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Frankford’s Allen M. Stearne Elementary Receives Picasso Project Grant

The Picasso Project, a Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) mini-grant program that brings arts education to schools that have very limited arts instruction, proudly awarded more than $60,000 in grants to 14 Philadelphia schools.

Stearne elementary

Pictured are Dick Fernandez, Kathy O’Connell, Rob Connaire, Sonya Smith, Javen Murray, Ryan Smith, Darlene Vaughn, and Councilman David Oh at the Picasso Project grant presentation to Stearne Elementary School.

Schools receiving mini-grants ranging from $2,250 to $4,500 include: Bache-Martin Elementary, Bodine High School, William Cramp Elementary, Stephen Girard Elementary, Andrew Jackson Elementary, Fitler Academics Plus, Alexander McClure Elementary, Thomas Mifflin Elementary, George Nebinger Elementary, Samuel Powel Elementary, James Rhoads Elementary, Allen Stearne Elementary, Swenson Arts & Technology High School, and Vare-Washington Elementary.

“Sadly, because of a lack of funding, students don’t get nearly the exposure to arts projects they need to tap their potential,” said Gretchen Elise Walker, Director of Arts Education for the Picasso Project.  “Our grant helps, but we need better state education funding to solve this dilemma for the long term.”

A 2013 online survey from Picasso Project grant winners found overall school climate in 98% of schools improved.  Likewise, 77% said their Picasso Project grant had a positive or extremely positive impact on their school’s ability to gain additional arts resources.

The Picasso Project, founded by PCCY (Public Citizens for Children and Youth) in 2002, supports innovative arts projects through mini-grants at Philadelphia public schools and advocates for long-term increases in arts education for students.  Since its inception, the Picasso Project has provided a total of $462,000 to fund 121 arts projects benefitting over 30,000 students in Philadelphia schools. 

Photo credit – Anthony Hopkins-PCCY

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Stearne School to Gain 7th and 8th Grades

Reported on today, according to the School District school closing plan, Allen M. Stearne School, at 1655 Unity Street in Frankford, will become K-8 Elementary school.  It is presently k-6,  Students presently enrolled in grade 6 will remain at Stearne for grade 7.

Some schools would change grades, with a number of K-6 buildings becoming K-4 elementaries. In other cases, elementary schools that serve students up to fifth or sixth grade would become K-8 schools.

K-8 schools use space more efficiently, and parents told the district they prefer that model, Hite said.

“Our middle schools are one of our greatest challenges,” he said.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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Sixers to honor Frankford Hometown Hero

Sixers to honor Janice Gillyard as Hometown Hero: in the Spirit of Alex Scott this Friday

Philadelphia, Pa. – November 25, 2009 – The Philadelphia 76ers and Eastern University will present Janice Gillyard with the “Hometown gillyardHero: In the Spirit of Alex Scott” Award for her work making healthy and affordable foods available to struggling families by founding the Faithfully Fresh Community Produce Market. The market provides fresh fruits and vegetables to inner city Philadelphia neighborhoods with nothing being sold over $2.

“The ‘Sixers Hometown Hero: In the Spirit of Alex Scott’ program serves to recognize people within our community who make a positive impact,” said Senior Vice President of Business Operations Lara Price. “By honoring the Hometown Hero recipient’s efforts in front of our fans, we hope to inspire others to make a difference within their communities as well.”

Operated out of Allen M. Stearne Elementary School in Frankford, Gillyard has enlisted the 6th grade classes at the school to help run the market. Through their work, the students have learned values including entrepreneurship, volunteerism, and community involvement.

Through Gillyard’s efforts, she has not only provided an essential community service, but has also taught her students the importance of healthy living and volunteer work.

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Career Day at Stearne School


I was invited to the Stearne Elementary school (map)for career day.  I had been over there for the story on the Faithfully Fresh produce market a few weeks ago.  My first thought was do I really want to do this.  But then I thought it would be an interesting experience for me and maybe for the kids.

So Friday morning found me at Stearne for a continental breakfast before starting out on my list  9 classrooms to visit.  There were 15 other volunteers for this special event with a wide range of occupations among them: insurance agent, computer analyst, tax analyst, director of IT, correctional officer, account executive, college professor, business owner, dentist, pharmacology, museum guide, veterinarian technician, police officer and immigration services officer.

I have been in a few elementary schools over the years and Stearne was quite similar to the rest.  The kids were aware that there were “guests” in school and were obviously looking out for us.  I took my class assignment sheet and started to trek around the halls.  Fortunately I did not have far to go.

  • First class was room 103 where Mrs. Wrigley held forth with a group of kindergartners.  I was happy to make this my first stop although I had no idea what I was going to say about blogging to 5 years olds.  I chit chatted a bit and then asked everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up.  They were a nice group and most talked the helper occupations like policeman, doctor etc.
  • Next I went to see Ms. Kaufman in first grade in room 200.  Feeling a little bit braver I found out what they wanted to be and said that I was a story teller and would be writing about them on the Frankford Gazette.  They knew about the internet and liked playing games.
  • Here I had a 15 minute break so went down to the library for a drink of water and started up the laptop.  I thought I would show the older kids what the web site looks like.
  • Went room 100 to see Mr. Reid in kindergarten.  Another very nice group of kids who did ask some questions.  They gave me their full attention anyway.
  • Then I went up to the second floor to see Mrs. Blum in second grade.  After asking what various kids wanted to do when they grow up I found my first young writer.  Mrs. Blum said the little girl has had some of her compositions read at assembly.  She certainly paid close attention to me and asked good questions.  I hope I gave some good answers.
  • Went over to room 205 to see Mrs. Douglas in second grade.  Along with asking about them and telling my story showed them the web site.  Every kid in the world must be on the internet by now.
  • In room 209 was another second grade with Mrs. Filut.
  • I found Mr. Bamba in room 104 with some students.  A very nice group who will be looking for my report on Tuesday.
  • I went to room 201 to see Ms. Bruestle in another first grade.  Went through some more of what do you want to do when you grow up and told my story about being a story teller.
  • Took another 15 minute break in the library where I started to write this report.
  • Then went up to the third floor to see the sixth grade with Ms. Diana Taylor.  I had met this group before and recognized them.  I passed out  some pencils and a word game that Pat Smiley had made up for them and then went into my story.  They knew it all but were good with questions and paid attention while they tried to solve the puzzle.  I left a treat for them with Ms. Taylor and I headed back down to the library for a final review.

We filled out an evaluation and Mrs. Vaughn the principal talked to our group.  There was some education talk that went right over my head.  Then we got a small gift and a certificate of appreciation for participating.  I have to admit I was plumb tuckered out after that morning.

My thanks to the staff who help me during the day and of course the teachers for their patience. Thanks to Terry Wech for turning me on to an interesting story.  I’ll be posting something this week about that.

I have purposely left out the names of the kids to protect their privacy.  It was not because I did not remember them.  I’ll be looking forward to hearing from that young writer some day.

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Faithfully Fresh Community Produce Market

Some folks, myself included, did knot know we had a community produce market in Frankford.  All the best neighborhoods have one.  It takes a group of dedicated volunteers to run something like that and I found those volunteers last Friday at the Allen M. Stearne Elementary School on Unity Street.  I was tipped off by Tracy O’Drain at the Frankford CDC and decided I had to have a look.


Mrs. Taylor, Janice Gillyard, Mrs. Williams and the student volunteers

I was checking in at the school office where I met John Loftus of the Northeast Times.  Be sure to read his story this week.  He is a much better writer than I will ever be and has a professional photographer following him around too.  After I was cleared, I met Minister Janice Gillyard, Administrator of the Word of Faith Christian Center.

The event of the day was to see two sixth grade classes honored in a special assembly for the work that they have done working with the Faithfully Fresh Community Produce Market. The project was started in September of 2008 with this group of 27 students bagging produce, setting up displays and providing customer service for the market. The customers are their fellow students and teachers and some neighbors who take advantage of the mission of Faithfully Fresh which is to make healthy eating affordable for all.

The complete line of fruits and vegetables are sold for under $2.00. The hours are from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM on Fridays.  Individual pieces of fruit are sold to kindergarten through sixth grade students at prices ranging from a dime to fifty cents. With all of the talk about childhood obesity, this may help.  At least  the young students have an opportunity to make healthier decisions about the foods that they eat.


Volunteers setting up the market

I was impressed with these kids.  I’ve been in a few very good elementary schools over the last few years and this group was as well behaved as the best that I have seen.  Kudos to their teachers and Mrs Vaughn the principal for a great job.

The Faithfully Fresh Community Produce Market Operates under the auspices of A Work of Faith Community Development Corporation, a faith-based private, nonprofit corporation also known as Work of Faith. It was established in 2002 with a mission to improve the quality of life for families in the Delaware Valley by providing access to social and educational services through collaboration with neighborhood schools and community and city agencies.

The market also operates at the Word of Faith Christian Center, 4355 Paul St. on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and in front of Womrath Park on Friday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

If you would like more information about this story you may contact: Minister Janice Gillyard, Administrator, Word of Faith Christian Center, 4355 Paul St. at 215-288-9690.