SDP Connect: February Issue

Posted on February 7, 2023
Categories: SDP Connect

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

- Barack Obama


Congratulations Reggie!

Please join us in congratulating Chief Operating Officer (COO), Reggie McNeil, who will be joining Governor Shapiro’s administration as Secretary of General Services. Reggie served 22 years in the Navy in the Civil Engineer Corps before transitioning to education. In his 2 1/2 years at the School District of Philadelphia, Reggie has been an asset to the District and will be greatly missed. In his role, Reggie has been an esteemed leader and colleague. We wish him well in his new role at the State. Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Oz Hill will serve as interim COO for the District.

Research Roundup Webinar

The School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Research and Evaluation hosts a regular Research Roundup webinar to share data/research on a variety of topics. We invite you to join us for our upcoming webinar: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program on Wednesday, February 15, 3 pm – 4 pm. We have invited an external researcher to talk about an initiative and research study conducted in partnership with the District from 2014-15 through 2018-19. We will be welcoming guest presenter Naomi Goldstein, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Co-Director of the J.D./Ph.D. Program in Law and Psychology, and Director of the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University. Please register here if you’d like to attend.

Lindback Award Nominations Due

This is a reminder that the 2022-2023 Lindback Award for Distinguished Principals and Teachers nominations are still open. Nominations for the principal award are due by noon on Friday, February 10, 2023, while applications for the teacher award are due by noon, Friday, March 10, 2023. You can find more information about awards, find application materials, and meet past winners here.


50 Years at SDP

CONGRATULATIONS to Carolyn Butts who recently hit a huge milestone. Carolyn, who is known by her students as “Ms. B” has served within the School District of Philadelphia for 50 years and is still going strong!

Born in Marion MD, a farming community, Carolyn moved to the city of Philadelphia along with her parents and siblings. As she witnessed her two older sisters graduate from Cheyney University and become teachers, the desire to become an educator was placed in her heart. “They would come home and have such wonderful stories,” said Ms. B. Throughout the years, she would see the joy that her two older sisters experienced as educators. It was then that she decided to pursue a career in education, specifically with children.

Ms. B began her career with the school district in September 1972. She began teaching young children in Bartram Village, then later moved on to Samuel B. Huey Elementary School, and South Philadelphia High School. She is currently a designated 1 on 1 Social, Emotional, and Academic Success (SEA) facilitator at Anne Frank Elementary School, where she has been for the past 11 years.

“I was having so much fun I didn’t realize this much time had passed,” said Ms. B.

Although she has dedicated most of her life to the students in the Philadelphia School District, Ms. B sincerely doesn’t believe that deserves any recognition. She gently confessed, “I’m surprised, humbled, and honored…This is an act of kindness shown towards me.”

What has made you stay with the School District of Philadelphia for so long? “The children. They’re special. They hold a special place in my heart. It’s great to see their development over the years.”

Ms. B is truly a gem and an indispensable asset to the School District of Philadelphia. Thank you for your many years of service and dedication to our students!

PA Teacher of the Year Finalist

Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor, a 10th and 11th-grade social studies teacher at Julia R. Masterman Laboratory & Demonstration School is a 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Finalist. The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) is a service organization that represents educators and believes that education is part of the democratic society that contributes to the continued improvement of humankind. “I feel honored and excited to be chosen as a finalist. I’m grateful to the amazing faculty, staff, students, and families at the schools where I taught who pushed me to treat each day as a precious opportunity for learning,” said Taylor. Read more about Elizabeth’s story here.

Senior & Teacher of the Month Winners!


Teacher of the Month

Shamia Neal
Sayre High School

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Senior of the Month

Brady Santoro
Masterman High School

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Senior of the Month

Keyanna Nurse
Robeson High School


The Philadelphia Tribune features “Good News” from The School District of Philadelphia each week in its Learning Key section. In addition to SDP’s “Good News,” every Tuesday the Tribune names a district school as School of the Week. Every week one of our schools is highlighted for the amazing work they are doing with our students. We’re excited to announce Fitler Academics Plus as School of the Week in The Philadelphia Tribune’s Learning Key. Read Fitler’s feature article in the Tribune here.

Be on the lookout for more School of the Week features in SDP Weekly and SDP Connect!


Mind Over Matter

ABC News recently featured Martin Luther King High School Football Coach, Malik Jones for integrating mental health awareness into his football regimens. Jones, who previously worked at a nonprofit contracted by Philadelphia’s Office of Mental Health, recognized the need for talk therapy for his players, specifically after returning back to the field from the Covid-19 pandemic. We applaud Coach Jones for making his players’ physical and mental health a priority. Watch Coach Jones’ full story on ABC News Live here.

Coffee Anyone?

ReAnimator Coffee Roasters has launched a very special blend named “Hurtscafe” in honor of the Eagles! The taste is described as a combination of toasted almond, brown sugar, cocoa, and victory. For every sale of Hurtscafe, $5 will be donated to support Philadelphia public schools through The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. You can pick up the coffee in-store, or order from ReAnimator’s website!

Check out how the NRF Foundation RISE Up training is used throughout the School District of Philadelphia.


Last month, we announced that the NRF Foundation named the School District of Philadelphia as its 2023 RISE Up Partner of the Year. Presented by Old Navy, the award recognizes the school district for its success with the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up training and credentialing program in Philadelphia and for its part in expanding the program across Pennsylvania. Check out how the NRF Foundation RISE Up training is used throughout the district – and the positive impact the program is having on students, families, and the larger community. Click here for more information about the NRF Foundation RISE Up training and credentials program.

Health & Wellness

With all the added stress you’re dealing with, we want to make sure you’re checking in on your emotional well-being. We make it easy to get the support you and your family need with tele-behavioral health and in-person mental health resources. Here are three ways to access care:

Lyra Health: Lyra gives our employees and their dependents access to the best care quickly and easily. See the Lyra Health page for more details.

District Medical Coverage: Connect with a counselor through your Keystone or Personal Choice medical coverage. To schedule a virtual visit, call 1-800-688-1911 or search for a provider.

Telebehavioral Health through MDLIVE: With tele-behavioral health from MDLIVE, you can get virtual care from therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. See the MDLIVE page for more information.

Mental Health Services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP): All employees and their families have access to support through the ComPsych Guidance Resources.  There is no cost to employees or their families and all information is confidential. Access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in three ways:

On the web:       Web ID: SDP
By phone: 833-812-5180                                       TDD: 800.697.0353
Now Offering Virtual Counseling                           Click GuidanceResources for more information on the EAP.

To view these offers and other exciting SDP Benefits, visit our Employee Benefits website.


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Important Dates

  • 2/17 – Professional Development Half Day (3-Hour Early Dismissal)
  • 2/20 – Presidents’ Day (Schools and Offices Closed)
  • 3/3 – Professional Development Half Day (3-Hour Early Dismissal)

National School Counseling Week

February 6-10 is National School Counseling Week. National School Counseling Week 2023, “School Counselors: Helping Students Dream Big”, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), brings public attention to the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. You may also meet our featured school counselors for 2023 here. We encourage everyone to pause this week and say THANK YOU to our school counselors on social media using #SDPThankACounselor and #NSCW23.

Black History Month

February is Black History Month! Black History Month was created in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Initially called Negro History Week, the celebration expanded to a full month in 1976, in order to focus even greater attention on the contributions of African Americans in the United States and throughout the diaspora. Today, Black History Month continues to amplify and deepen the exploration and elevation of African Americans and their contributions to society through film screenings, museum exhibits, and by encouraging the study of the accomplishments of African Americans year-round.

Join us as we celebrate Black History Month with events across the District. Be sure to visit the District’s Cultural Celebrations website for Black History Month events and activities.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month! This is a time to celebrate and raise awareness of the crucial role that CTE plays in preparing many of our students for careers in the local, regional, and national workforce. Visit our CTE Month website to learn more about the work of various CTE programs, participate in CTE Month events, and see our students showcasing their achievements and mastery of their technical skills. You can also participate in the celebration by shouting out CTE students and educators on social media, using #CTEMonth and #CTEphilly.

Annual CTE Fair

The CTE Fair is back! The 2023 Career and Technical Education Fair will be held on Feb. 16 at our Central Office Location (in the Atrium). All are welcome to attend. Learn more about the CTE Fair here.



The Office of Career and Technical Education provides additional learning opportunities for School District of Philadelphia students to develop professional skills and or provide intensive training and instruction outside the traditional classroom curriculum. In selecting to enroll in a CTE Program, students have the opportunity to receive training in a specific career pathway in several career areas.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) incorporates rigorous and challenging academic content standards and provides a sequence of courses leading to an industry-recognized credential or certificate in addition to the student’s high school diploma by:

  • Empowering students for effective participation in an international economy as world-class workers and citizens;
  • Teaching students the high-demand skills needed to get a job, cross-train for different positions, or retrain for a new career;
  • Preparing students for more than a good-paying job – serves as the beginning of a career path.

There are over 120 CTE programs currently offered in over 30 high schools in the District. Students enrolled in these programs acquire both technical and academic skills from industry professionals, using state-of-the-art equipment.

We offer CTE programs in over 40 occupational areas, allowing students to acquire both technical (hands-on) and academic skills. Over the course of three years starting in 10th grade, students receive 1,080 hours of specific instruction, using state-of-the-art equipment, and under the watchful eye of experienced industry professionals trained to teach our students in the classroom.


Check out what's going on in other departments around the District

Check out the Equity Coalition newsletter for upcoming events, podcasts, professional development opportunities and more!


Feeling Perky
As a district employee, you have access to various deals and discounts. Check out our Employee Perks here.

Get a Little Extra
See the Office of Grant Development’s list of grant opportunities on its website. View the newsletter for more information.

Observe & Report
Your help is essential in ensuring the School District runs efficiently and fairly. Report suspected wrongdoing within the district to the Office of Inspector General here.

Spread the Word
We’re hiring. Everywhere! Know someone who’s searching? Send them to

Keep Track
Follow the District’s progress towards the Goals and Guardrails and stay up to date through research reports and webinars from our Office of Research and Evaluation.

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


In what year did Black History Month expand to a month-long celebration?

The first central office employee and the first school-based employee with the correct answer will win a prize!

We are pausing the poll to review the data we collected in the fall and make plans for putting your feedback into action. The poll will return in the coming months.

Communication's Corner

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.

Did you know that SDP has social media guidelines that employees must adhere to in order to protect our students? All student images, voice, video, work, and/or name must only be used in compliance with a Release Form that has been signed by the student’s parent/guardians for the current school year. Schools are responsible for maintaining all signed Release Forms for the current school year. Learn more about SDP social media guidelines on the District’s Social Media Guidelines page

Have a story to share or someone to celebrate?  Submit your story idea click here.

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