Through a standards-based curriculum and active partnerships with the community, William L. Sayre High School at 5800 Walnut St. provides a platform to ensure that all students develop the necessary skills to advocate for themselves in order to be successful in their academic and life choices after graduation.

“Our data shows that our attendance is going up and our students are succeeding,” said principal Jamie Eberle. “We’re constantly striving and growing as a school and a community.”

Sayre first opened its doors in 1949 to fulfill the need of the community for grades seven through nine, but beginning in 2003 it transitioned into a small high school with grades 9-12.

The school is transforming into a Health and Life Sciences high school that prides itself on partnering with local businesses and organizations in an effort to address the whole child and health of the community. The school currently has 413 students.

“As students transition to high school, they start in our ninth grade academy,” Eberle said.

“The academy allows the students in the ninth grade to have their own area of the school and it also allows us as a staff to give the students a strong foundation as they transition into high school,” she added.

Students at Sayre start their virtual day with morning meetings, a school-wide initiative based around social emotional learning.

“The meetings are 20-25 minutes a day and it’s a safe space where students can talk about any issues they have whether it’s tragedy, trauma or school-related,” Eberle said. “We discuss all of those things and so much more in the morning meetings.”

To help students with screen time for virtual learning, Sayre operates on an asynchronous and synchronous schedule.

“Asynchronous time is in the morning and then in the middle of the day,” Eberle said. “It’s 51 minutes for each class to have teacher-led instruction because we’re on a block schedule.

“During asynchronous time, there are interventions where teachers hold small focus groups with students or students are given an assignment to do grade improvement,” she said. “Assignments that they turned in and they didn’t get the grade that they had hoped for, they can improve upon that grade with teacher feedback.

The asynchronous time is from 8am until 9:20 am and again from 1:45 pm until 3:04 pm," she added. "The synchronous time with teacher-led direct instruction is from 9:20 am until 1:15 pm." 

At Sayre, the teachers and staff have been going above and beyond to support their students and this has been continuing through the pandemic.

“We have teachers and staff that care about our students. It’s not just a job to them, but it’s their passion,” she said. “I really feel what’s special about Sayre is the family atmosphere. We truly are a family here.”

Eberle said that the teachers have been utilizing various digital platforms for their classes.

“The teachers have been using virtual whiteboards a lot in math classes,” Eberle said. “They’ve also been using Pear Deck, Jamboard, Zoom and Google Classroom.”

To help students prepare for college and career, Sayre schedules town halls which are led by the counseling department and holds FASFA workshops every month.

“We continue to do a Naviance component which is their career college readiness, state regulations and career surveys,” Eberle said. “We had recent high school graduates who are now in college that come in and talk to our kids.

“Once a month, there is a virtual town hall and it’s based on college career and post secondary readiness,” she added. “We also offer workshops for our parents on the FASFA and financial literacy.”

Eberle said what she wants her students to take away from their experience at Sayre is self-worth and determination.

“The biggest thing I want our students to take away when they leave Sayre is that they’re important and can do anything they set their mind to,” Eberle said.

“We want them to advocate for themselves and not be afraid to ask questions,” she added. “No matter where they go after they leave us, we will always be there for them because we’re family.”

chill@phillytrib.com. 215-893-5716

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