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September 2, 2014, 8:00 am

Blaine Academics Plus makes a difference

As you step inside the hallways of Blaine Academics Plus, and take a look around the classrooms, art room, computer lab, and math classes, you’ll begin to notice a common pattern — hard working students, and a dedicated community of faculty, staff, administration, and parent volunteers, all striving for excellence.

“Our goal at Blaine has always been to give the students the best educational experience that they can receive,” said principal Gianeen Powell. “Our teachers here do a great job of working together to change children’s lives. We have teachers here that not only go above and beyond academically, but also personally. They motivate them to do more than what there are expected and they inspire the students to become anything they want to be. At Blaine, we push and motivate each other. It’s a collaborative effort among everyone, and I truly believe that’s why the school has been so successful.”

Blaine is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school with several special needs classes and a headstart (Pre-K program). The school’s mission is to establish a serious academic tone, increase standardized test scores, improve daily instruction and create organizational excellence and enrich student’s lives. The school has an enrollment of 279 students.

“I’ve been at Blaine since Pre-K and I can honestly say that the school has helped me become a better person,” said sixth grader Jaquil Gordon. “The work here challenges you and the teachers here really care. The students push each other to get better.”

Sixth grade students at Blaine not only learn math, science, and social studies in Jamal Dennis’s classroom, but they also learn life lessons.

“I just try to be there for my students both academically and personally,” Dennis said. “I really care about my students in aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to their future. They know that I demand respect from them and I will give them that same respect back.

“With the lessons that I teach, I try not to just teach them, but I want them to apply what they learned in the classroom in their life. I want them to use what they learned to solve problems and make good decisions. I always tell them success comes with practice and hard work. If they do the work and challenge themselves; they will have success.”

For sixth-grader Shamika Fox, going to Blaine has not only help her grow as a person, but it also helped her realize her passion.

“Going to Blaine made me realized I love to write; its my passion,” Fox said. “I like to write adventurous stories because I create my own world in it. I just want to continue to learn as much as I can and build on what I already know. I want to succeed and going here is helping me to do that.”

Blaine is apart of the Philadelphia Campaign for Healthier Schools. The program’s goal is to decrease the unhealthy foods in the school, promote healthier food choices, and to increase physical activity and exercise.

“We just don’t want our students to perform well academically, but we also want them to eat right and exercise,” Powell said. “It was a little bit of an adjustment for the students as first, but now its something that the students are use to. That particular program is a good addition to the school.”

In addition to its core curriculum, students at Blaine have also received an educational experience outside of the school setting. Blaine has taken students on educational trips to the Zoo, Art Museum, Franklin Institute, the Free Library, the historic home of John Coltrane and other academic and cultural institutions.

“When it comes to teaching art, I like to teach them art terms and art history,” said art teacher Chris Chariw. “I’m able to do a lot of different things through the program. I want the students to get a real hands-on experience in art. I want my students to be creative and reach their full potential artistically. The students love the class and are interested in it. I just want them to get to best overall experience in art and I’m able to do that through this program.”

For fourth-grader Trinity Coker, going to Blaine is overall learning experience.

“I’ve been only going to the school for two years, but I really like here,” Coker said. “I’ve learned so much and everyone here is really nice. The teachers are willing to help if you need it. This year my favorite subject is math. I like doing division and multiplication. I really like this school and I’m happy I came here.”

Fourth grade teacher Karla Verschot has been at Blaine for the five years. She said what makes the school so unique is the staff approach to teaching.

“Blaine has high expectations for academic excellence,” Verschot said. “This is the ultimate school setting. We are doing everything to provide the kids here the best education. We want to help them learn, but also help them grow as a person. We want to help prepare them for their future, but also the real world.”