100 Days

FIRST 100 DAYS

Listening & Learning

Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.

June -September 2022

A Message from Superintendent Watlington

I am honored to serve as superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. This webpage is your destination for all things related to my first 100 days. It includes the First 100 Days: Listening and Learning document that highlights my goals and actions in the coming months, upcoming community engagement opportunities where I look forward to meeting and hearing from you, and more. I will also provide updates on my progress here so be sure to check back often. Thank you for this opportunity to work in partnership with you.

Goals & Actions

These five priority areas for listening and learning will help to inform my thoughts and ideas as we work together to achieve the Goals and Guardrails in support of all of the students we serve.

Learn more about the Goals and Guardrails by visiting philasd.org/goalsandguardrails.

Priority Area 1

Assess Student and Staff Well-Being

The Goal

Students and staff cannot flourish if they are not physically or emotionally safe. As a school district, we must approach issues of well-being and safety as a collaborative effort, convening key stakeholders from the Mayor’s office, City Council, the business community, our neighborhoods, and our schools to create a safety net for students and staff to learn and grow. Our approach to student well-being and safety will offer our students an invitation and access to increased opportunities to engage in healthy, meaningful activities which will help them foster positive mindsets. We will work to ensure that our students see the wealth of opportunities Philadelphia offers them to become productive citizens.

Action Steps

1.1 Hire a community liaison that reports to the Superintendent to coordinate grassroots communication and responses to community issues, including student and staff safety issues.

1.2 Review the structures in place to convene key city and community leaders around issues of chronic absenteeism, homelessness, emergency supports, and out-of-school time.

1.3 Assess possibilities to expand summer, after-school, and co-curricular programming activities in collaboration with city agencies, grassroots organizations, and key stakeholders.

1.4 Review how we receive feedback and respond to feedback from students, staff, parents, and community members regarding school climate and school safety issues.

1.5 Review and assess our school/district suspension and expulsion data, with a particular focus on violent offenses within and around our schools.

1.6 Review individual school climate data.

1.7 Review our approach to student and staff mental health support and determine whether we are appropriately investing in coordinated mental health supports and services for students and staff.

1.8 Assess the investments that have been made to restorative practices and positive behavior, intervention, and support programs.

Priority Area 2

Engage Our Stakeholders and Build Trust

The Goal

Building trust starts with listening to understand, and then collaborating and communicating effectively as partners in the work of helping all students succeed. It is essential for us to understand the hopes and dreams of our community, including students, families, staff, city and state leaders, unions, universities, activists, grassroots organizations, and business leaders. In addition, we must ensure that we have strong, collaborative structures and evaluate how we are communicating internally and externally.

Action Steps

2.1 Launch a listening and learning tour to understand the exact priorities and needs of all communities.

2.2 Increase collaborative structures with the Superintendent.

2.3 Meet with key leaders in consultation with the Board of Education President and Vice President, Mayor, City Council, state officials and legislative delegation, faith-based community, business leaders, and community members.

2.4 Host town hall sessions in-person and via Zoom meetings with teachers, administrators, support staff, other school-based staff, and central office employees to understand what is working and what are areas of stress/anxiety.

2.5 Initiate discussions and communicate with our union partners to establish a culture of respect and trust.

2.6 Evaluate internal communication protocols, including social media strategy, to determine how system-wide messages are understood by board members, principals, instructional staff, non-instructional staff, and central office staff.

2.7 Schedule Board of Education retreats to review communication protocols, year 1 priorities, and the superintendent evaluation process.

2.8 Assess the current state of the district’s communication and engagement efforts, as well as evaluate the quality of the school district website and schools’ websites.

Priority Area 3

Assess Teaching and Learning

The Goal

Teaching and learning that results in improved academic achievement and reaching the Goals and Guardrails is our core work. Covid-19 has caused serious disruption in student learning, and we must now begin to strengthen coherence in our instructional program to ensure that our teachers and schools have what they need to prioritize high-quality teaching and learning. Ensuring that all students not only graduate from The School District of Philadelphia but are also college and workforce ready is the goal and responsibility of all district employees, contractors, and volunteers.

Action Steps

3.1 Develop a process for frequent and structured school visits to observe and support school improvement efforts.

3.2 Assess the current process of school improvement planning (including School Improvement Plans) and ensure that schools have a clear multi-tiered system of support for students.

3.3 Assess current professional development efforts to support administrative, instructional, and non-instructional staff and how the budget emphasizes an investment in staff development.

3.4 Assess the coherence of the district’s academic frameworks.

3.5 Focus on areas of academic under-performance and ensure strategies are in place to address root causes of student achievement trends.

3.6 Determine how comprehensive and research-based the current curricula are and to what degree they are aligned to standards and allow for student achievement/growth.

3.7 Assess student and staff attendance rates, student drop out rates, and student graduation rates to support progress toward the Goals and Guardrails

Priority Area 4

Assess District Leadership Capacity and Alignment

The Goal

It is essential for The School District of Philadelphia to have a high-performing, collaborative, and results-oriented culture. To make sure that we operate as a highly effective team with a professional culture, we will be intentional about assessing and building the capacity of our leadership to achieve the Goals and Guardrails. As author Jim Collins states, we will ensure that we have the right people on the bus and in the right seats. We will not get to excellence by accident. It will be by design.

Action Steps

4.1 Conduct one-on-one interviews and review resumes and briefing papers with all direct reports.

4.2 Administer leadership assessment inventories to get to know executive leadership better.

4.3 Establish a transition team comprised of members of the Philadelphia public school community, local leaders and K-12 national experts.

4.4 Conduct a retreat with senior staff to review the district’s priorities, most recent achievement data, review current and anticipated vacancies, and discuss leadership team structures and practices.

4.5 Review current office structure, alignment, and capacity to achieve the Goals and Guardrails.

4.6 Assess the autonomy and authority of school leaders (Principals) in the current organizational structure.

4.7 Plan a second retreat with senior staff to review accountability plans and organizational structures to achieve the Goals and Guardrails.

Priority Area 5

Assess District Operations, Facilities and Finances

The Goal

To meet the needs of all students in The School District of Philadelphia, it is critical that operations and finance align with Board policy, and represent excellence and transparency. Each division will be appraised to determine how they maximize support and services to schools using a continuous improvement model. Additionally, we will assess the depth of our facilities issues.

Action Steps

5.1 Conduct one-on-one meetings with direct reports on operations, human resources, and budget, including use of ESSR funds and how local, state, and federal grants are being utilized and evaluated.

5.2 Review the district’s fund balance, financial projections, resource allocation and budgeting processes; assess how the district’s budget and budget process are aligned to support student achievement.

5.3 Conduct one-on-one meetings with the Office of General Counsel to review any recent/current legal proceedings or outstanding judgments against the district and to provide a briefing on state education code with attention to statutes currently impacting or likely to impact the district.

5.4 Review the assessments of the District’s facilities conditions and actions to determine alignment with improving student achievement guided by the Goals and Guardrails and the facilities planning process.

5.5 Receive an update on any foundation activities and how those funds support schools.

5.6 Review key district financial materials, budget, most recent audit, grants, and any other reports and audits provided by the Office of the Inspector General and Board’s Office of Auditing Services.

5.7 Review current labor contracts and schedules.

5.8 Assess the extent to which the District balances the centralization of budgets and services.

Transition Process

Phase 1
(June - September)

  • 100 Day Plan
  • Listening & Learning Tours

Goals

  • Gather input from stakeholders
  • Learn needs and concerns of community and district

Phase 2
(July-October 2022)

  • Superintendent’s Transition Team
  • Five subcommittees develop reports and recommendations

Goals

  • Formulate a comprehensive overview of the system

Phase 3
(November 2022 - Spring 2023)

  • Development of Strategic Plan

Goals

  • Develop paths and strategies that will help all students …to thrive, succeed, and lead in a global society.

Transition Team

Dr. Watlington’s core focus is to improve outcomes for all of our diverse learners and achieve the Board’s Goals & Guardrails, such that the School District of Philadelphia is positioned to be one of the nation’s fastest improving urban districts. The launch of this Transition Team is phase 2 of a three-phase effort designed to lay a strong foundation for transformative growth for our students.

To effectively assess a District this size and this complex as quickly as possible, we must be strategic, intentional and inclusive. The Transition Team is intentionally constructed to harness the collective power of more than 80 members of the Philadelphia community – including Philadelphia parents, teachers, principals, unions, educational, city, business, non-profit and grassroots leaders, and SDP staff – together with non-SDP education and industry leaders to assess five key areas of our District (Student Achievement, Operations, Anti-Racist District Culture, Community Engagement & Communications, and Enriching & Well-Rounded School Experiences) and make short-term and long-term recommendations to drive sustainable improvements in those areas.

Recommendations from the Transition Team and insights from Phase 1 Listening and Learning sessions will inform Phase 3, the development of a new strategic plan.

Transition Team Leaders

Andrea Headshot_2

Co-chair

Andrea Custis

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Andrea Custis is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Philadelphia. Ms. Custis is responsible for leading the Urban League’s efforts to promote economic empowerment and social justice in the Greater-Philadelphia region, including in the areas of Housing, Entrepreneurship, Workforce, Education, and Health & Wellness. In that role, Ms. Custis advocates for a number of issues, fair funding for schools, criminal justice reform, community safety, and voting.

Before joining the Urban League of Philadelphia in 2017, Ms. Custis spent 30 years in sales, marketing, human capital, and operations roles within Fortune 50 companies. In 2011, she retired from Verizon Communications. She was President & COO of Verizon Avenue providing bundled communication services to multi-dwelling communities nationwide. Ms. Custis was Group President of Sales and Marketing for Advanced Services. A change-agent in her own right, Ms. Custis led massive culture change efforts across Verizon in various departments.

Throughout her distinguished career with Verizon, Ms. Custis was known for her innovative and performance driven results. She managed a team that was rated first in the nation for three consecutive years in consumer FIOS sales and services and maintained the highest customer retention rates nationally.

Ms. Custis has established herself as a true public servant, she serves on numerous boards in the Philadelphia; Delaware and Washington, DC areas, and shares her talents and enthusiasm for community engagement. A strong advocate for education, Ms. Custis is a former member of the Board of Trustees at Lincoln University (PA) and was a member of the Advisory Council for Career and Vocational Education with the School District of Philadelphia. Andrea currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Anti- Defamation League (ADL), Police Athletic League (PAL), Committee of Seventy and on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Graduate School of Education at Drexel University.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Morgan State University in Baltimore and a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Custis is also a graduate of Boston University’s Leadership Institute, a National Science Foundation Scholar of Princeton University, and most recently, a graduate of Georgetown University’s Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program.

Ms. Custis is a mother of two and currently resides in Philadelphia.

Dr. GeneralsCropped[14246]

Co-chair

Dr. Guy Generals

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Dr. Donald Guy Generals became the sixth President of Community College of Philadelphia on July 1, 2014.  As the chief executive officer, he guides Philadelphia’s only public institution of higher learning, which serves more than 30,000 credit and non-credit students from diverse social, cultural and educational backgrounds.  Previously, Dr. Generals served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, New Jersey from 2008 to 2014.  Before joining Mercer’s cabinet, he held positions as Provost at the Katharine Gibbs Schools in New York City; Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., and Dean of Student and Cultural Affairs at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, N.J.  Dr. Generals has twenty years of teaching experience.

During Dr. Generals’ tenure at Community College of Philadelphia, he implemented a school-wide transformation by instituting the Guided Pathways model of program and curriculum development. The resulting effect has been an increase in the three-year graduation rate and increases in retention. He developed the College’s efforts in workforce development by adding a division for workforce and economic innovation and, he is currently overseeing the construction of a 70,000 square foot advanced technology center.

Dr. Generals serves on numerous boards in Philadelphia including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia Works, the Urban Affairs Coalition, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Mayor’s Reconciliation Steering Committee. He served on numerous professional organizations, including the American Association of Community Colleges (Board member since 2022); the New Jersey Academic Affairs Affinity Group (chair); the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges (Board member since 2010); The Global Community College Leadership Network (Current Vice Chair) the College Board, Middle States Regional Council; and the Paterson Board of Education (Commissioner).  Dr. Generals writes and speaks on a range of educational issues. His book, Booker T. Washington, The Architect of Progressive Education, was published in 2013.

Dr. Generals earned his Ed.D. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education at Rutgers University after earning both his M.A. in Urban Education/Community Service and his B.A. in Political Science at William Paterson College.  Additionally, he’s earned certificates in administrative leadership and educational management at Cornell and Harvard Universities.

Transition Team Subcommittees

Select a subcommittee to learn more

Student Achievement

The core work of SDP is teaching and learning. As such, the major focus of every activity in the district must support classrooms and student achievement at the highest levels. The sub-committee’s work will advance learning opportunities, especially for students who have not yet achieved the level of success needed to access meaningful career and college opportunities.

Meet the Team

  • Dr. Ayesha Imani, CEO/founder, Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School
  • Bill Dagget, Founder, International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE)
  • Dr. Chris McGinley, Former Member, Board of Education
  • Dr. Christina Grant, State Superintendent for the District of Columbia
  • Dr. Constance Evelyn, Former Superintendent, Valley Stream School District
  • Ginny Field, Teacher, William Loesche Elementary School
  • Jerry T. Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
  • Dr. John Spencer, Principal, John F. McCloskey Elementary School
  • Maura McInerney, Legal Director, Education Law Center
  • Olga Doubrovskaia, Parent, Southwark Elementary School
  • Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer, City of Philadelphia
  • Richard Gordon, Principal, Paul Robeson High School
  • Dr. Sean Conley, Assistant Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Stacy Holland, Executive Director, Elevate 215
  • Dr. Youngmoo Kim, Director of the Expressive and Creative Interactive Technologies (ExCITe) Center, Drexel University

Co-Chair: Dr. Sheila Brown

Former Deputy Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

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Dr. Sheila Brown is a national leader in PreK-12 public education. Her specialized work includes strategic planning and action, principal supervision, comprehensive literacy and English language acquisition. She is a managing partner for Strategic Leadership Partners in Education. Sheila previously served as the Co-Director of the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program. In this role, Sheila supported professional learning networks for urban school district leaders. The program also assisted policymakers and education leaders in supporting the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, strengthening human capital systems, and strategically allocating fiscal resources to teaching and learning priorities. Sheila served as the Deputy Superintendent for the Boston Public Schools. In that role, she supervised one third of the city’s schools and oversaw the district’s K-12 literacy initiative and “Whole School Improvement” work.

Co-Chair: Dr. Malika Savoy-Brooks

Chief Academic Officer, School District of Philadelphia 

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With an unwavering commitment to ensuring that every student is equipped with intellectual strategies and experiences to develop their cognitive capability, Dr. Malika Savoy-Brooks serves as Chief Academic Supports Officer of The School District of Philadelphia, the eighth largest public school system in the country.

Dr. Savoy-Brooks ’s professional experience includes serving at every level – teacher, academic coach, principal, assistant superintendent, and central office administrator. She holds a master of science degree in elementary education and in educational leadership. She also holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership with a strong focus on curriculum and instruction. She holds Pennsylvania certifications in Elementary education, Reading Specialist, Supervisory, K-12, Administrative, K-12, and Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility.

Dr. Brooks is passionate about great teaching and relentlessly committed to educational equality. She has led numerous professional development sessions for administrators, teachers, and parents on effective teaching and learning practices, curriculum development, school improvement, and academic achievement. Her success includes directing six schools toward remarkably increasing School Progress Report scores, leading a school with a significantly underserved student population to attain adequate yearly progress, mentoring teachers in their professional growth to become lead teacher and school administrators, and collaborating with multiple parent organizations and community groups to extend and enhance instructional programming for students. Dr. Brooks has a demonstrated capacity to develop district-level plans to direct, support, and monitor the implementation of research-based instructional practices aligned with Pennsylvania’s Academic and Core Standards.

Dr. Brooks resides in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with family, reading, and volunteering in her community.

Operations

Operational efficiency in SDP ensures that schools are staffed with excellent teachers, buses operate safely, finance functions have integrity, and the physical environments of schools are conducive to learning. The sub-committee will assess the current status of organizational, and logistical operations crucial to the effective day-to-day functioning and success of SDP. The sub-committee will also consider organizational capacity to recruit, onboard, develop, energize, recognize, reward and retain top talent.

Meet the Team

  • Dr. David E. Thomas, Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Community College of Philadelphia
  • Dean R. Robateau, Executive Vice President, McKissack
  • Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Children First
  • Elizabeth Arons, CEO, Urban Schools Human Capital Academy
  • Fran Burns, COO, Connelly Foundation
  • Dr. James Murray, Principal, William Rowen School
  • John Bynum, 32BJ
  • Kimberly A. Lloyd, President/CEO, Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation
  • Larisa Shambaugh, Chief Talent Officer, School District of Philadelphia
  • Maria Bailey, 32BJ
  • Michael Forman, CEO/Chairman, FS Investments
  • Nicole Hunt, President, Unite HERE
  • Orien Smith-Warren, Parent, C.W. Henry Elementary School
  • Reggie McNeil, Chief Operating Officer, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Renato Lajara, Assistant Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
  • Vernon Palmer, Senior Regional Manager, School District of Philadelphia
  • Victoria Aristoklis, Teacher, James Rhoads Elementary School
  • Walette Carter, Parent, SLA Beeber
  • Wayne Wormley, President, The Wormley Company

Co-Chair: Dr. Henderson Lewis

Superintendent, Orleans Parish School Board

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Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. has served as the superintendent of NOLA Public Schools since March 18, 2015, becoming one of the youngest and longest-tenured leaders in the 181-year history of public education in New Orleans.  Superintendent Lewis oversaw the 2018 unification of public schools in New Orleans with those schools run by the state of Louisiana. NOLA-PS established an accountability framework that holds charter schools to high standards. Dr. Lewis led important work around equity that led to the renaming of 21 school buildings in 2021 to separate the school system of today from the dubious honors bestowed in the past to slaveholders and segregation sympathizers.

During his time as superintendent, he led NOLA-PS through the pandemic. That work has helped NOLA PS lead when it came to reopening schools with adequate technology, gaining access to COVID testing, and securing access to vaccines. Dr. Lewis also coordinated the addition of the COVID-19 Vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for students 5 and up.

Before joining the District, Dr. Lewis worked for the Algiers Charter Schools Association for six years, serving as the founding principal at Algiers Technology Academy. He also taught for seven years at neighboring St. Bernard Parish Public Schools and represented District 9 on the St. Bernard Parish Public School Board for 11 years. He also served as superintendent in East Feliciana Parish before joining NOLA-PS.

Co-Chair: Uri Monson

Chief Financial Officer, School District of Philadelphia

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Since February 2016, Uri Monson has served as the Chief Financial Officer for the School District of Philadelphia. In this role, he works to maintain the fiscal integrity of the School District of Philadelphia and allocate the necessary resources to support the District’s academic objectives.

The primary functions of the Finance Office include formation of the District’s $2.8 billion Operating Budget, monitoring spending throughout the year, and ensuring proper accounting of all District Funds. The CFO is also responsible for tracking all revenues due to the District and working with the City, the Commonwealth, and other entities to identify reliable sources of revenue for the District.  Additionally, the CFO’s responsibilities include overseeing grant management and compliance for over $300 million in grant funds, management of a $3.7 billion debt portfolio, treasury, payroll and risk management functions.

From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Monson served as the Chief Financial Officer for Montgomery County, PA. In this role, he advised the Commissioners on County fiscal matters and was responsible for the overall management of County funds, including formation of the County’s $371 million Operating Budget and $160 million Capital Budget. He managed the County’s $400 million debt portfolio, and oversaw the County’s $500 million Pension Fund.

From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Monson served as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA). In this role, he monitored the City of Philadelphia’s budget, and reviewed the city’s annual $20 billion Five-Year Financial Plan.  Mr. Monson previously served as Assistant Budget Director for the City of Philadelphia where his primary responsibilities included analyzing proposed policies for the Finance Director and the Mayor’s Cabinet. Prior to returning to Philadelphia, Mr. Monson worked for the US Department of Education in Washington, DC as a Congressional Liaison and as a policy analyst for the Office of Postsecondary Education.

Mr. Monson has a Masters Degree in Public Policy, with a concentration in education policy, from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Columbia University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Midrash from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Mr. Monson was named as a person to watch in Philadelphia Magazine’s 2009 “Best of Philly” Issue, including citation as the top “Wonk” in the City. Inside Magazine named Mr. Monson as one of the top ten influential Jewish professionals in Philadelphia in 2009. He is an active member of his synagogue, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El.  Mr. Monson also served previously as a Board member of Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and as President of the Philadelphia Committee on City Policy.

Anti-Racist District Culture

SDP is committed to supporting an anti-racist organization in which all students and adults enjoy a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment that is culturally and linguistically inclusive. The district strives to create a school culture that does not limit a student’s opportunity to receive rigorous, unbiased, and engaging instruction. The sub-committee will investigate and consider elements that impact an anti-racist school culture and teaching environment, both positive and negative, and factors which impede progress.

Meet the Team

  • Aliya Catanch Bradley, Principal, Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary
  • Angela Lipsay, Parent, Samuel Gompers Elementary School
  • Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio, President/CEO, Congreso
  • Constance Faith Horton, Assistant Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dia Jones, Assistant Principal, Mastery Charter Schools
  • Iryna Haze, ESOL Teacher, Gilbert Spruance School
  • Jacob Bender, Executive Director, CAIR-Philadelphia
  • Jason Lafferty, Teacher, John Bartram High School
  • Lynn Rauch, General Counsel, School District of Philadelphia
  • Marisol Rodriguez, Principal, Juniata Park Academy
  • Meredith Mehra, Deputy Chief for Teaching and Learning, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Michael Farrell, Deputy Chief for Leadership Development, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Robin Cooper, President, CASA
  •  Sharif El-Mekki, CEO, Center for Black Educator Development
  • Sylvie Gallier Howard, Founder and CEO, Equitable Cities Consulting
  • Tim McKinney, LGBTQ+ Resource and Program Manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence

Co-Chair: Dr. Camika Royal

Professor, Loyola University

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Dr. Camika Royal is an urban education expert with more than 20 years of experience. Her work focuses on the intersections of race, politics, history, and urban school reform. She spent seven years as an urban education professional in the public schools of Baltimore City and Washington, D.C., teaching, coaching teachers, and helping to lead a charter high school. In 2006, Dr. Royal returned to her hometown—Philadelphia—and transitioned to higher education, first by teaching pre-service teachers at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, then for other colleges and universities in the Philadelphia and Baltimore regions, while she continued to coach and support urban school leaders and teacher educators.

In 2014, she returned to Baltimore as Assistant Professor of Urban Education at Loyola University Maryland. There, she helped to launch the School of Education’s urban education minor, and for two years, she led the Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE). Under her leadership, the CIUE’s externally facing work was aimed toward anti-racist, anti-oppressive education in partnership with urban schools and community organizations. The internally facing work was devoted to challenging the colorblind racist ideology that permeates traditional pre-service preparation and in-service educator development. During her tenure, she established the CIUE’s first-ever Community Advisory Board, secured a partnership with the Baltimore Algebra Project, and brought the Free Minds, Free People Conference to Loyola University Maryland in the summer of 2017. In 2021, Dr. Royal was tenured and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Dr. Royal is the author of the new book ‘Not Paved For Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia’ (Harvard Education Press). She is a highly requested speaker, consultant, and professional developer on issues of school context-based racism and other forms of oppression through ideologies, policies, and practices.

Co-Chair: Dr. Sabriya Jubilee

Chief of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, School District of Philadelphia

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Sabriya K. Jubilee, Ph.D. is the Chief of Equity, in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In this role, she provides leadership and guidance, setting the overarching vision and organizational structure to advance equity in the School District of Philadelphia.

Prior to this role, Dr. Jubilee held a number of positions during her 12 year tenure with SDP; including, Data Specialist, Research Assistant, School Improvement and Data Specialist, Director of Special Projects, Executive Director of School Improvement, and Deputy Chief of Equity. Throughout each position Dr. Jubilee has been a transformational-agent committed to systemic change through a lens of equity.

Seeing equity and social justice work as recompense for her existence in this world, as a Black woman raised in the city of Philadelphia, Dr. Jubilee is all too familiar with what it means to be “other.” As such, she believes it is her obligation to continue this work, started long before her, of dismantling systems of oppression.

A native of Philadelphia and graduate of the District, Dr. Jubilee holds a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech with a minor in Black Studies, a M.A. in African American and African Studies with a concentration in Education from The Ohio State University, a M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University.

In addition to her roles at SDP, Dr. Jubilee serves as an adjunct professor of Urban Education and Sociology.

Community Engagement & Communications

SDP seeks to establish a culture of respect and trust with all members of the school community through ongoing communication and collaboration. The sub-committee will provide information that will strengthen community engagement in support of SDP students and their families.

Meet the Team

  • Alonzo Fulton, Principal, Avery D. Harrington School
  • Dr. Amelia Coleman Brown, Assistant Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
  • April Brown, Parent, SLA
  • Reverend Bonnie Camarda, Divisional Director of Partnerships, The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware
  • Brendan Morrissey, National Program Director for Team Leadership, City Year
  • Dr. Chandra Williams, Pastor, United Missionary Baptist Church
  • Christiana Uy, Parent/Member, Board of Education Community Advisory Council
  • Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation & President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation
  • Donna Frisby-Greenwood, President/CEO, The Fund for The School District of Philadelphia
  • Jenna Monley, Deputy Chief, Family and Community Engagement, School District of Philadelphia
  • Jenny Bogoni, Executive Director, Read By 4th
  • Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Support Services, School District of Philadelphia
  • Keith Bethel, former Chief Growth Officer, Aramark
  • Ken Anderson, Vice President of Civic Affairs, The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia
  • Lorenea Meskill, Teacher Leader, Potter Thomas Promise Academy
  • Megan Smith, Founder and President, Brownstone PR
  • Omar Crowder, Principal, Northeast High School
  • Peng Chao, Acting Chief of Charter Schools, School District of Philadelphia
  • Pep Marie, Coalition Coordinator, Our City Our Schools
  • Timothy Woods, Teacher, Randolph Career and Technical High School

Co-Chair: Dr. James Earl Davis

Interim Dean, Temple University

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Dr. James Earl Davis was recently appointed as the Interim Dean for the College of Education at Temple University.  His research focuses on gender and schooling outcomes; men, boys and masculinity; sociology of higher education; and applied research methods. He is particularly interested in issues of access and equity in the educational pipeline as they are informed by gender, race, class, and the intersection of these social locations. His research agenda has been driven by recurring questions related to what we know about the social context of identity and how institutions (e.g., schools, college and universities, families, and communities) and policy (e.g., education reform, gender-based instruction and schools) are implicated in academic and social outcomes.

He’s had the opportunity to work with inspiring colleagues and graduate students who continue to refine his work and its impact.  Currently, he has funding from the National Science Foundation for the project, “STEMing the Tide: Exploring Factors Related to Males of Color Interest, Engagement and Achievement in Mathematics and Science.”

This project will facilitate the dissemination of the most recent research about identity and its relationship to science and mathematics achievement for boys and young men of color.

Co-Chair: Kathryn Block

Chief of Communications, School District of Philadelphia

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Kathryn Block is the Chief of Communications and External Relations for the School District of Philadelphia. In her role, Kathryn oversees the District’s internal and external communications, media relations, social media, web presence, marketing campaigns and content development strategy as well as its government and community relations efforts.

As a proud Temple alumna, Kathryn is a strong advocate for Philadelphia’s public schools and the students, families and communities we serve. Her office serves to promote powerful connections between the District, its employees and the public by providing timely information and stories about our scholars and initiatives that uplift, educate and empower.

Advancing the effort to ensure all children have access to a high-quality K-12 public education is a personal passion for Kathryn, who served as Chief Communications Officer for the second largest K-12 school district in North Carolina and an educational consultant for several school districts. She has been active in community outreach, mentoring and literacy efforts for both children and adults for more than two decades. Overall, she brings more than 25 years of experience in communications and marketing strategy, strategic planning, and organizational leadership, much of it locally as an executive with the Campbell Soup Company.

Kathryn holds a B.A. degree in communications and advertising from Temple University, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the Broad Residency in Urban Education.  She is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Green belt. Kathryn proudly served in the United States Army Reserve for six years.

Enriching & Well-Rounded School Experiences

SDP believes that for students to be well educated, they must be exposed to a variety of learning experiences in and outside the classroom. The sub-committee will explore the extent to which SDP is providing a well-rounded education that affords students many opportunities for enrichment, exploration and talent development.

Meet the Team

  • Dr. Aja Carpenter, Executive Director of the Office of Post Secondary Readiness, School District of Philadelphia
  • Becky Cornejo, Executive Director, Neubauer Family Foundation
  • Beverly Socher-Lerner, Executive Director and Founder, Makom Community
  • Bill Golderer, President/CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
  • Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President, Hamilton Family Charitable Trust
  • Cynthia Figueroa, President/CEO, JEVS Human Services
  • Dr. Dennis Terry, Parent, Hancock Demonstration School
  • Elliot Weinbaum, Chief Philanthropy Officer, William Penn Foundation
  • Ericka Andrews, Special Education Compliance Monitor, Grover Washington Jr. Middle School
  • Gillian Dagress, Parent, McCall Elementary School
  • Dr. Karen Kolsky, Deputy Chief of School Operations, School District of Philadelphia
  • Kevin Bethel, Chief of School Safety, School District of Philadelphia
  • Loree D. Jones, CEO, Philabundance
  • Lynne Millard, Leadership Coach, School District of Philadelphia
  • Melanie Harris, Chief Information Officer, School District of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Noah Tennant, Assistant Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
  • Orfelina Feliz Payne, Executive Director, Puentes de Salud
  • Patrick Clancy, President/CEO, Philadelphia Works
  • Pedro Ramos, President/CEO, The Philadelphia Foundation
  • Simon Hauger, Founder and former Principal, The Workshop School
  • Trina Dean, Academic Coach, School District of Philadelphia
  • Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Mayor for Children and Families
  • Vicki Ellis, Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, School District of Philadelphia

Co-Chair: Dr. Andrea Kane

Professor, University of Pennsylvania

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Dr. Andrea M. Kane is a Professor of Practice in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Previously, she served as Superintendent of Schools for Queen Anne’s County Public Schools in Maryland. Her tenure as a teacher and administrator in K-12 public school districts in Maryland and Virginia began in 1996 and ended in 2021. Dr. Kane held a multitude of instructional roles including para-professional, classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, senior manager for school improvement, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and Associate Superintendent for School Performance prior to being appointed as Superintendent of Schools for Queen Anne’s County.

Dr. Kane’s visionary leadership proved to be effective in large suburban, urban, and small rural districts earning her the Governor’s Citation for instructional leadership, recognition for the first fully virtual learning program for public elementary and middle school students in Maryland, recognition from the Maryland Association of Environmental Outdoor Education (MAEOE) for achieving Green School certification in 100% of schools in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools (QACPS) in 2020 and 2021, recognition for the first National Blue Ribbon School in QACPS history (2020-21), the State’s highest graduation rate for four consecutive years (2015/16 thru 2018/19), a ranking of six out of 24 school districts in Maryland in 2019, a grant award for one million dollars for an innovative outdoor environmental education and STEAM summer program in 2021, and induction into the prestigious Baltimore City College High School Hall of Fame (2018).

In Richmond Public Schools Dr. Kane led the development, implementation, and monitoring of the district Academic Improvement Plan (AIP) and performance targets, the driving force for improving teaching and learning. This work resulted in measurable increases in reading and math performance, the number of fully accredited schools from 2014–2017, student enrollment in International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, and the percentage of students attending two- or four-year colleges/universities.

Dr. Kane currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE), and a member of the Advisory Board for the Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys Task Force with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Co-Chair: Dr. Evelyn Nuñez

Chief Schools Officer, School District of Philadelphia

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Dr. Nuñez has served as an Assistant Superintendent in the District for the past three years, most recently supervising principals in the Kensington, Fishtown, Juniata Park and Port Richmond sections of North Philadelphia. In this role her work has included establishing structures and systems aligned to the District’s Action plan by supporting the work of principals in creating a school environment that is conducive to teaching and learning and improving the academic achievement for all students.

Dr. Nuñez has over 25 years of experience at the school and system level including serving as a teacher and administrators. She began her career as a teacher with the School District of Philadelphia, before becoming a principal/school director, Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of a series of Charter Schools in Philadelphia. Dr. Nuñez returned to the District in 2015 as the principal of Lewis Elkin Elementary School before becoming a District Assistant Superintendent in 2017.

A product of the School District of Philadelphia and a graduate of Thomas Edison High School, Dr. Nuñez earned a Bachelor’s from Chestnut Hill College, a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Cheyney University, and a Doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership from Gwynedd-Mercy University.

  • Laika Horton, Roxborough High School
  • Dleria Mateo-Brito, Abraham Lincoln High School
  • Juleanna Walsh, Swenson Arts & Technology High School
  • Angelica Speech, Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School
  • Jeron Williams II, Central High School
  • Daniel Bowen, Carver Engineering and Sciences
  • Sophia Roach, The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts
  • Samaiyah Snowden, Science Leadership Academy
  • Brazil Smith, School of Future
  • Maryam Nur, Science Leadership Academy at Beeber
  • Mahjai Davis, Vaux Big Picture High School
  • Maya Stein-Greene, William W. Bodine High School
  • Melanie Kukawski, Arts Academy At Benjamin Rush
  • Elaysha Walker, School of Future
  • Shahd Abouelatta, William W. Bodine High School
  • Daeja Doctor, Science Leadership Academy at Beeber
  • Shikia Jones, Vaux Big Picture High School

Transition Team Support

In order to ensure focus and coherence, Dr. Joseph and Dr. Morgan will provide facilitation support for the many people involved across all three phases of this important work.

Dr. Betty Morgan

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Dr. Elizabeth (“Betty”) Molina Morgan, President of The Morgan Education Group, is a consultant to public sector, non-profit and private entities. She has been the Chief Education Advisor to America’s Promise Alliance, an organization founded by General Colin and Mrs. Alma Powell and has consulted and delivered presentations and keynote addresses to a wide range of organizations, such as: agencies of the Federal Government; ExxonMobil; the Napa Valley Educators’ Exchange; the College Board; the South Carolina Association of School Administrators; the Metro Nashville Public Schools, and at numerous, national conferences and convenings.

Dr. Morgan served for nearly a decade as superintendent of the Washington County (MD) Public Schools, a system of wide diversity with a high student poverty population.  She held a number of leadership positions in Maryland’s public schools, including Chief Academic Officer in the Baltimore City School System during the first major successful turnaround effort; Associate Superintendent in the Frederick County Schools; and four positions, including Director of  ELL/Bilingual Programs in the Montgomery County Schools, where she spent the majority of her earlier career as an administrator.

Dr. Morgan has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, honors, and awards for excellence in leadership, including being the first superintendent from Maryland to be named National Superintendent of the Year in 2010 by The American Association of School Administrators; being singled out as one of Maryland’s “Top 100 Women;” and having been the recipient of both the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Education Award, and the Carver Foundation’s “Child of America”

Award. She was honored in 2013 by the NFL and Baltimore Ravens for her leadership work on behalf of the Hispanic community of Maryland.

She holds a PhD in Administration from American University, in Washington, D.C., and is a proud graduate of the City University of New York, Queens College Campus.

Dr. Shawn Joseph

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Dr. Joseph’s passion for equity and social justice has led him to serve in a number of positions in the education sector, including teacher, school administrator, central office administrator, and Superintendent in Delaware and Tennessee. He is the president of Joseph and Associates LLC, a leadership development firm that focuses on improving equitable outcomes for all children.  He served on the faculty of Fordham University in the Department of Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy during the 2019‐2020 school year and is currently Co‐Director of the AASA/Howard Urban Superintendent Academy and Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy Studies at Howard University.

Dr. Joseph was honored by his peers as the National Association of Secondary School Administrator’s Met‐Life Middle School Principal of the year for the State of Maryland and the recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the area of Educational Leadership. In 2019 and 2020, Dr. Joseph was selected as the Person of the Year by the Tribune Newspaper in Nashville. His first book, The Principal’s Guide to the First 100 Days of the School Year: Creating Instructional Momentum, offers insight into the complexity of the principalship and suggests strategies for focusing on increasing student achievement. In 2019, he published the book Finding the Joseph Within, a memoir which tells the account of his professional journey and how faith and perseverance unleashed favor upon his life.

Dr. Joseph earned a Doctoral degree in educational administration and policy studies from The George Washington University and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University. His Bachelor’s degree is from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, America’s oldest Historically Black College.

Transition Team FAQs

What is a Transition Team?

A Transition Team is an organized approach, composed of a group of local and national education and industry leaders who assemble in sub-committees to address specific education challenges. The team will review trend data, and apply research and best practices to provide short-term and long-term recommendations for progress in those areas.

Why are we pursuing a Transition Team approach for SDP?

School leadership changes offer both challenges and opportunities. District stakeholders and newly-hired superintendents must plan purposefully to ensure a smooth transition in which forward momentum is sustained, institutional knowledge is preserved, and innovation is nurtured. To effectively assess a District this size and this complex as quickly as possible, we must be strategic, intentional and inclusive. The Transition Team is intentionally designed to harness the collective power of smart people who can bring local knowledge, data and experiences together with educational research and best practices.

Who sits on this Transition Team?

The Transition Team is composed of more than 80 members of the Philadelphia community – including Philadelphia parents, teachers, principals, unions, educational, city, business, non-profit and grassroots leaders, and SDP staff – as well as non-SDP education and industry leaders. The Team will be co-chaired by two respected Philadelphia leaders: Andrea Custis, President & CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, and Dr. Guy Generals, President of the Community College of Philadelphia.

What does this approach look like?

There are five sub-committees: Student Achievement, Operations, Anti-Racist District Culture, Community Engagement & Communications, and Enriching & Well-Rounded School Experiences. Each one will be co-led by an SDP leader and a non-SDP education or industry leader with expertise in that specific area of work, all of which are aligned to the areas outlined in the 100-Day Priorities. Each sub-committee will generate findings and recommendations that will be shared in a comprehensive report to the Board of Education and the public in fall 2022.

How long will the Transition Team be in place?

The team’s work will span several weeks through mid-August.

How will the output from the Transition Team be used?

Phase one Listening and Learning sessions together with the output from the Transition Team will inform phase three, the development of a new strategic plan for the School District of Philadelphia.

How often will there be a TT update and what can we expect?

The Transition Team process is an intensive one that will occur within a very short amount of time – only five to six weeks. As a result, there will not be an update during the process. Final recommendations will be presented to the Board and public in October.

Are students represented on any of the subcommittees? Where is their voice in this process?

While students are not serving directly on the sub-committees given the timing of the Transition Team, their voices are an important part of the 3-phase process. Several student listening and learning sessions are happening throughout the summer and our goal is to stand up a student advisory group that will meet regularly with Dr. Watlington to provide a student voice to inform the District’s thinking and decision-making.

How were Transition Team members selected?

Dr. Watlington worked with District, union and community leaders to select individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives who represent the diverse voices of our Philadelphia and School District community. He also worked closely with Dr. Shawn Joseph to bring in other education and industry leaders with knowledge and experiences that will contribute to a robust conversation.

Engagement Opportunities

Through September 2022, Superintendent Watlington plans to host a series of listening and learning sessions where you can share your thoughts and ideas about what the District does well, where improvement is needed, and how the District can help all students fulfill their highest potential. Sessions will be organized by stakeholder group, with a maximum of 75 people per session so we can hear from all participants. As we continue to institute safe meeting practices, many meetings will be virtual. But as often as possible, Dr. Watlington will visit Philadelphia neighborhoods to meet people where they are and ensure that together, we are creating an equitable school district for all students. New sessions will be added as details are confirmed so please check back often.

Please note: some sessions are open for registration and some are by invitation only.

Choose your group for session information

June

Wednesday 22nd | 3:30 PM | Virtual

July

Wednesday 27th | 3:00 PM | Education Center, 440 N. Broad St.

Saturday, July 30, noon, West Philadelphia High School, 4901 Chestnut Street

August

Wednesday 3rd | 10:00 AM | Virtual

 

September in-person sessions coming soon

June

Tuesday, 28th | 5:00 PM | Virtual

July

Tuesday, 5th | 10:00 AM | Virtual
Wednesday, 13th | 5:00 PM | Dobbins Technical High School, 2150 W. Lehigh Ave
Wednesday, 27th | 5:00 PM | Virtual
Saturday, 30th | 10:00 AM | West Philadelphia High School, 4901 Chestnut Street

August

Wednesday, 3rd | 5:00 PM | Girard Academy Music Program,  2136 W. Ritner St.
Wednesday, 10th | 5:00 PM | Virtual
Wednesday, 17th | 5:00 PM | Lincoln High School, 3201 Ryan Ave.

*We welcome all families to these sessions, including current District, charter, private, parochial, virtual and home school families as well as those without school-age children.

All June sessions are complete. Thank you for participating!

June

Tuesday 21st | 9:00 AM | Learning Networks 1 and 2
Tuesday 21st | 11:00 AM | Learning Networks 3 and 4
Wednesday 22nd | 11:00 AM | Learning Networks 5 and 6
Friday 24th | 10:30 AM | Learning Networks 9 and 10
Friday 24th | 12:30 PM| Learning Networks 11 and 12
Monday 27th | 1:30 PM | Learning Network 13 and Acceleration Network
Tuesday 28th | 11:30 AM | Innovation Network and Opportunity Network
Tuesday 28th | 3:00 PM | Learning Network 7 and 8

August

Wednesday 3rd | 3:00 PM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks
Tuesday 9th | 11:00 AM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks

Emails to register for the July sessions have been sent. Twenty-four hours before the session, a Zoom link will be sent to those who have registered. Thank you for participating!

June

Tuesday 28th | 1:00 PM | Learning Network 1
Wednesday 29th | 10:30 AM | Learning Network 2
Wednesday 29th | 1:00 PM | Learning Network 3

July

Monday 11th | 10:00 AM | Learning Network 4
Monday 11th | 12:00 PM | Learning Network 5
Tuesday 12th | 10:00 AM | Learning Network 6
Tuesday 12th | 1:00 PM | Learning Network 7
Wednesday 13th | 11:30 AM | Learning Network 8
Thursday 14th | 11:30 AM | Learning Network 9
Friday 15th | 10:00 AM | Learning Network 10
Wednesday 27th | 9:00 AM | Learning Network 11
Thursday 28th | 10:00 AM | Learning Network 12
Thursday 28th | 12:00 PM | Learning Network 13
Friday 29th | 10:00 AM | Acceleration Network
Friday 29th | 12:00 PM | Innovation Network & Opportunity Network

August

Wednesday 3rd | 3:00 PM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks
Tuesday 9th | 11:00 AM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks

More sessions and registration information coming soon. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, June 22| 9:00 AM | 440-Based Staff

Thursday, July  7 |  9:30 AM | 440-Based Staff | Register Here

Wednesday, August 3rd | 3:00 PM | Open to all SDP Staff

Tuesday, August 9th | 9:00 AM | 440-Based Staff

Tuesday, August 9th | 11:00 AM | Open to all SDP Staff

More sessions and registration information coming soon. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, August 3rd | 3:00 PM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks

Tuesday, August 9th | 11:00 AM | Open to all SDP Staff and All Networks

Session information coming soon.

Sessions open to the public

Thursday, July 28, 6:30p.m. – 8 p.m. w. Children First
Monday, August 1, 5:30p.m. – 7 p.m. w. AFRICOM-Philly
Tuesday, August 2, noon – 1:30 p.m. w. PEAL Center
Tuesday, August 2, 5:30p.m. – 7 p.m. w. Urban League of Philadelphia
Monday, August 8, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm w. Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities (ASL and Closed Caption will be available)
Thursday, August 11, 5:30p.m. – 7 p.m. w. Our City Our Schools Youth Organizers (STUDENTS-ONLY)
Thursday, August 11, 8:30a.m. – 10a.m. with Congreso. Spanish interpretation will be provided.
Tuesday, September 6, 10a.m. – 11:30a.m., Office of Immigrant Affairs. Spanish and Mandarin interpretation will be provided.

Sessions exclusively for organization members - registration link will be sent directly from host organization

Thursday, August 4, noon – 1:30 p.m. w. Coalition of Philadelphia Advocates
Thursday, August 4, 6 – 7:30pm w. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Alphia Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Monday, August 8, 6 – 7:30pm w. Brewerytown Sharswood Civic Association and Brewerytown Sharswood Neighborhood Coalition
Thursday, August 11, noon – 1:30 p.m. w. Our City Our Schools Parent Organizers

Share Your Voice

Select your language to access a survey where you can share your thoughts and ideas with Dr. Watlington.

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