With the motto “arts + academics = success,” General Philip Kearny School provides various opportunities in the arts through its curriculum and art-based partnerships.
“What I love about my school is the fact that we have many classes and activities based around art,” said fifth-grader Mena Wilkens. “I love painting and drawing. I definitely want to be an artist when I grow up.”
Located at 601 Fairmount Ave., Kearny is a K-8 citywide admit school. This is the first year Kearny is developing an arts-focused citywide program for grades 5-8 while infusing arts into the general curriculum in all grades.
To help enhance this concept, Kearny has key partnerships and programs with arts- and science-based organizations including: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Wagner Free Institute of Science SNAP and GeoKids programs, Curtis Institute’s Artist in Residence program, and the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership Arts and Eve STEM program.
“Recognizing the power of art to transform children’s lives and to increase academic achievement as well as pro-social behaviors, we are reimagining what a neighborhood school can be,” said principal Daniel Kurtz. “In GeoKids, our students in the first through fourth grades learn about science through a yearlong unit that are hands-on and content-rich both inside and outside the classroom. The SNAP program enlists artists to work with our science teacher. In that program, middle-school students learn how to make art relating with science.
“In the Arts and Eve STEM program, middle-school girls are making art relating to math and technology,” he added. “We received a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, where students in grades 5-8 will be able to participate in theater, music, art and dance after school. The students will get a meal, academic support and then engage in those art contents.
“Our teachers teach regular content, but they have an art twist to it. We have two art teachers in the building. Every class gets art twice a week. Fifth- and sixth-graders gets art three times a week and our middle-schoolers gets art twice a week plus the SNAP and Art and Eve programs. We are truly grateful for our Home and School. We are also grateful for everything that all of our partnerships have done, and it shows that with collaborative efforts, we can help our students excel and achieve their dreams.”
Students in Kathy Blackburn’s fifth-grade class were learning about African proverbs. Students then had to create their own proverb by designing a Kente cloth.
“My teacher told us to be creative with our Kente cloth projects,” said fifth-grader Sulalmaan Crawford. “She told us to look at other people’s designs and make it our own — like our own interpretation of what we saw. My colors will be black and blue. Black represents maturity and spiritual energy and blue represents peaceful harmony and love. All of the cloths will be a part of our Black History Assembly.”
Fifth-grader Frederick Washington’s favorite subject at Kearny is social studies.
“My favorite subject at my school is definitely social studies,” Washington said. “We’re learning about the Southern colonies and plantations right now. My social-studies teacher does a good job of keeping the class interesting and fun. You are always learning something new whether it be a place, a fact or a person.”
In addition to its arts-based curriculum, Kearny has also been finding innovative ways to enhance the students’ literacy skills.
“We have a reading block where we cycle for reading,” Kurtz said. “In grades 3-5, when the kids come in the beginning of the year we do a reading assessment. We figure out what their skills are and what their strengths and needs are. We then break them into three reading groups at each grade level. They are all getting the standards-aligned material. Students get the core curriculum, but they will also get materials that are more their instructional level so that they can be successful.”
For fifth-grader Kayla Moultrie, going to Kearny has been an amazing journey.
“We do a lot of fun activities at Kearny,” Moultrie said. “I will be performing a dance with my friends at school at the Black History Assembly. For our dance routine, we will be mixing old-school dances with the dances that we’re doing today. You get a little bit of everything at Kearny. There is something for everyone at this school. Because of that, I know I will not only be a better student, but a better person.”