We made it.
Another school year comes to an end in Philadelphia today, and we got here in no small part due to the hard work, dedication, enthusiasm, activism and experience of school teachers in every type of school in every part of the city.
There was the fifth grade teacher who took her 33 students on 20 field trips this year, to live their history lessons, engage in art and civically-engage—including one she volunteered to chaperone in her own free time. The one who taught the least likely students——those incarcerated in city prison—to believe in themselves. The ones who ran for office. The ones who just showed up, defying the statistics of high teacher turnover to do what we demand of them: Teach our children to be smarter, more informed and better Philadelphians.
If you see a teacher today—or any day—thank them. And wish them good rest this summer so they can do it all over again come September.
Here are just a few of the amazing teachers some of our school students experienced this year:
- Kristen DeGregorio, a life skills teacher at Frankford High School, who has helped students launch charities on school grounds; Brittni Jennings, a social studies teacher at Constitution High School, who motivates students to be socially conscious; Caitlin Kay, an English teacher at Academy at Palumbo, who sponsors the school’s award-winning poetry team; and the 57 other teachers who won Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teacher Awards this year.
- Parthenia Moore, the longtime principal of Girls’ High, who retired after 40 years.
- Ian Doreian at Boys’ Latin, who used ice cream as a vehicle for storytelling in a creative writing class—and then took students to Reading Terminal to make their own.
- Thomas Quinn at Central High School, who launched a movement to register high school seniors to vote.
- Maureen Boland at Parkway Center City Middle College, who has led her students in raising voices against gun violence.
- Luigi Borda at Masterman School, who ran for City Commissioner, the capstone of years recruiting teachers to be more politically engaged.
- Angela Crawford, an African American English teacher now at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School, who has stuck it out for 23 years, and is now an activist working to bring more equity and cultural awareness to education in Philly.
- Sharif El-Mekki, principal of Mastery Charter-Shoemaker (and Citizen contributor), who works to bring more diversity into the classroom.
- The teachers at Benjamin Franklin High School who—literally—saved a student’s life with a defibrillator when he was having a sudden cardiac arrest.
- Olga Torres, a health information management teacher at Mastbaum Vocational High School, who won a Kennedy Center honor for being an “inspirational teacher”.
- The three teachers from Julia de Burgos Elementary School who traveled to Puerto Rico last summer to better understand the culture of their growing population of Caribbean students.
- Samantha Erickson, a teacher who fell apart—and then openly wrote about it to call for change—when she learned that her daughter’s school was on lockdown after a shooting outside.