Budget cuts may have decreased some programming initiatives and the number of students at Penn Treaty Middle School, but education continues to be the school’s focus.
Through various grants, classes are equipped with Promethean boards and laptop carts.
“Students get interactive lessons,” Principal Sam Howell said.
As classes are infused with technology, every student receives keyboard and guitar lessons in Bethany Cann’s music class.
“I think the best thing is when they’re all excited and doing it. Whatever it is — guitar, xylophone, keyboards — when they’re all excited and they all want to learn it,” Cann said.
For the first time, one class has an opportunity to get acquainted with the functions and sounds of the keyboard. Khadijah Robinson and Naseera Williams share a keyboard. As the girls giggle while learning the notes for the song “Every Breath You Take,” Robinson admits she has tried to play the violin and xylophone, but her interests are in other areas.
“I’m in the modeling class and I just like to cook,” she said.
In the special education class, Krishanna Jenkins, Miracle Morrison and Carmen Rosales discuss the various subjects that interest them. All views were different, but each student said she enjoyed learning.
“I love art and reading,” Rosales said. “I like art because you get to be creative. I get to express different ideas.”
During an eighth-grade math class, students learned to read food labels and understand serving sizes. Each month in Brooke Hoffman’s class, students are engaged in the “Read About Math” project. Through these assignments, students make connections between math and daily life. As David Dickerson calculates how many servings are in a box of Trix cereal, Hoffman walks around the classroom offering help to students.
A 2010 student survey conducted by the School District of Philadelphia found that 78 percent of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students agreed that there was at “least one teacher or adult who does extra to support them.”
Eighth-grader Kiara Camacho is active in both art and music. As a singer, drummer and guitarist, Camacho said she always had a passion for the guitar when watching her uncle play. She also said the teachers at Penn Treaty are always willing to help her develop skills in her areas of interest.
“Teachers are nice, they know how to explain things. If we need individual help we’ll stay after school. I like it,” Camacho said.
Eighth-grader Rahsaan Scovers said he enjoys reading and likes Penn Treaty because the teachers are preparing him for the high school he wants to attend next year.
“They don’t discriminate against other people. They take you in,” Scovers said.
In relation to the survey, more than half of the students reported being “academically engaged in their coursework.”
Meleah White, eighth-grader, says the coursework at Penn Treaty is preparing her academically for a high school curriculum.
“They talk to you a lot about it. They prepare you for it because in class they give us ninth-grade homework,” Meleah White said.
“We have such an awesome mix of kids, ethnically, culturally, religiously,” Howell said.
In his seventh year, Howell said his most memorable experience was when Penn Treaty made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2010.
“I love being here,” he said.
Other than being the school’s principal, Howell takes on many other responsibilities. When students or parents need to talk to him about various issues, he is available to offer assistance.
“When I’m in my chair, I’m a principal. At the table, I’m a counselor,” he said.