Samuel Gompers Elementary joins the Mayor’s Office of Education Community Schools Cohort, opening up opportunities to deepen collaboration with Saint Joseph’s University
By Caitlin Fritz
As an alumna of Saint Joseph’s University, I was excited to hear that Samuel Gompers Elementary, the school adjacent to SJU’s campus, was selected to join the Mayor’s Office of Education cohort of Community Schools. During my first year at SJU, like many freshmen away from home for the first time in a new and unfamiliar city, I was trying to find my place amongst an array of student activities at which I could devote my time. My mother was a kindergarten teacher, so I had always volunteered in schools. When I asked Campus Ministry about volunteer opportunities, it made sense to ask about the school that was in the shadow of my dorm, Samuel Gompers Elementary. From the spring of my freshmen year on, I volunteered at Gompers, both during the school day and in after-school programs, eventually coordinating other student volunteers. This experience had a profound impact on me, transforming how I viewed the relationships between SJU and the surrounding neighborhood. I would eventually return four years later to teach a service learning course at SJU, where students bring hands-on science lessons for the 4th graders at Gompers through SJU’s Biology Department.
Naturally, when it was announced Gompers would be joining the new cohort of Community Schools with the Mayor’s Office of Education, I was overjoyed. This opens up opportunities for improved coordination of services and partnerships to better align with school priorities. There are so many activities at Gompers in which SJU is involved, including the science education service learning course that I used to teach.
I recently spoke with Aimee LaPointe Terosky, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Education at SJU. She was recently tasked with serving as a liaison between SJU and Gompers, helping to get a handle on everything SJU related happening at the school. She has been attending the School Advisory Council meetings and working with Rennie Parker, the Community School Coordinator at Gompers, to help with the needs assessment and data collection. Collectively they looking to figure out what are the needs of the school and how SJU can best help to address these needs. Reflecting on the work so far, Aimee noted, “The partner meetings are a highlight for me. It has been great to see the cross-connections between all the community partners.”
I am excited to see how the relationship between Gompers and SJU will continue to grow. In addition, Aimee will also be one of our panel speakers for our next PHENND K-16 Event, January 24th, on Strengthening Partnerships between Universities and Communities. As part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Symposium on Social Change, leaders from colleges and universities across Philadelphia will engage in an open dialogue on what is currently being done, and what more can be done to strengthen mutually beneficial partnerships that improve the quality of life and learning in local schools. This event is sponsored by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, the African-American Resource Center, and PHENND (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development).
Registration can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/strengthening-partnerships-between-universities-and-communities-tickets-41311186872
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