School Leadership My Story

Vision and Mission of the School:

I connected with a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator at the 2015 Apple Distinguished Educator Institute who connected me with Opera Philadelphia. Opera Philly was looking for help making their paper educational resources digital and more interactive for the students who use them to prepare to see operas performed at the Academy of Music. I thought it would be a great opportunity for my students to take on this project. Before committing to Opera Philadelphia I scheduled a meeting with my school's CEO and CIO to make sure that this opportunity aligned with the school's mission and vision. They were thrilled to create the partnership, and it has been successful ever since. Our story can be found clicking on the link above, and the connection to the mission and vision is explained below.

"To Educate each student according to age and development so that learning and growth are united." - Students research opera history and musical background and apply their knowledge in the creation of original Multi-touch books.

"To Integrate the developing mind and body of the student with academics and the performing arts and sciences." - Students merge their passions for various forms of art (music, design, theatre, etc...) with their academic (reading and writing) training.

"To Ensure each student’s excellence in core and academic skills." - The work students create for this ongoing project must be high quality to ensure publication and recognition by Opera Philadelphia.

"To Awaken and preserve the spirit of our students through the visual and digital arts, vocal arts, instrumental music, creative writing, classical ballet, foreign language, innovations in the field of science, all intertwined with technology, and;" - Students explore their current passions and learn about new ones by studying music, history, design, and theatre while they learn how to use iBooks Author to communicate their knowledge and understanding.

"To Nourish this spirit and curiosity so that students continue to flourish long after the end of formal training." - Students will be able to apply the skills they learn in this project to future collaboration projects in college and in their careers.

School Data

The two links above will direct you to two examples of how I have used school data to drive progress.

The first link is a data wall the 10th grade English team created based on requests from our school leadership. I guided the team and facilitated the creation process to reflect information that would help drive instruction and specifically show how each student was progressing with each of the core standards emphasized on the literature Keystone exam. I meet with the 10th grade team on a weekly basis to discuss student progress and discuss instructional strategies that can be used to help with standards not being reached collectively and individually.

The second link shows the results of a quantitative study I conducted to show student satisfaction with iTunes U as the primary vehicle from which students receive instructional material. It addresses how iTunes U helps students learn and how / if it helps students develop the four Cs of the 21st century.

School Community / Culture

Poetry Out Loud

Being an inaugural teacher of Philadelphia Performing Arts: A String Theory Charter School (PPA) was a once in a life time opportunity that will mold the rest of my career. One of the best parts about being a founding teacher was having an opportunity to create new programs as we grew from one grade to a full high school. Above are links to two courses I created that have helped shaped our school community and culture.

The first is an enrichment course I created for sophomores. I pitched the idea to our school administration team and with their approval lead a group of teachers and administrators in creating, writing, and implementing the course.

The second is a course I created as the lead for our New Teacher Induction program. Since all teachers at PPA are required to write original courses in iTunes U, I thought it would be practical for our new teachers to create their New Teacher Induction portfolios in iTunes U so they could learn the tool as they reflect on their growth.

Another example of how I have enriched my school community is by establishing an annual tradition of PPA's participation in the Poetry Out Loud contest. For the past four years I have organized our school contest and have overseen the participation of our school representative in the Philadelphia regional competition.

Academic Programming

The first day I reported to work at PPA I was told that we would not be using textbooks, and that all teachers would write the curriculum collaboratively in iTunes U courses that would be published for the world to see. The idea of designing all original curriculum was exciting to me, and I became the unofficial leader of the English department. Two years later I became the official English Department Chair. After researching and talking to curriculum specialists from across the state of Pennsylvania, I developed a vision to focus each grade's course on a theme and hard skill that rose in complexity to follow Bloom's Taxonomy. For example the theme of the grade 9 course is, "Coming of Age" and the hard skill is literary analysis. Since we work on a block schedule, each course has three major modules: one that focuses on fiction, one that focuses on non-fiction, and one that merges the two. All courses are aligned with the PA Core Standards and integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Every unit contains a major multi-media project students create to show their understanding and progress. The core English courses are attached above.

In addition to a course for each grade, I also led the creation and writing of our AP Language and Composition course, a humanities seminar, and a course the department wrote to guide students through the college essay writing process. All of these courses are attached above as well.

As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I am in an opportunity to establish partnerships and collaboration opportunities for students with other educators from around the globe, enriching our academic program. Last summer I had the honor of attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute in Berlin. I connected with a fellow English teacher who shared a desire of mine to create a class on literature of the Holocaust. She and I wrote the course together and now our students are taking it in tandem, collaborating on projects as they progress through it. Our global collaboration course is also attached above.

More Of My Story

I created this portfolio to showcase and reflect the work I completed as part of the School Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania from 2014-2015.

Becoming a member of the Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2015 was a tremendous honor and has put me in a position to be a global educational leader. The videos I have created to gain acceptance and to attend the global institute show my passion to be a leader in creating innovative and meaningful learning opportunities.

This is a link to a presentation I gave on paperless literature circles at the Pennsylvania Technology Expo and Conference. In this presentation one of the ideas on which I focus is the importance of student choice in selecting media to show understanding.

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