Teacher, Crossroads Accelerated AcademyJennifer Conner is new to education and to the challenges of urban teaching. "I'm a Philadelphia Teaching Fellow, and have been teaching since February of 2010. I started when the Crossroads Accelerated Academy opened, working as the World History/Special Education teacher—although this year I was also assigned one English class. Teaching is a career change. Prior to this, I worked for nonprofits: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Project Home while completing my B.A. at Temple University. Currently, I am working on my Masters of Education through Chestnut Hill College. "The Philadelphia Teaching Fellows is one branch of a program that operates in many major cities. They seek out individuals who are skilled in content areas, especially those that are difficult for schools to fill, such as math, science and special education. If you are selected for the program you undergo an intensive five-week instruction in education. At the completion of the training you are assigned somewhere in Philadelphia. My background was in psychology, so I entered with an understanding of the medical side of special education. This is definitely a background I cherish while writing Individualized Education Programs and working with students. My work with the ACLU was also helpful when it came to earning my social studies certification." The Crossroads Accelerated Academy is a small school with a focused mission. "These are students who would have gone into eighth grade, but range in age from 14 through 17. Instead, they come to us and take eighth and ninth grades simultaneously, both with a traditional and an online curriculum. The goal is to get them into tenth grade by the end of the year. We are looking at their progress this year to see how things pan out. There are 78 students in the program right now with five teachers: in math, reading, science, world history, and computer science, since all ninth-grade students must have an elective. The school also has a principal, a counselor, a police officer, and a student advisor. We all also offer additional support for our students. Each teacher is assigned five students who are chronically failing and we meet with them on a regular basis to monitor their homework and study habits, for example, in addition to putting extra time before and after school." Homework has been a struggle for many of Jennifer's students, many of whom have not formed strong homework habits, but this has also been one way of measuring the success of the program. "This year, a lot more kids are on board with completing daily homework assignments, and have formed school habits of paying attention in class and working at more challenging tasks. The staff is new and the school is new. We made progress this year, but are eager to implement what we learned to better enhance next year's program. The teachers have already begun actively planning next year."
For more information, please contact Education: School & Teacher Programs by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .