Each year, Philadelphia’s Community Schools come together to celebrate residents who go above and beyond to support their school and neighborhood communities. On May 31, Mayor Kenney and other officials gathered at City Hall to honor those students, community members, and partner organizations working to further the work of the City’s 17 Community Schools

Our 2022 Community School Awardees included 34 Philadelphians who, over the past school year, have engaged and advanced the partnerships, events, and initiatives taking place within their communities. 

Mayor Kenney at CS Awards

“Each of you receiving an award has gone above and beyond — with your hard work, your ingenuity, your compassion, your willingness to take risks, your ability to inspire,” the Mayor told awardees at the ceremony. “At a time when the entire world is struggling with war and disease and political strife, you have chosen to stay positive, to focus on community – your community – and to lift others up.”

CS Awards 2022The award ceremony also included the premier of a documentary produced by the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement entitled, “Spotlight Series: Joy. IMPACT. Support.” The 22-minute video spotlights the powerful work of four Black, male Community School Coordinators and their positive influence on the culture of education in Black communities. 

We are proud to introduce you to this year’s award recipients. Meet the students, parents, school staff, volunteers, community members, and partner organizations who are working to make our Community Schools great. 

Alain Locke School

Ms. Farzana Akter
8th Grade Student

Farzana is an eighth grade student and the Student Council President at Alain Locke School. Farzana has also been a familiar face at partner meetings and helps to steer the Community Schools work at Alain Locke. She has successfully advocated for school programs based around law and justice, and successfully argued that students who work events should be compensated. Farzana plans to study criminal justice in college and hopes to work for the FBI as the the first Muslim-American and first woman director.

Walnut Hill Community Association
Community Partner

Alain Locke School sits in the heart of West Philadelphia, but unlike other schools in the area, does not have a direct community association that supports the surrounding neighborhood. The Walnut Hill Community Association (WHCA) offers that support in many ways. A neighborhood group run by residents dedicated to community revitalization, WHCA actively promotes the neighborhood, encourages participation in community events, and helps to determine neighborhood improvement priorities. The group continues to strive and work for the betterment of the community and its residents.

Alexander K. McClure Elementary School

Mercedes Olesik
Attendance Case Manager 

Mercedes is McClure’s Attendance Case Manager from Carson Valley. She has been instrumental in reconnecting families back to McClure Elementary. Since she began working with McClure in November 2021, Mercedes has made many strides towards ensuring that barriers for students are eliminated. She works closely with school counselors and has maintained constant communication with families to ensure continued attendance success. She has also helped increase the attendance rate to be a leader in McClure’s Learning Network and inspires students to love being at school. 

Utility Emergency Service Fund
Community Partner

The Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF) partners with McClure Elementary to support families every day, along with team members Syreeta Stanley, Kathy Hall and Ivette Garcia. UESF, in collaboration with other partners, hosts various workshops on budgeting and life skills to help McClure families flourish. UESF has also provided support to a number of families, helping them to stay in their homes, ensure utilities were not disconnected, and afford McClure children a stable living situation. 

Edward Gideon Elementary School

Sharilyn Clark
School Support Staff

Ms. Clark does it all! She serves as a teacher, administrator, school technology coordinator and support for staff members. Gideon would not be the same without her. Ms. Clark has worked for the School District of Philadelphia for 26 years and has worked at Gideon for the past five years. Her impact is felt both in and outside of the classroom. She processes all requests for Gideon to remain open after hours and assists in scheduling for all in school special programs.

Marcuis Richburg
8th Grade Student

Marcuis is an 8th grader at Gideon Elementary and has attended the school since 1st grade. He is a dedicated student who is very passionate about technology and serving the community. Marcuis has more than 50 hours of volunteer service at Gideon. He is Ms. Clark’s biggest helper, volunteering during his lunch period to help organize the technology lab and equipment. On Thursdays Marcuis is normally serving the community with a smile, distributing produce to parents and commenting members.

F.S. Edmonds Elementary School

Courtney Sabb
School Counselor

Ms. Sabb is a school counselor at F.S. Edmonds Elementary. Ms. Sabb unselfishly supports the needs of the school, its students and families, and the community. She has diligently assisted with events and activities held at Edmonds, notably the annual “Keep Them Warm” Coat Drive and Distribution Day. Ms. Sabb is also instrumental in bringing an after-school cheerleading team to Edmonds. She has fostered meaningful relationships with the students, providing one-on-one interaction and taking time to discuss their future when time for high school selection.

The Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia
Community Partner

The Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia (BGCP) has been F.S. Edmonds’ Out-of-School Time provider for the past four years. They provide after school programming for elementary school dismissals, as well as summer camp for students. BGCP has worked to maintain an academic enrichment curriculum that keeps students engaged, offering students activities that are fun and exciting. They also provide a literacy program that helps students improve their skills. The BGCP also has a good relationship with the Edmonds family, and staff are pleasant and professional. They continue to make their work with youth the priority.

George Washington High School

Amber Stallings
Community Member

Ms. Stallings is a 24-year old graduate of Penn State University who studied criminal justice with a minor in sociology. She has been working with the Greater Philadelphia YMCA for five years, and has overseen programming at George Washington High School since October 2021. Her passion for working with children and making a difference in her community motivates her every day to come to work and make an impact. 

Yaasiyn Muhammad
Assistant Principal 

Mr. Muhammad is Assistant Principal at George Washington High School, focusing on the transition to high school for incoming 9th graders. A Philadelphia native and product of Martin Luther King High School, with degrees from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Muhammad proudly touts the city’s best qualities and believes in every students’ potential. He has served Philadelphia students in grades K-12 since 2009 as a summer instructor for various non-profits, and as a Co-founder of the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative. Yaasiyn has brought his belief in students’ potential and focus on educational equity to his work at George Washington and looks forward to continuing to make an impact.

Hamilton Disston School

Dianne Channault
Community Member

Ms. Channault is an active volunteer at Disston, helping to provide support during events and field trips, distributing supplies, and her personal favorite, assisting first grade students in the classroom. She retired in 2019 after many years of administrative service in the public sector. A decades-long resident of the Tacony neighborhood, Dianne felt a need to connect with her community after retirement. In September 2021, she found herself driving by Disston at dismissal time and the excitement from students and parents was a joy to see. She found her niche and has since enjoyed every minute of the opportunity to be a part of the Disston community.

CORA Services
Community Partner

CORA Services, established in 1971, offers services to help children, youth and families experiencing emotional, behavioral or situational difficulties. Staff provide an array of services, with concentrations in family strengthening, substance use and mental health, and overall risk reduction and wellness promotion. CORA is Disston’s Community Schools Core Partner, and its team members have gone beyond their scope of work to support Disston families. This is evidenced by their presence at school events and help at weekly produce distributions. Disston looks forward to continuing to strengthen this partnership to benefit the Tacony community.

James Logan Elementary School

Dr. Zarah Adams
Director of Community Engagement, Germantown Friends School 

Dr. Adams has served as the Director of Community Engagement at Germantown Friends School (GFS) since 2020. She began her role with the goal of widening the community for GFS  students and staff. A partnership between the school and Logan Elementary helped further this goal. Neither the pandemic nor virtual learning interfered with the partnership. Rather, it created opportunities for virtual collaboration. Students from both schools have worked together to publish a newsletter to share how they are dealing with the pandemic, and more recently, to create activities that will serve the community. Dr. Adams is a dynamic example of what a Community School Partner looks like—she is forward thinking, and not just about her students at GFS, but all students.

Jada Bradley-Soto
5th Grade Student

Jada is a fifth grade student at Logan Elementary. She was nominated for a Community School award due to her commitment to being a daily example of Logan’s school slogan, “A Winner of Excellence.” She serves in two Community School initiatives—on Logan’s school safety team and as one of the fifth grade Logan Ambassadors with the Germantown Friends programs. At Logan, Jada is often seen as someone who seeks out others who need help and teaches them the skills needed in a meaningful way. Outside of school, Jadah volunteers within her community and at her church.

Edgar Awewoa
5th Grade Student

Edgar is a fifth grade student at Logan Elementary. He has been nominated for a Community School Student award because he is an example of Logan’s school slogan, “A Winner of Excellence.” He serves in two Community School initiatives—as a captain on the school safety team and as one of the fifth grade Logan Ambassadors with the Germantown Friends program. He has a true love of learning and enjoys spreading his vast knowledge to the Logan school community. As a member of the safety team, he also looks out for fellow students and goes the extra mile to be sure all safety tasks are taken care of. 

John H. Webster School

Ms. Viviana Virola Romero
School Climate Support

Ms. Viviana serves as the School Climate Support at Webster Elementary. A parent volunteer, she is a unique and integral member of the school staff. On any given day, Viviana can be found serving lunch to Kindergarteners, distributing donations from community partners, leading Webster’s School Advisory Council, ensuring safe dismissals, or stepping up to do whatever needs to be done. She is an expert at communicating with families about important information, procedures, and events. Her hard work and obvious dedication to the school inspires everyone she works with.

Laura Rauth
Clinical Instructor, Temple Department of Nursing  

For the past five years, Laura has created and nurtured a bridge between the next generation of nurses and the communities they may someday serve. Laura and her team of Temple nursing students can often be found brightening the hallways of Webster, teaching health classes, pulling students out for screenings, and learning firsthand about providing for public health needs. Under Laura’s guidance, they have conducted school supply drives, organized closets, and even painted murals to liven up Webster’s bathrooms. Webster is a better, more vibrant, and healthier place because of their efforts.

Kensington Health Sciences Academy

Crystal Le Lam

Ms. Le Lam has been nominated for the Community Member, Community Service Award for all her amazing support and dedication this year. She was the only parent to attend all School Advisory Council and school meetings held this year, and is a great example of a community member who has helped to engage and drive the work of the Community School initiative within their community.

Dalila Bedoya

For the past year, Ms. Bedoya has worked towards engaging families at Kensington Health Sciences Academy. She has participated in all of the school’s parent meetings and workshops, and worked to increase parent participation and engagement throughout the year. Through her work she has shared insights and resources that will continue to support families within the school community. 

Murrell Dobbins CTE High School

Dominique Dilworth
Behavioral Health Specialist, City of Philadelphia DBHIDS 

Ms. Dilworth is a Behavioral Health Specialist for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) in the City of Philadelphia. In her role she is responsible for providing the community with resources to empower healthier lifestyles. She has served in the behavioral health field for countless years and in many roles including crisis management. Ms. Dilworth has a passion to serve others, encouraging them to seek the fruits of life. Her mission is to not only change lifestyles, but to change the mindsets for a stronger community.

Diane Morgan
Community Member

Ms. Morgan serves as a committed volunteer and lead for the weekly food distribution at Dobbins, Fresh For All Wednesdays. Ms. Morgan has always had a heart to serve. During her 15 years of service with the Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Morgan worked in several departments for the  government. As she continued her career working for the Philadelphia Recruiting Battalion working alongside enlisted military men and women. Years later she would transfer to the Department of Defense until her retirement.

Overbrook Educational Center (OEC)

Samia Bolling

Ms. Bolling is a go-to among OEC parents. Recently, she helped school leadership in organizing staff appreciation gifts for all the staff members at OEC. She has also been instrumental in securing funding for a $985,000 streets project to increase neighborhood safety and accessibility for students and community members. Ms. Bolling steps up for the school community any time and every time, and the school is deeply grateful for everything she does for the entire Overbrook neighborhood.

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education
Community Partner

Legacy provides Out of School Time programming at OEC, which has been a dream come true for families. Legacy, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, embodies what it means to be a Community School core partner. From bringing in additional partnerships like Philly Reading Coaches and Adventure Aquarium, to hosting engaging events for students and playing a vital role in the success of our weekly food distribution, Legacy is always there to get it done. Most notably, they secured transportation services to ensure that all OEC students have the opportunity to participate in after-school programming.

Richard R. Wright School

Charles Brown
School Climate Specialist 

As the climate specialist, Mr. Brown interacts with all of Wright’s students and brings great energy to the school building. Whether it’s singing a birthday song to students and staff or the structured system he brings to recess, Mr. Brown does it all. Wright would not be the fun, tight-knit community that it is without Mr. Brown. The kids constantly look for his high fives and fist bumps and know that he is one of their biggest cheerleaders and advocates. He puts the “special” in climate specialist and will continue to bring his passion and heart of service to the school. 

Saul Singleton
Attendance Case Manager

Mr. Singleton joined the Wright community as an attendance case manager in the summer of 2021. Since then, he has been integral in increasing student attendance as the school transitioned back to in-person learning. Saul hit the ground running by reaching out and connecting with families who could use additional support over the summer, and that drive did not slow down when the school year began. He has worked to provide students with new uniforms and shoes, raffled Temple football tickets to encourage school attendance, and brought new light to our PBIS work, “The Wright Way.” The attendance and community leadership teams at Wright know that they can count on Saul to help families prioritize school and work through any barriers that are in their way. 

Samuel Gompers School

Jinaki Z. Bright
Education Director, Office of State Senator Vincent Hughes

Ms. Bright is a firm believer that “all children are capable of learning” and is extremely passionate about literacy. This has been her focus with more than 25 years of experience in education, as a teacher (elementary, middle and high schools), an administrator (elementary and middle schools), and as an Instructional Coach that provides professional development to schools locally, nationally and internationally. She is currently the education director for the Office of State Senator Vincent Hughes. This position allows Ms. Bright to provide administrative support to the Read to Succeed Philadelphia, a comprehensive, and intentional reading program that provides PreK-3rd grade students and their families with year-round opportunities to engage with and have access to reading materials and instruction.

South Philadelphia High School

Seth Thuong
11th Grade Student

Seth, an 11th grader, is honored with a Community Schools award for his hard work and dedication to the school, his peers and community schools. He is Student Government Association president and does his best to lead his classmates and encourage them to get involved. He is always present, has provided assistance at almost every Community Schools event, and provides support to the community closet. Seth also engages in Out of School Time and any partnering programs that the Coordinator recommends. He is on the track team and embodies what it is to be a Southern Ram. 

Pastor Darrell Hendricks
Community Member

Pastor Hendricks has been nominated for a Community Schools award for being a presence at the school each week, encouraging our students, and supporting school initiatives. He has worked to organize volunteers to paint the school building, donates items in need, and encourages students to attend school and get involved. Pastor Hendricks motivates our students and instills leadership skills in them each week he is in the building. He is always willing to support the students whenever asked, and many times without being asked.

Southwark School

Ana Martinez
8th Grade Student

Ana, an 8th grader, is a recipient of the Community Schools Award because she embodies the qualities of a strong leader. Ana is genuinely concerned for others and uses her role as a member of the Student Council to advocate for her classmates. Ana makes it a point to see that new students, especially English Language Learners, have their needs met. She has become their spokesperson as they navigate a new environment. Ana has been part of our Southwark community since Kindergarten and has worked to make it a welcoming and caring place, reflecting her own values. 

City Year Philadelphia
Community Partner

Year after year, the City Year Philadelphia teams serving at Southwark School exemplify the mission of Community Schools. Corps Members have a special way of reaching students, serving as role models and mentors both inside and outside the classroom. In addition to providing academic and social-emotional support during the school day, City Year also provides quality Out-of-School Time opportunities for students through homework support and club-based programming. Impact Manager Sarah Richman leads the City Year Southwark team with a big heart and a passion for both students and Corps Members. She is an active member of the school’s partner network and works with Corps Members to creatively respond to the needs of the school.

William Cramp Elementary School

Ana Cruz
Community Member

Ms. Cruz has worked at Cramp Elementary School since 1979. At 73 years of age, she still displays a tireless work ethic and provides essential services for Cramp families. Among many other services, Ms. Anna helps to register students in the school and provides translation and mediation help, all while providing clean uniforms, helping to give out backpacks, and handing out food for needy families. Ms. Cruz lives across the street from the school and is on call for whenever her community needs her. She is now serving the grandkids of those students she first served back in the 1970s. 

Julie Cheifetz
School Counselor 

Ms. Cheifetz is the Cramp School Counselor. She serves close to 500 students by herself and is resolute in her commitment to Cramp families. She is an integral part of the attendance team and consistently removes barriers to learning for families. However, her commitment to service doesn’t end there—she recently donated her kidney to her brother to help save his life. She was back at Cramp just a few short weeks later and immediately returned to serving Cramp families. She is not only a good samaritan, but an integral part of the Cramp community.  

William T. Tilden Middle School

Gabriella Moncriffe

Gabriella (Gabby) has been a Tilden student since fifth grade and will graduate next year as a second year Student Government president. She is a leader among her peers and inspires her classmates to succeed. Gabby is personally driven in terms of academics, and her classwork is always of superior quality. Gabby is also deeply involved in the school community. In addition to being an ambassador for Student Government, she is a member of the Tilden Track and Field team, the drama club, and is a consistent advocate for and participant in after-school programming. 

Mrs. Patricia Bowe Rivers
Community Member

Mrs. Rivers is the head of the Tilden Community School Personal Care Pantry in partnership with her organization, the Jennie Palmer Missionary Society of St. Paul A.M.E., of which she is the president. Mrs. Rivers’ background is centered around helping others. She is a Substance Use/Mental Health Counselor who has been in the field for approximately 30 years. She is also a Community Trauma Responder with the City of Philadelphia’s Network of Neighbors. She came to Tilden Middle School this year on a mission to care for children. Mrs. Rivers has been a consistent provider to our students, supplying them with simple things that can be taken for granted in regular self-care preparation. She loves talking to students and demonstrates strength, intelligence, and spiritual fortitude to our youth.