“Shaw is a good school,” said seventh-grader Daniyah Gregory. “The teachers and Principal Lang really care about us succeeding academically and personally. Shaw has a good learning environment and the students here help each other. It’s a good school to help prepare for our future.”
In addition to the core curriculum, Shaw has various programs that emphasize data-driven instruction. The data looks at students’ academics, attendance and behavior.
Achieve3000, which is a mainstream online program where students have the ability to improve their reading and writing, is one of the programs at Shaw. Through the program, students have the ability to improve their reading and writing. They will have the means to master the curriculum, meet the standards set by Common Core, and be prepared for college and a career one day.
“This program takes all of the print literature from the AP and break it down to a particular reading level,” said Principal Kwand Lang. “Prior to a student participating in Achieve3000, they must do a pre-assessment. Once a student completes that, the program levels every kid from kindergarten to post-high school, so if a student is reading a story about Sandy Hook at an eighth-grade level that story has already been modified by the computer to an eighth-grade reading level.
“This takes place every day at our school. Every week we receive information from Achieve3000 on how our kids are doing. Even if the students are excelling at grade level, we have other programs in place to continue to challenge them in reading and writing. The beauty about the program is that everyone will be reading the same exact story, but the story will be modified to that particular student’s reading skill level. No one will be able to pick up the difference by just looking at their laptop. The program has really been a success so far at our school.”
Shaw continues to provide the ultimate learning experience through its partnership with City Year. Nine core members currently serve at the school, focusing on attendance, behavior and course performance.
“This is our longest partnership in the city of Philadelphia, we’ve been here for 12 years,” said team leader Katharine Miller. “The experience I’ve had at Shaw has been amazing. Working with the students and seeing how resilient they are and how much they have to offer has inspired me to come back to City Year this year as well as looking into a future career in education.”
Some activities at Shaw include the chess club, debate team, Sonia Sanchez Literacy Center, Men of Shaw, Ladies of Distinction, an anti-bullying group, and boys’ and girls’ athletics.
“As of right now, I don’t participate in any activities, but I’m interested in volleyball,” said seventh-grader Chyna Chase. “I’m really good in volleyball, so I’m interested in doing that here. I was also interested in basketball, but I don’t think I will be good at it, so I’m going to stick with what I know. Shaw offers the students here a lot of different activities and programs to participate in. It’s really up to us to take advantage of it.”
Some points of pride at Shaw include the Voices of Philadelphia debate team champions (2010); City Year National Award recipient for Impact on Literacy (2011); and the 2012 City Year City-Wide Spelling Bee champions in 2012.
The school was also featured on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for its partnership with City Year and the student government members were invited to visit the White House last spring. Shaw participates in the Diplomas Now Partnership with Johns Hopkins University. The school also received a $50,000 grant from the Cole Hamels Foundation for a new library.
For seventh-grader Sule West, going to Shaw has been a good experience.
“I like going to Shaw,” he said. “The atmosphere here is great, the teachers are good, I learn a lot, and I have a lot of friends here too. Out of all my classes right now, I would have to say my favorite class is social studies. It’s always good to learn about different places and time periods around the world.
“Overall, my experience at Shaw has been a good one. The school has a lot of different programs and the school, as well as the students have achieved a lot. Everyone here really cares about us; they want to see us succeed not just in school, but in life.”
Hearing the orchestra practice Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight” and seeing students playing the guitar are just some of the activities that go on during a normal school day at Academy at Palumbo Liberal Arts High School.
Known for its academic excellence, Palumbo is a selective, college preparatory magnet school. Originally modeled after Central High, the school’s purpose is to create a diverse community of college bound scholars who are responsible, ethical, and caring citizens while including a rich cultural arts experience.
“Our goal has always been to prepare our students for college and the real world,” says principal Adrienne Wallace-Chew. “Palumbo continues to excel academically. We have a 100 percent graduation rate for our seniors and we are continuing to provide them with the best education and programs.
“We are considered small for an academic school, but the students here does extremely well and always take full advantage of the opportunities that are given to them. We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure all of our students succeed.”
Some of Palumbo’s arts activities and classes include vocal music, instrumental music classes, visual arts instruction, theater instruction, choir, band, orchestra, drum-line, and social play.
This is the first year that the music program has been back at Palumbo after a brief hiatus. The school has an itinerary music teacher that works with each section of the orchestra once a week. Orchestra students also have a class one period a day. There are currently 40 students in the orchestra.
“The music program at Palumbo has been a learning experience for me,” says junior Kayla Gonzales. “Last year, the orchestra was going through a few rough patches. Our teacher had gotten sick and from there things just started changing. Both the students and the school overcame it though. The orchestra continues to grow and we have a great teacher in Mr. Jordan.”
Senior Travis Goffredo continues to excel in the music program at Palumbo.
“There was a time where the music program died here,” Goffredo said. “I decided to get with the itinerary music teacher to try to keep the music program going. I would conduct two days a week. We were doing everything to make sure the program would survive. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.
“I hope my drive in music has helped influence other students in the program at the school. Music is a huge part of life; I play all percussion instruments. When I go to college that’s what I would like to major in. I’ve done a lot of things in music for Palumbo as well as outside of the school.”
Orchestra teacher James Jordan said it’s Goffredo’s passion for music and academic excellence that has helped his chances for getting into a good college.
“Travis has been invited to audition to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,” Jordan said. “That’s really a honor for any student. Curtis is the most prestigious music conservatory in the world; it rivals Julliard. Students who attend Curtis don’t have to pay tuition because they earn a fellowship. We’re all hoping Travis does really well and gets accepted there.”
In addition to the music program, Palumbo offers Advanced Placement courses including literature, statistics, chemistry, studio art, biology, and psychology. The school has achieved AYP every year since its inception.
For Yahana Gheberhiwet, ceramics is one of the classes at Palumbo that she enjoys taking.
“I always wanted to learn about ceramics,” Gheberhiwet said. “When I would go out and see something beautiful that was made, I would always want to know how they did it. In ceramics, we learn everything from texture to designs. This is just something that I like to do. I don’t want to major in art. When I enter college in the fall, I want my major to be biology.”
Philadelphia Magazine ranked Palumbo as No. 4 for best public high schools in Philadelphia. Last year, the U.S. News and World report ranked the school No. 21 for best high schools in Pennsylvania and Palumbo also received the Jefferson Silver award winner for community service. The school was also the “Get Schooled” attendance challenge East Coast champions in 2012.
“This is one of the best schools for academic excellence,” said sophomore Kamea Morris. “Everything we learn here is preparing us for our future. The curriculum at times can be tough, but I think it will be all worth it in the end. Nobody wants to go to college unprepared. I’m looking forward to college, but right now I’m just enjoying my time at Palumbo.”
Over the years, students at Palumbo were accepted to over 100 different colleges and universities across the country, including Morehouse, Spelman, NYU, Temple, Villanova, University of Pittsburgh, DePaul, Syracuse, Florida A&M University, Howard, University of San Francisco, Drexel, Penn State, and Saint Joseph’s University.
“This is my last year at Palumbo,” says senior Lachae’ Solomon. “Some of the colleges I’m currently looking into include Hampton, Spelman, Temple, and North Carolina A&T. I want to do something in social work. Palumbo is a good school, especially academic wise. The school is very diverse; we’re like a family here. I’m going to miss Palumbo, but I’m thankful for the great times that I had here.”
As you walk through the hallways of Russell H. Conwell Magnet Middle School and take a look around the classrooms, art room, music room and math classes, you’ll begin to notice a theme — hard working students, and a dedicated community of faculty, staff, administration and parents, all striving for excellence.
“In addition to the core curriculum, high academic standards, service to the community, high quality staff, and good programming for students in and outside of school are just some traditions we are continuing to build on at Conwell,” said principal Dr. Tamara Thomas-Smith. “Our school prepares students for high school both academically and socially. We give students opportunities to be of service to the community through service learning projects that actually comes from the students themselves. We just want to provide our students with the best opportunities academically and personally. We not only want them to succeed in the classroom, but also in life.”
Conwell, which is the first middle school in Philadelphia, has one of the most challenging and finest programs in the city. The academic program focuses on the academic achievement of every student. The school offers instruction in vocal and instrumental music, computers, and the visual and performing arts.
“One of things I like about this school is the music program,” said eighth-grader Zackery Brezina. “I play the trombone, so I love everything about music. I have learned so much from my music teacher. He gives us the opportunity to play different pieces from different genres of music. His class pushes us to our limits musically, but in the end it will help us become better musicians and performers. I appreciate everything he has done for me.”
In art, students at Conwell learn the introduction to the elements and principles of art, design, drawing, landscape and sculpture. Conwell’s latest art project was based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, where students had to do a response artwork piece based on that particular speech.
“I try to bring a mixture of real life experiences with artwork in my art classes,” said art teacher Peter Koller. “With the Martin Luther King project, I thought it was a good way to analyze the speech, celebrate his memory, but it was also a good way for the students to look at the speech artistically. I just want my students to gain an appreciation of art, but I also want them to develop their 2D (dimensional) and 3D (dimensional) skills. Art is really another function that students should master in addition to writing and reading.”
Extra-curricular activities include Readers Café, Cooking Club, Keyboards, Go Green! Environmental Club, 24 Challenge and student council.
“This is a good school because it offers us a variety of programs and the teachers are preparing us for our future,” said sixth-grader Dirk Gooden. “All of the teachers at the school are willing to help us when we’re struggling in a class. They make learning fun. I’m always looking forward to going to a class at Conwell, especially if it’s a math class.”
For eighth-grader Dashana Palmer, going to Conwell has not only helped her succeed academically, but also grow personally.
“Going to Conwell has been a little bit of struggle for me, especially last year because I lost my mom,” Palmer said. “Dr. Thomas has helped me tremendously. She talked to me and let me know that just because my mom is no longer here, there are still people out here who really care about me. She let me know that I can still succeed if I work hard. Conwell is a really good school and I really enjoyed my time at this school.”
Seventh-grader Ryan McIlherny says what makes the school is the special bond the school has with the community. In the past, Conwell has raised funds and given donations to Toys for Tots, and relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
“What makes this school so unique is all of the charity work the school does,” McIlherny said. “We are all fortunate to have what we have, so doing the charity work gives the students a better understanding of what is taking place in the community and the world. It always feels nice when you do something good for someone else. Conwell is a hands-on school. Everything that we learn connects with what is going on in the world. This school not only has helped me become a better student, but also a person.”
Known for being one of the best neighborhood schools for elementary students in the Wynnefield area, Samuel Gompers Elementary School provide opportunities for all of their students to reach their personal best academically and personally.
The school strives to consistently deliver research-based, quality instruction in the core content areas of reading, math, science, social studies and 21st century technology. Gompers has made AYP in six of the last eight years.
“We’ve always take pride in providing the best education for our kids,” said principal Philip DeLuca. “Our teachers here do a great job of working together to change children’s lives. We have teachers here that not only go above and beyond academically, but also personally.
“We realize that the majority of our students live in the area and so does a lot of our staff, so we always want to make an effort to not only teach them lessons in the classroom, but also lessons that they can apply in their own community. We want to see all of our students succeed, and the best way to have them succeed is to provide them with the best academic experience in the classroom.”
In addition to the core curriculum, other highlights of the school include art, the school newspaper, gym and computer. The computer lab at Gompers is used by students scheduled for weekly lab classes to enhance the classroom curriculum. Students use the Internet to learn research skills. They use Microsoft Word, Appleworks and PowerPoint presentation software to complete classroom projects. Gompers also has one computer lab for full classroom instruction.
In 2008, The Heart of America Foundation and Target awarded Gompers with a library makeover. Gompers was one of 23 schools to be awarded with the makeover. The project included new books, technology, paint, lighting, customized wall art murals and reading corners. There is also a mini-computer lab in the new library.
Gompers also teamed up with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WEPAC). The non-profit organization helps restore libraries in the West Philadelphia area. The organization also fully stocks the library with books for the school.
“What makes this school so different is all of the different things we learn while we are here,” said fifth-grader Roy-yae Weatherbe. “Through the classes and different programs we’re not just learning at school, but we are also learning about the world. Everything we do is hands-on and everything that we learn connects with what happens in everyday life.
“The teachers make sure we getter better in all of our subjects and they are willing to help when we don’t understand something. They really make learning fun. This school will help me become a better student and person.”
One program that is new at Gompers is Robotics. Gompers guidance counselor Margaret Bryant-Renwick spearheads the program. Renwick is also a former chemist and science teacher. Through the University of Pennsylvania, Gompers was able to receive kits that will help students build and program robots. There are also parent volunteers that helps with the program.
Last year, the students at Gompers placed in the World Robotics competition in St. Louis. The competition had three different components including robot design and research, core values, and the actual project or task students have to complete within two minutes.
“Because of my background in science, I’m always looking for new ways where I can inspire students to work towards careers in science,” Renwick said. “Robotics is a good way for students to get involve with the First Lego League. Robotics teaches them core values like teamwork, integrity, respect, inspiration, determination, and responsibility. All of these different values will help them grow as individuals. We’ve had a lot of support since starting the program and the kids really love it.”
While sixth-grader Abdul Q. Gardner wasn’t part of the Robotics team last year, his interest in building things is what made him want to be a part of the program this year.
“I always like building things with my hands, so this program is a good way for me to build off of my passion,” Gardner said. “I’m looking forward to learning how to build and program robots. I want to be a scientist when I grow up, so this club will really help me with my dream.”
For fifth-grader Saffiyah Franklin, participating in the robotics program was a new experience for her.
“When I first heard about the program I really didn’t know what it was,” she said. “Once I researched it and found out what it was I knew right away that I wanted to join. Robotics is not an individual sport at all. The program teaches you teamwork and patience.
“Everything we do we have to do together. The competition was definitely a new experience for all us. We met different teams around the country and now we know what it takes to be the best in the competition. All of the lessons we have learned in Robotics and at Gompers will help us succeed in the classroom and in life. This school really does give us the best opportunity to live out our dreams.”
Producing Philadelphia college bound scholars is just one job of George Washing Carver High School for Engineering and Sciences. The other is producing future leaders in engineering and sciences — scientists and doctors, well rounded and ready for the world.
“The workload here is definitely challenging; no grade on a test or subject we’re taking is easy, but everything we’re learning is preparing us for our future,” said senior Kiana Bland. “You learn very early how to balance your work out, but my experience here have paid off tremendously. I’ve already been accepted to Arcadia. I also want my major to pre-forensics. Going to Carver has made easier to figure out a plan for me future.”
Carver High is a magnet school with a curriculum that specializes in science and technology. Nearly 100 percent of students at Carver go on to college. Students also receive about $9.6 million in scholarships including Gates Millennium and QuestBridge scholars. The school also hosts a college fair every year with over 65 collegiate representatives, some even offering on-site admissions. There are currently 725 students attending the school.
“Carver is a really good high school,” said junior Steven Snipes. “The opportunities we receive are endless. Everything that we learn here is preparing us for college and the real world. Everybody here works really hard and is very dedicated. We’re the innovators of the future.”
Engineering classes offered at the school include: Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Biotechnical Engineering, which will hone more advanced skills in biology, physics, technology, and mathematics and applies them to real-world biotech fields.
“What I really like about this school is the engineering courses that they offer,” said junior David R. Walter II. “I learned how to build imaginary circuits on our computer programs. Another thing that we do is if the school has problems with the computers they come to the engineering students. In the beginning and the end of the school year, we will bring the systems back on line or assembly them. Any minor problems they school comes to us. The program is very hands-on and the experience I receive here is incredible.”
In addition to the science and engineering programs, the school also has a three-year BioMed program. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in the medical sciences, research, and university pre-med programs. Students receive hands-on learning in the program through internships, university visits, field trips, SAT Prep, and talking with various speakers in the field.
“It’s the academics, teachers, and endless opportunities that make this school so special,” said senior Algeria Brisbon. “Dr. Basu has helped me in so many ways. I’ve done internships in my field and gotten into Drexel and UPenn because of his guidance. I plan on majoring in pre-med. The experience that I received here you cannot get at another school. When I go to college, I will be fully prepared because of the hard work and experiences I received while attending Carver.”
Sophomore Yonelkis Gutierrez has also learned a lot from Amit Basu’s sciences classes.
“I always wanted to be a doctor, but after taking a few science classes with Dr. Basu, I want to be a veterinary neurosurgeon,” he said. “What makes him a good teacher is his open door policy; I can always go to him for advice. He has also set me up with a mentor at Temple.
“It’s teachers like that, that truly makes a difference in our life. They want to see us succeed and are willing to go the extra mile to help us achieve our dream. Its nice to be at a school where everyone wants to help you prepare for your future.”
In addition to the programs and extra-curricular activities, Carver is also known for its numerous achievements. Carver continues to achieve AYP. Some awards the school has received over the years include: the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence (2008), Middle States Accreditation (2010), National Academy Foundation Accreditation (2011), U.S. News and World Report– Bronze Awards (2008-2011), and the U.S. News and World Report– Silver Award (2012).
“There has been so many success stories at this school, that its hard for you not to want to succeed,” said junior Jaime Scott. “It’s really up to us to take advantage of everything the school has to offer. This school teaches us skills that we will use on an everyday basis. I’m interested in computer and environmental science from an engineering standpoint.
“Both have influenced me since I was young and as I entered into high school my passion for both grew over time. I want to make them into professions. Mr. Koehler has definitely helped me with my dream, because of him I already have experiences in subjects that I’m interested in. As far as my future, I’m interested in being a programmer, environmental scientist, or physicist. My experience at Carver has been amazing; I love everything about the school.”