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P.C.P.D. February 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

February 2015

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




News to Know

Lower School Collaborates with Renowned Literacy Consultant

by Marcy Sosa

Lower School faculty value reflection as a means to guide our ability to provide a rigorous educational program to our students. Our Strategic Vision emphasizes that we use current brain research on how children learn best to develop more strategies for individual learning within the curriculum. As we reflect upon that goal, we consider what to do next with our curriculum. While we know we have a strong reading and writing program that clearly aligns with the Strategic Vision, we find ourselves thinking:  “How can we make it better?” The Lower School faculty is committed to ensuring the best practices of the Reading and Writing Workshop model.

Jennifer Serravallo is an award-winning literacy consultant and author with a wide range of skills. Since first encountering Serravallo more than two years ago through a workshop at Wissahickon Charter School, our faculty has been consulting with her on work ranging from understanding data-based assessment, building our level-libraries, maximizing our classroom space for the ideal workshop flow and modeling the Reading Workshop model.

Continued . . . 


Middle School Band's Newest Member

by Jim Fiorile

Late September. The Kurtz Center stage in the quiet of Tuesday afternoon. The occasional note from a flute wafts in from the band room, off to the side. The trumpet lesson group — nine sixth grade boys — are gathered for their first lesson. I am sitting in a line with them, across from Brad Ford, who will be our teacher in weekly lessons for the rest of the year.

I have joined the sixth grade band for the year. I played the trumpet as a kid, but stopped after eighth grade. In my 20s I played keyboard in a band, mostly as an excuse to go to parties and open-mic nights. During this year’s opening faculty meetings, I said to band director Bob Wilson, “I want to get over to the practice room and play a little bit before our lesson group meets. I haven’t picked up a trumpet in years.”

Continued . . . 



Stephanie Ball and Phil Consuegra were featured speakers and discussion leaders at the CASE-NAIS Conference in New Orleans. Phil teamed with Lisa Pullman of INDEX (formerly JRPO) to speak to Development Directors from 20 of Penn Charter's nationwide network of peer schools on effective use of benchmarking and data-driven fundraising strategy. Stephanie led discussion with INDEX Schools Major Gifts Officers on various strategies for major giving. The next day, Phil had a great time running the New Orleans Half Marathon!

Congratulations and special thanks to the many PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during December and January: Alice Bateman, David Brightbill, Phil Consuegra, Sonia Duprez, Joel Eckel, Wilson Felter, Julian Guindon, Brian Hecker, Judith Hill, Debbie Kaesshaefer, Imana Legette, Tim Lynch, Beth Menzie, Vicki Miles, Beckie Miller, Michael Moulton, Teodora Nedialkova, Lisa Reedich, Tom Rickards, Sheila Ruen, Marcy Sosa, Kristin Swoszowski-Tran, Laura Valdmanis and Antonio Williams.   


Scott and Kellyn Jaspan welcomed a son, Emerson James, on December 23.


News and Notes

In December, Sarah Aguilar Francis, Sean Ahern, Marianna Allen, David Brightbill, Marianne Master, Claire Scribner and Stephanie Vogel participated in Philadelphia’s annual Ugly Sweater 5K as Team “Loco for Cocoa.” The annual run benefits Save the Children. 

In January, Jill Einbender and Maria Odilia Romeu attended the “Math in Focus: Singapore Math Community Institute” in Newark, N.J.

Over winter break, the ninth grade history team of Sarah Sharp, Brooke Stratton and Stephanie Vogel, along with Lee Payton, visited the Freer-Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian to examine the Cosmic Buddha and other Asian artifacts. 

In January, Fred Huntington, Marianne MasterDebbie McIlvaine, Anabelle Montero-Hricz, La SripanawongsaEva TiernoSteve Wade and Bob Wilson, led by Jonathan Howe and Tom Rickards, participated in two faculty and staff climbs on the Penn Charter rock wall.


Faculty and Staff Changes

Lorre Gifford, Upper School physics teacher, has resigned as of June so she can care for her parents in North Carolina and find a teaching job nearby.

Laura Boroughf, Middle School English teacher, will move to Denver, where her husband has taken a new position.

Stephanie Judson has decided to leave her position as associate head of school. She will work next year on two projects: Penn Charter's Quaker mission, including the self-study for Membership Renewal of Friends Council on Education, and a framework for Penn Charter's work in global education.

Vicki Miles, Lower School technology coordinator, has decided to retire. She looks forward to many projects at home and in Philadelphia.

There are currently openings for Academic Dean for Curriculum and Professional Development, Lower School Technology Coordinator, Middle School English, Upper School/AP Physics and Upper School Spanish. All of these openings are posted (or will be soon) on Friends Council on Education’s website.


Borrowed Treasures

by Judith Hill

To continue our celebration of 325 years of Quaker education, the library department has made a few field trips and borrowed some materials from our school’s archives at Haverford College and is mounting exhibits in both libraries for your viewing pleasure. According to published sources, Penn Charter created a library as early as 1744, and is credited to have the oldest continuously operating school library in the country. We have collected a variety of books belonging to the Penn Charter library, many of which appear to be originally owned by the Gummere and Mott families. We’ve selected books from different disciplines, so stop by to take a look. We are also happy to show the books to your classes, if you’d like. Some examples of books on display include:

  • A 1751 volume of Ovid’s Metamorphoses owned by Charles Thomson, PC teacher and Secretary of the Continental Congress; the book was used in his classes

  • Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: with a life of the author, published in 1831

  • a 1705 “Mathematical Compendium; or, Useful Practices in Arithmetic”

  • a “Tiny Library for Tiny People to Teach Them to Read,” 1865

In addition to sharing these treasures with the PC community, the librarians are hosting the Friends Council on Education school librarians for a day-long meeting on February 6, and will share these items with other Friends librarians. We hope this sampling piques your interest and that you will stop by the libraries and perhaps share the treasures with your students; the books will be here until March 1


News from Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

by Jonathan Howe

I’ll get right to it. Two “asks” and two exciting updates.

ASK #1 I’m asking everyone reading this right now to donate your Recyclebank points to our grant award. As many of you can attest, it’s easy, free, painless, and oh so helpful. So far we have almost $300 raised, but we have about $2200 more to go. Here is the link to my blog posting that tells you how to do it. And here are just a few of the many pitches I considered:

  • Emotional: Do it for the children, the baby polar bears, the children’s baby polar bears and the baby polar bears’ childrens’ baby polar bears!

  • Economic: It costs nothing and yet earns money, so the “return on investment” is infinite. You can’t afford not to invest!

  • Egocentric: Do it so you can tell everyone how dedicated, green, special and wonderful you are.

  • Cynical: Whatever. Do it just because it’s easy, even though it probably won’t help. Whatever.

  • Over-caffeinated: OMG! Do you love helping? Sign up and donate points! Is it hot in here? I can't feel my fingers! I just swallowed a stapler! 

ASK #2 I’m still seeking any colleagues interested in participating in the Eco Thunder Strike Force Delta Team Tiger Bam! team, otherwise known as the Environmental Stewardship Committee. The first meeting will take place in late February, date TBD. I’m looking for a balanced (by division, role, subject, talents, interests) group willing and able to give up about an afternoon a month to save the planet. That’s right, save the planet. I’m also trying to keep the group to an efficient size, so if too many from any particular group are interested, we might call upon your passion next year and not this year. Email me if you’re interested, and thanks to those of you who have already let me know.

UPDATE #1 We are starting the first phase of our new composting program! We’re contracting with Organics Diversion, a NJ-based commercial composting company, to pick up all the food scraps, waste and trimmings generated in the kitchen. We’re starting in the kitchen for two reasons: it’s a smaller scale as we work out the details, and the good folk in the kitchen are awesome and willing to do this.

Once we get the kinks worked out, we’ll launch a similar program on the cafeteria side of things. As you can imagine, that will require a lot of attention, help, patience and mindfulness as our oldest and youngest make some habit changes. We hope to expand into the cafeteria in time for Earth Day. As the single biggest source of waste on campus, reducing the waste in our dining hall is a huge leap forward for our stewardship.

UPDATE #2 Penn Charter is going to D.C. to lobby Congress on behalf of the environment. Mark Croxford, Sarah Sharp and I are leading a group of Middle and Upper school students down to the Friends Committee on National Legislation to learn how citizens can engage elected officials on issues that matter. We’ll spend a day training and a day lobbying. We’re scheduled to meet with the staffs of Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators, Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, and with Congressman Chaka Fattah. We’ll lobby on behalf of two bills: a bipartisan energy efficiency bill and a bill calling for a greater policing of super pollutants. We’ll debrief the school community at some point when we return. Democracy!


Proposals for Sabbaticals, 20-Year Grants and Summer Work

Faculty members who have been at Penn Charter for at least seven years may apply for a sabbatical to explore an area in the faculty member's field of interest. The Personnel Committee of the Board of Overseers reviews the applications and makes the final decisions. A trimester sabbatical comes with full pay; a yearlong sabbatical is at half pay.

There are also two $2,000 grants available for faculty members who have worked at Penn Charter for 20 or more years.

The deadline to apply for a sabbatical or 20-Year Grant is Friday, March 15. Interested faculty members should send duplicate letters to Darryl Ford, Stephanie Judson and Beth Glascott describing the proposed activity and timeline for the sabbatical or grant. Both applications should be brief (no more than two pages).

Summer work proposals are due April 1, 2015. All teachers are expected to do some planning in the summertime to prepare for the coming academic year; summer work for collaboration and unusual individual research will be reimbursed at $125.00 per diem for 8 hours a day of work. (Note: lunch is not reimbursed). Send proposals electronically to Stephanie Judson at


Notes from the Teaching & Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

In the coming month, the Teaching & Learning Center is offering varied workshops with hopes of informing and transforming your teaching. Offerings include: Backward Design, iMovie, Mac Basics, Evernote, Understanding Anxiety in Children, So… You Want to Learn to Play the Snare Drum, The Best of EduCon, Connecting with Students of Color, The Whys and Hows of Formative Assessment 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

Last Call: Suggest a Professional Summer Reading Book!
Near the end of February, the Committee on Teaching and Learning (CTL) will decide upon this summer’s professional reading choices. Now is your last chance to add suggestions. If you would like to recommend a book, please use this link to the Faculty Summer Reading page on the TLC website.

SPARC: Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage
The SPARC program, sponsored by Friends Council on Education, is a leadership development program based on principles from Parker Palmer’s "Courage to Teach" work. Together, over a two-year cycle, the group explores personal and professional growth through critical reflection, dialogue and feedback. Teachers from Friends schools are selected to take part in this learning community and use collaborative inquiry and reflective tools for self-directed professional development. The next cohort is scheduled for 2015-2017. Applications for the 2015-2017 cohort are due Feb. 25, 2015.

The Multicultural Resource Center invites you to the second installment of the Critical Conversation series, "Teaching Touch Topics: Racially Charged Current Events and their Relevance in our Classrooms." Laura Roy and H. Bernard Hall will reflect on why these topics are difficult to discuss and then model several theme-based lesson plans for a humanities class. Wednesday, Feb. 18, 4:30-6:00pm at Agnes Irwin School. Registration information here.

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.

  • Pete&C 2015, February 8-11, Hershey, Pa.
  • ISTE 2015, June 28-July 1, 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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