Life at Mastery : In the News : Grover Cleveland Mastery making progress, giving students ownership

Grover Cleveland Mastery making progress, giving students ownership

Friday, January 31 2014. By Solomon Leach, Daily News Staff Writer

FOR EIGHTH-grader Germaine Fitchett, the difference between Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter pre- and post-Renaissance is like night and day.

"The school got more strict. We have more responsibilities and higher requirements and things like that," the wiry teen said during a recent tour of the school, on 19th Street near Erie Avenue.

But he doesn't mean that in a bad way.

"The teachers, they're always happy and excited and things like that. And especially around PSSA time," he explained, referring to the state achievement exams. "The teachers [are] like, 'We're gonna make it, we're gonna do this, we're gonna reach this.' "

Fitchett isn't the only one who has seen a change. Cleveland, a K-8 school in its second year as a Renaissance charter, has had a significant decrease in serious incidents reported, according to the district. That has coincided with a rise in the percentage of students scoring advanced or proficient in reading and math on state standardized tests.

"The school is different [and] not just the environment," said eighth-grader Mariah Matthews. "Now when you walk in the halls you [are] like, 'Next period, what are we gonna do?' "

Although the adults are one reason for the change, credit also goes to student leaders like Fitchett and Matthews. Both are student ambassadors, which enables them to do things like facilitate lunch and assist in the hallways.

Mastery CEO Scott Gordon said the school is in transition from a more rigid, structured environment to give students more ownership.

"As we move on, our job is to make sure we're focusing less on structure and more on kids thinking, kids doing, kids taking responsibility, running things," Gordon said.

Mastery also put money into painting hallways, replacing light fixtures, buying new desks and splitting the elementary and middle schools. It also spends more time on professional development, Gordon said.


BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5903