Rigorous teaching, community partnerships, supporting teachers and staff, and hardworking students are just some of the things that make up the Tanner G. Duckrey School at 1501 Diamond St.

The K-8 school offers an educational program that prepares its 620 students for the challenges ahead of them, including getting into the best high schools in the city.

“We want to make sure that Duckrey is a fun, loving, safe place for our students,” said principal David Cohen. “There is a lot going on when they go home, especially on their walk home so we need to make school a place where they want to be. We want our students to be excited about coming to school every day.

“Academically, we also want to make sure the students are where they need to be. We want to make sure instruction is on grade level. We’re also meeting kids where they are in small groups. We’re also making sure that we’re utilizing cutting edge tech to engage the kids.

“All of our eighth-graders need to be ready for ninth grade,” he added. “Our job is to prepare them for high school. We want our kids to go to some of the best schools in the District, so we’re doing everything we can to ensure that happen through various programs. We want our students to not only be prepared for the next grade, but we also want them to be ready for the change of the modern world.”

In October, the school community celebrated the official opening of its first soccer pitch. Several organizations including the Friends of Duckrey, The BigSandBox, love.futbol, the Pincus Family Foundation, Street Soccer USA, the Fountain of Youth Preventative Health Inc., and the Black Women and Sport Foundation were all instrumental in the latest rounds of updates.

The ceremony also served as the official kickoff for phase two of the playground project which will be complete by the end of the year, bringing the revitalized school yard two upgraded NBA size courts, an outdoor classroom, a peace garden, art installations, new equipment, and an asphalt maze.

“Our outside project actually started a few years ago,” said said parent/community outreach coordinator and climate and safety staff member Danita Bates. “Our fourth-graders, who are now seventh-graders, wrote a letter to council president Darrell Clarke saying that they wanted a better play space for their school yard.

“That was three years ago. We already completed Phase I and we just completed Phase II, which was upgrading the basketball courts and the official opening of the soccer pitch. Now we’re moving on to Phase III and IV where we’re going to add a tennis court and upgrade the historical basketball courts. We recently started the peace garden.

“Since we started this project, we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from the community,” she added. “We’re excited about that because that was our goal to make sure we had the engagement of the community. We want everyone to feel like this is their space too. We’re extremely grateful for all of the donations and partnerships to make this amazing project happen, not just for our school, but for the community.”

Adding to Duckrey’s students’ enthusiasm is the high-caliber of teachers. Students appreciate the academic aptitude of their teachers as well as the personal investments they make in them.

During the Tribune’s Learning Key visit, first grade students in Renee Schreiner’s class were utilizing technology by using the computer program iReady to work on their literacy skills.

“The biggest thing my students will be doing this year is learning how to read,” Schreiner said. “The students are using iReady. The program is an individual lesson for every student on what their needs are to help them be better. It’s a supplement on top of everything else that their doing.

“We have students that come in and volunteer and help the students read, so that they can practice their fluency. They help them with recognizing words, sounding them out, and making sure they have good flow when they read. We also do shared reading and guided reading in small groups.

“My students are also able to check their own progress in their classes, so they know where they are and what they need to improve on,” she added. “I just want my students to be engaged in their learning and become better readers.”

First-grader Selena Savoy said she likes doing iReady in her class.

“I like doing iReady in my class because I know it will help me become smarter,” Selena said. “Everything that I’m learning will help me when I move on to a higher grade. It’s a lot of fun.”

First-grader Ernest Lawrence said he likes being in Ms. Schreiner’s class.

“She’s a good teacher,” Ernest said. “She makes learning fun. We’re always doing something different in her class. I like having her as my teacher.”

chill@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5716

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