SSL Certificate


September 2016

From the Director's Chair

Dear Lower School Parents and Families,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 2016-17 school year. We are off to a terrific start with all the excitement and good feelings associated with so many returning faculty and students coupled with our newest students and faculty. Our teachers spend much time before the start of school preparing our classrooms to capture the minds and passions of our students. I get real joy seeing our students come back to school and be so readily swept up into this infectious learning environment. I want to thank you for all the learning you have fostered at home. The partnership we share in teaching our young people is one of our greatest strengths as a school.

I know I outlined our Lower School teaching lineup in my summer letter, but I want to highlight a few teachers again. We welcome Monique Durso back to second grade after her maternity leave. The entire Lower School is thrilled to have Nina join Monique’s family and thrilled to have Monique back in second grade. In third grade we are so lucky to have Elizabeth Cocco and Nita Hopkins joining us. Elizabeth is filling in for Chris Christoph, who is on sabbatical until Thanksgiving. Nita will be teaching with us the entire year, while Teodora Nedialkova is on maternity leave. Elizabeth has been our go-to person for teachers on leave for the past several years and Nita has enjoyed a stellar career teaching lower school students at Greene Street Friends School. Jessica Stusnick has become a full-time member of the first grade team and Heather Hillas is joining pre-K as an assistant teacher working with Megan Kafer. Both Jessica and Heather were in the Lower School program last year and we welcome them permanently to our team. Finally, Sarah Black has joined the fifth grade team as the language arts teacher and Sonia Duprez has joined the fourth grade teaching team. Previously, Sarah taught in our Lower School for six years and she filled in as the fifth grade language arts teacher for Natasha Pronga last spring. I believe most of you already know Sonia and the contributions she has made across many grades. With these additions, we are ready for a wonderful year of learning and growth in Lower School.

Also in my summer letter, I spoke about the changes to our report card system, and now we have several other initiatives to share with you. 

  • The Hub has new software tools that will allow us to better utilize the Hub as a communication network with you, and we have already invested significant time in our faculty meetings for our teachers to work with these tools.
  • The K-5 Language Arts program will add Words Their Way to our study of spelling and word recognition. We piloted this program last year in certain grades and this year we are ready to launch the program in kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • We are also busy preparing the Lower School IdeaLab for student use. The lab is on the first floor of the Lower School (previously the room was our fifth grade reading room). A Lower School committee has guided the development of the room and we are excited to get it fully operational this fall.

Each year I am given the opportunity to address the full school faculty. This year I was reflecting upon those places in the world where life is in amazing full bloom. I used the example of being in Alaska when the salmon were spawning and taking in the movement of fish, birds, mammals and plants that are in motion and in relationship everywhere one turns. I went on to say that I believe a Friends school, and Penn Charter, are just like such places of abundant life, but of the human kind.

The historical richness of learning and the safety among friends are the ingredients that draw our diverse and thriving community onto our campus. Once here, life unfolds without hesitation in every manner and at all times. There are few places in America where so much positive living, learning and growth happen with such a force for good. We are blessed to be in community together at Penn Charter. I trust as we explore and live out the Quaker testimony of community this year, we will marvel at what we have been given and turn our appreciation into making our school even more complete. 

Here’s to a wonderful year in partnership and community. Never hesitate to contact me to share ideas, questions and concerns and thank you for all your support and caring. And, in the meantime, I hope you will click below to enjoy these photos of our littlest students today, their first day of this new school year.

All the best, David

David Kern
Director of Lower School 

Pre-K and Kindergarten First Day 2016-17


Lower School Events

Goal Setting Conferences for grades 1-5, Friday, Sept. 16 (no school for grades 1-5, but pre-K and K are in session). Full Day Child Care is available, but you must register in advance.

Back-to-School Night, Tuesday, Sept. 20; begins in the Meeting Room, in the Upper School building, at 7 pm.


Opening night focus on student voices about gun violence.
Girls champs at Easterns, Reece Swimmer of the Meet.
Ceremony honors student-athletes and their families.

Calendar Events

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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