With the first day of school, September 7th, just a couple of weeks away, the Philadelphia school district is working hard to get ready. While parents are poring over school supply lists and letting their kids pick out backpacks, the district is welcoming back teachers to classrooms. They are also welcoming over 500 new teachers to the district. A new school year always marks a fresh start, but this year will mark the beginning of a new chapter for those teachers as well as the students that they teach.
Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite told ABC6 that he was enthusiastic about the beginning of this school year. “For the first time in about four years, or since I’ve been superintendent, we’re opening in a more stable way, in a more stable environment,” he said. Part of that to which Dr. Hite is referring is the renaissance of music, sports, and arts programs within the schools. These programs have faced challenges throughout the years, with some authority figures deeming them unessential. Now, however, the positive impact that the arts have on growing brains is established, and it’s understood that we need these programs. Also, with regards to sports, we know that kids who are engaged in extracurricular activities are more likely to stay in school and achieve higher than their peers who don’t participate.
Despite all the positivity flowing from district higher-ups and teachers alike, there are still some down spots to the whole picture. First of all, the the district and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers still have not agreed on a new contract, even after a three-year negotiation period. Secondly, the district faces budgetary problems.
Teachers aren’t letting these issues get in the way of their excitement for a new school year, however. “I am truly excited about it. A new adventure for me,” said Colleen Wyche, Mt. Airy, fourth-grade teacher at Gilbert Spruance Elementary School. Her attitude is reflected by many teachers, all of whom will soon face classrooms buzzing with students.