Posted on July 6, 2021
Categories: SDP Connect


In this issue of Turn & Talk, Dr. Hite discusses this year’s first-of-its-kind Summer Programming experience. Read more here!


Department Newsletters


This spring, the Middle States Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) recommended that the School District of Philadelphia receive system-wide accreditation and that 15 SDP high schools receive individual accreditation. This is an exciting affirmation of our collective commitment and effort towards growing and improving student performance. MSA-CESS accreditation is the gold standard for measuring and advancing school improvement and provides potential perks for our district and schools like eligibility for certain federal funds and approval to offer Advanced Placement courses. Should we receive official accreditation in the fall, we’ll celebrate together. Fingers crossed!



In June, the Board of Education approved the renaming of Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Fanny Jackson Coppin Elementary School. Among many other things, Fanny Jackson Coppin was the nation’s first black female principal at the Institute for Colored Youth – which is now Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest historically black college (HBCU). The name change better aligns the school with the diverse community that it represents and raises awareness of an incredible individual of color with strong ties to the city of Philadelphia. Read the news story here.


It’s our thunderous applause for the extremely talented students from the Philly Sound Exchange which we introduced to you in last month’s issue. This year, students from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, KIPP Dubois Collegiate Academy and our very own Parkway NW High School created a stunning visual album Flowers, which you can watch by clicking the video to the left and read more about here. Shout out to Parkway NW senior Chris Mendez who is a featured co-lead vocalist, and congratulations to all these fantastic students!

And also…

This winter, during the height of the pandemic, music-loving students from Carver High School of Engineering & Sciences launched their own record label, filling all the roles from musical talent to executive producers. With the help of 30Amp Circuit and SDP alumni from We Workin’ Entertainment, students involved are receiving high-level, practical industry experience in project and music management. Now, they’ve dropped their first single…check it out here. And read more of the story here.


In June, Hon. Luis Munoz-Marin Elementary School opened their PBIS Garden which is designed to celebrate students’ positive behavior. Supported by the school’s Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports (PBIS) program, nearly thirty students who demonstrated good behavior throughout the semester spent the last few weeks of the school year curating the garden — mulching flower beds and adding new bushes, plants, pebbles and rocks. PBIS research indicates that when students are assisted with promoting and obtaining positive behavior, like taking ownership of and maintaining a garden, they are more likely to excel academically. Smells like success!


Central High School juniors Mahala Garcia-Bartch and Chaundra Furin-Campbell, and Academy at Palumbo Junior William Keo were selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Citizen Teen, a journalism mentorship program funded by the Solutions Journalism Network. The program, a partnership with the Philadelphia Citizen, exists to amplify the voices of youth from the School District of Philadelphia. Their stories, which reflect their personal visions for a better world, have been approved for the Solutions Journalism Network’s prestigious Story Tracker, a database of solutions journalism from around the world. They are among the very first pieces by high school students to ever meet SJN’s standards!  Read Chaundra, Mahala and William’s stories and enjoy!


This spring, StuDocu, an online platform offering students the opportunity to exchange knowledge through note-taking and sharing study materials, donated $5000 to Edison High School through their partnership with Adopt a Classroom! The funds will help the school purchase much-needed STEM supplies for their fabrication lab, which will support the students as they prepare for the future.


ICYMI, effective today, July 6, 2021, all 440 staff are expected to return to in-person work at 440 for a minimum of three full days a week. Staff who are already required to be in more than three days a week will remain on their schedule. Effective August 2nd, all staff will return to work at 440 five days a week. The Office of Talent is exploring a remote work policy that could allow certain employees to occasionally work remotely with approval of their managers — more info to come in the fall, after our full return. Air hugs!


The Benefits Office has partnered with Health Fitness Connections to offer you an opportunity to participate in a couple of fun wellness challenges to help you stay healthy this summer. Learn more and sign up for the 45-Day Weight Loss Challenge and/or the Stay Active, Be Fit Challenge. The deadline to join either challenge is this Friday, July 9th. Your move!


Vaccines are still readily available for individuals age 12 and older. If you’re not vaxed and want to be, the process is easy! You can schedule an appointment through the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s vaccine clinic database. Non-Philly residents can search for a clinic and make an appointment by visiting



Shout out to Frances (Annie) Wilson who, after 47 years as a teacher, retired in June. Ms. Wilson, the District’s longest-serving teacher, began serving in 1974 first as a classroom assistant, then as a teacher and dean of students. Her career has spanned numerous schools from the original Alternative Middle Years (AMY) School to Greenfield, Houston and Arthur Elementary Schools. “She has not only taught generation after generation after generation of families, but she also made an impact in their lives,” said Mary Libby, Arthur principal. “She’s a part of so many people’s families and that is just phenomenal.” Read more here and here.



Decades ago, 65 year old Twyanna Williams dropped out of Bartram High School to go to work and help support her family financially. This year, she finally graduated as valedictorian from the Educational Options Program at South Philadelphia High School. This year — perhaps one of the most difficult and unique school years ever — Ms. Willams became a google classroom expert, navigated digital learning, completed group projects and community presentations on her way to getting that diploma. “Everyone deserves a high school diploma,” Williams said. “The older I got, the more I wanted it.” You got it Twyanna, congratulations!


Stephanie Ash, Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Consultant at the School District of Philadelphia, won Pennsylvania’s 2021 Clinical Achievement Award. Presented by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, the award recognizes an individual who has contributed to advancing knowledge in clinical practice in audiology or speech-language pathology. Since joining SDP in 2014, Stephanie has been a leader among her colleagues, supporting them with evaluations and facilitating multiple trainings a year, while also putting students first, advocating for them and consistently making sure that their needs are met. Congratulations Stephanie!

photo of stephanie

Teacher and Seniors of the Month!

Visit the Senior & Teacher of the Month website to review and learn more about each of the winners for the 2020-2021 school year.


As a next step toward fulfilling our commitment to anti-racism and equity, the District has launched the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The newly established DEI Office will further advance the work already done by the Equity Coalition to create a more equitable District.  Major areas of focus for SY 2021-2022 will be advancing equitable policies, practices and initiatives related to:

  • Governance and Decision-making
  • Resource Allocation
  • Professional Learning
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Community Engagement
  • Progress Monitoring for equity goals throughout the district

We cannot wait to share our progress with you throughout this upcoming year!

While there is not an Equity Coalition newsletter this month, please click below to find episode 4 of the “Equity Is…” podcast!


Members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their families, allies and advocates are invited to the Philadelphia’s Trans Wellness Conference, the largest free trans-specific health conference in the world. This year’s event will invite participants to learn more about the issues facing the trans community through a series of virtual sessions that are completely customizable to your busy schedule. The conference takes place July 22-24, 2021, and you can learn more and register here. For additional questions, contact

Some of the available sessions include:

  • Being a Super Trans Ally! Innovative Activities to Empower YOUth at Home, School & Beyond (July 22 at 3:30pm)
  • For Every Body: Helping Parents and Families Explore Trans inclusive Puberty Education (July 23 at 9:15am)
  • Trans and Muslim: Thriving at the Intersections (July 24 at 9:15am)
  • Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention (July 24 at 11:45am)

*Important note: Many sessions are designed specifically for the trans community. Please use your best judgment to avoid sessions intended for  trans audiences.



The Office of Communications strives to make news, information and resources easily accessible. Every month we will provide information and reminders to help keep you connected. Here’s a helpful hint: Working on a project or campaign in your office? The communications team provides helpful resources like branding and color guides, presentation templates, and photo catalogues, to help you keep your project stylish and on-brand. Just click here!

Remember, if you have a story to share or someone to celebrate, you can submit them using the buttons below.


See the Office of Grant Development’s list of grant opportunities on their website. View the newsletter for more information.


Candidates interested in teaching or support positions should visit or the SDP job board.


Follow the District’s progress towards the Goals & Guardrails.


Cornerstone has PD for all employees, some specific to Central Office.

Ebony Edwards_Forgive You


Ebony Edwards, recent Hill-Freedman graduate, is a talented and nationally recognized Vocalist and Songwriter. Her original song “Forgive You” was featured nationally by Little Kids Rock as part of their annual benefit gala. Watch Ebony’s original song “Forgive You” here!