Jenks to reopen with a new name

News, Schools August 13, 2014 9 Comments

by Kevin Dicciani

When the school year begins in September, the John Story Jenks School will officially be known as Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences.

The change was two years in the making, Principal Mary Lynskey said. She said the school had to draft a resolution, explain the reasoning behind the change, and gather support and petitions from the parents and community before getting it approved this summer by the School Reform Commission.

Lynskey said the change came about organically in lieu of the school’s increased focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), a course of study incorporated into the curriculum in 2013.

“STEM is really what solidified the need for the name change,” Lynskey said. “The name change is an announcement that, ‘yes, we are dedicating ourselves to these lines of study.’”

Haviva Goldman, the president of J.S. Jenks and a parent of a Jenks’ student, said the name change will strengthen the school, especially the middle school, in numerous ways.

“It will open up new opportunities to form and strengthen partnerships with the businesses and organizations in and around Chestnut Hill,” Goldman said.

Lynskey said Jenks is going to continue to adopt programs and curriculum that correlate with its focus on the arts and sciences. These programs, she said, are integral in readying the students for future job markets.

“We are going to continue to grow,” Lynskey said. “That is the goal. I don’t think we are ever going to reach a pinnacle. We are always going to keep evolving this program and considering how it impacts our community and children.”

In addition to increasing the size of programs currently in place, such as Space Camp, Lynskey said Jenks has been in talks with various institutions that would help to reinforce that focus. Some of those include Chestnut Hill College, the Franklin Institute and Schuylkill Valley Nature Center.

“We envision these kinds of partnerships growing, with the school and its students working with local businesses, cultural and educational institutions, the public library, and members of the Chestnut Hill Community,” Goldman said. “We think this is an opportunity for Chestnut Hill to take ownership of its neighborhood school and help see it thrive and grow as a gem of Northwest Philadelphia.

Forming relationships with those institutions allows students to gain hands-on experience in the field and explore subjects they’re passionate about. This keeps in line with Lynskey’s philosophy of education, which is that students benefit greatly by learning and participating in activities outside of the classroom.

“We’re looking to extend outward,” Lynskey said. “We want to take down the walls of our school and make the education be all about learning in the world – not just learning at a desk.”

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  • Jerry Garcia

    “We think this is an opportunity for Chestnut Hill to take ownership of its neighborhood school and help see it thrive and grow as a gem of Northwest Philadelphia.”

    But the lion’s share of the students are not from the neighborhood. I think it would be interesting if the local did a FOIA request for that data and made it public.

    • Jennifer

      And whose problem is that? You who can’t afford private school tuition are already forcing the creation of “charter (actually private) schools,” syphoning money from the public school system. Those who can afford private tution, that is your choice. Should the rest of us pay to supplement the cost of your private roads if the one provided through tax dollars is not good enough for you? Maybe if more local kids attended the local school, it would perfect. It is already quite good,

      • Jerry Garcia

        Not totally sure what you are saying due to your awkward wording.

        The problem lies with the Philadelphia Public School System. My problem is that I want to send my kids to Jenks but won’t because it is a terrible school. The school system has horrible management, they hemorrhage money. Remember arlene ackerman, gave contracts to her friends, we had to pay her close to a mil to close her contract and then she tried to collect unemployment. The new head makes well over 200k (way more then the mayor). Why would I support school system that I don’t believe in, one that has been proven over and over that it can not function properly. Even with the high pay everyone makes the schools are still a total sh*t show (with the exception of Central). FYI- everyone in the school system’s pay is open to the public.

        “Should the rest of us pay to supplement the cost of your private roads if the one provided through tax dollars is not good enough for you?” – You obviously have no idea how school taxes work, if I could actually afford a private school I would still be paying school taxes as well as tuition for a private school. I am moving out of the neighborhood I love and lived in for 12 years to send my kids to a public school in Mont Co. I think the better question is how much tax revenue is generated in the Jenks school district and how much of the kids within the district are actually attending Jenks.

        • jennifer

          Good. Move. That works for you.
          By the way, Jenks is a good school. Ask the high schools that the graduates attend. (Including Masterman, Central and Girls High.). Just because most of the kids are brown doesn’t make it bad.
          You don’t need to attack the school as an excuse to move out of the city. You don’t need to feel guilty or hostile. Your choice. Your move.
          Good luck with your new adventure.

          • Jerry Garcia

            So you say that there is no need to be hostile then you make the racist statement “Just because most of the kids are brown doesn’t make it bad.” Very classy.

            It’s great that some folks are happy with jenks but the only positive comments I have ever heard about the school were the two comments to this article and I have lived in this area for years. I talk to lots of parents who tried jenks and they all have horror stories. In the many years I have lived in the area I have seen fights breakout and on the playground and the teachers do nothing. I know three teachers in the philadelphia school system and everyone of them says they will never put their children in the philly school system.

            A neighborhood school has more involved parents. I see this with my daycare. Parents talk, we organize and make sure our children are taken care of properly. We live in the same neighborhood, we know what is happening at our daycare. When parents are scattered through the city this parent/school connection is lost. There are no parents in the neighborhood to compare stories with to make sure your getting the right story. Not to mention all the wasted tax dollars bussing kids in and all the illegal parking on Ardleigh st.

            “You don’t need to attack the school as an excuse to move out of the city. You don’t need to feel guilty or hostile.” – you really have issues with reading comprehension. Please read my response carefully. My family has lived in philly for generations, I don’t want to leave. I will feel hostile, I pay some of the highest taxes in the country and I have to move to make sure my kids get good schooling.

            Realistically this all doesn’t matter. The school system will probably run it’s self into the ground soon. I thought there was a chance that it would come back but Arlene Ackerman insured that will never happen.

  • Mary Williams Lynskey

    Thank you, Kevin, for sharing our good news! We really appreciate it.

    In 2010, 49% of the student population was from the Jenks School boundaries which include the 19118 and parts of the 19150 zip codes. I am unaware of the updated numbers, however, very few of the 19118 families go beyond the playground. Sadly, they associate Jenks with all bad press the district receives. In spite of not being embraced by the neighborhood we serve, Jenks is growing and thriving. We’d love to see more Chestnut Hill families take advantage of the educational opportunities we have to offer. We could save them a lot of money!

  • Jerry Garcia

    “…however, very few of the 19118 families go beyond the playground. Sadly, they associate Jenks with all bad press the district receives. In spite of not being embraced by the neighborhood we serve” – Thanks for stereotyping the residents of zip 19118 . Not sure if you realize that the playground is kept up through contributions and volunteer days organized by the neighborhood. You also need to double check you numbers they are completely off. This will sound crazy to you since you think all off us zip 19118s are the same but only a small fraction can afford private school. Most move to Mont Co.

  • Colleen Yard

    Jenks is a wonderful school. It’s not without it’s share of hiccups and challenges that private and charter schools also face – as a former educator, I’m aware. My children have attended Jenks since kindergarten (now entering 2nd and 6th grades). A neighbor put it well, “Chestnut Hill has too many educational options.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m proud to be part of the Jenks family and its accomplishments. Much success to families and hard-working teachers everywhere this Fall.

  • Alisa

    I know quite a few families from 19119 who send their children to Jenks, mine included. Yes, we may not be within 19118, but we shop and spend time on the Hill. We are your next-door neighbors and we ARE part of this wonderful (walkable) community in Northwest Philadelphia. We have also been lucky enough to recognize great value in the education provided by Jenks.