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One America - Samuel S. Fels Cluster of the Philadelphia School District

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One America

Program: Samuel S. Fels Cluster of the Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia, PA
Contact(s): Jan Gillespie, Fels Cluster Leader: (215) 335-5037
Purpose: To develop responsible citizens who will be prepared to succeed in a diverse world

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1996, administrators of the Samuel S. Fels Cluster of the Philadelphia School District initiated an extensive diversity program throughout all of the eight schools in the cluster. The cluster serves over 9,000 students of 40 different ethnicities. Their goal was to ensure that students could be prepared to live in a multicultural world.

Program Operations

One of the most important objectives for the Samuel S. Fels Cluster is to train teachers to address the needs of the culturally diverse students. Every teacher in the cluster (kindergarten through grade 12) attends a monthly three-hour after-school seminar based on the SEED (Seeking Education Equity and Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. The seminar is designed to help the teachers enhance their curricula by introducing issues of race, gender, class and ethnicity into their classrooms. In addition to the seminars, multicultural retreats, presentations, literature and videos have also been made available to schools' staff. The schools have adopted the Green Circle Curriculum, which is a classroom unit designed to teach students about the importance of valuing diverse cultures and perspectives. Cluster staff, school staff and parents are trained as facilitators to implement the program in every kindergarten through grade 6 class. Another project that the schools are supporting is the creation of a diversity quilt. During TOPS (Take Our Parents to School) Week, parents and students are given materials and directions by experienced quilt makers on preparing a family square that will be incorporated into a school quilt. Each school quilt will be incorporated into a larger cluster quilt that will celebrate the diversity of the Samuel S. Fels Cluster.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

In addition to the diversity quilt, another tangible outcome of the cluster's commitment to diversity has been the creation of a wall at Fels High School that is composed of tiles made by students. In addition, The Philadelphia Inquirer has started a regular column on diversity for staff, parents and students to write about their perspectives on issues related to diversity.

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