Cast Your Vote for Nebinger’s Leslie Grace for Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Teacher Award

Philadelphia magazine called for nominations for outstanding teachers in the Greater Philadelphia area that go above and beyond their job descriptions. With the overwhelming amount of submissions received, the editors have narrowed them down to the Top 5 and Nebinger’s very own Leslie Grace has made the list!

Ms. Grace has been teaching for 13 years, and in that time she has had the opportunity to collaborate, learn from, and benefit from her dedication to her students and commitment to art education in the city of Philadelphia. Ms. Grace has built an entire art department at her current school from the ground up and raised over $20,000 for her students and school.

Click here to cast your vote for Philadelphia magazine’s Best Teacher Award. The grand prize winner’s school will receive $5,000 and a book donation, courtesy of Subaru of America.

Nebinger Elementary Schoolyard Improvements

Dear Neighbors:

Six years ago a plan was presented to then principal Dr. Burnley to renovate Nebinger’s schoolyard.  We are excited to announce that the project has made it through the design phase and will be moving into construction this week.

In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land will begin construction to improve the Nebinger schoolyard. The Trust for Public Land will manage the construction project through to completion.  Here are some project details:

  • The Trust for Public Land anticipates that construction will begin the week of May 8th. Contractor working hours are weekdays from 7:00 to 3:30 unless otherwise approved. Upon site closure, access will be restricted to the construction company and its subcontractors, the Trust for Public Land and its consultants.
  • The timeline for active construction of the project is approximately 4-6 weeks however additional time is required for the legal transfer of the site back to the School District The site will remain closed to the Nebinger community until the property transfers.
  • Construction access to the project areas/schoolyard will be through the school’s parking lot gate. The Trust for Public Land anticipates little or no extended impact on street or lot parking or on traffic.
  • The project includes minor demolition of asphalt for the installation of playground equipment, site furnishings and playground safety surfacing. The contractor anticipates the use of a small skid steer for demolition and necessary installations.  TPL anticipates the demolition will be complete in less than one week.  There will be approximately 3 to 4 days when large trucks will deliver play equipment and concrete.
  • One of the goals of all Trust for Public Land projects is that the improved space be available to the public during the some period of non-school hours, such as evenings, weekends, and/or summer. The Trust for Public Land will be working with the school and the community group, Friends of Nebinger, to bring together a meeting of neighbors and community to discuss public access to the schoolyard.

In a short time, our neighborhood school will have a safe, healthy, and more fun place for the children, and our community will have a completed project that make our corner of the world more beautiful.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Gretchen Trefny, Program Manager at gretchen.trefny@tpl.org or Friends of Nebinger at nebingerfriends@gmail.com.

Fall Library Programs

In addition to the regular offerings, the Charles Santore Library has two new upcoming programs that may interest you.

Knitting and Crochet Circle
September 146:00-7:45 pm

This will be an informal gathering of people who want to chat while working on their latest yarn creation.  This program is scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month.

STEM Gems for girls 9-11

Run by Girls Inc. of Great Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, “STEM Gems” inspires girls to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers through hands on workshops.  This terrific program series meets two Saturdays per month from 10:00-2:00, beginning in October. Learn More.

Also, the library will be switching back to Monday through Saturday service soon.  Our first Saturday (10:00-am – 5:00 pm) will be September 17th.

After-School Program

Old Pine Community Center’s After School Program serves Kindergarten through 8th graders in surrounding public, private and charter schools. Children are provided with a daily snack and homework help as well as enrichment activities.

The After School Program provides in person pick up from area schools and care on half days, holidays and school closings at no extra charge.

For information or to register your child, contact Jeanne Johnson at 215-627-2493 or Jeanne@oldpine.org.

Summer at Courtyard Enrichment Program

A Successful Sophomore Summer

By Eleanor Ingersoll

There were still science experiments and trips to the splash-ground at Shot Tower Recreational Center, but for its second season, the Summer at Courtyard expanded to four days of programming that included therapeutic art instruction, golf lessons, and, most importantly, kids from all over Queen Village spending their summer together.

The sophomore effort for 2016 was an ambitious one, as programming partnerships with Southwark Queen Village Community Garden and GlaxoSmithKline were replaced with The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia and Therapeutic Art lessons from Professor Kathryn Snyder. Also, the 6-week free program, (Monday-Thursday, 8:30-2:30) would open its doors to all Queen Village kids.

The regular schedule was as follows: science experiments with Science Explorers on Monday mornings with Monday afternoons spent shooting baskets in the gym or running in the splash-ground at Shot Tower Rec Center. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, a bus took the group to FDR Park for golf instruction with the First Tee program, where the kids ate lunch and got to go to the playground before the bus ride home. (And let’s not forget the weekly water ice treats for these kids who doubted they could hit a golf ball, and turned out to be really good!) On Thursdays, Therapeutic Art instruction was lead by students of Professor Snyder, with afternoons returning to Shot Tower Rec Center.

The first four weeks were locked in and ready to go. It was a departure from last summer’s multiple trips around the city, but QVNA was doubling its programming from 2 to 4 days, and a good amount of the trips; to the Zoo, the Penn Museum, Bartram’s Garden, were excursions the kids had made in past summers or with their school. But swinging a golf club on a golf green? That was a first for almost all the kids.

The Democratic National Convention presented a challenge as it took over FDR Park for the last week in July. Then a golf tournament took instructors out of town for first week in August – our last week of camp. But thanks to QVNA Board member, Justin Fishman, the tempo for Summer at Courtyard would not miss a beat. Fishman, who was already key in organizing volunteers to help with afternoon sports drills at Shot Tower Rec, pulled some amazing strings in the professional sports world as well: securing group tickets behind Home Plate for a Phillies Game, and locking down a visit from Eagles Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews, who not only signed autographs, but tossed a football and shot hoops with the kids!

The athletic theme seemed to organically fill the First Tee vacancies as our summer program coordinator, Daniel Clark, brought in friends from the Philadelphia Fury professional soccer team to lead drills. Other kids participated in Double Dutch instruction with Coach Cassandra Lee of the Jumping Jems DD Team. There was also the fair amount of animal/reptile time; the Academy of Natural Sciences returned with a presentation “Amazing Adaptations” and there was a visit from Scott Prior’s “Snake Party.”

As we look forward in planning for the summer of 2017, what were the keys to success this summer? One would be the $3,000 sponsorship that Justin Fishman secured from Genesis Healthcare. But money can only help build on a foundation of partnerships. So it is our partnership with Director Jennifer Cox and Maintenance Engineer Frank Ward at Shot Tower that gave us an alternate location for activities. It’s our partnership with Professor and Art Psychotherapist, Kathryn Snyder, (who mentored art instructors Mariya Keselman and Kristyn Stickley), that bought Therapeutic Art to Thursday mornings. It’s the partnership with Coaches Phil Blonski and Rebecca Ciamano at The First Tee that introduced golf to our participants, and it’s the amazing crew that puts the hours into making the program run smoothly: Barry Perrin, Inez ‘Kandi’ Green, Tasha McNight, Charlotte Smith, Daniel Clark, and Yael Levin. Thanks to all these people, we had a surprise waiting list this year, and look forward to bringing more neighborhood kids together next summer!

Free Summer Programming for Youth in Queen Village

Beginning Monday June 27th, Queen Village Neighbors Association
in partnership with Courtyard Apartments will offer free summer programming for kids 5-11 years old, MondayThursday, 9:00-3:00 June 27 – August 4.
Programming includes:
– weekly science experiments with Science Explorers
– Golf Instruction 2x weekly with the First Tee
– weekly art instruction
– 2x weekly visits to Shot Tower Rec: water & gymnasium
– Trips to the Franklin Institute and the Phillies
– breakfast and lunch provided
– early drop off available, free of charge
Based out of Courtyard Community Room located at 4th and Washington Ave.
Please contact schoolsandyouth@qvna.org for more information.

One Team; One Planet: Living Diversity at Nebinger

By Ben Schindler

Somehow we blinked and Kindergarten is more than halfway over. Our son, Noah, has lots of new friends, great teachers who really understand him, a bunch of new skills (including some sweet dance moves), a variety of new interests (perhaps passions), and even some new words – in Spanish. He suddenly seems taller, more mature, and shockingly competent, while still being a 6-year old who loves to play sports and run around like a nut.

It is hard to believe that at this time last year, we were overwhelmed with stress over choosing a school, and investigating every possible option – from private, to charter, to public – and even (momentarily) considering leaving the neighborhood and city lifestyle we fell in love with when we moved to Queen Village 8 years ago. If only we had known then what we know now.

Last year , we learned the vital importance of going to visit our neighborhood schools to make an informed choice. Our Queen Village schools are bucking the conventional (and misinformed) wisdom regarding public education in Philadelphia and seeing this firsthand at Nebinger is simply amazing.

All of our Nebinger kids receive a wonderful education. Our teachers have the skills and passion to successfully differentiate lessons so that every single student is engaged, challenged, and growing. Our teachers guide art projects, music class, science projects, Odyssey of the Mind, reading challenges, choir, chess clubs, and many many more activities that provide opportunities to learn. Our kids run around in a green and beautifully painted school-yard (soon to be renovated to include additional play space, an outdoor classroom, and awesome play equipment), letting their imaginations and legs run wild.

Seeing the diversity of our school through the eyes of our son is remarkable. It reinforces for us that we, as adults, were not born with the prejudices that we often carry with us. Nebinger is diverse in every way imaginable: race, ethnicity, economics, language and more. So many of us did not grow up with the shared cultural experience that our children can have at a school like Nebinger. Rather, we have learned in our lives to be closed off, to be fearful or suspicious, and to isolate ourselves. Today, our son is having an incredibly rich experience that we could only have hoped for, and our daughter will too in a few years. From this he is changed, we are changed, and our community is changed. For the better.

While we are thrilled beyond our expectations, real challenges remain. The state’s destruction of the district’s budget over the past several years has forced our principal and teachers to become very creative in making sure our kids have the resources they need. The food (as with all Philadelphia public schools) is unappealing and unhealthy, and while we pack lunches, some cannot afford to do so.

There should be a full-time rather than a part-time nurse, as well as a librarian rather than volunteers. Some things that should be considered basics in every school – like Nebinger’s incredibly robust art, music and science programs – we feel fortunate to have due to our great leadership and engaged community group. But we know it’s not the case at every school. This is not utopia.

Rather, this is reality. And the reality for our family is that we made a fantastic decision. Our son’s days, between school and afterschool, are lived within four blocks of our house with kids from our community. This is balanced by the fact that Nebinger has opened the world to him, through education and his increased desire to learn, of course, but also through his shared experience with his classmates, and the cultures, languages, challenges, and successes of his and their lives. He finds joy in and learns from everyone he encounters at our school.

Nebinger and the school community we joined as a family make us love living in the city and Queen Village even more than we thought possible. The energy and joy we experience everyday from our principal, our teachers, our friends, our son’s friends, and our community groups make this vibrant neighborhood a better place to live. Our school reflects our neighborhood and our lives, and we feel more a part of our community than ever before. This is life in Philadelphia in 2016 and we love it!

Kindergarten registration is now open. Come see Nebinger and all that our wonderful neighborhood school has to offer. Meet Principal Brown and her extraordinary team. This jewel of a school may very well be right for you and your family!

Choosing Nebinger

By Ben Schindler

When my wife, Becky, and I moved onto the 900 Block of South 6th Street just over eight years ago, our neighbors greeted us with open arms, warm smiles, and a more-than-sufficient helping of homemade treats. We felt like we had moved into a true neighborhood with everyone adding to and caring for the block and the area. All making us feel at home.

Yet, as we moved in, we were certain that we would only be in our home for 6-8 years, depending on when we had a child and when that child would be 5 years old. We simply did not see any way that our catchment public school, Nebinger, could work for us. We, the beneficiaries of private school educations, from Kindergarten through college, could never send our precious-yet-theoretical offspring to a place that conventional wisdom told us was not good enough.

Eight years have passed, and we have two actual children, who are indeed quite precious (to us).

But then something amazing happened that changed our perception of Nebinger: We walked through the door! 

We are staying; in our house, in our neighborhood, in our catchment. Our children will be the beneficiaries of Nebinger educations, and will thrive in their own neighborhood, with nearby classmates and friends.

Across the city, a secret is on the verge of getting out. The secret is this: There are great neighborhood schools in the city beyond Meredith, McCall, Greenfield, and Penn-Alexander. Even better for those of us who make Queen Village (or Bella Vista) our home, is that Nebinger is one of them. The old conventional wisdom is crumbling because schools like Nebinger, with the support of the neighbors in southern portions of Queen Village and Bella Vista, thrive despite the funding drought.

From reading the news about the school district, state funding, and budget cuts, we know there are real challenges. We also know, from experience, that it is easy to stand outside of a neighborhood public school and imagine all of the things going wrong inside. The news about the school district is often negative and hard to see past. However, as many in Queen Village know, great things can happen at a neighborhood school when the community and families become engaged.

Nebinger has an extraordinary principal, talented and committed staff, and a rapidly growing community of engaged community members, school parents, and future school parents. Families like mine, who in prior years would have moved away or tried to cobble together the money for private school, now are choosing Nebinger.

Families are connecting with each other before their children reach kindergarten age.  Shot Tower Coffee and Royal Tavern hosted events for future Nebinger families over the past months. Based on turnout at these gatherings and the growing buzz around Nebinger, in a few years, parents will be lining up on the first day of kindergarten registration, worried about securing a place for their child.

Principal Brown, with the support of the Friends of Nebinger and the vibrant Home and School Association, has worked tirelessly to bring back programs that were cut due to the state budget. Nebinger students now benefit from art, music, theatre, physical education, after school programs, a stunning computer lab, and starting this fall, Spanish.

Conventional wisdom brings a tired refrain: how could you send your kid to a Philadelphia Public School? For years, the northern half of Queen Village has defied this conventional wisdom. I am thrilled to tell you the southern half of the Queen Village is bucking this conventional wisdom as well. With the right leadership, tremendous students, and an engaged community, Nebinger proves that one neighborhood can have two great schools.

But why believe me?

Walk through the door, go inside, meet Principal Brown and her staff, and see Nebinger for yourself.  You may find that Nebinger is right for you and your family.

This article was originally published in the September 2015 Back to School issue of QVNA’s Magazine.