Back to school: New principal welcomes students at Charles W. Henry

It’s back to school for Philadelphia public education students and there’s a new face to greet them at the Charles W. Henry School in Mt. Airy. Principal, Fatima Rogers now heads the school, located at 601 Carpenter Lane, following the June retirement of Caren Trantas, who held the position for the past nine years.

Rogers said she and the rest of the school’s staff are well-rested and ready for the new academic term. “I am certain we’re going to have a phenomenal year,” Rogers enthused.

Rogers comes to C.W. Henry after spending the past three years as principal at nearby John B. Kelly Elementary School in Germantown. She said she took on the job at Henry because she “just wanted a different experience.”

“Henry is a diverse community,” Rogers stated. Though both schools are attended by predominantly African-American students, Henry has three times the amount of students of other ethnicities, including white, Latino and Asian pupils. The schools are also markedly different in size – Charles W. Henry is K-8 with 434 students and John B. Kelly is K-6 with 777 students (enrollment numbers from the 2011-2012 school term).

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Rogers said that she is most proud of her achievements in reducing the number of violent incidents and improving academic progress during her time at John B. Kelly. She said her management goals for Henry are to maintain the school’s high academic standard, its arts program and sense of community. Henry is considered one of the top 10 feeder schools for the prestigious Julia R. Masterman High School.

Rogers stated that she hopes to eventually bring Connecting Arts N Schools to Henry, as she did while at Kelly. The program, in partnership with The Mann Center, enhances curriculum by bringing performing artists into schools.

The biggest challenge for Henry this year will be dealing with the school district’s budget, Rogers noted. She divulged that if she could have one wish for the new academic year it would be to “be blessed with more money.” Rogers said she would then use those funds to hire more support staff, such as counsellers, noon-time aides, school security and custodians.

New school-wide program

Another change for students this year will be the implementation of a school-wide positive behavior initiative, Caught Being Good. Rogers explained that every school staff member will have tickets which they may award to students who demonstrate exceptional behavior included in the School-Wide Effective Behavior Support Plan (SWEBS):

• Be Respectful

• Be Responsible

• Be Peaceful

• Be a Problem Solver

• Be a Learner

Rogers shared that a drawing for “kid-friendly prizes” will be held every other week for those who have been issued tickets. She said that her message for Henry students is to “follow the five rules for conduct and they’re sure to have a great school year.”

Parents who have not yet met Henry’s new principal will have the opportunity to do so at the school’s first parent-teacher meeting on September 20, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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