Penn Student Set on Career Path to Lead a Charter School

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@upenn.edu | 215-898-6460September 12, 2013

Jessica King, 20, who calls herself  “a child of public school,” is on a path to become the principal of a charter school.

King was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania as an early-decision applicant. She received a “healthy” federal grant package including a work-study program award. Now a junior communications major with a specialization in civic communication, King has held jobs in the Community School Student Partnerships program of Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships since her freshman year.

“I was a mentor in the classroom at Lea Elementary School. I worked in an autism special needs class,” King says. “During the day, I worked one-on-one with individual students and as an after-school counselor.

She found the mentoring work so fulfilling that she stayed with the program. In her sophomore year she rose to a senior staff position as director of CSSP at Lea site in West Philadelphia where 30 mentors serve 10-15 classes. Each mentor works with individual students and with students in small-group settings. 

“Today, I oversee a board of 16. The CSSP organization as a whole has 300 mentors through the work-study program at five elementary and high school sites,” she says.

Despite enjoying her work in the traditional public school arena and years of attending conventional public schools in Boca Raton, Fla., where she grew up, her dream job is to work as a principal of a charter school. 

Like conventional public schools, charter schools are free and open to the public. Students who are accepted can attend regardless of where they live.

King plans to gain more knowledge about charter schools by assessing best practices at schools in both rural and urban settings in a “strenuous” principal-education program.

Her hope is to sub matriculate in Penn’s Graduate School of Education to pursue a master’s degree in education, culture and society.

Her experience with CSSP at both elementary and high school sites has inspired her plans to work in an academic setting where she can mentor, educate and nurture students beginning with their first years of formal education.

She expects to teach and serve as an assistant principal before becoming a principal. She plans to graduate from the College of the School of Arts and Sciences in 2015.

For the rest of her undergraduate years at Penn, King will continue to seek out opportunities to make connections with those in need of mentoring, informed by what she’s learning as a student.

She will return to Washington as part of a Penn delegation of students and administrators attending the third annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering taking place on September 23-24.

King will participate in a panel discussion on domestic poverty and economic opportunity during the first day of the gathering. The Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge initiative is led by the White House and supported by the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

(This is the fourth in a series about University of Pennsylvania students who took their arguments in support of federal student financial aid to Washington in a project organized by the Office of Student Registration and Financial Services. Other profiles feature students Kristin Thomas, Mounica Gummadi, Mark Harding, Jessica King and Janee Franklin.)

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