Principals at two Northwest Philadelphia schools receive award for distinguished leadership

 Tamera Conaway, principal at W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences in Roxborough, was among those honored with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Principal Leadership. (NewsWorks, file art)

Tamera Conaway, principal at W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences in Roxborough, was among those honored with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Principal Leadership. (NewsWorks, file art)

A pair of Northwest Philadelphia principals has been recognized as two of the city’s top public-school educators.

Tamera Conaway at W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences in Roxborough and Mary Lynskey at John Story Jenks Elementary in Chestnut Hill recently received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Principal Leadership.

Both were shocked and excited.

“I didn’t believe it,” said Lynskey.

“I was thrilled,” said Conaway.

The honor, funded by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation of Philadelphia, is handed out annually to principals in the School District of Philadelphia “who have made significant leadership and humanitarian contributions to his/her students, staff and community.”

The award comes with a $20,000 check for the school’s general operating budget.

How the award helps Jenks

At Jenks, the money will be used to help the school transition towards a new academy model and a related name change.

Efforts are already underway to make Jenks the “John Story Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences.”

Once the switch is completed, students will choose to focus on arts, music or STEM — short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — at the end of third grade.

Curriculum from each academy, however, will also be part of everyone’s time at Jenks.

“We don’t want to educate solely in a traditional sense,” said Lynskey. “We want to be on the cutting edge.”

Specifically, the Lindback dollars will be used to help transform the school’s addition into a brand new space for two kindergarten classes.

The money will also be used to move and upgrade the school’s library and computer lab, which are both currently located inside the addition.

Lynskey said the entire project will cost about $40,000 to complete.

How the award helps Saul

At Saul, the Lindback award will be used, in part, to install an irrigation system for the school’s orchard off Henry Avenue.

Right now, students have to run a hose from one of the school’s agriculture buildings, through a tennis court, past a baseball field and then up a steep hill.

“We can water the orchard [but] it’s just very inconvenient,” said Conaway. “This is a safer and much better way.”

It’ll also serve as an educational tool.

The rest of the money will be used to update and increase the school’s textbook supply and purchase new laptops.

“Having discretionary funds that can be used in any way … makes it much better to be able to utilize for the needs of the school,” said Conaway.

The award ceremony

Conaway and Lynskey attended an awards ceremony last week.

The Northwest Philadelphia pair were not alone in receiving plaudits.

West Philadelphia High School’s Mary Sandra Dean, Patterson Elementary School’s Kenneth Jessup, Crossan Elementary School’s Lynne B. Millard, Philadelphia High School for Girls’ Parthenia Moore and Carnell Elementary School’s Hilderbrand Pelzer III were also honored.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.