SSL Certificate

P.C.P.D. June 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

June 2015

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



News to Know



Jim Ballengee, Corey Kilbane and Tom Rickards have been awarded a grant from Friends Council on Education to support the after-school robotics program with St. James School. They will be starting a First Lego League team at St. James as part of the after-school program there and will be bringing Penn Charter robotics students to help mentor them.

One of Jennifer Chernak’s poems, “Dignified Dirt,” has been selected for an exhibit in August at the University of Puget Sound's Collins Memorial Library. The show is titled Dirt: Scientists, Artists and Writers Reflect on Soil and Our Environment.

On May 9, Debbie Foley and Tom Yabor presented Penn Charter's Return-to-Learn and Return-to-Play concussion protocols at the 3rd Annual Children's Hospital of Philadelphia conference "Diagnosis and Management of Concussion.” This conference was attended by medical clinicians, athletic trainers and school personnel.  Penn Charter's specific multi-faceted approach for managing students with concussion is now a model for other school communities.

Judith Hill and Ruth McGee have each been granted trimester sabbaticals in the next academic year. In the first trimester, Ruth will research university art programs in the Greater Philadelphia area and explore possibilities for PC students to further their art. She will also take time to focus on her personal work in art in her own living/working loft space. In the third trimester, Judith will spend time in Oxford, England, and in the United States researching libraries. Her focus will be on innovative renovation and adaptation to the digital age in England and in Friends schools on the east coast. 

Congratulations to director Eva Kay Noone and all who were involved in the production of the Upper School play, Antigone, at the end of April.

Kudos to Marianne Master and her Advanced Topics Latin class for the dramaturgy and Oedipus family tree tapestry, which both were part of the lobby display for the Upper School production of "Antigone." Additional kudos to Sarah Sharp for supporting the concept development for the production.

In May, Pam Shannon received her yoga teaching certification from Yoga and the Rhythms of Life. The training stems from the classical principles of Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras, the heart and openness of Kripalu, the alignment principles of Anusara and the tantric philosophy of joyfully engaging in all of life.

On May 21, Hayley Varhol and the West Philadelphia Orchestra were featured on National Public Radio in a segment called "Sense of Place." They played four of their newest compositions and chatted with David Dye.

Congratulations and special thanks to PC colleagues who shared their expertise by teaching workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center during May: Lindsay Franklin, Julian Guindon, Corey Kilbane, Marianne Master, Vicki Miles, Eva Kay Noone, Kristin Swoszowski-Tran, Alex Tighe, Doug Uhlmann and Antonio Williams.


Brad Ford married his fiancee, Becci, on May 30 in Point Pleasant, NJ.

Tom Yabor married Brittany Miske on May 30 in West Chester, Pa.


News and Notes

Beth Gould has enrolled in a Children's Book Writing course at Gotham.

A tip of the hat to our colleagues below who have gone the “extra mile” this year and participated in races and other competitions. Congratulations on this achievement! 

Sarah Aguilar-Francis, Sean Ahern and Stephanie Vogel represented the foreign language department at the Broad Street Run.

Jim Ballengee and Jill Bown ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia in September of 2014.

Sonia Duprez did the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon, the Philadelphia Half Marathon, the Love Half Marathon and the Broad Street Run. April Witherspoon also joined her 26x1 marathon relay team.

In addition to getting married, Brad Ford completed the Broad Street Run.

Anne Hilton ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon.

Marcy Sosa ran the NYPD Memorial 5K in May in memory of her father.

Kristin Swoszowski-Tran ran the Philly10K this past fall, and this summer she is competing in the Texas Open for Horseback Archery in New Braunfels, Tx.  

Laura Valdmanis ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon as well as the Broad Street Run. In the past year she has participated in the Riga Half Marathon in Latvia and the 1/2 Sauer-1/2 Kraut Half Marathon in Philly.


Faculty and Staff Changes

Sean Ahern will teach Spanish at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Maria Adamson will teach ninth grade social studies part-time. 

Laura Boroughf will teach humanities at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Denver.

Christine Brennan will be the Lower School Technology Coordinator. She is coming to us from her current position as the librarian of the library/media center of Coopertown Elementary School in Bryn Mawr.

Karen Campbell will be the Upper School Learning Specialist. Most recently, she is the Program Director of Students Run Philly Style. She has also worked at Girard College and White-Williams Scholars.

Elizabeth Cocco will teach kindergarten with Kellyn Jaspan from September through winter break while Jill Brotman is on maternity leave.

Jena Croxford will be the Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Philadelphia School. A search for a new pre-K assistant is underway.

Mark Croxford will teach biology and coordinate Environmental Stewardship at Germantown Friends School.

Gillian Diffenderfer will teach Spanish in the Upper School. She is coming to us from Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, NJ.

Catherine Ezzo will return to Penn Charter, this time as the Assistant Director of the Upper School. Catherine has been the Dean of Students at George School for the past five years. 

Wilson Felter and Imana Legette will each teach one section of eighth grade Civics in the Middle School.

Lorre Gifford will teach physics and calculus at Wayne Country Day School in Goldsboro, NC.

Elizabeth Kessler will teach Spanish in the Upper School. She is coming to us from Solebury School.

Jackie Hamilton will teach English part-time in the Middle School. She is coming to us from Tower Hill School.

Julia Judson-Rea will join Penn Charter's Marketing Communications as Assistant Director. Julia is coming to us from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

Marianne Master will be interim foreign language chair for the 2015-2016 year, assisted by Sarah Aguilar-Francis.

Andrea Moyer will work at Shattuck School in Minnesota.

Claire Scribner will be the 9th and 10th Grade Dean and Brian McCloskey will be the 11th and 12th Grade Dean beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

There are currently openings for Middle School Science, Upper School Science and a pre-K assistant. All available positions are posted on the Friends Council on Education website.



Alice Bateman and Josie Wallmuth will be joining the VITAL Selection Committee.

We hope you spend some time this summer dreaming about your ideal VITAL project! Applications will be due in January 2016.


Faculty and Staff Announcements

On Thursday, June 11, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm there will a faculty belay certification class on our climbing wall. While this session is full, there will be more sessions to learn how to belay and climb in the future. Next year, there will be opportunities on every other Friday afternoon, 3 to 5 pm, to sign up and try climbing here at PC! If you are interested in learning more about climbing, belay certification and use of the wall please contact Tom Rickards at


News From Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

by Jonathan Howe

So how did we do on the environmental front this year? Environmental issues are front page news every day (spills, pipelines, EPA regulations, climate marches, droughts, etc.), and our students will be going to college at a time when the world needs engineers, advocates, lawyers, politicians, rabble rousers, activists, pragmatists and stewards more than ever. Every step the school takes, visible or invisible, helps these future leaders and doers along their path in some way. Whether it’s Kevin Berkoff taking Lower School students birding (two bald eagles soaring over campus!), Alice Bateman’s seventh grade Geography class debating fracking or Upper School Spanish students exploring environmental issues in Latin America, the ideas, issues and projects that our students tackle in class prepare them for life off campus.

A group of faculty and staff met this spring to discuss and develop an Environmental Mission Statement to guide our efforts in the years to come. “Another mission statement?” you ask? Yes! Since sustainability issues impact the curriculum, facilities and policies of so many different aspects of our program, a mission statement can help us stay focused in the face of such broad and dynamic challenges. This is the statement we came up with:

William Penn Charter School is committed to the Quaker testimony of stewardship. We continually develop our educational program to include environmental concerns, teaching our students to be good stewards of the earth. We make decisions around resources which are mindful of their ecological impact. By cultivating a respect for nature and the interconnectedness of the world’s systems, we inspire students to become lifelong stewards and agents for global change.”

Continued . . . 


Penn's Purpose

The second grade completed a wonderful project with pediatrician Eileen Tyrala and her "ReachOut and Read" program. Their work enabled Tyrala to buy more than 200 age-appropriate books for students in the Allegheny West neighborhood who come to her practice. Studies show that a majority of students in this neighborhood don't have a single age-appropriate book in the home! This "Elder and Child" project, which also combines work with the Whosoever Gospel Mission and Right Sharing of World Resources, is a wonderful example of the best of service learning at Penn Charter.

Students from various schools in our Allegheny West Consortium of 10 schools were able to work together and put on a production of "Aladdin" in the Meeting Room in April. The students involved came from St. James School and Logan Hope School and were able to work with a national touring group, the Missoula Theatre Company. These students come from schools with no drama facilities or instruction so this was a major event for them. Thanks to Michael Roche for all of his help!

In addition to doing a Public Service Announcement and raising awareness around the school, donations to the "Our Closet" program of LIFT that were inspired by our fifth grade set an all-time record for donations to one organization! Thanks to everyone's generosity and the great organizing skills of fifth grade students and teachers. In addition to the fifth grade PSA about the "pop-up" clothing stores all over the city, senior Lela Lerner worked in these stores for her Senior Comprehensive Project.

Work with Lisa Turner in the garden at St. James will continue throughout the summer! Any faculty interested in getting on Jim Ballengee's e-mail "blasts" about opportunities during the summer months (including work in the garden) should let him know. Our Penn Charter garden, along with the Vetri Foundation chef and the DiBruno Brothers Neighborhood Kitchen, is the centerpiece of nutrition education in Allegheny West. The BBC even did a documentary on one student, Kevine, and how changed eating habits at St. James led him to convince his parents to prepare food differently at home. AND junior Kelsey White and her Mom, Keri, have been conducting cooking classes in that spirit as a St. James after-school elective throughout the year!


Professional Development News

Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior is being offered at Germantown Friends School on August 3-7. Click here for more information.

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 Institute 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









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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