Wednesday, May 15, 2013

J.S. Jenks Elementary School: Top 5 Things That I Appreciate

My family’s time in Philly is drawing to an end.  We are sadly leaving our school community and heading to California. As a final post I want to share my top 5 things that I appreciate about J.S. Jenks Elementary School.

I will miss the school community but not the yearly School District drama and budget woes.  I hope Philly will realize the importance of public education and fund the schools and communities without the politics that seem to play out each spring.

1.      The Teachers

During our 5 years at J.S. Jenks, my children have benefited from excellent teachers.  They have nurtured, challenged and mentored my children, providing them a first-rate academic environment.

Thank You All…….

Kindergarten: Ms. Tish
1st Grade: Ms. Smith, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Glanzmann
2nd Grade: Ms. Mucerino
3rd Grade: Ms. Amir, Ms. Williams
4th Grade: Ms. Walsh, Mr. Burgwald

2.      Administration and Programming

The staff, administration, teachers and Ms. Lynskey (Principal) have not allowed the draconian yearly cuts stop them from moving forward with new ideas and programs.  The specials have remained intact; Computers, Flex (Language Program), Music and Physical Education (Art was lost last year but Mr. Green, parent volunteer and retired Art teacher keeps the program running)
In addition the JAM (Jenks Art and Music Program) continues to grow. Music Jam has performed many times this year and they have been to the World Café Live three times to experience the music of different trios.

3.      Music and Arts

Thanks to Mr. Wesner for providing an exceptional experience for my daughter on both the violin and cello.  The exposure to music at J.S. Jenks is unparalleled.  The kids can audition for strings or band in 2nd grade.  My 4th grader started with violin and is now playing cello.  As a result of her strings experience at Jenks she had the opportunity to play with the Strings Project at Temple University (part of the Community Music Partnership)
Thank you Melissa Douglas and Ms. Parente for a great year.

4.      Parents and Community

The parents, guardians and community have proved to be tireless advocates for public education in Philly.  In addition to an active Home and School Association, parents and supporters have expanded funding for the school.  The Friends of J.S. Jenks held its inaugural fundraising event last year raising over $8000 and on June 1st it will host “Oh, The Places We’ll Go”  

The Jenks Beautification Committee has been growing each year and is transforming the front garden of the school, thanks to parents Adam Eyring and Angela Stewart

There has also been a long history of welcoming and introducing families to the school.  Current parents host "Kindergarten Teas" which are informal gatherings where families can learn about the school.  Join the Potential Parents list

The entire Northwest Philly region works together to support public education. The Mount Airy/ Chestnut Hill Teacher’s Fund provides small grants for teachers (my daughter’s class received an apple TV system). This fund was founded and is organized by the Trolley Car Diner.

5.      The Rhythm of the School Year

Even with the constant struggle for funding and resources for public education in Philadelphia, our school has many traditions that carry us through the year.


Back to School Night: A positive night full of potential and possibilities.

Harvest Ball: A festive night filled with happy kids, families, friends and teachers.

Thanksgiving Feast: A complete feast for the kids put on by parents and the Home and School.

Winter Concert: A night filled with music and song, the majority of the students are involved with choir, strings or band.

Winter Break: A welcome break for students and teachers!


Book Fair and Report Card Conferences: Nice to catch up with teachers and buy a few books to support the school and our kids. 

Musical: This year was the "Sound of Music". In preparation the entire school learns the songs during their music classes.  The ENTIRE school could break out into song which I think is very cool. (Thank you Mr. Leland and Mr. Kell)

Spring Concert: A night of music and song by even BETTER musicians.  (Thanks to all the music and instrumental teachers)

Color Day: The kids are excited when they hear the color (Blue or Gold) that their class will wear this year. A day filled with lots of activity and fun. Thanks Coach Whitney.

Last Day of School: Report cards and room assignments for the next year….always exciting.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

J.S. Jenks spreads the Holiday Spirit in Ocean City

Thanks to Ms. Goldsmith and Mr. Leland for organizing a great trip to Ocean City Intermediate School.

Here is the scene in front of the school before leaving. Apparently it was quite a feat to pack both toys and kids.

Here are some links to stories both locally and in NJ.

Another WOW Jenks event!!!

Red, White & Blue Day

All Philly schools are NOT failing. All charters are NOT successful. The only "good" Philly  schools are NOT the magnets (Masterman etc).

J.S. Jenks is a neighborhood school with the majority of kids from the NorthWest section of Philadelphia. In spite of the drama and ineffectual leadership at 440 over the years, in spite of the reduced funding, in spite of all of these factors WE SUCCEED.

The Red White and Blue day performance by the 1st graders was an amazing performance. How Mr. Kell gets these kids to learn the songs and movements is a mystery.  At one point he conducted them to a silence point in the song .....and they were silent. I cannot get my two kids to be silent at the same time at home!


I constantly have WOW moments regarding Jenks.

1. WOW- all teachers (some with and some without power) were at school the day after Sandy.

2. WOW- a trip has been organized to take some of our JAM students to Ocean City to collaborate musically and bring toys for the kids.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Run for the Arts: 5k Tomorrow at 8:15 AM

 Join a dedicated community group raising money to support a local public neighborhood school!

Jogging for Jenks is the first annual fun run and walk organized by the Friends of J.S. Jenks, an independent fundraising organization of parents, teachers, administrators and community members dedicated to supporting programmatic and infrastructure development at the John Story Jenks Elementary School in Chestnut Hill. Our major fundraising goal this year is to support arts and music programming at the school.

The 5k Fun Run and 1K Walk will be held on Saturday, November 3, starting at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on St. Martins Lane at Willow Grove Avenue. Registration for the run will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a start time of 8:15 a.m. Walk registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a start time of 9 a.m. The start/finish area will feature a kids’ zone, vendor tables and refreshments.

Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St. Martins Lane
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

$25 for registration adults/ $5 children
Suggested sponsorship of $100 (free registration with sponsorship of over $200)
All registrations include a T-shirt (while supplies last)
Leashed pets and baby joggers allowed. Please use caution.

Download Registration Form and send in your payment by check.
Online Registration using your credit card.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The New School Year

The start of the school year is exciting with all the possibilities even under the cloud of the constant negative press regarding the Philadelphia School District, the SRC, the funding from the state etc. 
One opportunity that my 4th grader has gotten directly as a result of her attending J.S. Jenks is to attend the Philadelphia String Project at Temple University.  The mission of the String Project, which is nation-wide program, is to train future string teachers (there is a nation-wide shortage of string teachers) and to nurture future string musicians.  Alex had a unique opportunity to try out for the orchestra at Jenks in the 2nd grade which has opened up this world to her (thank you Jenks!)(a special thanks to Mr. Wesner, her strings instructor at Jenks).  The classes for String Project are twice a week with 100 kids (yes much coordination goes on but it works well). They are grouped by year, 1st, 2nd and 3rd and practice within their year groupings.  They also come together as a group to watch a performance of their lead teacher Ms. Parente (her enthusiasm is off the charts) and the interns (the Temple students) so that the kids can learn to be good audiences as well as musicians. So far the experience seems to be positive for all involved! Also I want to mention that this program along with the Community Music Scholars Program is coordinated by Melissa Douglas

Information about the Strings Project:

Article about the Philly Strings Project:

Addendum: I am in no way a tiger mom. My thoughts are that they (kids) should want to do things because of interest, drive or enjoyment not from me pushing them. I try to not over schedule my kids and have failed miserably but the kids enjoy all that they do, we (the parents of our household) are the miserable ones dealing with a crazy schedule.  Specifically in regards to the String Project, the 2 days a week seems like a lot for the kids but so far they are engaged and the 2 hours goes so quickly and seems to be fun for them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An article to read

My intentions with this blog was to relay all the positive activities and progress at my neighborhood school John Story Jenks Elementary School in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.  I now have 2 kids in the school and we have been there 5 years. The experience has been positive, although no situation is perfect the energy and enthusiasm of the faculty, staff, students, administration and parents during these times of education reform has been very..................... educational. 

I have been following on twitter local reporters on education (Kristen Graham, Inquirer), local parent groups (Helen Gym, Parents United) and national leaders (Diane Ravitch). At times the conversation depresses me, it has become polarized, many times being simplified into a problem that could be solved with one simple solution since it has one simple cause: unions, bad teachers, underfunding depending on your "side" of the issue.

So I enjoyed reading an article in Mother Jones by Kristina Rizga  

Education of our children, ALL our children, is complex and changes constantly as new ideas are tried and theories evolve. But we all seem to want evidence that our school is "the best" and test scores seem to be the variable "du joir" at this point. But I find in many other arenas in life many people don't value "the evidence" so as always we are human and very nuanced and not very consistent and it would do us all well to read the article and sit back and think. Then go support your local school!

Kristen Graham


Education reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner covering Philadelphia schools for the Inquirer & Obsessed w/the Phillies. Tips?

Helen Gym


Parents United is an independent all-volunteer collective of public schools parents making sure the District's budget puts kids and classrooms FIRST.

Diane Ravitch


I write about education. I blog at Bridging Differences at Education Week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Target supports Schools

Support J.S. Jenks via Target on Facebook.  If you haven't voted yet, time is running out. 

Please go to Facebook and search "Give With Target." 

You'll have to enter Jenks for the school and 19118 for our zip code.  We only have 200 votes.  For every 25 votes we get a $25 gift card!  Target will continue to donate to schools up to $2.5 million.  They are already donating $2.4. 

You can vote once a week.