New Public School to Open with Support of $1.8 Million Grant from PSP

The School District of Philadelphia, Drexel University and Inquiry Schools announced that Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLA-MS) will open to fifth grade students this fall in a temporary location at Drexel’s Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

“The new Science Leadership Academy Middle School is part of an overall strategy to create more innovative schools in The School District of Philadelphia,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent. “This school scales Philadelphia’s successful Science Leadership Academy model into the middle grades. We are excited to form a deep partnership with Drexel University around this academic model.”

SLA-MS, led by Timothy Boyle, will open with 90 students and ultimately serve 360 students in fifth through eighth grades. It will serve primarily as the neighborhood catchment school for Samuel Powel Elementary, currently a kindergarten through fourth grade school. Powel will add prekindergarten and an extra classroom for each grade.

“We’re excited to bring the quality of a magnet school education to a neighborhood school setting,” saidBoyle. “The new school will marry the successful educational approach of Powel Elementary with the innovative model used by Science Leadership Academy. Our plan is to develop a school that’s specifically created to serve the needs of the future SLA-MS students.”

For at least two years, the school will rent a portion of the Dornsife Center, located at 3509 Spring Garden St. Both SLA-MS and Powel intend to eventually operate in a building located on the Drexel-owned parcels of the former University City High School site.

“We’re delighted to host SLA-MS at the Dornsife Center in the coming years,” said Lucy Kerman, Vice Provost for University and Community Partnerships at Drexel. “It is a perfect fit: we can provide beautiful space during the school day and explore community school programming after hours with expanded Dornsife Center offerings.”

Planning this school has been an ongoing community process for about three years, with a steering committee, working groups and many public meetings. Inquiry Schools, which helped to start Science Leadership Academy and Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber, will help launch the middle school. In addition, SLA-MS will have the full support of Drexel’s School of Education whose faculty will work alongside teachers and administrators to support a curriculum that incorporates technology and effective learning practices.

Startup and planning costs to open the new school will be supported by $1.8 million grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP). The grant from PSP is supporting the leadership team in planning and opening SLA-MS and the expansion of Powel to serve 150 more students. This investment builds upon an incubation grant awarded in 2012 to support planning for the addition of a new middle school for Powel Elementary.

“SLA and Powel are among the highest-performing schools in Philadelphia, and SLA-MS is building upon the success of both schools,” said Jessica Pena, Director of PSP’s Great Schools Fund. “We are thrilled to help give 500 more students the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.”