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Incarcerated Men Fund Backpack Drive for Frankford Kids – Generocity Philly

Members of SCI Smithfield’s Men of Action group, who earn about 19 cents per hour, partnered with Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice to orchestrate the drive benefitting students at Allen M. Stearne Elementary School.

On Friday, Aug. 24, students at Stearne received backpacks filled with notebooks, crayons and other school supplies in time for the new school year. Men of Action’s members, many of whom are serving life sentences, each donated at least $28 to purchase the supplies.

Philadelphia FIGHT staffers pack backpacks for Stearne Elementary students. Photo credit – Generocity

Forty-year-old Tyree Wallace, the founder of Men of Action, is serving a life sentence in Smithfield. His inspiration for Men of Action came from a desire to do something charitable, but wanting the impact to be larger than what he could accomplish alone.

Read the rest of the story By Laura Smythe from Generocity at this link.

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Stearne Elementary School Gets Major Improvements

The School District spent the Summer making major improvement at Stearne Elementary School this year.

The majority of the Allen M. Stearne School in Frankford, built in 1966, looks every bit it’s age. But step into one of the school’s kindergarten, first, or second-grade classrooms and you’ll feel transported to the 21st century.

There’s new smart panel boards, motion-sensitive lights, tabletops that double as whiteboards, and a gaggle of learning toys too numerous to list here.

“I thought maybe a new bookshelf, new rugs,” said kindergarten teacher Kelly Kaczmarek, recipient of a refurbished room. “But all this? [I had] no idea.”

Stearne was one of eight Philly schools to receive a facelift this summer, but not because they were in dire need of repairs. Or at least not on the surface.

Stearne and the seven other schools all posted low reading scores, and the fixes are designed specifically to address that problem.

Read more about it from Newsworks at this link.

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Stearne Elementary School Held Back by Hold Harmless

Education funding in Philadelphia is arguably the most hotly debated topic in the city. For local Frankford schools, it has been a crippling issue.  Find out why rising enrollment at Stearne has turned out not so good for the finances.  Read about it at the link below.

Source: Frankford: Hold Harmless Policy is Holding Back Education Funding for Frankford Schools | Philadelphia Neighborhoods

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Building Bridges For Learning!


A Virginia Beach school reaches out to Frankford

Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel lies Virginia Beach, VA. I have a friend who is a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she is a Digital Learning Resource teacher at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in VA Beach. My friend knows that I will take items people are giving away and find them a good home. One of the fourth grade teachers knew that I had taken materials before and asked me if I would like a classroom set of Reading textbooks as they were updating their books. I said, “Sure”. She decided it would be a good time to clean out her closet as well. Soon, the Assistant Principal learned about this and offered all of the old Reading textbooks, manuals, testing materials and supplementary materials from Kindergarten through Grade 4 – over 400 books. Hmm, what to do? Who would want them?

My husband, Bob, you also know him as the Editor of the Frankford Gazette, told me about Nashid Edwards, the co-founder of Concerned Citizens for a Better Frankford. Nashid and his organization have partnered with Stearne School, to help and support them teaching our neighborhood children. I contacted Nashid to see if he would be interested, he contacted the Principal of Stearne and “Yes” was the answer. These books, posters, big books, flashcards, testing materials, etc., could be used as supplementary materials in school and home.

The next step was figuring out how to bring these materials here. Bob and I would drive our RV down to Virginia Beach, load up the RV and bring them home – to Nashid and Stearne. Little did we know, that St. Gregory staff had heard about our coming for these materials and they decided to “pay it forward” by donating more surplus they no longer needed or used that might help other students. By the time Bob and I arrived in Virginia Beach, I think this picture tell the story. Make sure you look down the hallway on the right. There were even boxes behind those yellow doors.

Size of donation

Bob and I could only bring one-half of all of these materials back in our RV. There were 2 tons by the time these generous souls had gathered and boxed up everything. The joy each felt that these materials would be used and would continue to encourage students’ learning was something to see and something never to forget. We packed up our RV and headed home. (At some point we must return to bring up the rest of the “goodies”.)

When we returned, Nashid and his organization were ready to unload, sort and put everything to good use. But every good story has a “back story”. On the way down to Virginia

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

Beach, Bob slipped and fell on some oil at a gas station and injured his neck damaging some nerves that affect his eating, drinking and speech. As I write this story, he’s in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for diagnosis and treatment. We are confident of a full recovery and are grateful for all the prayers and support of family and friends.

Wayne Sledge, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

Richard Cook, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

As Bob didn’t feel well, Pete Specos, was kind enough to drive the RV (I could drive through the Bay Bridge Tunnel but I wasn’t confident of some of our very narrow Frankford streets) down to Stearne to make the final delivery.

When St. Joachim RC Church closed last summer, many of the parishioners stayed together because of our sense of community. We organized and titled a new nonprofit organization, Keep the Faith in Frankford. This was not just about our church but about ourselves and believing that we can mkae a difference right where we are. We believe that and Concerned Citizens for A Better Frankford believe that, too. I titled this story to show that from start to finish, this was an effort and collaboration between organizations and people who did not know each other but who are in the business of building strong minds. This can only happen if we work together for the good of all of our children.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel photo: