The first and most important step that parents can take to protect their child from a home fire is to be there.
That’s because children under the age of 5 are more than twice as likely to die in a home fire than the general public.
According to Joseph Muhammad, president of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF), “If a fire starts, children need immediate help to quickly escape. Also, many fires are started by children playing with matches and lighters because they are unsupervised.”
African-American children are at a higher risk of dying in a fire, accounting for 38 percent of all children killed. As part of its No Child Left Alone campaign, the IABPFF recommends the following steps:
• Teach children not to hide from firefighters, in closets or under the bed. Instead, tell them to get out of the home quickly and call for help.
• Minimize temptation. Young children are curious and will play with most items left within their reach, including matches, lighters, stoves, candles and fireworks. Keep all these items in a locked cabinet, away from the reach of small children.
• Designate a “kid-free zone.” Keep children at least three feet away from any area where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried, such as an oven, stove, grill or turkey fryer.
• Teach stop, drop and roll. Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
• Get fire alarms. Equip your home with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
• Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Tell them what to do when the alarm sounds.
• Create and routinely practice an escape plan. Plan two ways to exit each room in the home and establish a central meeting place outside the home.
For more information and to order free materials, visit www.iabpff.org.
Walter G. Smith Elementary School has a new principal in Rachel Marianno who is determined to see the school strive beyond its potential despite statistics that state otherwise on paper. The tests scores may be low but that has not capped Marianno’s belief in the potential of her K-8 students.
Marianno was filled with emotions during the first full week of school, which concluded with a back to school night attended by more than 400 parents.
“Challenging, rewarding, exhausting, rejuvenating; if you could put all of those things into one sentence. It’s been a lot of work but good work,” Marianno said.
She was overjoyed that so many parents attended back to school night held in the school yard. A moon bounce and cotton candy machine were just some of the amenities offered to the kids as their guardians came into the building to meet with teachers.
“It’s about reaching parents in a way that confirms who they are and what they are about.
A lot of our parents have responsibilities that go far beyond what we had or even our great-grandparents had in the past,” Marianno said. “So, they’re raising children on their own but without the support of an extended family. So, you’ve got to find a way to network with them.”
Another crucial part of Marianno’s agenda has been to help raise test scores. Her goal is to raise the Adequate Yearly Progress, otherwise known as the AYP, but not at the expense of making the children feel bad about themselves. Smith’s new motto is “Where Above Average Is the Norm.’”
“I struggled with that because on paper, we are not above average. We’re 30 percent at advanced and proficient in the area of reading. That’s not above the average. But our mindset in order to get there, it has to start here. It has to start in your head. So, therefore, I can fully embrace that model,” she said. “It’s a careful balance because I don’t want to come in here with a pie in the sky attitude like you can do it and not acknowledge how you can do it. I want our children and our parents and the whole community to embrace the fact that we are from an AYP standard not cutting it.”
She further explained another area that will help reinforce the student’s abilities, which are not correlating with standardized tests.
“The other part of the model is SOULFUL, which is School Of Unlimited Learning For Unlimited Learners and that’s something that has been with me since I went into administration,” she said. “I want children to know that there are no limits.”
Smith’s renewed efforts to get the test scores up has been a team effort. All of the teachers have been doing their parts since the first bell rang this school year.
“They’re getting to know my expectations and I’m getting to know things about them which makes learning better. It just makes everything better,” Chanel Pope said.
Pope teaches fifth grade and this is her first year at Smith.
“I expect my children to give 100 percent effort every day because I believe every child can learn. Every student has their own talents. Every student has their own gifts and it’s just my job to bring some of those gifts, talents and interests but also try to make sure they meet the curriculum standards,” Pope said. “We’re striving for proficiency.”
Tangela McClam has taught at Smith since 2007. The seventh-grade math teacher tries to incorporate pats on the back for her students as they work through solving equations. She has also tied to prepare them early on in the school year for what is to come.
“One of the things that I really like to make sure my students understand is the importance of the test. We don’t wait until the day before the test to do that.
So, I tell them on day one that they should look at the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) as a major test that we’re going to run and we only get one shot to run that race and we’ve been training all year long. So, we’ve got to get our stamina up. That’s how we look at it,” she said. “Some students aren’t good test takers but we still have to continue to strive to not only make every child feel important because we don’t want them to feel, ‘oh I’m below basic I’m not important,’ because anytime you turn children into numbers, you’re doing them a disservice. But we just have to find other ways to address them.”
John Waters, another teacher at Smith, believed that the aesthetics of the school has also gone a long way towards improving morale.
“It’s such a nice place to be. Ms. Marianno has gotten the place so cleaned up,” Waters said. “By cleaning up the school the way that she has and having the special events come in, I think that the children feel more respected. I think that when the school was dirtier, the children didn’t take the school seriously and I feel they’re taking things a little more seriously now.”
Marianno also credited the youth for already rising to the challenges facing them this upcoming year.
“The kids keep me motivated,” she said. “They are resilient and no matter what you throw at them, for a long period time, they will bounce back. Not without some wounds, but they will bounce back and they’ll say something that just motivates me and they’ll usually do it on a day that I need it the most. They won’t necessarily know what they’re doing for me but they’ll just say something that gets to the heart of the matter.”
Among the many high schools in Philadelphia, Central High School is the oldest in the district. Its doors opened in 1838 as the second public high school in the nation. There were four teachers and 63 students. Now, Central’s student population has reached approximately 2,360 students and over 100 teachers. There is a school president, similar to a principal, and three assistant principals.
Originally, Central housed an all boys’ population. Philadelphia High School for Girls was its counterpart. Until August 1983, the school became co-ed.
In 2011, Central was named a National Blue Ribbon School. Within the past decade, Central has consecutively made Adequate Yearly Progress and won 92 Public League Championships. Additionally, Central has had an extensive resume of national and international attention.
Before the first graduating class in 1842, Central held semi-annual commencements until 1965. Now, graduation happens annually, making this year's class the 271st graduating class of Central High School.
There are a host of notable Central Alumni who have excelled in careers of journalism, politics, science, math, technology, law, music, acting and education. Alain LeRoy Locke, author, philosopher and first African-American Rhodes Scholar, graduated in the 107th class. Frank “Tick” Coleman, educator and one of the first three known African-American Eagle Scouts, graduated in the 156th class. Philadelphia City councilman and son of former mayor W. Wilson Goode, W. Wilson Goode Jr. graduated in the 241st class. Seth Williams, district attorney of Philadelphia, graduated in the 244th class.
Through financial gifts of Central Alumni, the school was able to create a $6 million library. In Barnwell Library, there are several quiet rooms to study, computers are available for research and shelves filled with books. Additionally, there is a room full of memorabilia that showcases school apparel, trophies won and pictures of previous classes.
Students are kept engaged in academics, athletics and social experiences through several extra-curricular activities offered at Central.
Senior Jessica Beaver is an active member of the Central community. Beaver works as a student leader to one of the assistant principals, runs school tours and organizes the International Day, Career Day and High School Expo. She is the editor-in-chief of Mosaic, which is Central’s multicultural magazine, public relations officer of the concert choir and drama society and she’s involved with the school’s West Side Story musical.
“At Central, I have really have gotten to know and understand different types of people. At Central there is a representative from every part of the city and every ethnicity you could possibly think of. That interactive has prepared me, I think, for the real world as well as the academic side of it,” Beaver said. “Classes at Central are immensely challenging. The course load is heavy, and it’s comprehensive. So, I get a well-rounded education, a lot of hands on and simulated activities.”
Interactive activities are seen in room 328. Music teacher, Ben Blazer, assisted students with their presentations of musical periods in Western music.
Freshmen Genesis Sanchez, Genehia Walton and Najey McDuffie are preparing their PowerPoint presentation on the Renaissance musical era. These three students explained their experiences so far at Central. They liked attending the Freshmen Tea, an event that introduced ninth graders to activities and clubs at Central. Sanchez, Walton and McDuffie said they liked going to the school’s football and basketball games and lessons learned as freshmen.
Sanchez, a member of the track team and belly dance club, said she always enjoyed these activities and is excited to perform at Central’s Annual International Day in February.
Walton is thinking of being a member of the softball team and has interests in joining the school’s choir. She explained her sentiments about Central prior to attending and how those feelings have changed since the beginning of the school year.
“Now that I’m here, it’s not as hard as everybody talks about it. You got to actually stay on task. If you don’t stay on top of your work, keep organized and pay attention, then you’re going to be lost,” Walton said.
In contrast, McDuffie said she feels that the workload at Central is more than what she was used to as a student in middle school.
“Central was a lot different than my old school. The rigor of the work and how much work you get, homework, projects, tests every week. I wasn’t used to studying because I used to just know everything. Now, I really have to study,” McDuffie said.
Mia Clark, freshman and member of the self-defense club, discussed assignments given in classes, but said she has learned how to manage.
“It’s hard, I always knew it would be hard. Sometimes it might feel overwhelming because every teacher gives homework, but you figure out how to do it. You learn how to take care of yourself and you do learn a lot here [in Central],” Clark said.
As Clark sat in World History, the class prepared to play bingo with questions about Hinduism. Each student folded a loose-leaf piece of notebook paper into 16 squares. Students then answered 16 questions about the religion and wrote the answers in the boxes.
Lori Defields, an assistant principal, said it is interesting to see students engaged in interactive activities like educational bingo. She said teachers at Central like, George Filip, have the ability to make subject material more appealing to students.
“He engages the kids in a way that in English class, some teachers just can’t. He makes that class enjoyable for every student regardless of their talents, their skills and their interests. I really think he’s a really great teacher, but I go by what the kids say and the feedback I get is just phenomenal,” Defields said.
In a second level English class, Filip announced the three words of the day. Jokingly, he gave students the definitions of the words clandestine, acquiesce and acquiescence and asked them if they could use these words in their daily conversation.
Later as Filip handed pack chapter five review quizzes on the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, 10th-grader, Matrea Thomas cleared her desk to grade another classmate’s review quiz.
“He’s a good teacher. He’s different, but you’ll be able to understand him. Instead of just lecturing us he actually has conversations with us and conferences,” Thomas said.
Similarly, art department chair, Benjamin Walsh received praise from administration and students, as well.
“[He’s] highly talented,” Dr. Sheldon Pavel, president of Central, said.
“He wears so many hats. There’s not enough hours in the day for him,” Defields said.
As the web design teacher, member of the technology committee, swimming coach, the school’s Web designer and set designer for the school’s musicals, Walsh is engaged in many responsibilities at Central.
“It’s a busy day. As long as it benefits the students and everything that you do makes that piece more enriching for them and it gives them more tools and allows them to focus and learn more clearly,” Walsh said. “In the case of the play, it gives them a different experience outside the academic realm. That’s all worth it for me. I like being busy that way. I think most of it’s just making yourself available.”
In room 311, Walsh helped the web design class work on a five page website about environmental topics. In partnership with environmental science teacher, Galeet Cohen, the students will present their websites on Earth Day.
Senior, Naacara Edwards, chose to focus on global warming. She and her classmates used computer programs, Fireworks and Photoshop, to make interactive graphs and learned CSS computer code to make their sites from scratch. Edwards said she enjoyed creating the site for class and expressed her goals for college.
“I want to go to school for engineering so I could be a computer science engineer, but this is just for fun now,” Edwards said.
Built in the 1960s, previously a middle school and closed for two years for renovations, the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush opened its doors in 2008 and welcomed their first ninth grade students. Now, at the end of this academic year, Rush will say farewell to its first graduating class.
“These are the kids who helped start the school in so many different ways. We used them to help build the school. We made a lot of decisions together,” Principal Jessica Brown said.
Senior theater majors Tim Carlin and Rikki Harley offer their sentiments of their journey thus far through Rush. Carlin says he “always wanted to be different” and coming from a small Catholic school, he did not want follow his peers to a Catholic high school. Carlin says he was warmed up to the idea of being a pioneer of the school.
“I heard about an art school and I was like, ‘that would be really cool, that sounds just for me.’ I love the idea of all of us students taking part in building this school. Everyone that’s been here has made their mark,” Carlin said.
Harley had a different point of view.
“Knowing that we’re the first graduating class kind of threw me off at first because when we came here there weren’t any 10th graders, no 11th graders, no seniors. It was just us. It was weird. We’re like ‘we’re missing out on our high school experience,’ ” Harley said.
“We’re setting traditions and it’s a lot of pressure because you’re the first class.”
Being a peer mediator, engaging in student council, active in the yearbook club and helping freshman with monologues, both Harley and Carlin say their experiences at Rush have prepared them for life after high school.
“At Rush I feel the expectations are higher for us, in our grades and our behavior. I feel we’re held to a higher standard. Some things that happened at other high schools don’t happen at Rush. There’s a whole different environment and culture,” Harley said.
“One of the biggest things that I learned was personal responsibility. Nobody is forcing you to do the work. It’s on you. It’s on you to do the learning here. They provide the tools and you need to take it the next step,” Carlin said.
Core values of imagination, communication, empathy, perspective, analysis and commitment, also known as, “ICEPAC”, according to Brown, frame the school’s curriculum. Using these values in their daily lives, Brown says students will have the ability to communicate these values through art and technology.
“The vision of the school is to integrate the arts into the curriculum. That’s a piece here,” Brown said.
Technology also plays a major role in school curriculum. Students have access to Mac laptops in the classrooms to do research and work on assignments. Teachers use smart boards, as well. However, not every classroom is equipped with technology. Brown is finding ways to fund raise and look for grant money that would finance her technology initiatives.
“It’s always a challenge with funding. We make it work by sharing and doing a lot of collaboration in the school. The school couldn’t exist without the collaboration of the teachers and students in order to meet the specific goals of the school,” Brown said.
“They work with each other in a way that I never seen done in a school. Where if they want ideas for a unit and they want to include the arts, my biology teacher will talk to my art teacher and they work together in planning. That’s what partially makes this school so successful.”
Along with collaborations of the faculty, Brown says she can see the passion teachers have about teaching in the way that they spend long hours at school. Their willingness to stay after and meet with students shows the flexibility and commitment to the students.
Teachers like Lorraine Ustaris are praised by the principal for her efforts in the classroom. Ustaris teaches English and uses multimedia in the classroom. Listening to a student voice recording of an “I believe” essay, helps freshman Shaina Barrett understand the assignment.
During Ingrid Shinskie’s physics class, junior vocal majors Melvin Berrian, Kisha Davis and Somemore Love work together in a group to solve mathematical equations in preparation of the “quest”—a combination of quiz and test.
“For me, I like comparing answers. You can see where you went wrong. I like collaboration,” Berrian said.
“We do example problems off the smart board, we work in the textbook and we’ll do laps. She’s show us in the back and we’ll come back to our seats and do it. So we visually see it and see it in the textbook. We also watch videos,” Davis said.
Outside of physics, Berrian, Davis and Love enjoy learning to sing Hebrew, Latin and Spanish in music class. Davis says she feels that Rush is preparing her for the next level.
“By coming here, I feel that it will better prepare me. I’m learning theory and my voice is improving more. I have a lot of things under my belt. We do classical pieces, we do jazz pieces and that will help me in the future when I go to college,” Davis said.
“Five, six, seven, eight.”
“Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”
Denise Masters counts the tempo and the student dancers respond by taping their metal soles on the hard wood floor. At Rush, students have the opportunity to chose a focus in dance. Along with tap, Masters teaches jazz, ballet and modern forms of dancing.
As a representative of the PIAA District XII, Public League, Rush offers girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, girls soccer, baseball and softball as apart of their athletic program. Students do have the option to join other sport teams as a part of a co-op with George Washington High School.
Even though the school has been opened for four years, Rush has created a learning environment and culture that has attracted a lot of attention. Each year, approximately 1,500 students apply, but only 150 students are selected to attend Rush. Despite small numbers of students, Brown accredits the school’s population as a special piece of the school.
“[At] this school, I know almost every student’s name. At a big school, you just won’t get that,” Brown said.
Vibrant quilt designs and informational posters spread across the auditorium floor for the School District of Philadelphia’s 20th annual World AIDS Day Commemoration program honored several student artists and writers on Dec. 1 at Benjamin Franklin High School.
The artwork and essays were created by middle and high school students who participated in the art and literacy contest to highlight HIV prevention. This year’s theme was to focus on “Getting to Zero, Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.”
In seventh grade, the art contest winners — in order from first, second and third place — are Lisa Nguyen, Ashlee Valle and Tommy Duong of Conwell Middle School.
“I never actually met anyone with HIV, but I drew what lessons I learned from the assignment. I know that AIDS can’t choose who [it] wants to hop onto. You should stick to abstinence, so you don’t get AIDS. So I just interrupted that into my artwork,” Nguyen said.
Eighth-grade art winners were Jahara Rushman, Lisandra Santiago-Roberto and Maciej Pryzloos of Conwell Middle School.
“Actually, it was hard for hard me because I’m not that creative, but I know somebody that has HIV, so that helped me create the piece,” Santiago-Roberto said.
Ninth-grade art winners were Brace Garrett, Nyaa Lino and Kenyetta Taylor of Communications Technology High School. Tenth grade winners were Khadijah Gardner, Phylia Brewer and Princess Jackson from Communications Technology High School.
Eleventh-grade art winners were Ebone Bryant of Germantown High School, Kevin Norris of Dobbins High School, and Neale Brooks of Germantown High School. Dazha Bethel of Carver High School received honorable mention.
The senior class art winners were Leander Berry, Sierra Blagmon and Matisse Hill of Parkway West High School.
Along with the art contest, there were several literary contest winners. The ninth-grade winners — in order from first, second and third place — are Jade Truehart, Teasia Squire and Kanae’ Taylor of Carver High School.
Sakinah Braxton, tenth grade, and Makkah Hayes, eleventh grade, of Carver High School were literary contest winners. Twelfth-graders Brittany Williams, Zana Johnson and Erin Don Pailin of Parkway West High School won, too.
Brochure winners were Amy Vo, Natwain Francis and Donte’ Traynham of Communication Technology High School.
Winning students received certificates and a calendar in honor of HIV/AIDS prevention that was designed by students in the printing class at Dobbins High School.
The program included remarks from Lafayette Sanders, 24, who was prenatally infected and is living with HIV. At the age of 13, a few months after his mother passed, Sander’s grandmother took him to the doctor’s office for a checkup. The doctor then informed him that he was HIV positive.
“I became angry at myself, at my mother, I was even angry with God. Why am I dealing with this? I didn’t ask for this. This wasn’t my choice,” Sanders said.
Now, as an advocate, Sanders speaks to teens about his life experiences of growing up as a teen, having to take several pills daily and urges youth to use preventative and protective methods during sex.
“Currently, I’m only taking four pills once a day. These four pills keep me healthy so that I can live a long, productive life. I’m here today to remind you guys that just because someone has the disease, they can live a healthy full productive life,” Sanders said.
Other remarks were made by Leroy Nunery, School District acting CEO and superintendent, representatives from Family Planning Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania and American Red Cross.
Sterlen Barr, CEO and founder of Rapping About Prevention, did a special presentation to students as he rapped about a man he knew who had HIV.
Following this presentation, the Northeast High School Choir sang a hymn, as teacher and faculty members of the district lit several candles in honor of students who have died from HIV/AIDS over the past 20 years.
The event ended with a special dance performance from “Special ‘Efx.” This group of four young men break dance, even dance ballet, to popular dance tunes in a way to positively motivate other young people.
The students’ art work was displayed at the University of Pennsylvania for another event commemorating World AIDS Day, but the final destination for the art work will exhibit in the School District Education building.
The Regional Talent Centers are offering free Saturday arts classes that are enabling students to be a part of unique and creative programs featuring state-of-the-art technology and resources that are not available in most schools. Talent Center Saturday classes offer digital photography, graphic design, hip-hop and modern dance, small group instrumental lessons and recording studio sessions at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology (PCAT).
With most arts programming only being available for a price, the Talent Centers are allowing parents the opportunity to expose their children to productive and educational activities to enrich their Saturdays. They will also offer frequent special events for parents such as nutrition workshops, computer literacy and job readiness.
With locations in the Northwest (Martin Luther King High School) and in South Philadelphia (Universal Audenried Charter High School), the Regional Talent Centers is a free arts-based after-school program that has open and ongoing enrollment for all Philadelphia youth in grades 6–12. In addition to Saturday, the Talent Center offers classes during the week from Tuesday through Thursday. Through teaching art, dance, theater and music — the Talent Center emphasizes critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving — in addition to offering homework help and providing free nutritious lunches for all attendees.
Seventh-grader Meryi, who participates in the visual art class during the week, doesn’t mind waking up on Saturday morning for the Talent Center’s digital photography class. “I like photography because it’s different than what I do during the week at the Talent Center. I love photography; we learn about nature, we go outside, we walk around the building, we walk around the neighborhood,” she explained.
The importance of extracurricular activities is becoming increasingly evident as more research begins to develop. In addition to helping students discover different career interests, it aids in developing social skills by giving students the opportunity to find like-minded peers who share their same interests and hobbies. According to a study done by the Montana State University Extension Service, students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to take on leadership roles, more willing to complete tasks, more comfortable with stating their opinion, more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to have annual incomes of $50,000 or greater.
The benefits of arts education have been consistently proven to help raise student performance in core academic disciplines. According to a report by the Arts Education Partnership, students who are exposed to drama, music and dance may have a better chance at understanding reading, writing and math in comparison to those who focus exclusively on academics.
“Arts education improves academic achievement, builds leadership in students, and develops critical thinking skills to prepare our students for a global society,” said Program Manager Virginia T. Lam, who also serves as the Music Education Content Specialist for the School District of Philadelphia.
Teaching artist and dance teacher for the South Philadelphia Talent Center Ras Mikey, emphasizes the importance of stimulating and nurturing students’ creativity.
“There aren’t a lot of platforms to express yourself as a creative youth in most environments and it gives them an outlet — something that is different from their normal academic schedule, but then also (it) relates to the academics, but is ultimately about them expressing who they are and their identities,” he said.
It is well known that positive experiences play a fundamental role in raising a happy and healthy child and extra-curricular activities and after-school programming provide a less restrictive environment than formal school, where students are free to be themselves, relax, and have fun, which is evident by the happy ambiance and smiling faces that abound at both Talent Center sites. Between the stage make-up tutorials in the theater class at South Philadelphia, to the trendy glee club (in which a spot is highly coveted by the students) in the music class at the Northwest site — excitement and creativity pulsate throughout both Centers with students who are eager to learn, try new activities, and make new friends.
“The Talent Center means a lot to us; the students, the chaperones, and the teachers,” Meryi said.
“We make new friends; we learn. We learn new things with our friends; new things that you’ve never learned before.”
The Regional Talent Centers are made possible by a grant of federal funds by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education Pennsylvania “21st Century Community Learning Centers” Program. For information on the Regional Talent Centers, go to www.philasd.org/talentcenters or contact Virginia T. Lam at (215) 400-5974.
Melissa Hogg teaches biology at Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. As one of the first teachers at Rush, Hogg says over the past four years, she has seen this school grow into “a great school.”
“The fact that we’re an art school and I’m actually able to utilize talents and interests that the students have and have them apply them in the biology class room has been a great experience,” Hogg said.
Earlier in 2011, Hogg was a recipient of The Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation created the award in 2008 to recognize Philadelphia School District teachers for their educational leadership and public service.
Hogg was nominated by Principal Jessica Brown and awarded $3,500. According to Hogg, she used a portion of the funds to purchase classroom materials.
“It was nice to be recognized for all the hard work I do and all of us do,” Hogg said.
“You see her using 21st century tools. You see her integrating the arts. You see her teaching major concepts of biology in the way she does that is creative,” Brown said.
“I see her class as being rigorous. The kids are kept to high expectations and she’s extremely organized and I can see the preparation it takes for her in her planning process.”
Throughout the four years at Rush, Hogg says it’s hard to pick out one memorable moment, but says one group of people make teaching there a great experience.
“The students are what makes this school unique and special and makes it fun to teach,” Hogg said.
During lunch period and after school, Hogg goes the extra mile to offer students help with class work.
“I try to figure out how they learn best since there is multiple intelligences and every student doesn’t access information in the same way. So, I try to understand the student as a person and that helps me tap into whatever way they can access the information,” Hogg said.
Photography major Joe Botthof and theater major Rebecca Walter explained the ways in which Hogg has aided to their education of biology.
“Showing us different videos explaining the different compounds. Like how we get them, why we need them, so those are a really big help,” Botthof said.
“I’m a visual learner, so just reading out of a textbook, I don’t learn. Seeing it on the [smart] board helps me,” Walter said.
As Squirt and Crush, the class pet turtles, slash and swim around in their aquarium, Botthof feeds them before class begins.
The freshman biology class is learning about organic compounds. For their projects, students have to create digital compound posters. In groups, students design a blog and a poster. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids are the four organic compounds students can chose.
“The kids are using their artistic skills, recording podcasts, vocal students are recording songs and putting them on their posters,” Hogg said.
Naiomi Torres and Kristin Snitcher, both visual art majors, chose carbohydrates as their organic compound for the digital compound poster project. Both girls say that Hogg’s style of teaching helps them learn the material taught in Biology.
“For me, I’m learning. I knew these things, but I didn’t understand them. So when Ms. Hogg teaches us and the way she teaches us, I understand,” Torres said.
Even when the last bell rings, Hogg continues to offer her time to students as the sponsor of the school’s Girls for Change club. Additionally, as a participant in the Philadelphia Writing Project, she co-facilitated a 2010 two-week summer camp for young writers.
The University of the Arts once again welcomed juniors and seniors from high schools into its pre-college summer institute. UArts has been touted as the country’s most dynamic summer program for students passionate about the visual and performing arts and this past summer proved to be no different.
It started July 10 with students moving onto the campus and taking courses. It ended Aug. 6. The acclaimed four-week residential programs rewarded the kids with three college credits.
“We have several programs. We have a dance program, musical theater, acting, art and media and a jazz program for music. And so, depending on what program the student was in, they participated in courses, college-level courses, from Monday through Friday,” Wingate said.
“The program also includes lots of field trips, going to see exhibitions or going to see guest artists. We also have some social activities that they get to participate in, field trips to the beach and New York City.”
She described how the pre-college institute helped to develop the kids beyond just academics.
“I think they’ve taken an incredible amount from the experience. Not only do they get the academic element of it, where they’re actually participating in college-level courses on a college campus, there’s also a social element of living in residence hall and being on their own even if it’s just for a couple of weeks that really sort of fosters their independence,” she said.
“So, what we saw a lot this summer was not only students who were learning new mediums, but sort of learning a whole new skill set that they could take with them.”
Wingate has been the program coordinator for over a year and a half, but was previously on the faculty and before that, a student.
“Each one of my roles has been very different. I loved being a student here in pre-college. I felt very much at home in the university, and that’s why I ended up choosing University of the Arts as the college I went to,” she said.
“So of course I loved being a student in the undergraduate program, and I researched how I could get involved.”
Christina Day, senior lecturer in the undergraduate crafts department, taught pre-college classes. She has been working with summer students since 2006.
“It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed, because getting to know students at that age right when they’re figuring out what they’re good at and what they like to do genuinely, it’s a really interesting age to be,” Day said.
The students are ages 16–18 and Day felt that this was just when they started to become more sure of themselves.
“They take a lot of risks. They’re willing to try different things,” she said.
“It’s really about turning people in the right direction.”
“I think situations like this, experiences like this help wake children a little bit earlier,” she added.
Richard Mitchell, 17, participated in the summer program for the second year in a row. He is now a senior at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School and expressed satisfaction over his time spent enrolled in the UArts program.
“I actually live in the suburbs, and being able to come out to Philadelphia and just kind of experience what the atmosphere was like in the city, it was exciting and all around, it was just really awesome. I know that a lot of kids missed home, but to me, it was a chance to be independent. It was very freeing,” Mitchell said.
He said he wants to major in musical theater, adding that this program prepared him for the next challenge in his life.
“It made me realize that I was out there for myself and I had to do what I needed to do in order to be successful. So, it wasn’t intimidating. It was just more eye-opening,” he said.
Mitchell also offered advice for other students who were interested in participating in this program.
“They’re going to find out who they are and what they want to be through this experience,” he said.
Wingate had words of encouragement as well.
“We saw a lot of students who were starting to advocate for themselves, learned a lot more about themselves and trusted their instincts, were very confident by the end of the program,” she said.
“I would say that the three main tings that I hope they took away was number one confidence, number two, a new set of skills and techniques, and I guess I would say the third thing is, I hope they take away a broadened view of the arts.”
Edison Nation, an idea-to-shelf product developer, opened online casting calls Feb. 21 for Season 5 of the Emmy Award-winning public television series, “Everyday Edisons.” “Everyday Edisons” is a TV show that showcases inventors, their ideas, the successes and the challenges that can be faced when attempting to bring an idea to market.
Everybody has a great idea that could change the way we work, the way we live or the way we play. According to a recent survey conducted by Edison Nation, 81 percent of respondents said they have had a great idea that they didn’t pursue only to later see it in the market. Of those respondents, 75 percent cited money and not knowing how to bring it to market as the two major challenges to successfully acting upon an idea.
“‘Edison Nation’ and ‘Everyday Edisons’ provide an invaluable opportunity for ordinary people with extraordinary ideas,” said Louis Foremen, CEO of Edison Nation and executive producer of “Everyday Edisons.” “By eliminating the majority of the risk and capital needed to bring an idea to market, we provide a trusted and cost-effective way to validate ideas and help make them a reality.”
Casting calls run online from February 21 through Monday, April 30, at 11:59 p.m. After reviewing the ideas and picking the best of the best, “Edison Nation” will fly up to 50 inventors to Charlotte for an in-person audition. At the conclusion of the entire casting process, the Everyday Edisons Edison Nation team will select 10 great ideas to develop and feature on Season Five of the show. Priority consideration will be given to those ideas submitted before 11:59 p.m. on April 2.
To submit your ideas now for Season 5 of “Everyday Edisons,” please visit: http://www.edisonnation.com/everydayedison5.
Through active civic engagement, the student government at Wagner Middle School participates in monthly fundraising campaigns. There are no pizza parties, extra-credit or other incentives given to students. However, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are able to raise thousands of dollars for several community organizations.
“The kids really spearhead everything. They come up with slogans for each event. They never ask, ‘What do we get out of it?’ They never ask for anything in return,” Principal Maya Johnstone said.
Recently, the student government hosted “Hoops for Heart,” which consisted of a three-on-three basketball tournament to raise awareness for heart disease. Students were able to raise $1,200.
In December, the “Pop to you Drop” dance raised funds to purchase gifts for Toys for Tots. A can drive was held in November which yielded 4, 175 cans for Philabundance. In October, students raised $2,000 for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
Fourth-year math teacher and student government liaison, Rachel Lakner, said she likes the students’ attitudes and eagerness to participate with events.
“I love community service. I love working with the kids in a different way than teaching because you really get to meet them. Some of the most energetic kids in the classroom are some of the greatest kids when it comes to helping with events,” Lakner said.
Eighth-grader and student government president Ahmad Hall explained why his role was important to him.
“I like the fact that I get to lead people. People look up to me, that’s a fun thing to do,” Hall said.
Leading other students by his example, this future professional baseball player is waiting for his acceptance into the Franklin Learning Center, Parkway Center City, Mastbaum and Dobbins high schools next year.
The student government plans to host upcoming events for lung cancer awareness, veterans and teacher appreciation week.
Principal Johnstone said that Wagner students are taking ownership of their community by volunteering their time.
“I don’t think it’s many middle school student governments that’s all kid oriented. The whole cabinet is made up of kids that students voted in. They make it look exciting,” Johnstone said.
Election season was intense. Posters covered hallways, campaign T-shirts were worn, the debate was heard in the auditorium and candidates visited classrooms explaining why students should vote for them. Johnstone said during November, everyone gets serious.
But elections aren’t the only activities appealing students.
“I challenge the teachers to engage the students,” Johnstone said.
Wagner teachers infuse classrooms with technology by using iMovie, flip cams and even Promethean board clickers to give presentations in class.
“A lot of my teachers, including myself, are into technology. Our kids make iMovies. They don’t just do book reports; it’s a PowerPoint presentation. My rule to the teachers is if you use it, I’ll buy it,” Johnstone said.
It was silent in room 201. Sixth-grade reading and writing teacher, Erin Bloom walked around the room helping students with their Project Based Learning projects. For this unit, students did PowerPoint presentations on civil rights figures. Reports were focused on the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. Fourth-year teacher, Bloom, encouraged students to research other important figures other than Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
“I like that [Ms. Bloom] pays attention to what we do and she’s always interested in our stories. She always has confidence in us,” Seleste Grant said.
Grant decided to choose James Leonard Farmer Jr. for her report.
“I like history, and I think he inspired me because he was a freedom rider. I think everybody should be free,” the sixth-grader said.
Shayla Lee and Christina Velez chose to do their project on Emmett Till. After learning that Till was killed at age 14, just three years older than they are, Velez and Lee talked about how his death made them feel.
“It really didn’t have to go down like that. He was only 14, and he didn’t get to live his life,” Lee said.
“It would make me feel scared,” Velez said.
In the next classroom over in Michelle Todd’s class, sixth-grader Tyreek Frederick watched a film that discussed segregation, boycotts and voting rights for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.
“I learn the history of Black people and the Little Rock Nine and how the leaders impacted history,” Frederick said. “I feel thankful for their impact so I can get into school without issues.”