School Redesign: Carnell

Laura H. Carnell Elementary


Grades: K-5
Enrollment: 1,025
Location: Lower Northeast Philadelphia, 1100 Devereaux Ave, 19111
Proposal Synopsis: Creating a project-based learning environment for all students.

Vision: The Laura H. Carnell School will be the leading project-based learning elementary school of choice for Philadelphia students.  It is our goal for every student to achieve academic growth and engage in an inspiring, challenging, and personalized project-based learning environment that prepares students for success, including in Philadelphia’s new middle and high school models.

The Design Year: The design team at Laura H. Carnell used the design year to research and develop local expertise in the tenets of successful project-based learning at the elementary level.  School visits to project-based learning schools throughout the region and numerous conversations with organizations offering technical support in the project-based learning field led the team to develop a partnership with Expeditionary Learning – an organization with a 20-year history of working with teachers and school leaders to create highly engaging project-based learning environments.  Using funding from the design year grant and School Redesign Initiative startup funds, the school partnered with Expeditionary Learning for coaching and professional development for teachers and school leaders, as well as for curriculum development support.

Additionally, the team worked with its local community development association and parent leaders to plan and prepare to launch a family resource center.  Now fully operational, the family resource center is serving as a one-stop destination for the school’s families to access community services, to learn about school programming and events, and to connect with one another.

Years One and Two of Implementation: Working in partnership with Expeditionary Learning, the team at Carnell has worked with staff to refine and develop the school’s curriculum to reflect the transition to project-based instruction. Staff and leaders at the school continue to participate in professional development on project-based learning over the summer and throughout the school year. Furthermore, the school – in partnership with its local community development agency partner – launched its parent resource center.

Now in its third year of implementation, the school continues to deepen its practice in project-based learning. The school is actively working to secure additional partnerships to provide social and academic services for families and students at the school.