Charter School, Community Partnership School, and St. Peter’s School. All of our Teaching Fellows who completed the program in 2023 have been hired and are teaching in our partners schools.
  • In prior years, some of our Teaching Fellows have taken on leadership roles in a variety of mission-driven non-profit organizations. 
  • Several of our Teaching Fellows have pursued advanced degrees in education and related fields. 

 

Spotlight on ISTF Alum: LaTasha Vassor
ISTF Teaching Fellow 2020-2022 Cohort
1st Grade Teacher, William Penn Charter School

LaTasha Vassor

“As I look back on my experience as a teaching fellow in independent schools, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and growth. This transformative journey has had a profound impact on my confidence as a teacher, my ability to engage in internal self-reflection, the discovery of a supportive community, and the ignition of an unyielding passion for teaching.

"You can’t wait until life is not hard anymore before you decide to be happy."Nightbirde

 


 

Spotlight on ISTF Alum: Aarionna Goodman
ISTF Teaching Fellow 2019-2021 Cohort
Middle School Teacher, Georgetown Day School

Goodman Aarionna

Aarionna Goodman is an ISTF alum who is now a middle school English teacher at Georgetown Day School. In the spring of 2023, she earned an MA degree from Teachers College at Columbia University in the Teaching of English. To hear more about Aarionna’s transformative experiences in the ISTF program,

Video Testimonial by Aarionna Goodman


 

Marten Brown 
Current ISTF Teaching Fellow
2022-2024 Cohort

“For me the ISTF program has been a great experience. The program is a step in the right direction to becoming an educator.  It provides valuable classroom experience alongside encouragement and support from a team of expert educators. All of this has prepared me necessary tools to succeed in the field of education. Each person in the ISTF program has given me new and creative teaching techniques as well as professional development experiences.”


 

The Impact Beyond the Numbers  . . .

The impact of the ISTF program reverberates with a ripple-effect throughout the school communities and varied constituents they serve. The feedback from people involved in different aspects of the program has been filled with gratitude. Administrators have appreciated having emerging educators from diverse backgrounds who bring fresh thinking and unique perspectives to their classrooms. Mentor teachers have raved about the benefits they have reaped from having Teaching Fellows in their classrooms. One mentor teacher noted, “Not only is it helpful to have another teacher in the classroom, but it is extremely valuable to have a fresh perspective.” Another mentor shared, “Although my role as a mentor is to support the Teaching Fellow, I have found that our partnership has pushed me to be more reflective about my teaching. We have worked together to plan and bring new ideas to the classroom. In the process, we are modeling collaboration and the power of life-long learning for our students.” Parents and caregivers have taken time to send heartfelt messages about the positive impact that our Teaching Fellows have had on their children.
 


 

Leadership Team

Naveena Bembry

Naveena Bembry

Titles: Coordinator of Independent School Teaching Fellows Program; Coordinator of Lower School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; SEED Facilitator
Alyson Goodner

Alyson Goodner

Titles: Director for the Center for Public Purpose; Religious Studies Teacher
Jacquelyn Hamilton

Jacquelyn Hamilton

Titles: Professional Development Facilitator for ISTF Program
Jim Pilkington

Jim Pilkington

Titles: Middle School Humanities Teacher, ISTF Mentor Coach

ISTF Mission Statement

Independent School Teaching Fellows Program of Greater Philadelphia seeks to recruit, train, and retain talented college graduates of color to become effective, empathic, and creative teachers. Through this process, Teaching Fellows become integral members in a variety of independent schools and learning communities that aim to educate students to become contributors to their school and home communities, enhancing those communities to continue to build spaces that value and embrace educators of color. 
 

2023-2024 ISTF Teaching Fellows Cohort

  • Seated L-R: Francheska Perez, Nadirah Morgan and David Burgess
  • Standing L-R: Marten Brown and Cameron Hodges

ISTF Teaching Fellows 2023-2024 Cohort + Teaching Fellow Alums/New Hires at PC

(standing L-R)

  • Luciany Melo da Silva - Kindergarten Associate Teacher, Penn Charter
  • Nadirah Morgan - 2nd Year Teaching Fellow in 5th Grade, Penn Charter
  • Geoff Trotter - 6th Grade Teacher & Admissions Associate, Penn Charter
  • Marten Brown - 2nd Year Teaching Fellow, Early Childhood Division, Holy Child School at Rosemont
  • Cameron Hodges - 1st Year Teaching Fellow, 2nd Grade, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
  • Raichl Davenport - 5th Grade Teacher, Penn Charter
  • David Burgess - 1st Year Teaching Fellow, Middle School Science, Penn Charter
     

(seated L-R)

  • Karen Warren Coleman - Head of School, Penn Charter
  • Francheska Perez - 2nd Year Teaching Fellow, 2nd Grade, Community Partnership School
  • (not pictured: LaTasha Vassor, 1st Grade Teacher, Penn Charter)
  • Naveena Bembry - Coordinator, ISTF Program
  • Jacquelyn Hamilton - PD Facilitator, ISTF Program

Gratitude to Our Founders & Sponsors

Darryl Ford

Darryl Ford
Former Head of School 
William Penn Charter
School
 

Jacquelyn Hamilton

Jacquelyn Hamilton
Professional Development Facilitator
ISTF Program

We are grateful for the individuals and institutions who have supported the ISTF program in a variety of ways:

  • Darryl Ford and Jacquelyn Hamilton for their leadership and visionary work that led to the creation of the ISTF program. Through their dedication, they were able to turn a dream into a reality in service of the larger independent school community.
  • The E.E. Ford Foundation’s Leadership Grant which will allow the program to continue to grow and support schools in the greater Philadelphia region.
  • The Lehr Fund for providing financial support and for embracing the mission of the program.
  • The Alumni Society of the William Penn Charter School for its financial support and its commitment to the mission of the program.
  • Our 2022-2023 partner schools: Community Partnership School, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Holy Child School at Rosemont, St. Peter’s School, the Miquon School, and the William Penn Charter School.
  • Rosemont College for being our higher education partner.
  • Members of the  ISTF Advisory Board for being thought-partners, supporters, and valued advisors.
  • The William Penn Charter School and Alyson Goodner, Director of Penn Charter’s Center for Public Purpose for taking the lead with administering and managing the program.
  • William Penn Charter School Office of DEI for the on-going support of the teaching fellows and the program.
The Edward E. Ford Foundation
Rosemont College
Public Purpose

Program Funding – We need your support to keep the program going and growing!

  • While partner schools cover the cost of the teaching fellows’ stipends, there are numerous additional costs that require additional funding. The program offers benefits for fellows including: health insurance, laptops, professional development, tuition support, and a transportation allowance. 
  • William Penn Charter School has covered the administrative costs for running the program for several years. Recognizing the need for sustainable funding for the program to continue to grow, the ISTF leadership team applied for a grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation in 2021. The ISTF program was awarded a $250,000 E.E. Ford Leadership Matching Grant. 
  • The E.E. Ford Leadership Grant requires a 1:1 match which must be raised by December 31, 2023. We need your support to raise the matching funds by 12/31/23. To make a donation, go to penncharter.com/give, select “other” and type in ISTF or Teaching Fellows.

Make a Donation Today

Alexis Cuffy

Alexis Cuffy, ISTF 2023 Alum
who is now a teacher at St. Peter’s School, an ISTF partner school.

Raichl Davenport

Raichl Davenport, ISTF 2023 Alum
who is now a 5th Grade Teacher at Penn Charter, an ISTF partner school.
 

Geoff US Nature Based Play

~ Geoff Trotter worked with Penn Charter Upper School students on the Nature-Based Play pilot project.
~ Geoff is an ISTF 2023 Alum who is now 6th Grade Teacher at Penn Charter, an ISTF partner school.
 

Darryl Ford Fellows

Darryl Ford Meets with Teaching Fellows
May 2023
 

Ashleigh Brown

Ashleigh Brown, William Penn Charter alumna, class of 2013 and ISTF Alum who is now teaching in the Middle School at the Moses Brown School, a Quaker school  in Providence, RI.

LaTasha Vassor

LaTasha Vassor, an ISTF alum who is now a 1st grade teacher at Penn Charter, an ISTF partner school. 
 

Caroline Yang

Caroline Yang was a Teaching Fellow in 2019 who went on to become a teacher at Community Partnership School, an ISTF partner school.

Zip Code Map and Data

Each year, Penn Charter draws families from more than 100 zip codes in metropolitan Philadelphia. View the map and data.