Public Education Concerns Conference Draws Over 100 Participants


On Saturday, January 26, 2013 over 100 educators gathered for the PYM Public Education Concerns Conference at the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia.  The conference brought together a wide spectrum of over 100 teachers and leaders in education to share their latest research and highlight effective classroom experience. By gathering together public, charter, and friends school educators PYM seeks to support an engaged coalition of partners in education.

Public education in Philadelphia is at a serious crossroads, and Philadelphia area Quaker educators believe that the provision of high-quality universal public education is fundamental to sustaining a functional democracy. The PYM conference included professional development, access to resources, and community building for teachers interested in improving public education resources.  The conference included the following programs:

Keynote Speaker

Alfred Lubrano, the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, will be the keynote speaker. The program features 18 one-hour workshops of interest to the region’s public and charter school teachers, public school activists, and educators. Lunch will be combined with affinity group discussions, followed by a closing plenary session.

Workshop Topics

The conference took a practical approach to sharing the best of what committed educators have to offer.

Student Health/Trauma /Violence

  • Traumatic Stress and its Effect on Learning – Monica Sullivan, mental health professional, Health Federation
  • No Bullying Here! — Penny Colgan-Davis, Principal of Frankford Friends School and Betsy Berger, Educator
  • Family Issues that May Affect School Attendance and Performance — Shawn M. Lacy, Executive Director of Family Support Services – addressing child neglect, abuse and developmental delays in children
  • Readying the Mind for Learning: Mindfulness Techniques — Deborah Cooper, Coordinator of Friends Counseling Service at PYM
  • Appropriate Health Services absent a School Nurse — Colleen McCawley, Director of the Child Health Watch at Public Citizens for Children and Youth


Creativity/ Curriculum

  • Building Background Knowledge – hands-on learning Wade Tomlinson, 7th Grade teacher at Friends School Haverford
  • How to Spark Creativity in your Students – Louis Herbst, Middle School teacher at United Friends School
  • Creating Curriculum with a Conscience – Sydney Coffin, English teacher at The University City High School; with Bonnee Breese, and Deborah Smithey
  • Science and Conscience – Matt Cinelli, Oley Valley School District and Consultant/Advisor to Gilfus Education Group
  • Doing More with Less: Finding the Resources — Amy O’Leary, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Frankford Friends School



  • Organizing Education – Teacher Action Group (TAG) — Sarah Burgess, High school social studies teacher in public and charter schools with others
  • Leading Great Schools – Joan Countryman, Oprah Winfrey School in Africa, former Head of Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Enduring Public/Private Partnerships that Benefit Students – the William Penn Charter and Widener Memorial Schools –Jim Ballengee, Director of Service Learning, William Penn Charter School, & George Eastburn, Former Assistant Principal, Widener Memorial School
  • Introduction to Legislative Advocacy for Education – Bill Madeira, Advocate for Children
  • Servant Leadership – Developing the Skills for Effective Learning and Change –Brian Sullivan, Arch Street Meetinghouse Trust



  • Interactive Theater in the Classroom – Lisa Epstein, Artistic Director of Gas and Electric Arts in Mt Airy, PA
  • Making Sure there is Art and Art Education for Philly’s Students — Gretchen Iverson, Director of the Picasso Project, an arts advocacy division of PCCY
  • Integrating Art in the Classroom — Gillian Pokalo, Art Instructor at Plymouth Meeting Friends School