On any given week at Kennedy Crossan Academics Plus Elementary School, you may hear students reading a book out loud, practicing ballroom dancing or working on the computer. And it is not just for fun. Instead, it is a part of the school’s efforts to show students new experiences and to help them achieve in the classroom.
“I love going to Crossan; I’m always learning something new,” said kindergartner Sanai Hickson. “We never do the same lesson every day. We’re always doing something different in class. I like it because it makes learning fun for me.”
Located at 7350 Bingham St., the elementary school was named after its founder, Kennedy Crossan. During a time of great need in the community, Crossan built a two-story school building and donated it to the neighborhood. He was a self-made man, who worked his way across America, eventually returning to Philadelphia at the age of 21.
He formed a company that built railroads and the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City. Profits from this company were set aside to build what became Kennedy Crossan Elementary School. The school currently has 362 students.
“The culture at Crossan has always been known for great teachers and staff, parental support and academics,” said principal Lynne B. Millard. “I was very fortunate that when I came to the school six years ago, I inherited a school where that is the legacy. I also recognized that if I did not maintain that and continue to build than things would fall.
“I’ve been able to maintain an environment that is conducive to learning,” she added. “We’re committed to focusing on every child to really do their best. We have some of the best teachers and staff at this school to make sure that happens. The essence of our work is making sure the students have a strong foundation of academics.
“Our school performance scores is higher than both the district and state averages. When our kids leave here, I want them to say ‘I received a good education at the Crossan School as my foundation to let me be the person that I want to be and pursue the dreams that I set for myself.’ I also want them to have positive experiences.”
One of the most popular programs at Crossan is the Dancing Classrooms Philly. Launched in 2007, Dancing Classrooms Philly is a licensed ballroom dancing program for Philadelphia schoolchildren. All the students in the fifth grade participate in this program.
The program occurs within the school day and is designed to integrate with the school curriculum. The program runs for 10 weeks, with twice weekly classes of 45 minutes each. Classes are taught by specially-trained teaching artists who teach merengue, foxtrot, rumba, tango, swing, and waltz in addition to “sugar dances” such as cha cha slide, macarena, and stomp.
“One of the things that I like about my school is the ballroom dancing,” said fifth-grader Isabella Chybinski. “Since doing ballroom dancing, I learned more about different types of dancing like the rumba, foxtrot, tango, merengue, and the heel toe polka. One of my favorite dances is the heel toe polka, because it’s form is more free. With that particular dance your able to just listen to the music and do what you feel. It’s a lot of fun.”
Another student who likes the ballroom dancing program is fifth-grader Isaiah Sassine.
“I really like the ballroom dancing program,” Sassine said. “It’s a good way for us to learn about different things outside of the classroom. My favorite dance in the program is the merengue. I like the fact that the merengue involves a lot of movements. It’s more of a fast pace dance, and you really get to dance in sync with the beat. Crossan is a great school to go to. I don’t think I would be able to be in a program like this if I went to another school.”
In Janice Green’s computer class, students are learning web-based activities, word processing and spreadsheets.
“I’m the computer teacher for all grades, so all of the lessons I do with the students depends on the grade,” Green said. “In my third grade class, the students just got done working on a spreadsheet. They learned the basic vocabulary for a spreadsheet, how to enter data, and how to use the basic autosome tool. The students are currently doing more with word processing. They will be learning how to add columns, tables and images.
“My goal as a computer teacher has always been to have the students see that they can do more with a computer system than just playing games,” she added. “I want the students to learn how to write, code and know the computer inside and out. I want my students to open up their minds and dive deeper into computers and technology.”
Third-grader Hailey Bardales likes the computer class with Green.
“Ms. Green does a good job of showing us different things we can do on the computer,” Bardales said. “She was recently showing us the ins and outs of the school district website. How we can go on the website and find anything that we are looking for school related. I’ve learned a lot about technology and computers since being in her class. I really like going to this school.”