PHILADELPHIA – Today at Richard W. Wright School, City and School District Officials announced the third cohort of schools to join the Philadelphia Community Schools initiative. The five new Community Schools are:

  1. Hamilton Disston School in Tacony
  2. Andrew K. McClure School in Hunting Park
  3. Overbrook Educational Center in Overbrook
  4. John H. Webster School in Kensington
  5. Richard R. Wright School in Strawberry Mansion

The addition of these five elementary schools will expand the Community Schools initiative to 17 schools.

Students from Overbrook Educational Center kicked off the event with a performance from The Wiz, before remarks by Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend my 200th school visit than here at one of our new Community Schools,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m encouraged by the early signs of progress in our current Community Schools, and excited to expand this initiative to serve nearly 10,000 students as well as their families and neighbors. The Community Schools initiative is working thanks to strong partnerships between schools, City departments, many community partners, and businesses. I look forward to continuing work with the School District to make sure that students in Community Schools – and all Philadelphia schools – have the supports they need to thrive in and out of the classroom. ”

“Community Schools have provided critical supports to students and families such as adult education, out-of-school programs, and behavioral health supports,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “These partnerships are valuable assets to our schools, and align closely with the District’s work to provide great schools close to where children live by enhancing community engagement and growing supports for school communities. We look forward to building on our progress as the initiative expands into five new schools.”

Community Schools are a joint initiative of the City of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia to improve student attendance and other outcomes by increasing community partnerships. Each Community School receives a City-employed Community School Coordinator to work with school staff and community members on addressing the unique needs of students, families, and communities.

“Our responsibility for the children of Philadelphia isn’t confined to the school day, because stresses related to their homes and neighborhoods don’t just disappear when the morning bell rings,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) said. “I’m pleased that Richard Wright Elementary will be the third community school in the 5th District, and I’m grateful to our educators, support staff, and caregivers who dedicate their lives to making sure every kid has a chance to learn, grow, and thrive.”

“At Richard R. Wright School, we are committed to providing a supportive environment for children and fostering their passion for learning,” said Principal Jeannine Payne. “Becoming a Community School will help us continue to improve student well-being and achievement by bringing in new resources and building a stronger connection between the school and our families and neighbors.”

Twenty eight schools applied to become Community Schools during the last selection process. Eleven schools received a site visit, after a review of the application and school and neighborhood data. The selection committee considered the strength of the schools’ applications, overall need (based on School Progress Report scores, the percent of neighborhood children living in poverty, and neighborhood diploma attainment rates), and a site visit.

The five new schools will join 12 other Community Schools that were established in 2016 and 2017. In the current Community Schools, attendance overall has improved 12.7%, exceeding the District-wide average of 8.5%. Community Schools have also provided over 100,000 pounds of free and nutritious food to City residents, expanded out-of-school time programs for 300 elementary school students, and connected over 500 adults to adult education classes and job training programs.

The Community Schools initiative is funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. By 2020, the City aims to transform 20 existing District-run neighborhood schools into Community Schools.

About Hamilton Disston School
Principal: Kareem Thomas
Located in Tacony, Disston serves nearly 900 students in grades K-8. This school has a comprehensive parent engagement plan developed by teachers and students, and a diverse group of administrators, teachers, and parents worked together to complete the school’s Community School application. The school has several partnerships in place to address student needs, including connections to the nearby Tacony Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Vogt Recreation Center.

About Andrew K. McClure School
Principal: Sharon Marino
Located in Hunting Park, McClure serves approximately 700 students from pre-K to 5th grade. The school has strong partnerships with nearby nonprofits and universities, and works closely with community partners to address language access and mental health challenges in the school community. The entire school community participated in the Community School application process, including students who wrote one-page essays about their school. The school has a dual language program and is one of only six bilingual schools in the School District. The school and community seek added health, mental health, and adult education resources so that students and their families can thrive and learn.

About Overbrook Educational Center
Principal: Meredith Foote
Located in Overbrook, Overbrook EC serves nearly 300 students K-8. The school is the only public school in Philadelphia that caters to students with visual impairments, and 29% of students receive special education services. The school serves students from across the City and seeks new partnerships with community resources to ensure that students have adequate social/emotional support and expanded learning time. A 17-person committee comprised of teachers, administrators, and parents worked together to complete the Community School application.

About John H. Webster
Principal: Sherri Arabia 
Located in Kensington, Webster serves nearly 800 students in grades K-5. The school has a family health partnership with Temple University’s nursing school, and a nearby church recently established a community center and community library next to the school. The school is eager to incorporate more parent resources to support student attendance and achievement, and to address the challenges of poverty and transience affecting families living in Kensington. The school participates in the Philadelphia Resilience Project and the Opioid Impact Task Force convened by the School District and City of Philadelphia, in order to ensure the safety of students on school grounds and during their route to school.

About Richard R. Wright School
Principal: Jeannine Payne
Located in Strawberry Mansion, Wright serves approximately 350 students K-5. The school has been recognized by the state for its implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) programs and has steadily improved its climate score over the last three years. The school’s leadership includes parents and staff in decision-making processes, and seeks to expand programming for families.  The school’s priorities for the work ahead include out-of-school time, nutrition, and trauma-informed supports to set the stage for improved academic achievement.