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P.C.P.D. December 2014/january 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

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




News to Know


PC's 325th Anniversary Inspires Seventh Grade English Curriculum

by Christine Pearsall and Jim Pilkington

In acknowledgement and celebration of William Penn Charter School’s 325th Anniversary, the seventh grade English teaching team expanded a unit on the Quaker novel with which we begin the year reading. Each fall the seventh graders study the novel No Shame No Fear by Ann Turnbull. The story takes place in England during the 1600’s and recounts the tale of a poor Quaker girl named Susanna and a wealthy Anglican boy named William who engage in an innocent, yet forbidden love. Told from the young protagonists’ points of view, the novel explicates persecution of class and religion and affords the opportunity for students to explore Quaker history, politics, values and religious perspective. We began teaching this piece two years ago and found it to be an excellent device to introduce new students to Quakerism and reconnect students who are already immersed in our school’s Quaker ideals with new and more advanced ways of understanding Penn Charter’s history and spiritual culture. We were, however, eager to enrich this unit of study by designing curricular extensions that promoted historical and spiritual exploration, integrated other seventh grade courses and included experiential learning opportunities that make use of the significant Quaker landmarks in the Greater Philadelphia area.

One way in which we furthered this unit was by exposing students to the two other Quaker books in Turnbull’s series--Forged in the Fire and Seeking Eden. The last in the series, in particular, is set in the religious haven of early Pennsylvania. William Penn is referenced frequently, and one of its voices is Tokpa, the African slave of a Quaker. While students were only able to read passages from this relevant sequel, the sections they read further diversified the Quaker discourse in the classroom and allowed students to make an even more direct connection to our school. 

Continued . . . 



Jim Ballengee convened Friends Council on Education’s Service Learning Peer Network agenda and the regional gathering of the National Network of Schools in Partnership in November.

Jim Ballengee also gave the keynote address at the Nativity Miguel School Leadership Conference at Hope Partnership School in early November. It was entitled "Public/Private Partnership and the Future of Education.”

Tony Farrell has been approved by Texas Instruments to be a T-Cubed (Teachers Teaching with Technology) Regional Instructor. Penn Charter also hosted a very successful PCCAS+ conference for teachers on November 15. Beth Menzie and Tony Farrell presented at the conference.

Tim Lynch was recently featured in a article which highlighted his experience as a survivor of gliboblastoma and his ongoing research into this deadly form of brain cancer at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lee Payton co-chaired the School in Rose Valley's successful search for a new head of school.

Marcy Sosa presented a workshop entitled “Recognizing the Stages of Reading Development in Your Child” at Penn Children’s Center on October 29.

La Sripanawongsa presented a workshop for Chinese teachers at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) annual conference in San Antonio in November.

On November 6, Debbie White was inducted into the Baldwin School’s Athletic Hall of Fame with her 1987 Championship Lacrosse Team. Debbie will also be inducted into the Eastern Pennsylvania US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in February, 2015.

Antonio Williams presented two workshops at the recent People of Color Conference in Indianapolis. They were entitled “My Sisters’/Brothers’ Keeper… A Roundtable Discussion on the Role of Historically Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) in Independent Schools” and “Where the Rubber Meets the Road! How Do We Take a Stand Against the ‘N-Word’ in Our Schools?”

Congratulations and special thanks to PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during November: Jim Ballengee, Julian Guindon, Vicki Miles, Michael Moulton, Teodora Nedialkova, Sheila Ruen, Marcy Sosa and Kristin Swoszowski-Tran.   


Andy and Jenny Baer welcomed a daughter, Cassandra Ruth, on December 1.

Jeremy and Amanda Lelii welcomed a daughter, Brooklynne Elizabeth, on November 8.


News and Notes

Jim Ballengee, Jim Pilkington and Tom Rickards attended the Friends Council on Education and the National Network of Schools in Partnership meeting in November. Jim Ballengee clerked the gathering and panelists from PC’s partner schools, Bayard Taylor and Wissahickon Charter School, also spoke.

Megan Kafer attended a Friend’s Council on Education Peer Network event, “Quaker Life in Lower and Middle Schools” on November 7. The event featured discussion about MFW practices from about ten other Friends schools.

On November 12, the Middle School Faculty did a session on formative and summative assessment, a group professional development activity focused on looking inward at the division’s current assessment practices.

Phil Consuegra, Brad Ford, Laura Valdmanis and Stephanie Vogel recently ran the Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

As part of the Health and Wellness Initiative for faculty and staff, Introduction to Wall Climbing will be offered on on January 16 and January 30, 4:45-6:45 in the PC Dooney Field House. These sessions are open to all levels...even beginners! Visit this link to sign up. 


Welcome to New Faces

Jacqueline Cross will be teaching Latin in the Upper School while Jenny Baer is on maternity leave for the rest of the school year.

Brittany Erdman will be working in Middle School Sanctuary through February while Joe Kinderwater takes temporary leave from the position to coach the PC swim team. When swimming is over in February, Joe will return to Sanctuary.


Vital Signs

What’s on your professional development bucket list? VITAL might just be the opportunity you need to make it happen! VITAL proposals are due on Monday, January 12. You can access the proposal application here. To help you understand the criteria the VITAL Selection committee uses to evaluate proposals, you can also take a look at our rubric.  


Penn's Purpose

Our SPARKmakers “Community Makers” series of student STEAM programs is underway at St. James School. “Designing with Sunlight, Electronics and Motion” is a sequence of three "thinkering events" where middle school students are exploring integral concepts about solar, electric and mechanical energy through hands-on activity. Corey Kilbane and Mabel Negrette from SPARKmakers have designed the program and three student interns, 12th grader Tamera Davis, 10th grader Jack Roseman, and 9th grader Maria Perry, are teaching the classes. Our hope is that as we train more interns they will go out and spread this program into schools throughout the city.


Notes from the Teaching and Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

In the coming months, Teaching & Learning Center is offering diverse workshops with hopes of informing and transforming your teaching. Offerings include: Global Read Aloud, Google Classroom, Backward Design, Quaker Pedagogy, Edpuzzle, iPhoto, Prezi, Google Sites, Mindfulness, Evernote, Google Forms, Using Smart Notebook for Review, Understanding Anxiety in Children, Leaning into Difficult Conversations 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 email 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. 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.  Hope to see you at the TLC!


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

On January 15, The Office of Diversity and Inclusion offers the program Multi-Religious Parenting, co-sponsored with Religious Studies Department, at 7:00pm.

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. Upcoming on April 14 will be Parenting Multi-Racial Children at 7:00pm.

The Technology Department would like you to know about three local professional development opportunities, focused on technology, which are coming in 2015.

  • EduCon 2015, January 23-25, Philadelphia.
  • Pete&C 2015, February 8-11, Hershey, PA.
  • ISTE 2015, June 28-July 1 in Philadelphia.
Click here for more information on these and 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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