October 2018

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


In September, Darryl Ford met with teachers and led a day-long board workshop for Friends School Wilmington (North Carolina). Topics included Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work, Quaker Decision Making and the Role of the Board in Development during a capital campaign.

Sandy Portnoy was honored by the American Chemical Society for achieving 50 years of membership.

Congratulations and special thanks to the many PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching TLC workshops and/or mentoring faculty during September: Karen Campbell, John Estok, Julian Guindon, Corey Kilbane, Marianne Master, Michael Moulton, Eva Kay Noone, Lee Payton, Lisa Reedich, Alec Tressler, Lisa Turner and Melanie Wills.


News & Notes

Ruth Aichenbaum and Naveena Bembry recently attended Columbia University Teachers College's Social Justice Saturday event. The keynote speaker was Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 and Bud, Not Buddy. The event was filled with workshops on a variety of topics addressing the essential question: How can we teach so that we are building more equitable and morally just communities?


Welcome to New Faces!

Kirsten Tiroly has joined 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. 




PC Summer Book Swap

The Committee on Teaching and Learning would like to help make it easy for you to read other PC Professional Summer Reading Books that interest you. To this end, we’ve set up a shelf in the TLC where you can drop off your summer reading book and take another book of your choice.



It’s not too early to start planning for your ideal VITAL summer project! For those of you unfamiliar with VITAL, VITAL (Valuing Innovative Teaching and Learning) is an exciting professional development model that provides teachers time during the summer for the transformation of their craft through research, collaboration, and innovation. Projects, lasting one to four weeks, are funded at median faculty salary. There will be a drop-in information session about VITAL and the application process during lunch and after school on Wednesday, October 31. If October 31 isn’t a good time to meet, feel free to schedule an appointment with Ruth Aichenbaum using this link. You can also learn more about VITAL and the past funded projects by visiting this page on the TLC Google Site. The application form (deadline February 19) and the rubric that the VITAL Selection Committee uses to review applications are also available on this page.


The Eco Corner

by Tom Rickards

Friends, welcome to the early signs of fall. “Sing to me, Autumn, with the rustle of your leaves. Breathe on me your spicy scents that flow within your breeze.” (by Patricia Cisco). A few announcements as we enter into cooler temperatures.

PC Hikes
As I write this we are more than halfway to our goal of raising $2,000 and we are closing in on a collective 200 miles of trail travel in the park. We need more people getting out there if we are to reach 1,000 miles! There is still time to join as the All Trails Challenge continues until the end of November. Also give some love and support to a colleague by checking out their fundraising page and providing a small donation!

Boxed Water
A special thanks to Hal and Kaitlyn for all the behind-the-scenes work in getting boxed water available for us in the cafeteria. If you post a picture of your boxed water with the hashtag #BetterPlanet they will plant two trees in your honor. Check out their website for more on beach clean-ups and other ways they are trying to provide fresh water in sustainable ways. This is a much better alternative than plastic water bottles, so please encourage reusable water bottles or boxed water in your classrooms instead of single use plastics.

Please keep up-to-date with environmental stewardship happenings with Twitter: Penn Charter Green, Instagram: Penn Charter Green, and our Google calendar of events: PC Green Events


Notes from the TLC

by Ruth Aichenbaum 

Happy October! Now that we’re getting into the rhythm of the school year, this month and next, we’ll be starting affinity groups about the topics listed below. If you’re interested in participating, sign-up for the first planning session of the group on our TLC SignUp Genius Link or email me if the timing doesn’t work for you. I’ll also reach out to those of you who noted your interest in the August TLC survey. Below are groups we’ll be starting:

  • Learning about Mind, Brain, Education Research and Implications for Teaching
  • Instructional Rounds: professional growth through observing colleagues and being observed

  • Teaching in a Time of Uncertainty: Discussions about our Current Political Climate as Quaker Educators

  • Using Metacognition and Digital Portfolios to promote deep learning

  • Girls Social/ Emotional Needs and Educational Empowerment

  • Using Homework Meaningfully to Promote Learning

If you’d like to start another type of affinity group, please let me know.

There are many varied sessions lined up for October that you can sign up for using the TLC SignUp Genius Link. Some upcoming workshops include:

  • Mind Blown: Some Research Informed Teaching Tips
  • Ways to Open Class that Wow Students
  • Assessing for Student Growth
  • Roundtable Discussion re: Thoughtful Approaches to Dealing with Disruptive Behaviors in the Classroom
  • 10 Tech Tools in 10 Minutes to Try by Tuesday
  • Difficult Conversations around Diversity and Inclusion Topics
  • Movies that Matter
  • So You Want to Know More About… : One-to-One time with your Librarian—come with a question or class project idea you want to research or develop.
  • US Comment Writing
  • MemoryLAB tools—Video Recorders & Accessories
  • The Art of Paper Cutting
  • Art & Ethics: Hot Debates and Controversies in the Art World
  • Learn about VITAL
  • Balancing the Role of Being a PC Teacher and a PC Parent
  • Exploring Japan through 3 Windows: Quaker Connections, Peace, & Tea
  • Screen Time Session: Discussion About Screen Time For Your Family and Other Kids That You Care About
  • Window Screen Time: Learn How to Construct/Repair Window Screens for your House (in contrast to the Tech Screen Time Session listed above)
  • One-to-One Computer Help
  • Morning Fitness Class
  • Mindful Yoga
  • Cultural Events Series: Activity 1—Private Classical Philadelphia Architecture two-hour Walking Tour led by American Institute of Architects Philadelphia

Again here’s a link to sign up for a TLC workshop. If there’s a session you’d like to attend, but the timing doesn’t work, please email me (, and I can set up a one-to-one session.

Here are a few resources from last month’s workshops:

As always, I am happy to meet with you to discuss specific workshops that you’d like to attend or teach. I’m also available to facilitate a Critical Friends Group, to arrange a classroom visit, and/or arrange a one-to-one session with a mentor on a topic of your choice. You can schedule an appointment on the front page of our TLC website. While you’re on the TLC website, I invite you to explore its many online resources, including our monthly Spotlight articles.  

Hope to see you at the TLC!


Professional Development Opportunities

Click here for more information on upcoming professional development opportunities. Please remember to fill out the Request for Professional Development Funds Form and attach it to your registration.

Diversity and Inclusion Workshops

Little Chairs Big Differences (October 17, 8:30 am-3:30 pm)
As early childhood educators we are fundamentally involved in raising awareness and challenging perceptions and accepted norms for the youngest learners and those who work with them, yet we are often left out of larger conversations about identity and intersectionality. Little Chairs Big Differences aims to create space for a means of both celebrating and going deeper into this work, broadening our understanding, and being more action-oriented toward creating a more just society and world. We aim to challenge some of the dominant views of children/childhood—those that perpetuate beliefs that children are incapable, incompetent, innocent, or inexperienced because of their young age, and that those who work with them are any less capable of transforming their communities and world.

Teaching Black Boys  (November 12, 8:30am-1:00pm). Everyday Tools and Skills Needed to Create an Equitable Classroom—by Ali Michael and Sharif El-Mekki.

Upcoming Events at The Franklin Institute

Vikings: Beyond the Legend (October 13, 2018 – March 3, 2019)
Explore hundreds of archaeological discoveries and rare treasures, plus dramatic reconstructions and immersive experiences designed to reveal who these legendary explorers were and why they have forever captured our imagination.

Girls In Engineering Day (November 15, 2018)
Middle and High School female students will enjoy hands-on activities, a showing of the awe-inspiring Dream Big: Engineering our World IMAX® Film, and learn from female engineers about career possibilities in this inaugural event.

Marvel: Universe of Superheroes (April 13 – September 2, 2019)
Experience an immersive exploration of the Marvel Universe through some of its best-loved and most groundbreaking characters—featuring rare original artifacts, costumes and props, and multimedia storytelling through video, audio and immersive set design.

Professional Development Funds

Penn Charter’s policy regarding the allocation of professional development monies is prioritized so that money will be awarded to those requests that present the greatest intersection of institutional, departmental and personal needs that focus on the professional growth of faculty members. Monies will be prioritized for projects that best meet the goals of the Strategic Vision, including excellence, innovation and collaboration. In general, requests for equipment (computer cords, iPads, charging cables, etc…) should be directed to department chairs. Such expenses are not eligible for professional development funds.

As in past years, each full-time faculty member is guaranteed (but not required to spend) $250 per year for professional development. If faculty find that they need funding beyond the annual $250, they may apply for additional monies. To apply for additional funding, faculty need to first obtain approval of their division head in the Lower School or their department chair in Middle and Upper School, and then contact the academic dean to see if funding is available. The academic dean must give final approval for additional funding. Please note that, starting in the 2018-2019 school year, the $250 annual amount allocated for each full-time faculty member can no longer be carried over to the next school year.

Please direct any questions regarding professional development to David Brightbill.

109 Online
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When we discover the secret of being inwardly at worship while outwardly at work, we find that the soul's silence brings us to God and God to us. Silence takes us beyond the limits of consciousness and into the heart and mind and will of God.

— J. Brent Bill, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality