PRINCIPALS MATTER !

Mitchell Principal Stephanie Andrewlevich
Overbrook Educational Center
Principal Meredith Foote

Mitchell Elementary  and Overbrook Educational Center (OEC) are two of the K-8 schools in the Philadelphia School District.  They are very different schools.  Mitchell is a 100+ year old building in the city’s southwest Kingsessing neighborhood.  OEC is a newer building in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood.  Mitchell has some 700 students; OEC about 275.  Mitchell is one of the district’s turn-around schools. OEC has the district’s largest population of blind and visually impaired students.Stephanie Andrewlevich and Meredith Foote are the principals. Ms. A, as is she is known, is at Mitchell; Ms. Foote is at OEC.  In a certain sense, they have more in common than their schools.

Obviously both are women. In addition, each is in her second full year at her school.  Both were raised in the Philadelphia area: one in the city, one in the suburbs.

Each is 100% committed to her students.  Each demands compassionate high-level performance of the teachers and support staff in their schools.  Each is loved and respected by the students and each has a habit of telling every student she meets that she loves him or her.

DVFP has supported a number of projects in each of Mitchell and OEC.  We are comfortable doing so because we know that the energy and enthusiasm Ms. A and Ms Foote bring to their buildings multiplies the impact of our investment in their programs.

Leadership matters.  Good principals attract good teachers, create positive learning environments, and make for good schools.  Thanks to all the Ms. As and Ms. Footes out there.


Elizabeth Adeyi Joins Board of Directors

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The Delaware Valley Fairness Project is proud to announce that Elizabeth Y. Adeyi has been elected to the Board of Directors.  Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Child Care Information Services of Montgomery County, PA, and the former Eligibility Director of Child Care Information Services of South Philadelphia/Caring People Alliance.  She comes to our Board with over 20 years of professional management experience in social services in the Delaware Valley.

Elizabeth brings not only her extensive experience in management, but also her passion for helping the less fortunate in our communities.   As a visionary and collaborator, she has revamped a program to benefit families experiencing homelessness and launched a new program in Montgomery County to assist foster families with child care.  A leader and advocate in the early learning community, she has shown an uncanny understanding of needs and an ability to use data in program creation to bridge gaps in services.

Delaware Valley Fairness Project is very fortunate to have Elizabeth as the newest member of our team.  She can be reached at eadeyi@dvfairness.org.


USING MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE TO BUILD CHARACTER IN AT-RISK YOUTH

Delaware Valley Fairness Project has agreed to fulfill a request from Keith Arrington, Principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in North Philadelphia, for support of a Young Gentlemen (YGs) mentoring program.  The program uses music and the performing arts together with a 12-week curriculum to motivate at-risk students and improve their academic performance in areas such as reading comprehension and fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and presentation and staging skills.

The Young Gentlemen project was established by Loni Gamble, a music producer, songwriter and performer who has directed such programs in Williamsport for some 15 years.  His partner in curriculum development is Rafika Soaries.   The program at Thurgood Marshall was started last spring, but did not have the funding to continue this fall.

DVFP will assess the impact of the YG program on the attitudes and values of the participants through observations and before and after program questionnaires.


OEC: VISUALLY-IMPAIRED AND SIGHTED STUDENTS TEAM UP TO PLAY SOCCER

Roland Ananiglo is a coach and Grade 6 TA at Overbrook Education Center (OEC).  OEC is a Philadelphia public school that serves a student population of sighted and visually-impaired students.   With almost one-third of the students unable to read print without magnification, technology aides, enlarged text, or braille, OEC has the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the Philadelphia School District.

Mr. Ananiglo applied to Delaware Valley Fairness Project for supplies to bring together sighted and visually-impaired students to play on the first OEC school soccer team.  As he noted in his application,  OEC was authorized to have a team but had no supplies and serves a population that cannot afford the uniforms and equipment that the children need to participate in sports.

On September 28, DVFP presented OEC and Mr. Ananiglo the funds he needed to launch his unique program. And just in time.  That afternoon the team had its first practice and five days later played its first game.

To learn more about OEC, follow oecjags on Instagram.


MITCHELL PARTNERS COALITION UNDERWAY! DEPUTY MAYOR NINA AHMAD AND COMMUNITY LEADERS JOIN THE EFFORT

Delaware Valley Fairness Project (DVFP) and Mitchell Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia are undertaking an initiative to build a coalition of Mitchell Partners to strengthen support for the school and the community.  Mitchell Principal, Stephanie Andrewlevich, convened a meeting of current partners on September 21 at which she stated her vision for Mitchell as an educational institution and as an engine for change within the community.  She also made clear her need for support from Mitchell’s partners to make the vision a reality.

DVFP president, Ed Riehl, then explained that DVFP approached Mitchell this summer with an offer to take on the role of forming a coalition of Mitchell partners. DVFP will coordinate the coalition’s effort to deliver the resources identified by Mitchell’s staff.

The more than twenty people who attended, including Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad as well as representatives from the University of the Sciences, Wayne Presbyterian Church Devereux Behavioral Health and several local community organizations, expressed support and a willingness to do what is necessary to make this effort successful.  Others in attendance and supporting the undertaking were Spark Philadelphia, New Hope Philly, ASAP, Citylights and City Year.   Any organization with an interest in joining the coalition should contact DVFP at edward.j.riehl@dvfairness.org.

To keep abreast of events at Mitchell, check out the Mighty Mitchell Heroes page on facebook!


Chromebooks, a Fish Tank and Bookmaking in Southwest Philly

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March 21 was an exciting day for DVFP and S. Weir Mitchell Elementary School in Philadelphia. At an assembly at the school that day, DVFP for the first time in its brief history fulfilled educator applications for classroom supplies, projects and class trips. DVFP founder Ed Riehl presented sixteen teachers with fulfillment awards for 11 Chromebooks, a dozen ‘boogie board’ eWriters, multiple sets of mythology books, a fish tank and the components for a desktop bookmaking center, among others. Funding was also provided to assist with the cost of a class trip to Washington, DC.

The Chromebooks will be used by the students to use specially-designed programs to improve their reading and math skills. The eWriters offer a creative approach to writing skills. The mythology books and bookmaking equipment are two innovative projects to enhance both the reading and writing skills of the students. The fish tank will make real the kindergartners’ study of living organisms, while teaching responsibility and compassion.

The Mitchell fulfillment awards are part of DVFP’s Educator Assistance Pilot Project intended to allow DVFP to determine whether the design of its Educator Assistance Program best meets its objective of improving learning opportunities for children living in impoverished neighborhoods. Convinced that education is the key to lessening the grip of poverty, DVFP’s education program is geared to strengthen schools serving economically distressed communities rather than looking to create alternatives to those schools.

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The pilot project could only succeed with the collaboration of schools and teachers. Three schools were asked to participate and to become our Founding Partner Schools. Mitchell, being the first to accept DVFP’s invitation, is DVFP’s Founding Partner School Number 1. DVFP extends its thanks to everyone at Mitchell, but particularly to its Principal, Stephanie Andrelevich, who gave permission for the project, Tara Shaw-Caruso who serves as the project coordinator at Mitchell, and the fifteen other teachers who took the time to put together some very creative projects for DVFP to consider: Andrea Evans, Elizabeth Carroll, Keena Core, Nicole Flores, Dawnmarie Hackett, Lesley O’Brien, Jason Lerner, Rachel O’Day, Kenya Lassiter and the Special Ed Team, Emily Sharon, Tyesha Lewis, Charlena Watson, Kimberly Fail, Karen Burrell, and Allison Wudarski. Thanks to a great team!


All’s Well at the Well

Pastor Violet Little and her Welcome Church, a church without walls that ministers to the homeless in center city Philadelphia and beyond, came to us this spring with a request to assist with funding for shelter for a group of 12 women. The Welcome Church had found a location, but with no budget to make the place suitable for the women, Pastor Violet had a dilemma. Through DVFP’s Small Nonprofit Assistance Program, we were able to provide just enough financial support for The Welcome Church to open “The Well,” which is now ‘home’ to the otherwise unsheltered women. As a volunteer wrote: “In the basement of a small Episcopal church on a side street, two of the women of The Well looked up. . . other women arrived. They put down their carts or bags after a long day on the streets, free for a while from the burdens of homelessness. . . “home” didn’t open until 7:30 pm, and would send them back to the streets 12 hours later.. . the dingy basement hall was truly a place of hope.” Congratulations to Pastor V, to the Welcome Church and its volunteers, and most especially to the women at The Well.


Keeping Their Clothes and Papers Safe

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Simple needs are sometimes difficult to meet – especially if you are among the less fortunate. Old St. Joseph’s Church has for years been meeting some of the simple needs of men who are experiencing homelessness or teetering on the edge of homelessness. Three days a week, the church’s outreach program provides a 3-course meal to some 60 men who come together as a community to share friendship with each other.

The Old St. Joseph’s program – Faith, Food & Friends – does not proselytize; it simply welcomes those who come. Most of the men are regulars and so know each other, Mary Freedman who coordinates the program, and the volunteers (many of whom have been coming to cook a meal and serve the men weekly for several years).

Old St. Joseph’s offers the men more than community and a meal. It fills some needs that men on the street or near it have: a place to get their mail; a few hygiene supplies; a pair of socks when they are available. One need Old St.Joseph’s was struggling to meet was for backpacks to replace the plastic grocery bags the men use to protect their clothes and documents. Mary contacted DVFP a few months ago, told us about the problem, and submitted an application for assistance in getting the backpacks. It was a quick decision. Today, with the assistance from DVFP. Mary and the outreach program are replacing the plastic grocery bags with secure backpacks, making life “a little better” for that community. Great that Mary saw the need and did something about it!


Quilting, Gardening, Reading and Running and Walking in Style in Camden

Yorkship Family School in the Fairview section of Camden is our New Jersey Founding Partner School. Thanks to efforts of DVFP’s good friends, Laura and Jose Sanchez, DVFP was introduced to Yorkship and able to connect with Sue Bowen, who teaches 4th grade at the school. Sue in turn introduced DVFP to Tracey Reed-Thompson, the Principal, and Tia McIntosh, Yorkship’s Lead Teacher, both of whom enthusiastically agreed to have Yorkship collaborate with DVFP in our Educator Assistance Pilot Program.

Yorkship teachers and staff submitted thirteen applications for assistance to DVFP just before Easter. Nine days after Easter, DVFP’s president, Ed Riehl, presented fulfillment awards in varying degrees for all thirteen projects. As we found at Mitchell Elementary School in Philadelphia, so too at Yorkship were the teacher requests both creative and varied. With support from DVFP, Yorkship will undertake a school-wide quilting project to build community; plant a sustainable vegetable garden; acquire a K-8th Grade guided-reading library; and outfit 20 middle-school students with track and field suits. In addition, thirty-four middle-schoolers will soon be wearing DVFP-provided Fit Bits and, with associated workbook assignments, developing wellness and healthy lifestyle behaviors.9zz. Yorkship - track meet (060116)

Congratulations to our Camden pilot project partner school, Ms. Reed-Thompson and Ms. McIntosh, and
Yorkship’s teachers: Karen Rojas, Eileen Anderson, Linda Brown-Bartlett, Sue Bowen, Nancy DiBattista, Courtney Gray, Helena Savage, Patrica Sheehan and Joe Williams. You’re doing good things for the youth of Camden!