Philadelphians Are Too Cool For Their Schools


In an effort to debunk the myth that Philadelphia’s public schools aren’t very good, and to stop the flight of families moving to the suburbs, the Philly Home Girls are making an effort to tour many of the county’s public schools on behalf of our clients.  This week’s tour was in the Riverwards, more commonly known as Fishtown, Northern Liberties and South Kensington.

We started at H.A. Brown, a K-8 school which is located on the cozy E. Sergeant St, only a couple blocks down from Jeanne, our resident Fishtown expert. We had the joy of meeting the incredibly intelligent and vivacious principal Connie Carnivale, who was more than happy to discuss all of the special programs her school is known for.  H.A. Brown boasts an incredibly active student government, who has seen tons of press from the Philadelphia Inquirer as a result of its ability to convince major figures to visit the school – Mayor Nutter included. Their next target is the Obama family. Welcome to Fishtown, Pres! The school also prides itself on its talented choir which has partnered with the Philadelphia Opera House. In addition, H.A. Brown has received a ton of grants to fill the school with computers. These lucky students are getting an early peek into the Philly tech scene. These class sizes are all very small to help maximize learning opportunities, and 93% perfect of students from H.A. Brown received offers from their #1 choice of high school.

Next we visited Hackett Elementary School which is slated to get a spectacular school yard renovation in the near future. Wondering where to find it? Look for the enormous, pentagon sized building on York St – you won’t miss it. This is a K-5 school with roughly 370 students and a very notable special education program. Some of the students in this department have multiple physical disabilities that warrant special attention. This school has a full-time nurse and special “bat phone” in order to call 911. For children who need specialized emergency medical care, this is a fantastic feature. Besides its in-depth special education programs, Hackett has a great music program with a talented brass and woodwinds orchestra. They participate in Rock to the Future, an exciting musical instruction program with outside visitors working as teachers. In addition, Hackett cooperates with Portside Art Center, which has a bus that transports students for after care programs. One neat program that its students take advantage of is Philly Reads, where business people from local companies read to the students. Another special aspect of the school is the enormous community loyalty of parents and volunteers that contribute to the success of the school which extends to their faculty, many of which are Hackett Alumni.

We rode a school bus to our next stop, the Alexander Adaire School which has 350 students in grades K-8. This spacious school is located in the heart of Fishtown, with a large concrete yard in front that is undergoing a spectacular renovation designed by volunteers in the neighborhood which include: the Ian Smith Design Group and landscape architect Nate Hummell.  We can already tell it’s going to be a beautiful project when it’s done. This school has a relationship with Comcast, and many employees volunteered during Comcast Cares Day. The volunteers helped to paint much of the school's interior and have donated tack boards that the school uses at art walls in every hallway. Adaire is extremely proud of it’s art program which cooperates with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where some of the students have shown their work. In fact, the Friends of Adaire recently hosted a gallery show of the student’s work at Steep and Grind with all of the proceeds going to the school yard renovation.

Adaire recently had it's auditorium redone and is now working further towards revitalizing the schoolyard. The Philly Home Girls are so excited to help with this project! Adaire is putting on an amazing fundraising concert featuring local famed musician Andrew Lipke and internationally acclaimed Celtic folk act the John Bryne Band! These talented musicians will be playing alongside the students of Adaire. It's something you won't want to miss. Be sure to pick up your tickets before they sell out!   

Finally the bus took us to the John Moffett School, a K-5 school in South Kensington where Principal Navarro boasted about the delicious food (which smelled as good as she described it), the murals painted by the Mural Arts Program abundant throughout the halls, and the incredible music teacher who has taught at the school for 29 years. We experienced a live music lesson and heard one very catchy song about October that we’re still trying to get out of our heads. The school’s Arabic Drumming program sponsored by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is an incredibly unique and the students involved have performed all over Philly, including the Kimmel Center and City Hall. Moffett has a cooperative program with the Kimmell Center where the performers come to the school once a week to work with the kids. Some additional interesting programs include GATE, an anti-drug and violence program and the “Moffitized” program which teaches crucial life skills to coach the children into becoming responsible and caring adults.

All of these fantastic schools have some common themes, including the small class sizes, the longevity of the teachers, and the ability to get grants for new technology including chrome books and chrome carts. Additionally, these schools have relationships with at least one notable cultural institute in Philadelphia. Each school had an ESL program as well. Finally, all of these schools highlighted their success in training students on today’s technology and getting them started on the track for high school and college.

The Philly Home Girls are all around Fishtown.

The Philly Home Girls are all around Fishtown.

We were uplifted and inspired by the experience and would like to thank our friends groups for including us on such a lovely day. Thank you Friends of Kearny, Friends of H.A. Brown, Friends of Hackett, Friends of Adaire, and Friends of Moffett – the last of which is only 2 weeks old! We can tell it’s already going to be wonderful. Feel free to contact the school’s administrative office to take your own private tour of the school or stay informed of school open houses by visiting