Lingelbach Elementary: A Not-So-Hidden Gem
Academics and extracurriculars are drawing more families to this neighborhood public school.
Unless you have school-age children, you may not be aware that Northwest Philadelphia has some of the most in-demand public schools in the city. Really.
Even with all of the district's budget problems and negative publicity, more and more local families are considering their neighborhood schools. And families residing out-of-catchment continue to apply through the district's Voluntary Transfer Program in hopes of being admitted to well-known schools like Charles W. Henry, Henry H. Houston, John S. Jenks and Cook-Wissahickon.
One school that usually doesn’t receive the same level of attention is Anna L. Lingelbach, but that may be changing. Located at the intersection of Wayne Avenue and Johnson Street, Lingelbach serves children in kindergarten through eighth grade. With consistently improving test scores, a committed group of teachers and parents, and a variety of interesting extracurricular offerings, families are giving this local school a closer look.
Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby lives in-catchment and is the parent of a kindergartener at Lingelbach. Initially, she was attracted by to small size of the kindergarten classes. As the school's popularity has grown, however, class size has grown as well.
Having been at the school for nearly a year, Karhnak-Glasby now appreciates other aspects of the school experience, including the many enrichment moments that her son has experienced during his first year of school.
Jacynda Williams, whose daughter is a sixth grader at Lingelbach, serves as President of the Lingelbach Home & School Association.
Unlike Karhnak-Glasby, Williams lives outside of the school's catchment, but she chose to send her child to the school because of Lingelbach's reputation, its Mentally Gifted Program, the unique after-school activities, and its "report card."
While it may be popular to deride standardized testing, poor scores may be an indication of problems if a school consistently fails to improve over an extended period of time. All of the public schools mentioned in this article made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2009-2010, including Lingelbach.
Lingelbach sometimes has had to get creative in order to provide for its students. Thanks to some winning grant writing, Lingelbach is able to offer a variety of sports and athletic activities, including baseball, volleyball, golf, lacrosse, tennis, basketball, and a dragon boat team. Additional activities include ballroom dancing, an outdoor club, and a school garden.
"The school has an outdoor classroom behind the school and makes extensive use of the wooded area—part of Fairmount Park—that is contiguous with the school," said Karhnak-Glasby. "They also frequently cross Lincoln Drive to do science activities along the Monoshone Creek and in the park near Thomas Mansion."
Like children at the other neighborhood public schools, students at Lingelbach make field trips to several cultural institutions and natural and agricultural locations throughout the school year.
According to Tamera Conway, Lingelbach's principal for 12 years, 70 percent of the students go on to complete their education at many of the special admission public high schools in the city, including Central, Bodine, Girls High, CAPA, Rush, Engineering & Science, and Saul.
Some concerns about the school include a lack of economic and racial diversity, district-mandated homework for all grades, limited outdoor time, and the poor nutritional value of district-provided meals.
Despite these issues, parents are very positive.
"It's a great school with caring teachers, an engaged, responsive principal, and a very involved group of parents," Karhnak-Glasby said. She added that "the school is well connected with the community—Weavers Way, the neighboring [Unitarian Universalist] church, and others—which helps keep it strong even when support from the School District is inconsistent."
For more information on Lingelbach, please visit the school’s website or call the office at (215) 951-4001.