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P.C.P.D. September 2015

Penn Charter Professional Development

September 2015

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


News to Know


Thought & Practice: Where Vision and Possibility Meet

Follow this link to visit Penn Charter's new education blog! Our debut includes a post about the new IdeaLab and Brooke Giles' summer work in Jamaica.


Jim Ballengee was one of four panelists on a “Google Hangout” in August that was sponsored by the National Network of Schools in Partnership (NNSP). The topic was the design and operation of Public Purpose Centers. The other panelists were from Castilleja School in California, Renbrook School in Connecticut and St. Mark's School in Massachusetts.

Chris Christoph has completed her Level 1 Wilson Reading Certification. The process took one year to complete with 90 hours of online coursework and 60 practicum hours of clinical experience.

Lindsay Franklin is directing a production of the musical The Last Five Years that is playing September 11-October 3 at the Barley Sheaf Players in Lionville. Click here for more information about the show and tickets.

Shahidah Kalam Id-Din and Ruth McGee were selected to participate in the Friend's Council of Education's 2015-2017 SPARC cohort for teachers in Quaker schools.

Imana Legette did a presentation for Friends School Haverford to help them with their diversity and inclusion efforts. It was entitled "Cultural Competency in the Classroom."

Malia Piazza earned her M.Ed. in Human Sexuality from Widener University's Center for Human Sexuality Studies.

Tom Rickards completed his Climbing  Wall Instructor with Lead Certification from the American Mountain Guide Association.


Eileen Bossone married Wilson Gamarro on July 11.

Jill Brotman and her husband Ryan welcomed a son, Owen Harry, on September 2.

Michelle Farkouh married Alexander Dowd on July 4.

Chris Rahill and his wife Colleen welcomed a daughter, Samantha Grace, on August 6.


News and Notes

Michelle Farkouh Dowd and Karen Riedlmeier worked together this summer on the Lower School art curriculum. They focused on creating new connections and enhancing established connections with Pre-K and lower school grade level and specials curricula.

Shahidah Kalam Id-Din participated in the Hirtle Summer Program for Innovative Schools' Best Practices of Writing Instruction at Episcopal Academy in July.

Karen Riedlmeier attended a week long Summer Institute for Art Educators at Moore College of Art. She writes, “This intense but fantastic program had us become college students again, living in the dorms. There was studio time for individual artistic renewal as well as time to collaborate, learn, and reflect with other art teachers from Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and New Jersey."

This summer, Sheila Ruen took two classes at the University of the Arts: Observational Painting and Adobe Illustrator. In addition to participating in the VITAL Grant, "New Tools, New Competencies," she took the AP Studio Teachers' Institute course at LaSalle University and participated in the Design Thinking Institute at PC.

Bob and Brad at Conn SelmerIn August, Brad Ford and Robert Wilson traveled to the Conn Selmer Headquarters in Elkhart, Indiana as VIPs with Zeswitz Music. Conn Selmer represents the only remaining music instrument manufacturing plant in the United States. They were treated to tours of the Vincent Bach Brass Instrument Manufacturing building, where the company builds trumpets and trombones, the Ludwig factory where marimbas, xylophones, vibraphones and other percussive instruments are made as well as the woodwind factory where clarinets, flutes, bassoons and oboes are created. They were able to view the process from flat metal all the way to placing the completed instruments into their cases for distribution to schools and professionals throughout the world. At the conclusion of the tours Brad and Bob were able to meet in round table discussions regarding product needs from Conn Selmer as well as professional conversations regarding recruitment, scheduling and other topics with Richard Saucedo, composer and former band director of Carmel High School near Indianapolis, IN. 


Faculty and Staff Changes

Ben Dzeidzic will return to teaching English full time in the Upper School.

Wilson Felter will teach one section of eighth grade civics during the 2015-2016 school year.  

Brad Ford has taken over as our Upper School Band Director after his one-year appointment last year. He is replacing Hayley Varhol, who resigned from that position.

Tiffani Harris is now Director of Leadership and Annual Giving. In addition to working specifically with leadership level donors, Tiffani now oversees the entirety of the Annual Fund from a macro level. She will be supported by Emma Rowan, our new Assistant Director of Annual Giving.

Imana Legette will teach one section of eighth grade civics during the 2015-2016 school year.  

Rebecca Luzi will now serve as our Associate Director of Marketing Communications.

Marianne Master will serve as the interim Foreign Language Department Chair for the 2015-2016 school year. Sarah Aguilar-Francis will assist her.  

Brian McCloskey will serve as the eleventh and twelfth grade dean for the 2015-2016 school year. In addition, he will teach two Upper School math courses.  

Claire Scribner will be the new ninth and tenth grade dean. She will also teach two Upper School Spanish classes.  

Jessica Stusnick will serve as a First Grade Teacher during the 2015-2016 school year.  


Welcome to New Faces!

Click here for a directory of new faculty and staff.

Kaitlyn Norton is the new Dining Services Director for CulinArt.



Notes from the Teaching and Learning Center

by Ruth Aichenbaum

Welcome back to school! Thanks for the answering the TLC Quia survey during opening meetings. If for some reason you didn’t have a chance to fill it out, here’s the link. I look forward to using your feedback and collaborating with you to develop workshops and programming that best helps you reach your goals as learners and teachers.

This month’s TLC offerings include sessions about PC Hub, an introduction to Twitter for Educators, a workshop about the Global Read Aloud, Professional Development 101, a TLC Open House 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. Please know that the Educational Tech Coordinators: Michael Moulton (U/S) Brian Hecker (M/S) and Christy Brennan (L/S) are available to work one-to-one with you to help you with PC Hub. Feel free to email them or touch base with them in person. You can also book an appointment with Michael Moulton using this link

Once again this year we have access to professional development at Philadelphia University, as they do to ours. Each Friday from 12:00 to 1:00pm 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 Genius Signup. The discussions are rich and already conversations have led to some exciting partnerships between our schools.  

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, 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, stop by the TLC or send me an email. While you’re on the TLC website, I invite you to explore its many online resources.  Hope to see you at the TLC!


Faculty and Staff Announcements

Mindful Yoga for Faculty and Staff
Are you curious about experiencing a new mind/body exercise routine or something to complement your current exercise program? The fall session of Mindful Yoga will be offered weekly starting Tuesday, September 15th at 4:10pm in the Pre-K Great Room. To sign up and learn more about mindful yoga, our instructor and additional information, click on the following link on the TLC. This is a very affordable way to experience an excellent class by one of the Philly area’s best instructors.


Penn's Purpose

by Jim Ballengee

Service at Penn Charter doesn't follow the traditional calendar as students and faculty were involved in a variety of endeavors this summer. Students tended to our garden at St. James School harvesting crops all summer and donating them to the school and local agencies like SHARE. Lisa Turner also had students helping her in the Penn Charter garden (to the right of the Strawbridge soccer field) and Margaret Lea took a huge amount of produce from the Charter Court garden where she volunteers to the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

Three different STEAM sessions took place in August at The Center For Returning Citizens (TCRC) in Germantown. Our student interns and high school students worked with the children of incarcerated prisoners who are back in the community and getting adjusted to society again. Our STEAM work, led by Corey Kilbane and Mabel Negrete of SPARKmakers, has completed work at St. James School and Widener Memorial School and will also pilot a program at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries this fall. Here is the link to the TCRC website. If you are interested in having your class work with this agency or host a speaker, see Jim Ballengee.

Here is a description of the SPARKmakers course we have been taking to area schools and agencies for the past year: “‘Designing Electronic Gadgets and Playful Structures' is an introductory thinkering and STEAM workshop of three 2-hour sessions introducing students to design and problem-solving skills as well as the science concepts behind kinetic energy, recology and technology. It comprises the making of a flashlight, a toy car and prototyping a playground machine.”

The Philanthropy 101 class that has now been taught at Penn Charter for five years had their traditional end-of-course grant augmented by Laura Kind McKenna and gave $8000 to the Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy.

Penn Charter hosted teacher training sessions by JOUNCE Partners this summer in an upper school classroom. JOUNCE works with teachers and principals in a wide variety of neighborhood and charter schools in the city. OPC Mike McKenna is one of the partners in JOUNCE and helped with the sessions this summer. Thanks to Beth Glascott for making this happen in our building this year.


Professional Development News

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, is speaking at the Philadelphia Free Library on October 16 at 7:30pm. The auditorium is sold out, but there are tickets available for the simulcast for $6.00 at this link.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program is accepting applications for K-12 teachers through November 4. Click on this link for more details on this opportunity to conduct educational research abroad.

TECHedADVIS is a series of short, inspirational, “TED-style” talks illustrating and informing how GAMEChangers are leveraging technology to build and transform the next generation of K-12 learning environments. It takes place on October 9 at the Independence School in Newark, DE. Click here for more information.

MCRC@ADVIS presents Critical Conversations--"Defamation: The Play" on November 2, 9:00am-11:30am at Malvern Prep. Race, religion, class and gender collide in the riveting courtroom drama by Todd LoganClick here for more information.

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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