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P.C.P.D. MAY 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

May 2015

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



News to Know


Musical Sojourn to the Big Easy

by Debbie Kaesshaefer

Congo Square. Storyville. Jackson Square. Bourbon Street. Royal Street.

These famous places in the French Quarter of New Orleans have fascinated me for years. I have been teaching Middle School students about the history of blues and jazz for more than a decade, but this year I was fortunate to be approved for a 20-Year Travel Grant so that I could plan a trip to “The Big Easy” to experience this musically significant place for myself.

It cannot be overstated that music is literally everywhere in the French Quarter. There are a plethora of street performers on nearly every corner, from string bands to brass bands as well as tap dancers, magicians and human statues. A calliope toots a welcome serenade to passengers waiting to board the Steamboat Natchez, on which visitors may enjoy a live Ragtime band while cruising the Mississippi River.

Food and music seem to go hand-in-hand in New Orleans. Walk into nearly any restaurant, club or coffee shop and you will more than likely hear live music. One of my favorite experiences was enjoying hot coffee and a trio of freshly made beignets to the strains of old hymns crooned by a baritone who stood outside Café Beignet on Royal Street. Heaven.

Continued . . . 


The New-Faculty Mentor Group: Strength in Numbers

by Marianne Master

Think back to your first year at Penn Charter. Imagine walking through the red doors to participate in new faculty orientation, opening meetings and the first few days of school. Remember looking at the faces of colleagues wondering if you would ever learn all their names. Recall reading the internal calendar and wondering if you actually had to attend all of those meetings. Yellow Week? L-1? The Overseers Dinner? What are these things?!

New Faculty and Mentors at Falls TaproomGiven these mysteries of Penn Charter, many conversations in the Committee on Teaching and Learning have focused on how to best support new faculty. In past years, new faculty members were assigned an experienced teacher who would contact them in the summer to help shepherd their transition to Penn Charter. This support could include informal cups of coffee, lunch meetings and chats in the faculty mailroom. While there is recognition that one-to-one partnerships can be very effective, busy schedules and the unstructured nature of the program often meant that the experience was inconsistent for new members of the school community. So, the committee decided to experiment with a new approach to mentoring new faculty and staff. The new program is structured with a cohort model, rather than one-to-one pairings. And thus the New-Faculty Mentor Group (NFMG) was born.

Continued . . .



In May, Debbie Foley and Tom Yabor are presenting at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at a conference on “Diagnosis and Management of Concussion: Advances from Bench to Sideline.”

Ed Foley was inducted on April 7 into the City All-Star Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Shahidah Kalam Id Din and Ruth McGee have both been accepted to the SPARC program of Friends Council on Education for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. SPARC is an acronym for "Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage." Participants attend four residential sessions over the two years.

Ed Marks will be offering a workshop on the course he and Andy Zuccotii teach on "Philosophy for Children" at the national PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) conference at the end of June in Seattle.

Pam Shannon has been awarded a 20-Year Travel Grant to spend time this summer in Colorado, attending the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat and visiting the National Olympic Training Center.

Sarah Sharp has been awarded a Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education by the South Asia Center & Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The honor is awarded to teachers who “demonstrate a strong and ongoing commitment to incorporating global studies into their classrooms, schools and education networks.”

Kudos to PC’s 2014-2015 SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) group for working together to explore a variety of topics including class, gender, race and privilege. This year’s SEED group members were: Chris Burnett, Jennifer Chernak, Monique Durso, Monica Freely, Beth Gould, Chuck Hitschler, Shahidah Kalam Id-Din, Marla Levin, Kathy MacMurray, Debbie Marcee, Brooke Stratton, and John Zurcher. The SEED co-clerks were Naveena Bembry and Natasha Pronga.

Congratulations and special thanks to the PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during April: Jim Ballengee, Charlie Brown, Wilson Felter, Debbie Foley, Malcolm Ford, Julian Guindon, Rachel Malhotra, Vicki Miles, Jim Phillips, Sheila Ruen, Doug Uhlmann and Antonio Williams.


News and Notes

Shannon Makhija attended a Planned Giving course in April. The course is a concentrated two-day certificate course for professionals who are looking to deepen their knowledge and comfort level with gift planning concepts, instruments, marketing techniques and conversations.

Ed Marks will be reading AP Government and Politics exams in Salt Lake City in June. He will also be participating in a week-long institute at UC Boulder at the end of July on "Citizens, Society, and the State: Adaptation and Transformation in Contemporary China."

Bob Wilson attended the WGI Indoor Percussion Finals in Dayton, Ohio in April. Over 150 of the top high school and independent teams from around the country competed in the event. Bob reports, “It was inspirational to see so many fine young musicians, and their work and dedication is a reminder of the greatness that can be achieved through diligence and commitment. I am eager to share moments of this experience with PC students.”


Faculty and Staff Changes

Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, Brian Skelly will teach Humanities in the middle school and coach multiple seasons.

Heather Hillas will volunteer and do her student teaching in the pre-K next year.


Overseers' Dinner

The annual Overseer’s Dinner will be on Tuesday, May 12, at 6:00 pm in the tent at Timmons. Click here for a list of faculty and staff will be honored for their service to Penn Charter.


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.


Penn's Purpose


Thanks to all of the faculty who participated in Allegheny West Consortium (AWC) activities this year! Our latest program was on Multicultural Education and was run by two teachers from Potter-Thomas Elementary School and Stetson Middle School, plus a Learning Specialist from the School District. At St. James School, which hosted the evening's program, teachers also got to enjoy a meal from the Vetri Foundation chef who cooks in the DiBruno Brothers neighborhood kitchen.

The AWC is a consortium that brings together public, private, charter, faith-based schools and two universities in our neighborhood to promote quality education for children in ALL schools. If you are interested in joining this group of educators for the 2015-2016 school year, let Jim Ballengee know. The commitment is usually one meeting per trimester from 5:00 to 7:30 pm. Read Jim Ballengee's testimony before the School Reform Commission here.


A wide variety of classes and individuals at Penn Charter have worked with LIFT, which is a nationwide agency fighting poverty with offices in Philadelphia. Art students this year designed a series on service and giving to others, which will be displayed in the LIFT offices in West Philadelphia. Josh Romalis, the executive director of LIFT, has been in to speak to a wide variety of classes around the school. The fifth grade has been committed to the “Our Closet” program of "pop-up clothing stores” all year and did a Public Service Announcement for “Our Closet.”


The second grade has been working with their elders on crafts to sell in late April and the proceeds will go to support “Reach Out and Read,” our ongoing work to assist Eileen Tyrala, a pediatrician in the Falls Center who was dismayed to learn that many of the children she saw in her practice didn't have a single age-appropriate book in the home. For the last two years we have been supplying new and nearly-new books and raising money for her to buy recommended books from the national organization. Second graders and their elders also got to hear and work with Heather Rice of the Whosoever Gospel Mission.


Notes from the Teaching & Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

May’s TLC workshops include sessions about Project-Based Learning, Google Apps, Noodle Tools, Evernote, One-to-One Mac Help, Integrating Theater into Your Classes, Gamification, Your Personal Newsstand, Time Management Tips, the Global Read Aloud and more.  Here is the link to sign up for sessions.

Now that Philadelphia University’s Talking about Teaching lunches have ended, the TLC will start a similar series. This Monday’s May 4 session will be about “Strategies to Help Students Motivate Themselves.” Drop in during your lunch break to join in the discussion. To jumpstart your thinking about the subject, here’s a link to a short Edutopia article.

Members of the US Eduvation Club are also available to help you create videos for your classes. If you’re interested in this opportunity or wish to arrange a one-to-one session, hold a Critical Friends Group, or have other learning opportunities that you’d like to discuss, you can schedule an appointment on the front page of our TLC website.  

Hope to see you at the TLC!


Professional Development News

The Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania welcomes applications from educators who are interested in the Virtual Online Teaching (VOLT) certificate program. This certificate program will develop instructors grounded in educational theory who are experts in their content areas and also adept at harnessing technology to design and implement curricula. The application deadline is May 10, 2015.

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."

Click here for more information on upcoming professional development opportunities. Please remember to fill out the blue professional development form attached to your registration.

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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









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