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Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
University of Pennsylvania Partnership School

This school has already been labeled a “gold-standard” by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities for bringing the most effective, research-proven educational practices into the classroom.

At the time of the groundbreaking for this unique and groundbreaking public school (Almanac March 6, 2001), it was then known as the Penn-assisted PreK-8 Neighborhood School. When it opened in September of 2001 for kindergarten and first grade, it was still without a real name. This fall--with students now occupying pre-k, kindergarten, first, second, fifth and sixth grades--the school had been named “for a woman of great recognition” who exemplified “true leadership, perseverance and dedication to our city and our country,” said Sheila Sydnor, principal of the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School. Some of the children have affectionately called it the ‘Sadie School' for short.

The current enrollment is 225 children, with a target enrollment by 2004-2005 of approximately 650--when all grades, preK-8 will have been phased in. The student-teacher ratio is 17:1 in kindergarten and 23:1 in other grades. The faculty consists of 17 teachers, including specialists in Spanish, art, music, physical education and technology. The principal is a West Philadelphian, Penn alumna and an experienced Philadelphia educator (Almanac July 17, 2000).
Tours are conducted on the first Tuesday of the month at 9:30 a.m.; no reservations required. An open house for prospective families will be announced. Families with children who live in the catchment area are eligible to attend the school (Almanac January 23, 2001). For more information call (215) 823-5465.

Bright primary colors adorn the walls in a light-filled, multi-story atrium which is in the center of the new 83,000-square-foot building that features 28 classrooms, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a library, a media center, a science lab, music and art rooms, parent participation center and administrative spaces. Classes cluster around the atrium with a carpeted amphitheater-seating area that serves as a school and community gathering place.


More than five years in the planning, this Penn-assisted public school was designed on a “best practices” model, with a standards-based curriculum. The new $19 million building was constructed on the site bounded by 42nd and 43rd Streets between Locust and Spruce Streets.

Some of the many representatives of the three organizations that created the school--the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and the University of Pennsylvania, joined by elected officials, along with members of Sadie Alexander's family, who were on hand for the Ribbon Cutting and Naming Ceremony last Monday (left to right): State Rep. James Roebuck, Jr., School Reform Commission (SRC) member Sandra Dungee Glenn, SRC member Dan Whelan, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, SRC member Michael Masch, PFT President Ted Kirsch, President Judith Rodin, School District CEO Paul Vallas, Principal Sheila Sydnor, Rae Pace Alexander-Minter, SRC Chair James Nevels, Mary Alexander Brown, Mayor's Representative Nancy Morgan; and City Councilman Frank Rizzo, Jr.


Principal Sheila Sydnor with the portrait of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (Almanac September 3, 2002) which was unveiled at the ceremony. “Our students will know and emulate the values of this great lawyer, educator and pioneer as they pursue their education,” Ms. Sydnor said.  
Dr. Constance Clayton, former superintendent of schools and former Penn trustee, with GSE Dean Susan Fuhrman


Members of the School String Ensemble performed at the Ribbon Cutting and Naming Ceremony.


The school serves a diverse catchment area in West Philadelphia, where families represent at least 19 countries. Children attend small classes through Penn's financial subsidy of $1,000 per child per year.


The building steps down the sloping site, resulting in a multi-level complex that connects the students directly to the landscape. The school features a playground, two playing fields, a grass amphitheater seating area, a rain garden, and an outdoor science garden. The fields, which have a storm water management design, and the rain garden were funded by a state Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener grant. The landscape was designed to be used as an outdoor classroom.

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 8, October 15, 2002