Community College of Philadelphia students, faculty and staff are adopting Spring Garden School, an elementary school in the College’s neighborhood, in an effort to expose students to the benefits of college at an earlier age.
The new partnership seeks to engage college students and staff in service learning activities while passing on the benefits of education to a decidedly younger audience. The College currently has hundreds of high school students taking college-level and high school classes simultaneously. Last year, it worked with the School District of Philadelphia to co-create and launch Parkway Center City Middle College, a partnership that gives high school students an opportunity to graduate from Parkway with an associate degree and a high school diploma.
In 2018, the College is introducing life lessons and career exploration to elementary school students. “Community College of Philadelphia has committed to make the city a better place,” said Dr. David E. Thomas, Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives; Dean, Division of Access and Community Engagement, and Executive Director, Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership. “We just don’t want to work with the students who take classes here. We intend to impact the entire city.”
That’s why the College, which is adopting the school, is also adopting the school’s community, including parents. On the elementary school students’ first day back at school on August 27, members of the College’s International Student Association and the Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership will be operating a table outside of the school starting at 7:30 a.m., handing out coffee, doughnuts — and information about the College’s programs.
Altogether, College staff and students filled about 200 backpacks, half of which will be delivered to Spring Garden School this week and others that will be donated to students in western Nigeria and to local students as needed.
Spring Garden School sits in the heart of Philadelphia’s Poplar neighborhood, less than a mile from the College. It serves students from the Richard Allen homes and the Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence, a homeless shelter for families. The School District of Philadelphia describes the school’s 264 students as 100 percent economically disadvantaged.
“We have a dedicated staff and a strong school culture and climate,” Principal Laureal Robinson said. “But it is our high rate of student poverty that gives us some slightly different challenges to contend with.”
Students from Community College of Philadelphia benefit from this collaboration as well, gaining cultural agility, Dr. Thomas said. “Through their involvement in adopt-a-school, our students will be able to put classroom theory into action and acquire cultural competencies and skills that will set them apart in the workplace.”
Faculty, staff and students at Community College of Philadelphia urge Philadelphians who want to build community-wide support for public schools to join with them by supporting Dress Down for Philly Public Schools, an initiative to raise funds and build awareness in support of Philadelphia public schools. Visit dressdownphilly.com for more information.