The Kenderton Elementary School at 1500 West Ontario Street in North Philadelphia offers a collaborative approach when it comes to its nearly 441 students, staff and the community around them.
“Kenderton is a neighborhood school and we’re trying to re-brand the school,” said third-year principal Deanna Bredell. “Right now, we’re in phase one, so we had a volunteer come in and paint the entire lobby off-white.
“Cristo Rey partnered with us and helped us get some rugs,” she added. “We have a display case that we’re going to put all of Kenderton paraphernalia in. Our second phase will be the classrooms. We’re trying to get volunteers to paint the classrooms. Our third phase is to redo our mural out front.”
Bredell said the school also has academic goals that they want students to achieve.
“We want to achieve Blue Ribbon status here in North Philly and we have the subgroups to do it,” Bredell said. “For year one, our goal is 100% of kindergarten will be on level according to our testing. We want 70% of our first and second graders to be on level.
“For grades 3-8, this year we want to be at 25%, next year 50% and the third year we want 75% of our students in those grades to be on level,” she said.
“If they’re not on level, they should be in some kind of pipeline, where we are figuring out what the barriers are,” she added. “By year three, we want 75% of the school to be on target and that’s going to be indicative of the PSSA.”
Through local partnerships, the K-8 school is continuing to provide academic and emotional support as well as educational opportunities to their students.
“We have a partnership with Call to Serve, which is affiliated with Zion Baptist Church,” Bredell said. “We have a technology and math initiative and I wanted our students to be exposed to the TI-83 calculator before high school. Call to Serve donated 63 TI-83 calculators and in January they will donate another 16.
“We had a partnership with Trinity Baptist Church,” she said. “They gave us school uniforms and are willing to help us with anything that we need. We developed an alliance with Temple PHASes. Temple PHASes help us with our trauma informed care.
“They helped us with our reflection room for K-2 and initiated a reflection room for 3-8,” she added. “In these rooms, there are different things that students can use to calm down including bicycles, treadmills, fidgets and tents. It’s a calming room and it helps with self regulation.”
For middle schoolers, the school offers genius blocks. The blocks, which are offered on Fridays, have students attending a variety of classes based on their interests. The classes are led by the school’s teachers and staff members.
“On Fridays, the students get to pick what block they go to based on their interest,” Bredell said. “Some of the classes include baking, strategic gaming, LEGO Mindstorm and the walking club among others.
“We just have a bunch of different things for students to choose from,” she added. “We not only want our students to learn at Kenderton, but we also want them to experience different things as well.”
At Kenderton, the teachers and staff have been going above and beyond to support their students.
“Kenderton is our safe space and I have an amazing staff,” Bredell said. “When the tropical storm happened and the schools had a two hour delay everybody was here. We still started the school day at our normal time which is 9 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.
“Our staff is committed to this cause,” she said. “We have shout out Fridays where we shout each other out for the work that we’re doing in the school.
“We just try to keep the morale up, not just with the students, but also with each other as a staff because with COVID it’s hard,” she added. “I’m so proud of my staff’s resiliency and hard work.”
Bredell said this school year Kenderton has an assistant principal of instruction and assistant principal of climate.
“In addition to two APS (assistant principals), our dean pushes our Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) project,” Bredell said. “We have a single school culture with three rules: be responsible, be respectful and be peaceful.
“We talk to students about what it looks and sounds like in each area,” she added. “We recently had a big kickoff for PBIS. We’re just really excited about this school year.”
The proud principal said she wants her students to leave Kenderton knowing that they always have a place they can return to.
“I hope they look back and say ‘Kenderton was a safe place,’” Bredell said. “I’ve developed important friendships there and it’s a place that I can always return to.
“For my parents, I want Kenderton to be the hub for the neighborhood,” she added. “If they have a problem or need additional resources, we want to be that safe place for them in the neighborhood. We’re trying to get a GED program started. We want to support the community as much as we possibly can.”