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, suggested topics or other thoughts about the state of schools and ways to keep improving them, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weighing in this time is new contributor Caleb Mezzy, who connected with the founders of the new Friends of Kirkbride Elementary community group.
Around Passyunk Square, Jackson Elementary gets all the love. Not so much, anymore.
On Jan. 29 the newly formed Friends of Kirkbride Elementary will hold its inaugural meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Capitolo Rec Center, 9th and Federal (here’s the Facebook invite). The school, located at 7th and Dickinson, draws about 530 students roughly from the area bounded by 4th Street to Passyunk Avenue, Wharton to Morris streets (find catchments here).
Plenty of negativity has surrounded public education in Philadelphia, but friends group founders Nicole Hostettler and Maria Hering are hoping to change that. They started the group Friends of Kirkbride Elementary to kickstart what they said was the gem in their own backyard, creating a great neighborhood school, and by extension, a great neighborhood.
Hering said she was brought up through the city’s public school system and loves this city. “I have a daughter of my own entering school in 2015 and with no intention to leave the city, I believe in public education,” she said. “If we can create a community built on informing each others about the schools, we will create a great school and even better neighborhood.”
Most support so far has been electronically through Facebook and e-mails. To help build support for the friends group, Kirkbride has sent students home with fliers translated in their native languages (about 37 percent are English-language learners). Many people who have been interested in this first meeting are parents of 1- and 2-year-olds who also want to stay in the city once their kids are ready for school, Hering said.
The main goal for the inaugural meeting will be to establish contact with the community to better find out who would like to participate in the future. “We want everyone to introduce each other to their community detailing what brings them here, their education goals and what do they want from Kirkbride,” Hering said.
Dr. Victoria Mangress, principal of Kirkbride, also plans to attend the meeting to let the community know she is listening and involved, Hering said.
– Caleb Mezzy, @Caleb_Mezzy