Spring 2023

Published by William Penn Charter School in the interest of our faculty and staff.

PC Students Participate in Open House for Peace and Understanding

by Marianna Allen

This initiative began last spring with virtual meetings with students in the Ukraine, and now there are students that participate from Tajikistan, Poland, Russia, Ghana.

It has been just over one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Prior to the invasion, I can recall images of Russian tanks lining up at the border in wait. On a daily basis we wondered if, how and when Putin would decide to strike the people just on the other side and in the name of what? Power? Reclamation? 

While these questions remain unanswered in my mind, I want to share the heartwarming experience I have had with a group of our Penn Charter students since these attacks began. During lunch on Thursdays a core group of students in the Global Certificate program have been joining me for a Zoom meeting titled “The Open House for Peace and Understanding.” Prior to these meetings, I had a vague idea of what some places in Ukraine looked like based on National Geographic photographs. I also knew how to spell Tajikistan and locate it on a map, but I did not know that citizens from this country identify as Tajek. Through these weekly meetings, I have seen presentations that are gingerly curated by students from around the world that feature Ukraine photographed as a fairytale wonderland of gorgeous, green tunnels that can be traveled by train. I have seen the most ornate and beautiful bread prepared by meticulous Tajek hands. I have heard about travel and university experiences from Tajikistan, Ukraine, Ghana, Jordan and other places from around the world told from the perspective of teenagers who look and sound similar to our amazing students here at Penn Charter. 

Each week, these students proudly present the world from their unique perspectives, remembering how it once was while also recognizing the way things are now. Simply by logging in to these Zoom meetings each week, my heart warms knowing that this core group of students genuinely cares about the world around them, and they are not afraid to ask questions relating to how they can implement positive changes. Merrill Gadsden shared: “Initially, I viewed the virtual exchange as something interesting to go to once or twice and an opportunity to get hours for my Global Studies Certificate. However, the conversations I have had and connections I have formed with students my age from all over the world have made the experience so much more meaningful to me. Our meetings are often one of the highlights of my week.” 


Congratulations and special thanks to the PC colleagues who offered TLC workshops in the last months: Maria Adamson, Michael Avilés, Alice Bateman, Mallory Benard, Paul Blackwood, Steve Bonnie, Anne Coleman, Emma Cohen-Westbrooke, Lulu  Cossich, Alexis Cuffy, Raichl Davenport, John Estok, Jane Evans, Stephanie Fedoroff,  Jim Fiorile, Debbie Foley, Monica Freely, Liz Jones, Jackie Kazimir, Aly Goodner, Doug Gorham,  Wayne Grinwis, Julia Judson-Rea, Cory Kilbane,  Joy Lai,  Heather Larrabee, Amanda Lee, Michael LoStracco, Tim Lynch, Teodora Nedialkova, Faisal Madhi, Marianne Master, Peter Morton, Sara Moses, Michael Moulton, Cory Moy, Eva Kay Noone, Linda O’Malley, Mike Paesani,  Tom Rickards, Karen Riedlmeier, Christy Schwartz, Dan Stahl, Brooke Stratton, Dave Tidey, Geoff Trotter,  Lisa Turner, Faith Ward, Doug Uhlmann,  Antonio Williams, and Nina Wojtowicz. 

Special congratulations to our 2023 VITAL grant recipients. This year VITAL is funding two projects: the Penn Charter History project with Alice Bateman and Brooke Stratton, and the Upper School Literacy Playbook project with Faith Ward, Michael Avilés, Emma Cohen-Westbrooke, Ann Mancuso-McNamee, Peter Morton and Lisa Turner. 

Jackie Hamilton and Naveena Bembry will lead a session at the ADVIS Innovation Summit. Their workshop is titled, "Building a Model for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Teachers of Color in Independent Schools." They will share highlights about the Independent Schools Teaching Fellows Program of Greater Philadelphia and research on the importance of racial literacy, culturally responsive teaching, building identity-conscious educators, and creating inclusive school communities.

Cory Moy recently completed the American Field Service Intercultural Programs Global Competence Certificate. The GCC includes 20+ hours of online, interactive professional development with 20 modules and five live dialogue sessions with educators and administrators from around the world.

Do you have kudos to give, or news and notes? Submit them any time throughout the year for inclusion in the next P.C.P.D.! Have you read a great book or study recently? P.C.P.D. is looking for columnists! Consider offering a one-time or recurring column in P.C.P.D. so your colleagues can learn from your experience.

News & Notes

Lisa Reedich attended Smith College for Social Work's seminar titled "Assessing Risk of Suicide and Self-Harm in Children and Adolescents." She also attended two different conferences hosted by the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work: One titled "Eating Disorders Through an Embodied View: How Neurobiology and Self-Compassion Heal" and another titled "Ethical Concerns in the Treatment of Traumatized Clients."

The Professional Development Request Form is now available online! The form can be found here. Folks just need to complete the form to request professional development funds or to request reimbursement for professional development expenses. If you prefer to print the form and submit, that's fine too.


Eco Corner

by Tom Rickards

We had a good winter season of environmental programming and I will share a few highlights below and things to look for this spring!

E-Waste Drive from the winter was a big success as we recycled 3,319 lbs of electronic waste!! I'm pretty sure this was a record! The next e-waste drive is Earth Week April 24-28.

Garden Work continues to expand as we near the spring months. Our 12th grader Duncan R. will be working on an irrigation system for the Strawbridge gardens. Aly Goodner is working on a cross-divisional project that will culminate in a “seed library” that connects with many indigenous plants and crops. Lisa Turner continues to provide support for not only our campus gardens but her good work in the community gardens at DePaul House. Please reach out to any of these good folk if you’d like to get involved.

New Environmental Coordinator: While I am not leaving the school, and I will continue to teach in the Religious Studies and Philosophy department in the Upper School, I wanted to share that this is my last year as coordinator of environmental stewardship and sustainability. It has been my great pleasure and deep gratitude to work with all of you good friends and colleagues. While I hope to stay involved, I look forward to learning from new leadership and fresh perspectives. Thank you again for all your support over these last few years. 

Teaching & Learning Center News and Notes

From the desk of Ruth Aichenbaum

Thanks to our awesome PC colleagues, in the coming months there are so many great opportunities to learn together and find joy from being in community. Whether you’re looking for a session about pedagogy, the arts, wellness, DEI, environmental stewardship & sustainability, or public purpose, there are offerings to spark your interest. I invite you to take a look at our TLC SignUp Genius to see details about the upcoming sessions and think about what you might like to attend.

If you see a session that you’d like to attend but the timing doesn’t work, please let me know and I’ll be happy to re-offer it at another convenient time, offer a one-to-one session, or send you resources from the session.  Also let me know if there are other sessions you’d like to see offered or that you would like to offer. The TLC is ours to grow together, and the possibilities are limitless! You may have the next idea for an awesome type of TLC programming that has never been done before.

In May, the TLC usually offers even more opportunities to spend joyful and relaxing time in community, including sessions to share ideas for summer reading, gardening, adventures, movie, and TV watching. Please be in touch if you have an idea for a joyful May TLC session you’d like to offer or see offered. 

In my "This Month at the TLC" mails, I’ve been sharing resources from past TLC sessions, as well as links to great free educational resources. (FYI, for easy reference under my name at the bottom of my emails you can find the link to a Google Doc with all of my monthly "This Month at the TLC" emails for the year.) Below are some of the free educational resources I’ve shared. Are there more that you value and would like to share with our community? If so, please let me know about them and I’ll add them to the list. These resources have even been used as part of TLC sessions. Please let me know if you have ideas for TLC sessions using any of these or other resources. 

Again, here is the TLC SignUp Genius to view upcoming offerings and sign up for sessions. Hope to see you at the TLC!