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Increase in partnership with Gompers

Outside view of Samuel Gompers School during the school day (Photos by Luke Malanga '20).
Luke Malanga
Written by Luke Malanga

Community School recognition for local grade school


Samuel Gompers School, the K-8th grade public school located right next to the university in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood, was declared a community school by Mayor Jim Kenney in July 2017.

“Being affiliated with the mayor’s office in addition to the school district of Philadelphia, I just feel like we have at our fingertips more resources and just more people that can help us to tap into the resources,” said Phillip DeLuca, principal of Gompers.

Rennie Parker stands underneath the banner dedicated to Gompers becoming a community school.

The community school status allowed the Philadelphia Mayor’s office to assign a community school coordinator, Rennie Parker, to assist in implementing the outcome of a needs assessment completed by Gompers.

“We’re now having the initiative of collaborating with different organizations and different nonprofit agencies to create what we call a ‘one hub solution’ for people to be involved in the community,” Parker said.

St. Joe’s education unit has had a long-standing relationship with Gompers through Weekly Service tutoring and Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs. Gompers’ community school recognition will now allow St. Joe’s to further its initiatives and focus on the needs of the school.

“There’s been a long history of involvement but more recently there’s more intentional efforts towards what Gompers highlights as their needs,” said Aimee Terosky, associate professor of educational leadership.

A classroom in Gompers Elementary School.

Terosky was appointed liaison between Gompers and St. Joe’s education unit in August.

“There’s a lot of excitement around after school programs in particular,” Terosky said. “I feel like that’s an area St. Joseph’s can be really supportive.”

Community school coordinator Parker said there are numerous ways in which St. Joe’s could be an asset to the elementary school.

“I would love to see St. Joe’s get more involved in academics to help with increasing our math scores,” Parker said. “I’d like to see professors get involved with that. Allowing us to use their facilities for science to increase our STEM program – I’d like them to be involved with that.”

As principal of Gompers, DeLuca has high expectations for the future of the school and said that community partners will help [the school] achieve those goals.

Students classwork hangs on a board after being completed.

“Literacy scores are on their way up, math scores are going up but the proficiency is low and we’re working on attendance and our science scores,” DeLuca said. “We feel like the partnership we have with St. Joe’s, everything that we do, has to look at those goals and look at that data to help our scores go up then the school’s report goes up.”

DeLuca said his goal for the elementary school, which just added eighth grade to its curriculum, is for all of our students to get into the high school, college or career of their choice.

“We’re working around making this a high school going atmosphere, a college going atmosphere, so outside of academics we’re just focused on attendance, we’re focused on behavior, just changing the culture, changing the way our students feel about coming to school,” DeLuca said. “We want them to be proud to be part of Gompers.”

Terosky said there have been very initial conversations between Gompers and St. Joe’s president’s office about including Gompers as a full partner.

Gompers embraces new community school recognition with a bulletin board.

“We want to be true partners with Gompers,” Terosky said. “A lot of times when universities sponsor K-12 schools or community groups there’s a bit of the ‘We’re the experts. We’re going to come in and save you’ and that is not at all the approach that we’re taking. We want to be true partners.”

DeLuca said St. Joe’s is a valuable partner that can help the school educate the youth of the future.

“St. Joe’s University has a lot to offer for Gompers – Gompers has a lot of offer the university and we need to discuss and talk about what would work for us and what would be best for our situation, said DeLuca. “We’re open to support and help from our community and we look at St. Joe’s as our next door neighbor who we look up to.”

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Luke Malanga

Luke Malanga

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