“Did you know that we’re superheroes?”
That’s what a student at Chadds Ford Elementary School asked her parents before bed.
Earlier that day, she and her sister, along with the rest of the students at suburban Chadds Ford Elementary, had heard from Stephanie Andrewlevich, the Principal of S. Weir Mitchell, a K-8 school in Southwest Philadelphia. Ms. A, as she’s commonly referred, told the students all about how the two “sister schools” work together to support each other.
Located 25 miles apart in vastly different neighborhoods, you might think that the students at Mitchell and Chadds Ford wouldn’t have much in common. The Mitchell-Chadds Ford partnership was the first “sister school” pairing formed with the help of Delaware Valley Fairness Project. Sara Krausz, a Chadds Ford parent and Vice President of the DVFP board, was instrumental in bringing the two schools together. We are in the process of forming more of these relationships with our other partner schools. The partnership between the two schools allows kids from different backgrounds to get to know each other in ways they otherwise might not have. Teachers, parents, and administrators get to exchange information and ideas. Two different communities come together to lift each other up.
When you hear “superheroes,” you might think of the ones that dominated the box office this summer. But the problems facing the students of Mitchell and Chadds Ford face have nothing to do with infinity stones, and they won’t be solved by punching bad guys for a couple of hours. In fact, the students at Mitchell made a special commitment to forego fighting this past year.
What kids at Mitchell actually do is battle through their own personal traumas to come to school in an impoverished community and learn as much as they can anyway. Kids at Chadds Ford collect food, supplies, and coats for children in another school who they might not have even met. They all keep working hard no matter what obstacles life throws at them. They never give up on themselves, and each other, no matter who else has.
The girls’ parents, Jessica and Jason P., thanked Shawn Dutkiewicz, the Principal of Chadds Ford, for his leadership in instilling a “sense of community and compassion” in their children’s school. “We are so lucky to have our children attend a school that encourages generosity, friendship, and helping others in need…I am certain that this memory will stay with them for many years.”
The Avengers won’t be back until next summer, but until then, maybe those aren’t the kind of heroes we need. Maybe we just need people who work together and communities that lift each other up.