Philadelphians are Too Cool for Their Schools: Part Two

Philadelphia’s public schools are a topic of conversation everywhere. The Philly Home Girls are touring as many as possible on behalf of our clients.  This week’s tour was in South Philly, specifically the neighborhoods west of Broad including Graduate Hospital, Newbold, Point Breeze and Girard Estate.

We started at Chester Arthur Elementary, a K-8 school which is located at 20th and Catharine Streets. The school is comprised of about 250 students with a constant waiting list of at least 30 students from the surrounding area. Chester was 1 of 4 schools in the area chosen to participate in the District’s Redesign Initiative. They set up a formal partnership with Science Leadership Academy and have implemented an inquiry driven, project based learning system. Because of these new systems they have become known for their engineering program and 20% of the 8th graders are going on to Carver High School of Engineering and Science. Every classroom is equipped with smart boards and each grade level has individual technology, from iPads to Chromebooks, specifically for the students to use. Chester Elementary also has a strong partnership with the arts in Philadelphia. They are working with the Walnut Street Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet X, Astral Artists, and Penn’s City Step. Each group is working with specific aged students from the K-8 to bring the arts into the classroom. As artists ourselves, we were impressed!

Next we visited E.M. Stanton Elementary, located at 17th and Christian Streets. The wow factor begins at the door in this stunning Art Deco K-8 school. The school’s motto is “Academics + Arts = Excellence” and they excel at achieving this. They have over 20 local community partnerships that focus on the arts, academics, and mentoring. Students have gone on to perform at The Prince Music Theater, The Painted Bride Arts Center, World Café Live, City Hall and The African American Museum, to just name a few. The school is also working with The Trust for Public Land to build a new $650,000 schoolyard with garden plots slated to start this summer.

Moving on we stopped at G.W. Childs School next. This lovely Pre-K-8 school is located on the corner of 16th and Wharton Streets. This historic school, built in 1893, has over 600 students and roof top playground! Language is a huge focus at Childs. With a culturally diverse neighborhood and student body, over 10 different languages are spoken here. They have a robust English Language Learning program and 4 bilingual counselors.  Childs is also committed to after school programs. They work with over 25 community partners including City Year, Eat Right Now, Girls on the Run, and the Boy and Girl Scouts. After school programs include a garden club, bicycle club, youth wellness council and talent show.  

Finally, we wrapped up our tour at Stephen Girard Elementary School. This K-4 school has over 600 students. Girard takes pride in teaching kindness and diversity to its students. Their programs focus on teaching the students the value of working together and learning from each other to achieve their goal. One program has Senior Citizens helping the students with their reading. They also have community partnerships with CHOP, Diversified Community Services, Bicycle Coalition, Maestro the Lion, and American Heart Association. Girard is also focused on the student’s health awareness with an incredible vegetable garden and the harvest is distributed to the school community.

All of these fantastic schools have some common themes including strong roots in the arts, activity-based after school programs, focus on revitalizing school yards and technology including Chromebooks and smart boards. Additionally, each of these schools have relationships with multiple notable cultural institutes in Philadelphia, something hard to find in the suburbs. Each school had an ESL program and highlighted their success in training students on today’s technology in anticipation for high school and college.

We were uplifted and inspired by the schools we experienced and would like to thank our friends groups for including us on such a lovely day. Thank you Friends of Chester Arthur, Stanton Community Partners, Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary, and Friends of Girard Elementary for your hospitality and time! Feel free to contact the school’s administrative office to take your own private tour of any school or stay informed of school open houses by visiting