Roxborough and Neumann-Goretti nab grants to boost academics

 Grads and packed bleachers at the Roxborough High School 2014 Commencement. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks, file)

Grads and packed bleachers at the Roxborough High School 2014 Commencement. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks, file)

Nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership is awarding a total of $375,000 in grants to three Philadelphia district schools and one Catholic school. 

Roxborough High School and Neumann-Goretti are receiving $145,000 and $150,000 respectively to support turnaround plans at the schools.

Mark Gleason, executive director of Philadelphia School Partnership, a nonprofit that supports the expansion of K-12 schools in the city, says the grants will help the schools develop stronger academic programming. 

At Roxborough High School, which is several years into implementing a Philadelphia Academies model, where students have the opportunity to engage in career and college training throughout high school, the grant will help better integrate core academic subjects into the career training. 

At Neumann-Goretti, a Catholic school in South Philadelphia, the grant will help support administration as they embark in the beginning stages of strengthening its academic programming. 

“For principals who want to do this kind of strategic planning but also have to run a school with hundreds of kids, they don’t have the bandwidth,” says Gleason. “These folks have the right vision to make it work.”

Dana Jenkins, principal of Roxborough High School, says the grant will help students understand the need for both career-training and more traditional subjects. 

“We are offering career programs like cinematography, business, web design and biotechnology, which provide the connectedness students require to understand why they should master traditional subjects like English, geometry and chemistry.”

She added that since the school first began implementing the career-track program, “student ownership and accountability” has improved remarkably. Attendance is up to between 89 and 91 percent, and she says “the school culture is fantastic.”

Wissahickon Charter School will receive a grant of $56,625 to help support leadership and teacher coaching as the school expands to a second campus on Germantown’s Awbury Arboretum.

The Workshop School will receive $23,200 to fund technology improvements at the school. 

Both Wissahickon Charter School and The Workshop School are receiving these smaller grants after working with Philadelphia School Partnership in the past. 

The organization, according to Gleason, offers the smaller grants to help “schools addressing small challenges in ways that don’t let those challenges sink the larger effort.”

Philadelphia School Partnership is working to raise $100 million to support future grants.  

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