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A New School Brings New Opportunities to Children in West Philadelphia By Anthony Hopkins, Marketing & Communications Manager
School of Education

Hundreds of children in West Philadelphia will have a chance to receive a quality education starting next fall when Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLA-MS) opens at a temporary location at Drexel’s Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Thanks to a grant of $1.8 million from the Philadelphia School Partnership, the school will accept 90 fifth grade students next fall and eventually support 360 students in grades 5-8. The school will be a neighborhood middle school for Samuel Powel middle school and will not have any admission requirements.

SLA-MS principal Timothy Boyle said the new school bridges the gap between Powel Elementary and the highly successful Science Leadership Academy, a high school located in Center City.

“We’re excited to bring the quality of a magnet school education to a neighborhood school setting,” said Boyle. “The new school will marry the successful educational approach of Powel Elementary with the innovative model used by Science Leadership Academy. Our plan is to develop a school that’s specifically created to serve the needs of the future students of SLA-MS.”

For at least two years, the school will rent a portion of the Dornsife Center, located at 3509 Spring Garden Street. Both SLA-MS and Powel Elementary intend to eventually move to a new school building located on the Drexel-owned parcels of the former University City High School site.

"We’re delighted to host SLA-MS at the Dornsife Center in the coming years,” said Lucy Kerman, PhD, vice provost for University and Community Partnerships at Drexel. “It is a perfect fit: we can provide beautiful space during the school day and explore community school programming after hours with expanded Dornsife Center offerings."

In addition to its temporary home at the Dornsife Center, SLA-MS will also have the full support of the Drexel School of Education. Dr. Nancy Songer, Dean of the School of Education, said she looks forward to future partnerships with Principal Boyle and SLA-MS teachers, particularly in areas such as inquiry STEM education and learning technologies.

“We are thrilled to provide resources, including best practices for high quality teaching and learning with technology and School of Education’s faculty and students, in support of Principal Boyle and the School District of Philadelphia’s vision for innovative urban schools,” said Dr. Songer. “Likewise, our partnership with this highly innovative school will provide our students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience by teaching in a real classroom setting.”

Startup and planning costs to open the new school will be supported by the $1.8 million grant, and will allow SLA-MS to ultimately support 360 students and will allow Powel elementary to expand by adding a pre-k program and adding one additional class per grade to eventually serve an additional 150 students.

“SLA and Powel are among the highest-performing schools in Philadelphia, and SLA-MS is building upon the success of both schools,” said Jessica Pena, director of PSP’s Great Schools Fund. “We are thrilled to help give 500 more students the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.”