By Chanel Hill
PHILADELPHIA — When John Paul Roskos became the new principal of the Dr. Ethel Allen School at 3200 W. Leigh Ave., he had two large goals for the new school year — have every student go to a high school of their choice and change the narrative of the school itself.
“My vision for this building is that every student that graduates from our building is able to get accepted into any high school of their choice throughout the District,” Roskos said. “Every high school has different kinds of offerings based off of students interests and passions and some of those schools are hard to get into.
“We want to implement strategies to be able to provide additional opportunities for growth in those areas for students, but also raise the bar and expectations for students and student academics, so that they’re able to not only get into those schools, but then be successful once they get there.
“The other vision we have for this building is to have the people who walks into this building to have the viewpoint of if they have a child, they would want them to go to this school,” he added. “We want parents and families to see that this school is the best school for their child because of our classrooms, school climate, culture, academics, staff and teachers. While these visions will take some time, we’re putting a lot of things in place to start the journey of making sure that both of these things happen.”
In addition to entering the school year with two main goals, Vice Principal Kareem Edwards says that the school is also trying to offer more incentives for their students and expand the dialogue between the school and the community.
“We’re strengthening our PBS program and we’re going to be able to provide significant amount of reinforcements for it,” Edwards said. “We’re creating trips and we have a school store for the students to be able to redeem the alligators they’ve earned. The program will have multi-tiered incentives and it will also give the students something to look forward to.
“We want the students to have a love for walking into this building and participating in the activities, not just in the social aspects, but also with academics. We’re still doing some great things with student government. This year, we’ll be taking that program a little bit farther by giving the students service learning projects and getting out into the community and actually getting to see and apply what they’re doing in this building out there.
“We can’t just change the culture of this building, but we have to get the community on our side as well,” he added. “Principal Roskos and I have been walking the streets of the community, going to houses, and talking with parents and older siblings. Our expectations are high. Not just for our students, staff, and academic performance, but also for our families involvement and participation in our student lives. We want to change the narrative of this school and community.”
During the Tribune’s visit, students in Stewart’s class were going over the material that they’ve learned over the last few weeks.
“We’re currently doing an assessment of what we recently learned in Ms. Stewart’s class since the first week of school,” said seventh-grader Asha Poweltwhite. “The assessment is supposed to show if we actually know what she has been teaching us. In this class, so far we learned about conflict and how to write a story. We’ve also been making a movie off of story that we’ve been reading; it’s been a lot of fun.”
Seventh-grader Kameron Ballard said that English Language Arts has been his favorite class so far this school year.
“My favorite subject is English Language Arts; I love reading books,” Kameron said. “I’m hoping this year I will be able to read some books with a lot of big words in it. I want to be able to learn the meanings behind different words and start using them in everyday life.”
Roskos said that what he hopes students take away from their experience at Ethel Allen is a sense of empowerment and a vision for their future.
“I want our students to feel empowered,” Roskos said. “I want them to know what their goals are and what their visions are for the rest of their lives. I also want them to know the hard work and effort that is needed to accomplish those goals and visions.
“We’ve already spoken to a lot of our students about what they’re doing her in elementary and middle school is building a solid foundation for their future,” he added. “We want to help them build firm foundations for their future.”