In the late spring of 2012, the School District of Philadelphia matched American Paradigm Schools with John Paul Jones Middle School in its Renaissance Initiative. This meant the school’s community voted for American Paradigm Schools to be the nonprofit educational management organization to transform the learning environment into one producing measurable outcomes for scholar success. In July 2012, John Paul Jones Middle School became the Memphis Street Academy Charter School at J.P. Jones Middle School.
MSA has instituted Developmental Studies Center’s (DSC) Caring School Community model, a research-based program designed to promote fairness, personal responsibility, kindness, and helpfulness throughout a school community. Teachers use several Caring School Community methods to deepen scholars' thinking and build community.
Class meetings are a time to team-build, collectively make decisions, and check in with scholars about how they are feeling and evaluate the class's efforts toward building a caring community. These meetings are an excellent way for scholars to participate in the thought process about how they wish to be treated and how they treat others.
Other activities are also designed for scholars to get to know each other better, thereby teaching an appreciation for differences and an awareness of the ways in which they are similar. Because the staff at MSA value each scholar's knowledge and experience, we provide opportunities in the classroom for scholars to learn from each other. Teachers also use cooperative structures to encourage partner and group work and discussion amongst scholars.
DSC's research has shown several benefits of the Caring Schools Community program. In a caring and safe environment, scholars are more likely to enjoy school and learning activities, have trusting relationships with teachers, and make better decisions regarding issues such as drugs or tobacco use in the middle school years. Their participation in creating their classroom and school environment results in their ownership of the atmosphere created in their schools.
MSA also takes pride in being a member of the No Excuses University Network, which promotes college readiness for all scholars. This means every scholar deserves the opportunity for an educaiton that prepares them for college if they choose to attend. Educators at No Excuses Universities believe they have the power to influence every scholar to be academically successful, even those who are considered to be "at-risk". Therefore, we ask parents and parenting adults to make a pledge to help us help our children succeed:
Memphis Street Academy Charter School Is…
· A Caring School Community where children experience a “democratic-values” approach to learning. This means being inclusive, respecting differences, caring about fellow scholars, and being intrinsically motivated to do the right thing.
· A place to experience diversity in their neighborhood, as well as in music, art, and a variety of physical and social activities every day.
· A place where children can develop their ability to problem solve and collaborate.
· A place where children can become confident learners.