SSL Certificate

P.C.P.D. april 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

April 2015

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



News to Know

Challenge Success in the Upper School

by Travis Larrabee

Housed within Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, Challenge Success is an organization that looks to give families and schools the research-based tools they need to help our students and children lead healthy, balanced lives. One of the resources Challenge Success provides is the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences, which measures “student outcomes related to health and well-being, school engagement, students' perception of teacher support, extracurricular activities, homework, academic worry, academic integrity and beliefs about their parents' goals and expectations.” In our efforts to think about time and balance in the Upper School, we administered this survey to our students last March. While just one, self-reported snapshot in time, these survey results do provide some interesting insight into our students’ lives. In short, they are busy. I have shared all of the major findings of the report with the Upper School faculty. Here are a few pieces of data:

  • Our students report that they complete more than three hours of homework each night (this includes work that they are able to complete during study halls and free periods during the day).

  • On related questions, our students were asked about other things they are doing while completing their homework. More than 40 percent of students reported doing one or all of the following: listening to music; talking or texting on their cell phone; checking and posting on a social networking site.

  • More than 50 percent of our students commit more than 10 hours per week to extracurricular activities (after school activities, PC and non-PC related). Seventy-eight percent of our students report “enjoyment” as the reason they participate in these extracurriculars.

  • Our students report getting between six and seven hours of sleep per night. The recommended average for teenagers is about nine hours per night.

Continued . . . 


Fifth Grade to Explore Penn Charter's 325th Anniversary

by Naveena Bembry and Vicki Miles

What would William Penn say, think and experience if he walked back into the school that he founded 325 years ago?

When we return from spring break, this is a question that the fifth grade class will tackle. As leaders of the Lower School, fifth graders will plan and organize a project designed to explore the core ideas that Penn valued through the eyes of today’s Penn Charter students. We will focus on:

  1. The thinking behind Penn’s “Holy Experiment” to bring together people from different faiths and cultures.

  2. Penn’s quest for a “greene countrie towne,” which today we might discuss in terms of conservation, environmental stewardship and sustainability.

  3. The notion that “good instruction is better than riches,” which speaks to Penn’s passion for excellence in education.

  4. The Quaker ideal of “the Light within” and seeing that of God in everyone as a framework for our school community.

This project will be student-led and will focus on student voices. The webisodes featuring many familiar faces, produced by Phil Katz OPC '01, will serve as a springboard for fifth graders to reflect on Penn’s vision. Using the “flipped classroom” model, students will watch the webisodes at home and come to class ready to discuss, debate and write about the four themes outlined above. The final format for this project is still to be determined by the fifth graders. We look forward to closing this special 325th year by sharing their work with you.



Dan Evans will be presenting this June at the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling Annual Conference. His topic is "Application Creep" and he will be joined by admission officers from the University of Pittsburgh and Lafayette College as well as a college counselor from Shady Side Academy.

Debbie Kaesshaefer has been awarded a 20-Year Grant to travel to New Orleans over spring break to explore jazz, which is part of her curriculum.  

In February, La Sripanawongsa Skype-taught Thai language to a group of students from Valor Christian High School in Colorado who will be going to Thailand on a service learning trip. She also hosted a monthly meeting of the Tri-State World Language Teachers Teaching with Comprehensible Input professional group, focusing on the ACTFL guideline of using 90 percent target language in the classroom. In addition, she presented a webinar entitled "Introduction to Embedded Reading" to the Chinese graduate students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Steven Wade recently attended the National Science Teachers Association national conference in Chicago as a member on the Urban Science Education Advisory Board.

Congratulations and special thanks to the PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during March: Jim Ballengee, Tim Lynch, Sheila Ruen, and Doug Uhlmann.


Andrea Moyer and her husband Dan welcomed a daughter, Megan Marie, on March 5.


News and Notes

In March, Jennifer Chernak, Erin Hughes and Shahidah Kalam Id-Din attended a day-long workshop entitled “Penn Summit on Talking About Race in the K-12 Classroom” at University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education.

Ben Dziedzic and Lisa Turner attended The Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College for a day-long workshop on March 13. The focus of the workshop was Junot Diaz's novel, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

In March, La Sripanawongsa participated in a two-day workshop on Teaching Chinese through TPRS at the University of Delaware. The workshop was sponsored by the Confucius Institute.

Save the Date! The Overseers Dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, at 6pm.


Faculty and Staff Changes

Cassandra Aldridge will have a year's leave of absence. A search for a one-year Middle School social studies teacher has begun.

Tim Clarke will teach physics beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. He will be coming to us from Moorestown Friends School.

On April 20, Liz Spagnoletti will begin a new position as Development and Communications Manager at the Fishing School in the Kenilworth section of Washington, D.C.. The Fishing School is a non-profit that runs after-school academic enrichment programs for Title 1-eligible D.C. public and charter schools.

Candidates for the position of Academic Dean of Curriculum and Professional Development will be visiting campus in April. The members of the search committee are Charlie BrownDarryl Ford (clerk)Judith HillBeth GlascottDavid KernHeather LarrabeeMarianne MasterBeth MenzieLee Payton and Marcy Sosa.


ISTE Conference 2015

The International Society for Technology in Education is hosting its annual conference in Philadelphia this summer, June 28-July 1. This is a wonderful local opportunity for Penn Charter faculty to attend workshops and hear speakers on the cutting edge of technology and educational innovation. If you are interested in attending, contact Stephanie Judson.


Notes from the Teaching & Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

What do you want to learn? What types of professional development would help you reach your goals? The Teaching and Learning Center is here to meet your needs. Are you aware that the TLC offers much more than weekly lunch and after-school workshops?

The TLC is also here for you to

  • arrange one-to-one sessions with mentors about topics of your choice

  • organize a Critical Friends Group to help you gain insights to revamp a project, look at a dilemma from a new perspective, or look at student work with specific objectives

  • arrange a classroom visit to learn more about classroom management, facilitating class discussions, integrating technology, and more

If you’re interested in any of these options or have other professional development ideas that you’d like to discuss, you can schedule an appointment on the homepage of our TLC website.

This month’s TLC workshops include sessions about concussions, microaggression, graphic design, multi-camera recording and streaming, leaning into difficult conversations, bees without boxes, how to get kids talking, understanding ADD and ADHD, updates about Philly education and more. This month the TLC also plans to start offering one-to-one sessions with members of the Upper School Eduvation Club to help you create videos for your classes, and we are holding even more Mac-related workshops to help with the Lower School Mac rollout. Here is the link to sign up for sessions.

If you’d like to take advantage of our invitation to attend a Talking about Teaching lunch at Philadelphia University, April is the time to do so, since their school year ends the first week in May. Each Thursday, from 11:30am to 12:30pm, faculty gather in Philadelphia University’s Kanbar Dining Hall Fishbowl room to discuss a current education topic. The weekly education topic will be posted on our Genius Signup. On April 15, from 5 to 7pm, you’re invited to Philadelphia University’s art exhibit and lecture entitled "The Art of Recovery," which features artwork created by young adults and women recovering from eating disorders and offers an in-depth look at the complexity and journey from eating disorders to recovery.

Hope to see you at the TLC!


Technology Announcements

New Tech Resource
The Tech Team has been working to provide the PC community with tech solutions at their fingertips. We would like to present an online resource of solutions for tech problems or simple “how to." Visit 109Online

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.56.21 AM.png

In addition to the vast array of information available at 109Online, please take time to walk through the Self-Service portion of the website. Self-Service will become your portal to access department or division specific software applications and peripheral devices.

FYI: March 31 is World BackUP Day. Be sure to do your backUps. Visit 109Online backup for support.


Professional Development News

NAIS is now accepting workshop submissions for the next annual conference, to be held in San Francisco from February 24-26, 2016. Visit this website for more information on how to submit a proposal.

ADVIS will be offering summer professional development on Online and Blended Learning in June and July. Click here for more information.

Episcopal Academy will be offering the Hirtle Summer Program for Innovative Schools, July 13-16. Offerings include "Exeter Math Institution for Teachers," "Innovation in Teaching Workshop" and "Best Practices of Writing Instruction."

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, at 7pm, will be Parenting Multi-Racial Children.

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
powered by finalsite