School Redesign: Fox Chase

Fox Chase Elementary

Grades: K-5
Enrollment: 490
Location: Northeast Philadelphia; 500 Rhawn St, 19111
Proposal Synopsis: The school will partner with Fox Chase Farm to develop a robust agriculture-based STEAM program in which classes will take place both at the farm and at the school.

Vision: Fox Chase Elementary will provide a holistic academic program that empowers young learners to develop the foundational skills necessary for lifelong success.  Through rigorous preparation at the elementary level, students will obtain the 21st Century skills necessary for achievement across content areas throughout their academic careers.  These experiences will prepare our students to become global leaders of the 21st Century, ready to participate in and create innovative structures and technologies for the betterment of self, our community, and the world.

Our mission is to support the development of lifelong learners through rigorous Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM) curriculum and instruction.  Through relevant project-based and integrated agriculture experiences, all students will reach their full potential while developing the critical thinking skills and intrinsic motivation necessary for lifelong success.  STEAM principles will drive our instructional program by encouraging students to use inquiry and creativity in solving problems and developing foundational skills across the curriculum.

 The Design Year: The team at Fox Chase trained all staff in the core pillars of agricultural literacy, as well as in the fundamentals of project-based and experiential learning. The team designed agriculture-based, inter-disciplinary units for all grade levels. The staff visited active farms in the region to learn more about the science, mathematics, and business of agriculture, and also developed interdisciplinary curricula to align the agricultural principles to Common Core standards.

The team also outfitted an unused classroom to serve as an agriculture lab on the school site, developed additional outdoor learning spaces on the site including a butterfly garden and vegetable garden, and is working on setting up a farmer’s market to sell healthy products they grow to the local community.

Year One of Implementation: The school rolled out its new agriculture curriculum, as well as its enhanced partnership with Fox Chase Farm.  Teachers have been trained and supported to operate autonomously at the farm – they regularly lead students in hands-on learning experiences on countless topics onsite at the farm.  Classes visit the farm on a frequent basis, and link the hands-on learning that they do at the farm back to the work they do in the classroom and in the agriculture lab. Now entering its second year of implementation, the school is continuing to refine its curriculum and deepen the integration of agriculture into all lessons.