The success of the Bache-Martin School does not just rely on the students’ academic excellence and personal growth.
The teachers, parents, staff, and faculty at the K-8 school in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia also play a pivotal role by providing students with endless opportunities they might not receive anywhere else.
“The middle school has shifted over the last two years,” said principal Mark Vitvitsky. “We have new staff members who are really committed to the vision of the school. They’re focused on putting students first and making sure that everyone’s individual potential is realized, or at least they have access to the opportunity to realize their potential.
“The level of instruction has increased immensely in that time because teachers have really prioritized planning. We’re more aligned with the Common Core expectations than we’ve ever been. Our teachers are looking at individual student data to make decisions all while considering the fact that our middle schoolers are going through a pretty challenging time. Middle school is not everyone’s favorite time to grow.
“The teachers have been patient and willing to coach students through some difficult life transitions,” he added. “I’m really proud of the middle school team.”
Enter Danielle Wilson’s STEM classroom and you will see pictures and sayings adorn the walls and vibrant colors and patterns throughout the classroom. She creatively intertwines high-quality instruction with hands-on project based learning. She teaches STEM in grades fifth thru eighth.
“My class is an extension of the science classes here,” Wilson said. “Whatever the students are learning in their science classes, my classroom offers the hands on part. The hands on part helps give the students the aha moment.
“I try to do at least one project a week that is tied to whatever they’re learning in their curriculum. Some of the projects I will come up with myself and other times I will ask the students their input on a science project that may be of interest to them.
“I’m also looking into bringing people into my classroom who have careers in STEM, so that the students can see the variety of career paths that STEM has to offer,” she added. “I want them to see that this is something that they’re capable of doing. While I want my students to love being in my class and being engaged with different projects, I also want them to think about their future.”
In Chelsea Redmond’s eighth grade literacy class, students are learning plot structures by reading the novel “Lord of the Flies” by author William Golding.
“My students in eighth grade just started reading the novel “Lord of the Flies” and they’re specifically looking at plot structures, specifically focusing on the exposition of the plot structure and how that influences the rest of the text development,” Redmond said. “Exposition includes the beginning, so who’s the setting? Where is the setting? Who’s involved? What’s the situation and climate? How does that impact the rest of the book?
“They’re also looking at how the setting isn’t just this thing that exists in isolation, but it’s something that the characters interact with and it shapes the plot and the events that are going on. My goal as their teacher is to not just have them meet the standards that the state has for them, but as a person it’s really important for me that the students dive into the literature.
“I want them to develop the skills to be able to analyze and tackle literature,” she added. “That is a skill they will have to use for the rest of their lives whether it’s reading a book or a document.They have to be able to understand what they’re reading. It’s also important to me that they develop into great citizens and social emotional people in this world.”
Eighth-grader Anh Ngo said that while his class has just started reading the novel “The Lord of the Flies,” he said he’s find the book interesting so far.
“We actually just started reading this book and it’s been interesting so far,” Anh said. “We’ve been learning a lot about the plot and themes of the book and how it relates to the character and the setting. We’re also learning how to use the best evidence to support our claims.”
Eighth-grader Azury Gomez-Ulloa said she likes having Ms. Redmond as her teacher.
“Ms. Redmond is an amazing teacher,” Azury said. “She has helped me so much. My first language is not English and she has been so patient and explains a lot of different things to me. She’s a great teacher.
“This school is definitely preparing me for high school,” she added. “They meet with us. They want to know what we’re interested in and what are goals are. They then help us come up with a plan to reach those goals. Bache-Martin is a great school.”