School Spotlight: William D. Kelley STEM Academy

Kelley STEM Academy, led by principal Amelia Brown, is a District neighborhood school located in North Philadelphia. Historically, roughly 35% of students at Kelley score proficient on the PSSAs. With the support of the Philadelphia School Partnership, the 2014-2015 school year marks Kelley’s first year of implementing transformation with an emphasis on student growth, professional development, and community involvement.

At the heart of Kelley’s mission are its core values: Caring, Competitive, and Capable. The school implements a caring environment so students can recognize that they are capable of reaching their individual potential as scholars, and that they can be ready to compete in high school, college and beyond.

The school is embracing its identity as a STEM school by utilizing extended enrichment time to implement 21st century learning with online programs such as Scratch and increasing rigorous daily instruction in science and math. Students have opportunities to participate in Science Olympiad and to explore learning with the Philadelphia Water Works and NASA.

Success begins with the adults who model and define the school culture. The shift to a greater professional culture of learning began this summer with teachers reporting two weeks early for professional development focused on high-level instruction and rituals and routines.

In addition, teachers participate in professional development every Wednesday to better target instruction and regularly get feedback on their lessons. The mantra of “finding the third way” through increased learning time and data-driven instruction has become essential to meeting the school’s mission.

As Kelley STEM looks ahead to year two of transformation, it will continue to build on the momentum of this year. The school recognizes that it takes a village to transform student achievement.

All stakeholders – parents, students, staff and community partners – have taken ownership. Kelley has over 35 community partners, and parent support is stronger than ever. Parents volunteer to support the school’s FAST program, attend weekly Tuesday workshops on parenting support and learning, and have been integral in fundraising for a middle school trip to visit Howard and Cheyney University.

The Kelley School is moving toward greatness!

Contribution: Amelia Brown, Principal; Chris Davies, Director of Operations