Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Schools

I was on the Jenks' website and saw a link to the Great Schools website.

It is interesting. I encourage all Jenks' families to visit the site and submit reviews. 2008 was a good year for the school and the scores in Math seem to be consistently strong. Reviewing the scores did make me reflect on the variables that may affect the scores in any one year... teacher changes, administration and of course parents. I have control over my positive involvement in the school and I will continue to support and improve our school in any way I can.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

After School: What are the options in Chestnut Hill?

On days I am “parent pick-up” there is always lots of activity at the Jenks Playground (The Children’s Park). Moms, Dads, Grandparents, care givers all watching their kids expend some energy. This is a nice time to connect with others at the school and create a sense of community. Those parent pick-up days are very special for me, but our daily requirements are typically a need for care after school hours. For us, it was an easy choice to send our daughter to Christ Lutheran Child Care Center after-school program, our son is in preschool there. I love that our daughter gets to play in the playground for at least 45 minutes to an hour after school. Then they head over to the center for some “homework” time. An easy “one stop shop” solution for our family.

But there are other options in the neighborhood. Many kindergarteners head to the Water Tower Recreation Center but below are even more options. One not mentioned below are the new clubs that are offered to the Jenks’ students. The following link details the extracurricular offerings at the school for the Primary, Intermediate and Middle School Academies.

Primary Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Homework Club

_____ Green Club _____ Sing Out Loud

Intermediate Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Homework Club

_____ Chess Club _____ International

_____ Charm Club _____ Jr. Fire Patrol

_____ Community Service _____ Math 24

_____ Design w/ K’NEX _____ Think Green

_____ Garden

Middle School Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Marketplace

_____ Girls Career Club _____ Math 24

_____ Charm School _____ Stock Market

_____ Hip Hop Dance _____ Tech Club

_____ Jenks Newspaper _____ Yearbook

Chestnut Hill After School Programs:

Chestnut Hill Branch Free Library, 8711 Germantown Ave. LEAP. M-F. 3-5 p.m. Drop-in. Homework help, computers, library skills, enrichment activities. 3-6 p.m. M&W. Contact: Children's Librarian, 215-248-0977. ASAP Chess.

Christ Lutheran Child Center, 8300 Germantown Ave. Child Care & After School. M-F. 3-6 p.m. $239/mo. Homework, drama, art, character building and snack. Contact: Melissa Delaney, 215-247-1330.

J.S. Jenks School, 8301 Germantown Ave. M-F. Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis. 215-248-6604. ASAP Chess.

Our Mother of Consolation, 17 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. C.A.R.E.S. After School. M-F. Snack, homework help, prayer time and organized activities. 215-247-1060.

Water Tower Recreation Center, 209 E. Hartwell Lane. M-F. 3-6 p.m. $30/wk. Recreation Dept. supervises homework, sports, games, visual and performing arts. 215-685-9296.

Size Matters

I was recently asked the class size in kindergarten at Jenks and when I said my daughter’s class was 21 with a student teacher, the individual was shocked. It was thought that class sizes were around 30. As far as I can tell the districts' limit is 30 in younger grades but both K classes at Jenks are under 20 (we had a few students move recently).

Furthermore, Dr. Ackerman has reduced class size to 22 for K-3 in the “Empowerment Schools”

From my perspective class size does not seem to be an issue at Jenks. Although class size should always be a consideration and parents should be aware of changes within the district and the school.

I also think there is a lower limit (although I am not sure what that number is), kids seem to love to work together and learn quite a lot from “peer mentoring”. If discipline is not an issue, lots of kids seem to produce a creative environment. I also think that kids need to learn to work alone and try to figure out problems. Trying a solution and failing is not a bad thing to learn in school, as long as there is follow-up and encouragement to try another solution.

I am very happy with the classroom environment at Jenks thus far.

P.S. Here are some comments from the National Education Association website concerning class size.

Goal Should Be Student-Teacher Ratio of 15 to 1

Princeton University
According to Alan Krueger of Princeton University, who served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Clinton administration, lowering class sizes in Tennessee narrowed the achievement gap between Blacks and Whites by 38 percent.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
In a four-point plan to ensure that all children are educated to their full potential, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching President Ernest L. Boyer called for reducing class size to "no more than 15 students per teacher" for the early elementary grades.

National Association of Elementary School Principals
The NAESP has revised its class size policy statement from a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 down to recommending a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1.

Department of Education
According to the U.S. Department of Education, "A growing body of research demonstrates that students attending small classes in the early grades make more rapid educational progress than students in larger classes, and that these achievement gains persist well after students move on to larger classes in later grades."

Given the strong support of parents and teachers — and the demonstrated effectiveness of smaller classes —Americans should urge their elected representatives at all levels to support continued class size reduction. It's education reform that works!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Entering Kindergarten and starting this blog has made me obsessed with how people get information on any particular school. So when I am completely avoiding work, I search "Jenks" on google to see which sites are conveying information to current and prospective families.

So here are some hits from a search of just J.S. Jenks:

If you put in Jenks and Chestnut hill you will find hits regarding the schools coverage in the Local.

Lets keep the positive information flowing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Philadelphia Museum of Art --> November 14, 2008

The Jenks Kindergarten took a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I did not have the pleasure of going on the trip but here are some of the highlights as told by my daughter.

They visited China and U.S.A and Philadelphia. Her favorite piece from the China collection was the “Blue Dog House” or actually known as the Dog Cage (Goulong) from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Qianlong Period (1736-1795), 1736-95.

Another favorite from the trip was the Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsey Peale) which was Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 1795.

Needless to say, fun was had by all and an appreciation of the museum at this age can’t be a bad thing.

We're Making Music --> Nov 12, 2008

Wednesday evening the families of Jenks K-4th grade students were treated to an incredible evening of music. We’re Making Music was a production organized by Ms. Williams, her student teacher Ms. Spencer and accompanist Ms. Pochettino. Ms. Williams said she couldn’t have done it with out the support of the principal, Ms. Lynskey and the other teachers.

That morning my daughter couldn’t contain her excitement. She talked about standing on the risers, the bandanna she needed to bring and was humming all morning. Although she never revealed the “secret” songs that were going to be performed!

And what a surprise it was…a packed house (standing room only) and great music by the kids. The grades sang together and solo and everyone seemed to have a great evening.

We are looking forward to the next Jenks’ event!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jenks Kindergarten Tea

Home and School Association [aka The PTA)

One thing that has impressed us at Jenks, aside from the new principal and the excellent teachers and staff are the parents. There are very dedicated and hard working parents contributing to the mission of the school. If you are interested in Jenks, please attend a HSA (Home and School Association Meeting).

The next meeting is November 12th at 6:30 PM.

There will also be a concert the same evening. A great opportunity to see the who community in action.

K-4th Grade Music Concert at 6:00 PM

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Year at Jenks: The beginning

This Year at Jenks is an idea taken from Kevin Peter whose blog “Knowing Henry” has become a source of information for potential and current C.W. Henry School families.

This blog will contain personal observations of Vanessa Yingling, a kindergarten parent at J.S. Jenks, about our first year at Jenks. I hope to provide information that both current and potential parents may find helpful.

As the feeling of hope and change are in the air, I am starting this blog to add another positive voice to the John Story Jenks School community. John Story Jenks is a vibrant community located in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. I had much anxiety about changing schools but have been very pleased these first 2 months at Jenks. I encourage other neighborhood families to visit Jenks and get to know the faculty, staff and students and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

Here is a brief list of what Kindergarten has been doing thus far….

They have been working hard, having fun and are beginning to really get to know each other.

They write in journals everyday and are reading voraciously as they try to complete the 100 book challenge.

Believe it or not my daughter loves her homework and how wonderful to learn to love all aspects of school so young!

They are thrilled with their teachers, Ms. Tish and Ms. Donaldson and especially the student teacher, Ms. Colleen. I was surprised and pleased that they work with a different specialist each day.

Monday: Spanish/Art

Tuesday: Music

Wednesday: Physical Education

Thursday: Computers

Friday: Spanish/Art

I had the pleasure of going to Styer Orchard with the kids, where they picked apples and pumpkins and then made applesauce in class. My daughter’s favorite part of the trip was the pumpkin seeds that Ms. Colleen brought into class. They will be visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art next week. They also had a great time parading down Germantown Avenue on a beautiful Halloween afternoon.

Jenks’ students have also been involved in community events including Philadelphia Cares Day where volunteers from around the city helped to clean up the playground and school grounds. Students also helped sell pretzels and water at the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival.

We are very happy with our decision to attend Jenks. We love Chestnut Hill and it’s feeling of a true neighborhood, so we decided to utilize and support one of the main cornerstones of many neighborhoods, the public school.