Category Archives: Education

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site Opens Long-Abandoned Medical Wing to the Public

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site kicks off its 2017 season on Friday, May 5 with the first-ever public tours of Cellblock 3, also called the Hospital Block. Visitors have long wished to explore this space, but its severe deterioration has made touring the hospital impossible – until now.

Visitors explore Cellblock 3 in new tour of the penitentiary’s Hospital Block

Cellblock 3 has captivated visitors’ imaginations since the penitentiary opened as a museum more than 20 years ago. Opportunities to step past the head gate, ornamented with its iconic red cross, have been rare. The few hardhat tours offered over the years filled to capacity, affirming visitors’ strong interest in seeing this eerie and fascinating space. A series of stabilization projects have finally made it possible for visitors to safely enter the long-abandoned medical wing.

Beginning May 5, 15-minute guided tours will be offered several times a day. Visitors will explore the corridor of Cellblock 3 and learn more about this unusually well-equipped prison hospital. They will see Eastern State’s operating room, laboratories, pharmacy, X-ray lab, hydrotherapy rooms, psychiatric department, and a solarium for treating tuberculosis patients. A number of medical artifacts remain in place, despite decades of abandonment and decay.

Hospital Block tours are included with standard admission. Regular daytime programs, including “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, guided Hands-On History tours, history exhibits, and artist installations, are also included with admission. Tickets are available online at, or at the door subject to availability.





REMEMBERING A LEGEND – 2017 Jackie Robinson Day Celebration in Memorial Park

by Nikia Brown

“He could hit and bunt and steal and run. He had intimidating skills, and he burned with a dark fire.” -Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer

On April 15, 2017, Parkside community residents and civic leaders gathered around the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut as the first African American to enter Major League Baseball (MLB). Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Nevertheless, his legacy far surpasses that of a typical athlete. He is an iconic legend, Civil Rights ambassador, record breaker, and a man he lived by his own ethos: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

The Memorial Park Celebration attracted a diverse audience including Gwen Gould, the last surviving wife of one of the Philadelphia Stars players, Harold Gould; Kenny Johnson, Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Philadelphia Phillies; Ron Whittington, a Jackie Robinson storyteller and impersonator; and, of course, the eagerly anticipated and wildly unpredictable, Phillie Phanatic.

Gould, who is now in her late 80s, expressed feelings of deep satisfaction and pride after the day’s event. “It was wonderful. I saw a lot of little kids out here which is encouraging. It’s a wonderful thing, and at my age you appreciate just getting out and being among friends.” Philadelphia Phillies Community Engagement Coordinator, Kenny Johnson, grew up in West Philadelphia right around the corner from the Philadelphia Stars Memorial Park. He feels a connection to the community and is grateful for the positive impact of Negro League baseball on urban neighborhoods.

“This event is important because baseball is an intergenerational sport. It’s grandmothers and grandfathers passing it down to their kids,” says Johnson. “Stories of Jackie Robinson and his exemplary legacy are very important (and must) stay within the consciousness of families and the community. It shows that when you persevere, when you work hard and bring folks together, you can do some amazing things.”

Two Phillies Ball Girls accompanied Johnson to the Celebration, Courtney Williams and Trisha Lang. This was Williams’ second year coming to the event and she expressed that it is important “to look back at our history to see the movers and shakers and how we got to be where we are today.” Williams, who is African American, feels her race provides a greater impetus to survey the events of Black history and how much the African American community has progressed since oppressive times. “It’s sometimes hard to see how far we’ve come, but we really have come very far,” says Williams.

While this was Lang’s first time attending the event, she was equally grateful to be a part of the experience. She stated, “I am thankful to be able to be in this position where I can come out and be involved in such a great event that involves the entire community and brings everyone together to look back at how far we’ve come and where we started.”

The event was also well-represented by key members of the Business Association of West Parkside such as Marjorie Ogilvie, Miller Parker, Lucinda Hudson, Cassandra Hayes, and Dennis Lee.

Parker, who has been the treasurer of the Business Association of West Parkside for about 15 years, remembers with fondness the early beginnings of the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park. He shares, “One of the things we want to do is draw attention to this neighborhood and community and get the community involved in the park. We came up with this idea that baseball might be the way to go because there was a baseball field here a number of years ago where the Negro League played.” Parker believes this annual celebration is one way of keeping the legacy of extraordinary African Americans alive in the community.

Hayes, an animated and dedicated community advocate, continued, “This is something that we have been doing for the past eleven years. I’ve been a part of it every year. I come, I eat, I play, I meet folks. It’s a great way to just enjoy the community and recognize one of the historical figures in Black and American history.” Lee, who emceed the event, felt this year’s festivities was special because it marked their 11th year of hosting the Memorial Celebration and Jackie Robinson’s 70th year of remembrance. “The future is promising if we remember our legacy,” offered Lee before jetting off to his next event. The team is already expectant of next year’s activities and look forward to sharing the rich history of the Philadelphia Stars with a broader and more diversified audience.


Parkside Welcomes Early Childhood Montessori Education


by Jasmine Bullock

Education is the foundation of our society. Finding a quality school is paramount to many parents and it starts when children are babies. The Today’s Future, Tomorrow’s Promise Montessori School (TFTP), located at 5070 Parkside Avenue, is providing the quality service families are looking for. As the only Montessori school within a two mile radius, TFTP is providing something new and refreshing to the community for early learners. The Montessori teaching method dates back to 1907 when Dr. Maria Montessori began the Children’s House in a low income district in Rome. She began her school based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, and cognitive. The Montessori method of education focuses on five pillars. They are uninterrupted work periods, multi-aged classrooms, child directed work, use of Montessori materials and properly trained Montessori instructors.

TPTF moved to the Parkside neighborhood three years ago. It was the perfect location for the school because of the growth taking place in the area. The school started with one child and has grown to approximately 40 children. Approximately 25% of the currently enrolled children are residents of the area. Head of School, Florence Churchill, decided to focus on the Montessori teaching because it is a calmer form of teaching that helps to mold children into responsible, independent individuals. This is the same response the other eight educators and staff had about the teaching philosophy and the environment TPTF offers to its families. TPTF currently caters to three age groups, infants, toddlers age 2-3 and preschoolers age 4-5. With the growth of the school, TPTF is looking to add Kindergarten to their curriculum. In Montessori tradition, student’s transition from class to class based not only on their age but their academic ability. Churchill rejoiced in saying “That is the beauty of Montessori! We look at the individual student to see where they are and move forward based on their ability.”

“Montessori is purposeful and deliberate for the development of the child,” said Florence Churchill. The infant room provides care for babies and 1 year olds that includes tummy time, story time and group and individual play. The room is divided into sections that cater to different activities. The toddler classroom at TPTF is considered a Montessori inspired classroom. The children have the opportunity to play but they also learn life skills. The classroom caters to the child. All the supplies are height appropriate allowing for the children to develop in a real world setting. The preschool classroom is considered a Montessori classroom. It is separated into six sections that have different themes. While in this setting, the young learners continue learning skills for practical life and also begin formal academics.

A staple in the Montessori classroom is organization. The structured classrooms not only make teaching easier, but also help teach children to focus. During instruction time, children work independently. While students have the freedom to move freely throughout the classroom to satisfy the never-ending energy of a young person, there is always one student per working table or learning mat. Not only does this help with building focus it begins to teach the child about personal space.

TPTF prides itself in taking advantage of all the opportunities the community has to offer. They frequently expose the children to the cultural institutions in the area. They have also expanded life skills lessons by visiting local businesses such as Shop Rite and Monster Pets, allowing the children to have age appropriate nutrition and veterinary workshops.  School Leader, Florence Churchill communicated that TPTF caters to the entire family unit. They encourage parents to be involved in their children’s education from an early age. School personnel provide families with materials that explain the Montessori pedagogy in the hopes of some of the strategies being used in the home. Parents have also organized a PTA where they sponsor monthly cultural events for the children. The fathers have a group, Fathers Lead, Fathers Read, where they read to the school children regularly.

TPTF moved into the community to reach children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to get a Montessori education based on location or economic status. With this goal inspiring everything they do, TPTF is quickly becoming a staple in the community balancing the extensive educational opportunities offered to young people in the area. To find out more about Today’s Promise Tomorrow’s Future visit their website at


WEST PARK ARTS FEST – CELEBRATING 10 YEARS on Saturday, June 3, 2017

Philadelphia, PA – Founded by West Park Cultural Center in 2008, the West Park Arts Fest is celebrating 10 years and moving to the Avenue of the Republic near the Please Touch Museum. This site is adjacent to the Centennial Commons – an exciting public space project under construction by Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

Fairmount Park Conservancy and Global Philadelphia have joined West Park Cultural Center as organizers for this free public event advancing the festival’s mission to bring communities together in the park, promote greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. The festival embraces partnership and has over the years been made possible in great part to the participation of many arts, cultural and community partners from West Philadelphia and across Philadelphia.

On Saturday June 3rd from 12pm to 5pm attendees of all ages will enjoy two stages of exciting culturally diverse performances by some of the area’s best dancers, musicians, vocalists, and spoken word artists. Some of the talent will include the popular West Philadelphia Orchestra, Badd Kitti, Gretchen Elise Music, Pasión Y Arte Flamenco, Megan Flynn Dance Company, Academy of Classical Indian Dance, Jasmin Yahne Dance Company, and much more. The event will invite participation in dance, collaborative painting with WEPAINT, free guided historical trolley tours through the Centennial District, heritage storytelling with Global Philadelphia, children’s activities with the Franklin Institute PACS Program, Tree House Books and more to be announced. As part of the celebration, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Arts & Culture Program, with the support of ArtPlace America, has commissioned artists to create special installations and interactive elements that draw their inspiration from the neighborhood, the park and the history of the 1876 Centennial. Festival goers will see a standing timeline created by Global Philadelphia that documents Parkside’s history and heritage with pictures and text.

Attendees can buy unique items in the Handmade Market, browse other vendors and enjoy refreshments from food vendors and the popular Parks on Tap – the traveling beer garden developed by Fairmount Park Conservancy with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and FCM Hospitality. An estimated 1,500 are expected to attend. Participating partners this year include Mann Center, Philadelphia Zoo, The Franklin Institute, Tree House Books, Keepers of the Culture,

Sponsors as of this writing include ArtPlace, UPS, ShopRite, Rockland Capital, Zakian, and Zerflin. The event is also supported in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

To learn more about the festival visit and  For more information call 215-473-7810 or email

Niesha Kennedy, PR Manager

West Park Cultural Center



Pyramid Stem Showcase

Get Ready for Hands-On Excitement at the Pyramid STEM Showcase

The 6th Annual Pyramid STEM Showcase will take place, Saturday, April 29th, 2017, from 11 am – 4p, at the Sullivan Progress Plaza, 1501 N. Broad St. in Philadelphia. Held annually during Philly Tech Week, the Free showcase is for all ages and is bound to excite someone about the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Pyramid STEM Showcase is a way to educate and empower African American families and prepare all to become an integral part of the fastest moving industries of all time.

The Pyramid STEM Showcase features hands-on exhibits, information tables, Black Inventions and History exhibits, speakers, giveaways and vendors. There will be continuous sessions in the computer lab area building apps and video games, and throughout the event attendees will learn through hands-on displays: robotics, science, engineering, aeronautics, health, electronics, the parts of a computer, etc. This year will include the Great Brain Freeze – brainteaser competition among the attendees and special presentations from Red Hen Productions and the University of Pennsylvania – called Neural Knitworks.

The first 100 teen and adult attendees at the Pyramid STEM Showcase will receive a technology giveaway, in addition, there will be door prizes, including a tablet giveaway each hour.

There are so many organizations that have STEM-related programs, products, services, classes or careers that we all need to know about. Many might be free or low-cost. There is also a disparity in the minority and African American communities as it relates to awareness of the various aspects of STEM. The Pyramid STEM Showcase is the opportunity to get the word out – not just on paper, but with hands-on displays that excite and peak the interest.

An initiative of DHEx Enterprises, the Pyramid STEM Showcase is also being hosted by Sullivan Progress Plaza and presented by the Leon H. Sullivan CDC, Called to Serve CDC, Zion Baptist Church Technology Ministry, The Business Center for Entrepreneurship and the Hill-McCoy Family. For further information, please call 215-844-4200 or visit


The Philadelphia Science Festival Returns with more than 80 Events over Nine days April 21 -29

Philadelphia Science Festival returns April 21 – 29

The Philadelphia Science Festival returns this spring to spotlight the very vital role science and technology play in today’s world, April 21 – 29.

Organized by the Franklin Institute, in collaboration with Philadelphia’s premier science, cultural, and educational institutions, and presented by the Dow Chemical Company for the seventh consecutive year, the 2017 Philadelphia Science Festival offers more than 80 events over nine days in communities all across the region.

The Festival debuts innovative new programs for 2017 including Life on Mars, Fake Out: The Science of Deception, Dance Engineered, Geek Out Gameshow, Sensory Overload, and Be a Scientist—and adds new elements to popular favorites like citywide star parties, Murder at the Mutter, Science On Tap, Fishtown Science Crawl, Cookie Lab, Cocktail Lab, and Tinker Lab. This year, the Philadelphia Science Festival aims to illuminate the essential work of scientists on Sunday, April 23 when the region’s finest institutions open their lab doors inviting attendees to Be a Scientist (Conservator, Food Psychologist, K’Nex Architect, Farm Scientist, H2O-ologist, Ecologist, Surgical Nurse, Engineer, Paleontologist, Architect, Engineer, Audiologist, and Marine Biologist) for a day.

Returning this year to the vibrant Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing is the Festival’s signature program, the Science Carnival at Penn’s Landing, which last year attracted more than 50,000 attendees. The massive outdoor science carnival is one of the most highly anticipated festival events, providing a packed day of non-stop family-friendly activities, hands-on experiments, live performances, educator opportunities, and explosive visuals from more than 150 partnering exhibitors to close the 2017 Philadelphia Science Festival, Saturday, April 29.

Throughout the Festival, Philadelphians can engage with the curiosities of science and technology through these and dozens more uniquely themed innovative events, self-guided tours, creative workshops, and stargazing parties. Events take place across the region in parks, cafés, breweries, libraries, museums and other neighborhood places—with many of them free of charge. For more information visit to learn more.

Celebrating 10 Years of Community Heritage by Nikia Brown

Summer is quickly approaching and with it comes the annual call for spring celebrations. Deep green leaves will visit again the tall trees that line Parkside Avenue. The rush of children running from one summer program to the next will once again fill the streets. Neighborhood businesses will soon ready their shelves with refreshing items, while cultural organizations prepare new experiences for frequent visitors and tourists alike. As the season changes, the air is filled with expectations of warm weather and residents look forward to the plethora of community offerings that await them. On June 3, Parkside will welcome the summer with two community-wide festivals that draw hundreds of residents to their corridors on an annual basis: The West Park Arts Fest and Festival @ ParkWest Town Center.

This year, the West Park Arts Fest and Festival @ ParkWest Town Center share the same 10-year anniversary, and will be joining efforts to maximize the experience for festival-goers. Guided historic trolleys beginning and ending at the West Park Arts Fest will connect both festivals to ensure that visitors have the opportunity to experience both events. Festival goers will also benefit from a scenic tour through Fairmount Park’s Centennial District.

The West Park Arts Fest was created by the West Park Cultural Center in 2008 as a vehicle to promote cultural diversity, celebrate the arts, and bring people together across neighborhoods. “Many of our festival goers have expressed how much they like the family atmosphere and cultural diversity,” says Betty Lindley, Executive Director of the West Park Cultural Center. Lindley champions the efforts of the diverse partners that contribute to the success of the program each year. “The festival embraced partnership and has over the years been made possible in great part to the participation of many arts, cultural, and community partners.”

Lindley is excited about the Center’s new collaboration with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Global Philadelphia Association. “This represents a major milestone for the West Park Arts Fest and builds on the original mission,” prides Lindley. “Through this joint effort we are taking the West Park Arts Fest to the next level with increased participation and greater awareness of West Fairmount Park and surrounding communities,” she adds.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy is equally grateful for the partnership as they feel this opportunity is directly aligned with their mission “to bring positive, family friendly activities to park spaces.” Jennifer Mahar, Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, feels the collaboration is timely with the festival moving from its usual venue, School of the Future, to West Fairmount Park. “The shift requires a whole new set of logistics,” says Mahar. “Our Special Events Coordinator has years of experience in organizing large-scale outdoor events and we were more than happy to help!”

The Global Philadelphia Association was born shortly after the West Park Arts Fest and has since grown tremendously in size and form. Since November 2015, the Association, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, has been executing a World Heritage City initiative that capitalizes on the city’s diverse historical and cultural assets. John Smith, Board Chair of the Association, often says, “Our World Heritage City should be a city of the world’s heritages.” “We see the opportunity to work with the various organizations in the Parkside community as a way to explore how we can bring that concept to life, and have enjoyed our many interactions with the community,” Smith shared.

The Executive Director of the Association, Zabeth Teelucksingh, has a fondness for the Parkside community and enjoys driving pass the Victorian-style homes during her weekly trips to the international market. Regarding the Association’s affiliation with the Arts Fest, Teelucksingh remarks, “Parkside through its numerous constituents epitomizes much of what is global in Philadelphia. We look forward to helping relay that story to the international community in the region and beyond.”

The Festival @ ParkWest Town Center has several partnerships of its own and each member is eager to make this year’s festival the town square of all town squares. On March 1, Executive Director of West Philadelphia Financial Services, Jim Burnett, convened the first planning meeting with attendees from various organizations in the community. Some attendees included representatives from The Goldenberg Group, Parkside Association, Global Leadership Academy, Discovery Charter School, and West Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries.

The Festival @ ParkWest Town Center is the annual celebration of the joint venture between West Philadelphia Financial Services and The Goldenberg Group. This June marks the 10th anniversary of ParkWest Town Center’s grand opening and commemorates the active involvement of community members since its establishment. “We created this festival to thank our shoppers,” says Burnett. Before the installation of the Town Center, West Parkside was a food desert with little to no access to fresh foods.

When asked about the significance of the annual festival, Burnett points to, “resident ownership of their community.” Timothy Smith of The Goldenberg Group adds, “the festival is about generating greater community pride and is a celebration of the asset that this Center is to the community. This is the ethos of Goldengberg.” Smith says he enjoys working for a company that uses its assets to do meaningful work.

The two also discussed the social and educational impact of the festival. “It’s like a family reunion,” said Burnett with a childlike grin on his face. The festival provides an opportunity for community residents to reconnect and build new alliances. The diligent efforts of students are also recognized as carefully selected seniors from neighboring high schools receive scholarship awards on an annual basis. The festival is in short, “a groundswell of community pride,” offered Smith.

Burnett, Lindley, and their respective partners are highly anticipant of both festivals 10-year anniversary celebration. With the two festivals occurring the same day, they expect the events to draw a new and larger audience, promote Parkside’s historic and cultural heritage, and generate a deeper level of civic pride and engagement.