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P.C.P.D. March 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

March 2015

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




News to Know

19th Century Student Voices (as performed, pictured and constructed by the class of 2018)

by Eva Kay Noone and Sheila Ruen

The 9th grade Foundation Arts class has always conducted interdisciplinary arts work through a range of interdisciplinary topics. For ten years, students have developed skills in storyboarding, voice recording, novel musical notation, animation, graphic design and other areas through diverse annual topics such as travel and migration, conflict resolution, haiku, the Periodic Table of Elements, the animal kingdom and campus trees. The 325th Anniversary of Penn Charter was a natural focus for our 2014-15 curriculum. We (Eva Kay Noone, Ruth McGee and Sheila Ruen) invited Doug Uhlmann and Alice Bateman to join us for a summer professional development opportunity to create curriculum around the history of Penn Charter.

We set out to investigate our in-house collection of Penn Charter artifacts and documents. We imagined developing curriculum that would culminate in a “History of Penn Charter in 115 Objects” (115 being the number of 9th graders in Foundation Arts), in the spirit of “The History of the World in 100 Objects” published by the British Museum. We started out by exploring the rooms at Timmons; examining the nooks and crannies, fireplaces and storage closets. We found 19th century maps of Germany and brass plaques, silver bowls engraved by Bailey, Banks, and Biddle and panoramic photographs of the Pinehurst property prior to the move from the Center City campus in the 1920s. We ventured across the street to the squash courts and found the old gate from the original school location. In the archives, Allan Brown gave us access to period photographs of sports teams and clubs, musical and theatrical programs, and a wide variety of artifacts. We scanned, photographed, collected and organized a mind-boggling array of possible objects. However, after a couple of exhilarating and strenuous days of searching and foraging, we found that we had lost our way.

Continued . . . 



Ruth Aichenbaum presented at the Speed Innovating session at the NAIS conference in Boston last week. Her presentation was entitled “Creating a Teaching and Learning Center: An Innovative Model for Professional Development.”

Alice Bateman, Wilson Felter, Jim Fiorile, Josh Oberfield, Christine Pearsall and Allen Vandegrift have been awarded a VITAL grant to collaborate on a Middle School Advisory project (see "VITAL Signs" for details).

Brooke Giles, Corey Kilbane, Michael Moulton, Eva Kay Noone, Parveen Roberts, Sheila Ruen, Kristin Swoszowski-Tran and Doug Uhlmann have been awarded a VITAL grant for their project “New Tools, New Competencies” (see "VITAL Signs" for details).

Judith Hill, Linda O'Malley and Doug Uhlmann created and hosted a workshop for 25 FCE Quaker school librarians on February 6, with a full day of programming, including a very popular author visit with Trevor Price. Price, in addition to meeting with the librarians group, spoke with our third, fourth and fifth grade classes about his new Kalipuri book series and his move from professional football player to author.

Beth Menzie had a solution to a math problem published in the New York State Mathematics Teachers' Journal.

Congratulations to director Michael Roche and all who were involved in the production of the Upper School musical, Hairspray.

Congratulations and special thanks to the many PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during February: Wilson Felter, Lindsay Franklin, Julian Guindon, Michael Moulton, Eva Kay Noone, Lee Payton, Lisa Reedich, Marcy Sosa and Antonio Williams.


James Fiorile and Teodora Nedialkova welcomed a daughter, Lucia Joan, on February 12.


News and Notes

Students from eighth through twelfth grades, along with chaperones Marianna Allen, Antonio Calvo, Aude Simon and La Sripanawongsa, spent Presidents' weekend in Québec City to experience the beauty and fun of Carnaval. Highlights included night tobogganning (among many other winter sports activities), improv comedy, walking across a suspension bridge over a waterfall and seeing ice sculptures while eating delicious pastries called "beaver tails."  We hardly noticed the -19 degree weather.


Faculty and Staff Changes

Jonathan Howe will teach Lower School science at Germantown Friends School beginning in the next academic year. 

Dana Toedtman has decided to retire after 30 years of service to Penn Charter. Her plans include a possible return to private tutoring and training tutors in a nearby literacy program, as well as some more time with family and friends. 

Hayley Varhol, who will continue to build the growing success of the West Philadelphia Orchestra, has resigned. Brad Ford has been appointed Upper School Band Director.

The following faculty will be serving on the search committee for the new Academic Dean of Curriculum and Professional Development: Charlie BrownDarryl Ford (clerk)Judith HillBeth GlascottDavid KernHeather LarrabeeMarianne MasterBeth MenzieLee Payton and Marcy Sosa.

There are currently openings for Middle School EnglishUpper School Learning Specialist and Upper School Spanish. All of these openings are posted (or will be soon) on Friends Council on Education’s website.

Welcome to New Faces

Jill Bown will teach Teodora Nedialkova's classes during her maternity leave.



Sara Matey taught Jim Fiorile's Latin classes during his paternity leave.  

Philip MacMurray will teach Andrea Moyer's classes during her maternity leave.


Alex Tighe will teach Tony Farrell's classes during his sabbatical.


Katherine Kim will be a substitute assistant working in the first grade until spring break.




Brooke Giles, Corey Kilbane, Michael Moulton, Eva Kay Noone, Parveen Roberts, Sheila Ruen, Kristin Swoszowski-Tran and Doug Uhlmann have been awarded a VITAL grant for their project “New Tools, New Competencies.” Corey and Sheila will provide training on new digital creation tools and software. Collectively, and individually, these teachers identified curricular and programmatic goals that would benefit from tech/hands-on integration and project-based learning. Using Backward Design, each member of the team will develop one new project, integrating one or more of the new tools and applications, that fits into and extends our current curricular and programmatic goals.

Alice Bateman, Wilson Felter, Jim Fiorile, Josh Oberfield, Christine Pearsall and Allen Vandegrift will be collaborating on a Middle School Advisory project. They plan to create a meaningful and spiraling advisory curriculum for our Middle School program that will include: the development of a digital curriculum with lessons, queries, content strands and common vocabulary; teacher training on how to maximize our roles as advisors to help students feel connected and empowered; parent education and access to key elements and common vocabulary from our lessons; bridges to programs that currently exist in our Lower and Upper Schools; and mechanisms for feedback from teachers and students to help them upgrade and enhance our curriculum each year. They aspire to create an advisory program that will both enhance and transform our students’ experience by helping our adolescents navigate the social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual challenges of Middle School.


News from Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

by Jonathan Howe

It’s official: we had our first pick-up of compostables on campus last week! The great folk in our kitchen are composting all food wastes generated during meal preps. Previously this food waste would go into a plastic trash bag and then slowly rot in a landfill. And remember, when we throw things “away” that “away” is simply a deep hole that we fill with garbage. Now, the food waste produced in the kitchen will go to a facility to be turned into soil in which we can grow more food, to create more waste, to make more compost . . . you get the idea.

Once we work out the kinks, get a sense of the volumes and figure out the schedules, we will add the cafeteria waste as well. My guess is that this will be sometime in April. As you can imagine, that will generate a LOT more material and require a lot more attention. At that point, we’ll all need to work hard remind the students (and each other) where the various waste streams go. 

But this is a long journey. For now, we have taken a major step forward in our dream of a zero-waste cafeteria. So please make sure to thank Mike and the Culinart crew for their good work on behalf of our sustainability goals. 


Penn's Purpose

This year's program sponsored by the Penn's Purpose and the Teaching and Learning Center will take place on Wednesday, March 18, at 6:00 pm. A Signup Genius will be coming out for all faculty, and the program is linked here.  

We recently had a meeting about connections between PC and The Center for Returning Citizens in Germantown. This is a group providing support for formerly incarcerated citizens and their children and they are developing an after-school program as well. The executive director, Jondhi Harrell, will be one of our speakers at the TEDx program in March. Let Jim Ballengee know if your class is interested in making connections with this group.

Paul Blackwood and Jim Ballengee recently toured Henry School in Mt. Airy with representatives from Mt Airy USA and PHENN. Due to the generosity of our Tech Department, we will be donating our 500 series Smartboards and installing them in all of the K through 2 classrooms at Henry School this summer.

For those who have not seen it, here is a video outlining our first SPARKmakers program teaching principles of engineering and design to students at St. James School. Corey Kilbane and Mabel Negrete from SPARKmakers, along with our student interns, will be taking this program to other local schools for winter and spring sessions.


Notes from the Teaching & Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

Our learning community is growing! We now have access to professional development at Philadelphia University, and we have invited their faculty to attend our Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) workshops. In fact, we have already begun attending each other’s sessions. Philadelphia University opened up their many workshops during their week of Nexus Learning, from February 25-27, and each Thursday from 11:30-12:30 we are invited to attend their Talking Teaching session in the Kanbar Center in the FishBowl room. I’ll post the weekly educational topic of the talks on our Signup Genius.

In the near future, The TLC will also be offering one-to-one sessions with members of the US Eduvation Club to help you create videos for your classes. Each month we will also continue to offer a number of one-to-one Mac sessions with Julian Guindon.

This month’s TLC offerings include a webinar about Digital Portfolios, Introduction to the TEDx speakers, Mac Basics, Graphic Design for Teachers, Ways to Incorporate Theater Into Your Courses 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.

As always, 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!


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


Professional Development News

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 local professional development opportunities, focused on technology, which are coming in 2015.
  • 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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