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P.C.P.D. November 2014

Penn Charter Professional Development

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




News to Know


Penn Charter Hosts Environmental Sustainability Conference

by Jonathan Howe

On a beautiful late-summer Saturday in September, while many of us were basking in the warm sun, a dedicated crew of Penn Charter community members came together for a full day of intense eco-brainstorming. On September 27, Penn Charter hosted the Penn Charter Environmental Sustainability Workshop, a gathering of diverse school community members brought together in the name of environmental sustainability. The group was challenged to brainstorm the environmentally-related goals outlined in the Strategic Vision, which calls for Penn Charter to “create an environmental plan that fosters a culture of environmental stewardship and develops systems and processes to ensure all decisions are evaluated in light of their environmental effect, with consideration of affordable and sustainable alternatives.”

Penn Charter selected Wynn Calder, a nationally recognized expert in Education for Sustainability within independent schools, to facilitate the workshop. Wynn and I worked together to frame the workshop and its goals into a forum that balanced a desire for broad, creative brainstorming and practical, targeted planning. Think “double-rainbow guy” meets “Spock” and that’s the duality for which we strove. The list of participants was quite diverse--representatives from all three divisions, parents, students, administrators, board members and local partners--and yet was small enough to allow for focused discussion. Almost every participant brought a unique combination of multiple and relevant roles, experiences and perspectives to the group. For example, one participant was an OPC, a PC Parent, an AT thru-hiker and an environmental lawyer (can you guess who?). Combining both small and large group discussions, we spent the day generating ideas and themes to answer the question: What should an environmentally sustainable Penn Charter look like in 5/10/50 years?

Continued . . . 


Quakers and Science: " . . . and I knew this experimentally."

by Lorre Gifford

For the last 9 years, the Upper School physics curriculum has included a unit that explores the history of our understanding of the Universe. In it, students see the evolution of scientific thought and practice while, at the same time, they have an opportunity to think about the factors that framed the theories, including culture, religion and personal belief systems. We typically pause the story in the 17th century with Galileo and his experience with the Inquisition to reflect on the conflict between science and religion, then and now. It occurred to us that we were leaving someone out of the story and discussion--Quakers! The question we sought to explore was: Where do Quakers fit into the story of science?  

The 17th century marks a critical shift in scientific thought and practice. Indeed, there was an ever-increasing urge to explore and understand the physical world, both large and small. With increased frequency and fervor, observation was coupled with experimentation to help illuminate natural laws. The work of Galileo and Kepler had awakened a curiosity aimed at the heavens while, at the same time, Descarte introduced a philosophy that challenged established and customary thought (Raistrick 221). The 17th century also marks the establishment of The Religious Society of Friends, thanks to George Fox in the 1650s.  

Continued . . . 



Sean Ahern received a grant to attend the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association conference in mid-October. He joined Sarah Aguilar-Francis and David Brightbill, who made a presentation together at the conference at State College.
Jim Ballengee gave three workshops centered around the transition from service to service learning to public purpose at the inaugural "Service Learning: Engagement, Action, Purpose" Conference at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in late October. Jim will also co-clerk the Friends Council on Education peer network event "Service Learning--The Building Blocks of Partnerships" on November 17.     
Lindsay Franklin directed California Suite last summer for the Barley Sheaf players and also wrote a play for that group which she will direct for a One Act Festival in February.
Randy Granger presented a design process workshop, using one of his design projects from Penn Charter, to the Pennsylvania Art Education Association.

Sarah Sharp recently installed her Middle East media exhibit, "Seeing, Hearing, and Understanding the Middle East, 2004-2013," at Masterman School in the school's main hallway. She also returned to Masterman at the end of October to teach several classes of middle school and ninth grade students. The exhibit and her talks will be the subject of student assignments in Masterman's social studies classes.

Congratulations and special thanks to PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during September and October: Sarah Aguilar-FrancisAlice BatemanPaul BlackwoodMark CroxfordSonia DuprezWilson FelterJulian GuindonDan HajjarImana LegetteTim LynchMarianne MasterVicki MilesNaeem MoodyMichael MoultonTeodora NedialkovaEva Kay NooneJim PilkingtonLisa ReedichSheila RuenMarcy SosaKristin Swoszowski-Tran and Lisa Turner.   


Brian Hecker married Alison Pettine on November 1.


News and Notes

Lisa Reedich will attend a day-long workshop in November entitled "Recognizing and Managing Addiction Disorders.” The presenter, psychologist Dr. Mark Schenker, is a recognized leader in the treatment of substance use disorders.

Several Penn Charter faculty members attended the "2014 PAIS Biennial Conference: Engage, Connect, Experience" held at Episcopal Academy on October 10. For the next few issues of the P.C.P.D., faculty members will share information about the sessions they attended and highlight what they learned. Click here to learn more about the following workshops: Demystifying DataCreating a Culture of LearningTeach More Kids That Reading Is FunDigital StorytellingThe Art of Tinkering and Understanding Precursors to Violence in Independent Schools


Penn's Purpose

Allegheny West Consortium
The first Professional Development meeting of the Allegheny West Consortium year took place at Penn Charter on Tuesday, October 14. It included sessions on The Responsive Classroom and designing a Culturally Relevant classroom, and the speakers came from KIPP DuBois HS and Russell Byers Charter School. The AWC includes teachers from PC, St. James School, Bayard Taylor School, Dr. Ethel Allen School, Wissahickon Charter School, Rhodes Elementary School, Logan Hope School and Philadelphia and Temple Universities. If you are interested in joining this group, which endeavors to bring up opportunity for all students in our neighborhood, contact Jim Ballengee.


Notes from the Teaching and Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

This November, the Teaching & Learning Center has a varied set of workshops with hopes of informing and transforming your teaching. Offerings include Mac Help, Keynote, Mindfulness Lunch, Graphic Design, Making Video Lessons, Smart Notebook for Review and Games, ADHD and the Child's Brain, Digitally Handwriting Comments Online, Balancing the Roles of Penn Charter Parent and Teacher, What’s Going on in the Philly Public Schools, and more. Here is the link to sign up for a workshop. If there’s a session you’d like to attend, but the timing doesn’t work, please contact me (, and I can set up a one-to-one session.

I am happy to meet with you to discuss specific workshops you’d like to attend or teach, to plan a Critical Friends Group, to arrange a classroom visit, and/ or schedule a one-to-one session 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, there are many online resources that you can explore. Also, if you haven’t already, please fill out this Quia survey about your interests in teaching and learning at the TLC, so that the center can best serve your needs this year. Hope to see you at the TLC!


Professional Development Opportunities in Diversity, Equity and Justice

This list, compiled by Imana Legette, features professional development opportunities in diversity, equity and justice.
In addition, Imana has organized programs available to us and our parent body right here at Penn Charter. 
  • November 10: Inequities in Education, co-sponsored with Center for Public Purpose, at 7:00pm.
  • January 15: Multi-Religious Parenting, co-sponsored with Religious Studies Department, at 7:00pm.
  • April 14: Parenting Multi-Racial Children at 7:00pm.
Friends Council on Education has a number of peer networks. The Diversity Peer Network meeting is May 4, 2015.  

Professional Development News

CTL Needs Your Summer Reading Suggestions!
Have you read an excellent book lately that you would like to share with your colleagues? Please use this link to make your book suggestions for faculty summer reading now and throughout the year. 

Featured This Month
SMART Board Training professional development workshops at The Tatnall School in Wilmington, DE on November 15 and December 6. 

Click here for more information on upcoming professional development opportunities.

Please remember to fill out the blue professional development form attached to your registration.


What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and it's grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.

—John Lewis









Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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