Editor’s Note: School Talk is an occasional feature that will look at education and parenting issues in South Philly. If you have concerns, ideas or other thoughts about the state of schools and ways to keep improving them, email us at email@example.com.
Weighing in this month, we have Rebecca Toner, a member of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association’s education committee.
Despite the doomsday budget situation with the Philadelphia School District, Southwark Elementary School at 1835 S 9th St. has some great news.
Starting this summer, a new principal, Andrew Lukov, is taking over.
Lukov is entering his 15th year of service with the district. For five years he was assistant principal at Northeast High School, one of the largest in the city. While there, he says, “I stayed despite other offers because I had work to do.”
Some of that work included helping develop a well-respected English Language Learner program. After that he worked with the Career and Technical Education team and coordinated a citywide admissions Visual Communications program that competes with other top high schools in the city. He has also served as an ESL teacher at Jackson Elementary and South Philly High School and teaches a graduate education course in ESL methodologies at Chestnut Hill College. That’ll be a big help in a school where nearly half the students are characterized as English-language learners.
Lukov said he’s ready to bring some of these organizational and innovative ideas to Southwark. “I am passionate and competitive to be the best,” he said. “I bring that energy.”
Lukov has already started working with the EPX Education Committee and will continue to work with the many established relationships at the school, including with United Communities Southeast Philadelphia, the Migrant Education Project, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Mural Arts Program, University of Pennsylvania, Puentes de Salud and the Food Trust.
During several long discussions at various Passyunk Avenue cafes and in emails with several EPX Education Committee members, Lukov conveyed his passion for working with “staff, parents, and community partners to create a great neighborhood school where everyone is welcome.”
“I want to create and grow effective educational programs for our students – in the arts, STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], and linguistic areas,” Lukov said in an interview. “This includes the strategic identification and securing of resources for these programs – through grants, donations, volunteer services, and local and corporate partnerships.”
Stable leadership is exactly what is needed at Southwark, where at least seven principals have come through in the previous dozen years. Indeed, principal turnover has been a hot topic in the district in recent years, with two organizations releasing reports last year on the importance of consistency from year to year.
“Most importantly, I want to be here for students, staff, parents, and the community for all of the great work ahead,” Lukov said. “Consistency in leadership has begun.”
This summer Lukov has a few goals to accomplish before the school year even starts. They include forming Team Dragon (the school mascot), a team of volunteers to help during the first week; a “Meet and Greet” for all community members next month and an “amazing Back to School Night,” he said. He’ll also be at the EPX Meet and Greet on Sunday at Fountain Porter.
The EPX Education Committee is quite impressed and full of hope. How about you?
– R. Toner, EPX Ed. member