The Death of Deadly Smedley: The New Life of Learning Through Resilience, Time and Open Doors
How does a school known as ‘Deadly Smedley’ where 200 students don’t understand the alphabet, turn around with a 28-year-old first-time principal and 90% of teachers in their first year?
“We asked the teachers to stick with us — we said, ‘The heat will break. The bad behavior will break. We’ll do this’ ” — Brian McLaughlin
Bright yellow-clad crossing guards are moving back and forth at multiple intersections. Families and groups of children walk together, smiling and laughing. In East Frankford, a neighborhood in the Lower Northeast section of Philadelphia, Smedley Elementary is busy just before 8am. Staff members greet every child at the door and students smile as they come up the stairs. Two of them run up, and the Dean, Mr. Orange sends them right back down in a caring but strong tone: “Try that again… walk up, don’t run!” They do so, and then he goes to the door calling out to lagging students, encouraging them to get to the door on time and not be counted late. He’s fun and lively as he shouts, but won’t allow them to waste any time. Two minutes later, he’s at a desk at the entrance to the hallway checking in a few late students. An elementary school student that isn’t even three-feet tall may look cute, but Dean Orange knows that he must hold a high bar for every student because there is no time to waste: time for learning is vital at this school.
Brian McLaughlin has a personality like his spiked hair, energetic and direct. In rolled up sleeves, he doesn’t look like he wastes time, and he won’t allow it with the class he is teaching in the weeks building up to state testing: “Aubrey, looking sharp, Jeremiah are you in line? Show me, we have no time to waste. We are 7 days away from the PSSA, we have no time to waste!”
He should know something about not wasting time: of the 600 students at Smedley, over 200 came in at the ‘pre-primer’ level, unable to perform the most basic skill for reading: recognizing and understanding the letters of the alphabet. 54% of second graders, 75% of first graders and almost every Kindergartener couldn’t do this, and getting them all to read would be a laughable idea for most educators. But not for an effervescent principal like McLaughlin, bent on turning his school into a high-performing, reading-loving environment: of the 200 students that were pre-primer, only 25 were still at pre-primer level halfway through the school year and according to McLaughlin, “it’s probably now down to 5–10” students as of the beginning of March.
Such numbers are stunning in and of themselves, but there is more to the story of the school. On October 2nd, 1996, Stacy Buxton-Boyd and her cousin Lealoa Coles were waiting for Buxton-Boyd’s three children to be dismissed. They were sitting inside a Jeep Cherokee on the 5100 block of Charles Street, along the south side of the building with other parents. Children and teachers had been gathering in the school yard when Buxton-Boyd’s estranged husband Steven Boyd approached the Jeep, despite a court order to stay away from her and the children. As his wife exited the vehicle, he shot and killed her from close range. He then walked around the Jeep to shoot Coles at close range. As he fled, children, parents and teachers scattered, screaming. Coles and Buxton-Boyd were pronounced dead at the scene when emergency responders arrived. The business-as-usual dismissal had taken an ugly turn that would leave a seemingly indelible mark on the school and the community. Thereafter, Smedley Elementary became known as ‘Deadly Smedley’, a moniker that persisted in use even by students at the school who had been born long after the murders.
The story of Frankford, a historic neighborhood in Philadelphia is one of severe economic decline. A 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer study of police statistics found that East Frankford had the city’s second highest violent crime rate in the range of 600–800 violent crimes per square mile. The neighborhood has one of Philadelphia’s busiest drug corners at the intersection of Bridge and Hawthorne streets, only one block away from Smedley Elementary’s main entrance. Over the course of 2009, 130,000 calls from residents flooded the 15th police district that serves Frankford, the highest of any district in the city that year. While major criminal offenses were down an average of 21% across the rest of the city’s police districts from 1999 to 2008, with every other district experiencing a drop, the only one to experience a rise was the 15th police district. Such statistical realities are simply proof of what the stories like that of the Frankford Slasher, Whitehall turf-wars and ‘Deadly Smedley’ are already saying: that Frankford is a neighborhood in great need.
But the area was not always like this. It was originally a village founded by German and Swedish settlers in 1684. As it grew in the 19th century, it became a manufacturing hub that included cotton mills, calico print-works, iron-works and a national Arsenal that catapulted Philadelphia into being known as the ‘Workshop of the World’. The Arsenal itself grew to producing 8 million bullets a day during World War II, sustaining 22,000 jobs.
The use of Frankford Avenue, Frankford’s main thoroughfare, reflects this up and down storyline. It is the oldest continuously used country road in the United States: it was originally a trail used by the Lenape Indians, then was dubbed ‘King’s Highway’ in 1683. It was used during the Revolutionary War by soldiers and colonial instigators from Frankford. When the manufacturing industry grew in the area, Frankford Avenue became a major commercial center, aided by the construction of the Market-Frankford Elevated Train (‘El’) in 1922. But by 1990, 30% of the storefronts along the avenue were vacant. The ‘El’ leaves the Avenue mostly in shadow, and is now widely known as a haven for prostitution and drug sales.
Four blocks southeast of the ‘El’ is Smedley Elementary. It was founded in 1924, during the rise of the neighborhood, but by the 2009–2010 school year, Smedley’s 5th grade was posting year-over-year drops in proficiency rates while the Philadelphia School District as a whole was posting year-over-year gains. Only 9% of Smedley’s 5th graders could read on grade level, and 80% were ‘Below Basic’. Only 12% were doing math on grade level. And stunningly, only 3 out of every 100 5th graders could write at a level of proficiency. Comparatively, 40% of 5th graders in the School District of Philadelphia could read on grade level with 64% of 5th graders statewide in Pennsylvania.
Symbiotic with the academic troubles, Smedley’s struggles involved 35 incidents where students were led out of the school in handcuffs by one of the schools three police officers. All for only 600 students aged eleven and under. A parent summed up the troubles, stating: “There is an extreme culture of disrespect and violence… the school is a very toxic place”.
In March of 2010, it was announced that Smedley would be one of the schools that would participate in Renaissance Schools Initiative, a sweeping attempt by the Philadelphia School District to bring reform to its most underperforming schools. Participating schools were designated to be radically transformed with mostly new staff, longer school days and a variety of extra supports. The model is an incredibly difficult process, one that has seen many failed attempts nationally, but Smedley was paired with Mastery Charter Schools, an experienced organization trusted by the Philadelphia School District that had already successfully turned around 3 failing District schools. In the summer of 2010, all of Smedley’s staff was reassigned elsewhere by the District and Mastery Charter Schools hired over 30 teachers and began the enormous task of bringing new academic life to ‘Deadly Smedley’.
Brian McLaughlin pulls no punches regarding the transformation of his school: “It was intensely overwhelming.” This was true in terms of the infrastructure as well as the students:
“We got the keys to the building on August 2nd along with all the records leaving us only 28 days to be ready for the students. We had to enroll 600 students, we had to clean out the building because it was left in a ghost town state — it took 37 tractor trailers to get everything out. There were desks with food in them, medical supplies all over the place. And we had only 8 days in the building before the new teachers came for professional development.
“Once we got started, it was over 100 degrees in the building every day in the first week of school with no air conditioning. Our assistant principal for school culture quit on the first day: she said ‘I don’t think I can do this’ and I said ‘Okay’… There was an onslaught of students needing a lot of help! Probably 90% of the students ‘snapped to’ right away but 10% of the students needed constant support and we spent the first six weeks figuring out what to do with them.”
The transformation had begun, and McLaughlin’s analysis of ‘how’ begins with effort: “We were persistent in talking about raising the bar… we were relentless”. Brian and his administrative team led the way: “We asked the teachers to stick with us — we said, the heat will break, the bad behavior will break. We’ll do this — they listened because they saw us working hard.”
The hard work paid off. In September, the deans of students were receiving 47 calls per day. By January, that was down to 6 per day for all 600 students. In December, students who had previously been unable to read were flocking to pick up books during a school-wide book drive. Proficiency rates in reading from an initial predictive test to a test administered halfway through the year saw 4th grade scores more than double, and 3rd and 5th graders’ scores more than quadruple. And of course, 90% of the 200 students who were pre-primer upon entering in September were moving towards proficiency at only the halfway the school year. In summing it up, McLaughlin is paradoxical yet unequivocal about what has happened at Smedley: “The student achievement and turnaround of students without any skills, is miraculous… can this same turnaround happen elsewhere? Yes, it absolutely can. It’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, but there is no reason any other school can’t do this.”
What McLaughlin and Mastery have done at Smedley is an ordinary miracle: miraculous, because of the unprecedented transformation of school culture and academic growth; ordinary, because McLaughlin and his staff are so new to what they are doing and because none of the methods or strategies they are following are new in the world of education.
In Ms. Phillips 5th grade class, all of the students are taking notes silently. The halls are silent except for teacher voices — you wouldn’t think that there were over one-hundred 10- and 11-year-olds from East Frankford in classes adjacent to one short, quiet hallway. Stepping out of Ms. Phillips’ room, Anthony Gonzales, a 5th grader, shares that wants to go to Penn State or the University of Pennsylvania. “I’ve seen how my teachers were successful and I want to be successful like them”.
Last year, he says, he used to get into a lot of fights. “There was a lot of fights, people running in the halls and teachers didn’t say anything.” But this year has been different: “This school made me do better in my tests and my behavior. It helped a lot of students to do better than last year. They told us that we can do better and that if we do, then we can go to college and not be on the streets.”
Mariah Kelly, another 5th grader agrees that this year is different: “This year my teachers are nice, they treat us well, they don’t scream at us. Last year was bad because kids were fighting and bringing weapons, I didn’t feel safe. This year I stay in my seat and listen to my teacher and not run in the halls and do all my work.”
Kelly says that she wants to go to ‘UPenn’ to become a pharmacist. She and Gonzales are not alone in being able to name colleges that they want to attend. “In fact”, says teacher Marjorie Thomas, “I have kids talking about what college they want to go to and they’re in 2nd grade. You can ask any kid what college they want to go to, they can tell you. They may not understand exactly what college is, but they hear about it and know the names and know it’s important.”
Discussing college with students in a K-5 school may seem like a waste of time, but for an organization like Mastery, it is all part of reaching towards high standards and there are few standards higher than Mastery’s mission: “All students will learn the academic and personal skills necessary to succeed in higher education, to compete in the global economy and to pursue their dreams”.
To get there, Mastery creates a culture of high standards across the school. Their motto is “Excellence. No Excuses” which is emblazoned on posters around Smedley, as well as the welcome carpet at the main entrance. In most other urban schools, such ambition would falter quickly, but because of the quick, early progress, it focused and fueled the work of Smedley’s staff. A number of reasons were offered by teachers as to why Smedley has seen this level of progress: Brian’s leadership, hard work, having a strong academic plan, an administrative open doors policy and students simply buying into the expectations set for them. The reality seems to be that all are true of the school. But of all the different themes that stood out in interviews of staff and class visits, research is clear that it all starts with the exertion and effort McLaughlin initially described; a resilience that permeates all that the school does.
In 2001, Bruce Wilson and H. Dickson Corbett published the results of a three-year study of students in Philadelphia. They were investigating the experiences of middle-school students in order to better understand the difference in academic performance between struggling urban students and their high-performing suburban counterparts. Their findings were presented in the book, Listening to Urban Kids: School Reform and the Teachers They Want, findings which presented in abstract form what Smedley has embodied in real life. The authors found that “the performance gap can be reduced by paying much closer attention to the nature of students’ classroom experiences. Dwelling on matters of heredity and background … is unproductive and, in fact, simply wrong”. So despite poverty and the myriad troubles that follow it for students like those in East Frankford, dwelling on the outside struggles was a waste of time. Only by looking to the teachers would anyone find a possible source of help to overcome the troubles of school violence and academic failure. Wilson and Corbett sought to understand the nature of students’ classroom experiences, particularly what the students found in good teachers and wanted from every teacher. What they found could be shocking or unsurprising depending on your view of urban education (but either way, worthy of quoting at length):
Students did not want teachers to find excuses to not teach them, to leave a student alone just because the student chose not to participate, or to let students decide on their own to work or not. They did not want teachers to give in to disruptions to the exclusion of instruction. They did not want teachers who failed to find the time to provide extra help. They did not want teachers to quit explaining something to someone just because the task or problem had already been explained several times before. They did not want teachers who ignored students’ problems or who taught content devoid of meaning in students’ daily lives. They did not want teachers who expected little of them… the effective teachers adhered to a ‘no excuses’ policy. That is, there were no acceptable reasons why every student eventually could not complete his or her work, and there were no acceptable reasons why a teacher would ‘give up’ on a child. The premise was that every child should complete every assignment and that it was the teacher’s job to ensure that this happened. Accepting this premise meant that the teacher would have to use a host of strategies… But the particular strategies used were less important than the underlying belief they symbolized: that every child had to have the in-school support necessary for learning to occur.
Students wanted to be challenged, they wanted a ‘no-excuses’ kind of school. This explains in large part why McLaughlin could say with credulity that 90% of Smedley’s students ‘snapped-to’ right at the start of the school year. Despite the fact that students like Mariah Kelly and Anthony Gonzales used to run the halls and fight the year before, that’s not what they really wanted to do. They wanted a school that didn’t let them cause trouble in the classroom or make excuses for misbehavior or not do homework. They wanted a school that they couldn’t call ‘Deadly Smedley’.
The force of this point is not to be missed. Wilson and Corbitt write:
When we say ‘students wanted’ these qualities present in their classrooms, we mean that the overwhelming majority of students reiterated these characteristics at every opportunity in the interviews over the three-year period. These are not ‘the survey says’ kind of answer. Offering the percentage of students who responded with these ‘wants’ is not very meaningful because the number of dissenters would be in the single digits — in absolute numbers not percentages.
Smedley Elementary has become living proof of this. It is not to say that it was easy — don’t forget McLaughlin’s statement that the start of the turnaround was intensely overwhelming, and that the Assistant Principal for School Culture quit on the first day. The entire array of bad academic habits and violent tendencies wrought by poverty cannot disappear overnight, but they can be overcome in many students. This is the kind of resilience that makes the difference in a school like Smedley.
Resilience is a topic that makes sense to consider when talking about urban education. Telling a new acquaintance that you teach in an urban area is likely to elicit raised eyebrows and a statement like “That can’t be easy…” Few people would argue that teachers in a big city like Philadelphia are not hard-working, so what’s different about the resilience of the teachers at Smedley? It is a resilience that exudes the teacher qualities that Wilson and Corbett describe: it doesn’t take any excuses, always provides extra help and doesn’t give up on students. It is ultimately driven by the belief that all students can achieve. Bonnie Bernard, author of a chapter on resiliency in the book Closing the Achievement Gap sums up research on the topic: “The bottom line and starting point for creating turnaround classrooms and schools… is the deep belief on the part of teachers and school staff that every child and youth has… the capacity for healthy development and successful learning.
A deep belief is a belief that brings action, and kindergarten teacher Heather Gansky is a perfect example of resilient, student-centered belief in action. She came to Smedley wanting to serve students in need, but it didn’t all go as planned: “When I was looking at the schools I could go to, I saw that Smedley was the worst, so I said ‘I’ll go there’. I wanted to be somewhere where the kids really needed it. But in my head I was a little too over-confident, thinking ‘it’ll be like preschool — a piece of cake’. The first day of school I cried. They were saying ‘no’, I had no power, I thought: ‘what do I do?’ ”
Gansky’s kindergarten class came in unable to read, and with “no social skills”. The question ‘What do I do?’ is a question that every teacher must answer, but only a resilient, student-centered teacher like Heather Gansky can answer with something other than ‘nothing’:
I can’t pinpoint where the shift was. A lot of it was my mindset toward the kids and thinking, ‘this won’t be a battle’. My voice, I can have a very harsh voice. The administrators said, ‘Try calming yourself’. The kids would rile me up and I would rile them up, but once I started having a calm voice, things shifted. It was also because of understanding that we can have fun and realizing that this is a class where we will learn and do well. I tell them, you’re not babies anymore, you’re big kids and we can’t waste time. I noticed by the second month the classroom culture was where I wanted it, and I could say I actually love the kids now.
The cultural shift was connected to an academic shift: though Gansky’s class came in performing at a level not even ready for Kindergarten, halfway through the year all of them were reading with proficiency for a Kindergartener, while some were well into a first-grade reading level.
Around the corner and down the hall from Gansky’s Kindergarten classroom is a blue table with a science experiment on it: cups of dirt, many with small plants sprouting. It would seem to be a metaphor for the new growth in Smedley’s students, but it would be just as good a metaphor for Smedley’s teachers. This year, Gansky was only in her first year after serving with Teach for America in Los Angeles. She was in good company: 90% of Smedley’s teachers had little or no classroom experience. Their principal was also low on experience: McLaughlin had only been an assistant principal for a year before becoming principal at Smedley at the not-so-experienced age of 28. Why was Smedley’s staff so young? And how could they be so successful with such little experience? Resilience alone cannot account for success in turning around a school with such a young staff. McLaughlin explains: “I was 100% involved in hiring: I look for teachers that are smart enough, hardworking, mission-aligned and believe in urban education. They believed the way we do it was right. In the first six weeks we need you to believe we’re right, we don’t need you to do the newest educational strategy.”
What mattered more to McLaughlin was not a staff with experience, but a staff with a willingness to follow the game-plan that had been prepared. The resilience had to be paired with a strong, intentional course of action that would bring forward academic progress. So for six weeks McLaughlin lived in Brooklyn observing classes in a successful elementary school, and for six months in total he worked for Mastery to develop a rigorously academic, elementary-school model based on proven strategies for student success. Despite having limited experience himself, he was building on years of experience from others.
To say that the plan has worked is an understatement, and the reasons why have more to do with priorities and giving adequate time and attention to a simple but key focus area than in perfecting details of curricula and lesson planning. It’s true that Mastery had already developed a detailed approach that was designed to create a straight line from a daily activity in the classroom to success in college: by aligning lessons and curricula to state standards, Mastery was preparing students for success in the Pennsylvania state tests which would prepare students for success in the SAT, which would show that students were prepared for success in college. Rigorous and detailed lesson planning, unit planning and data analysis are all a part of what Mastery does. But the detail of those elements is secondary in considering why Smedley has been successful and other schools haven’t. The answer is in spending time on the highest priorities, and McLaughlin has no problem with identifying that: “Bucket number one is getting the kids to be good readers.”
The importance of functioning priorities is clear in the book Teach Like a Champion. It’s a dense but practical book written by Doug Lemov, managing director of the well-known and successful school network Uncommon Schools, based in New Jersey and New York. Many books on teaching focus on philosophical, pedagogical concepts but as Lemov explains, educators can accomplish more simply by prioritizing time for learning and allowing nothing to get in the way of it:
One of the biggest ironies I hope you will take away from reading this book is that many of the tools likely to yield the strongest classroom results remain essentially beneath the notice of our theories and theorists of education. Consider one unmistakable driver of student achievement: carefully built and practiced routines for the distribution and collection of classroom materials… Assume the average class of students passes out or back papers and materials twenty times a day and that it takes a typical class a minute and twenty seconds to do this. If McCurry’s students can accomplish this task in just twenty seconds, they will save twenty minutes a day (one minute each time). They can then allocate this time to studying the causes of the Civil War or how to add fractions with unlike denominators. Now multiply that twenty minutes per day by 190 school days, and you find that McCurry has just taught his students a routine that will net him thirty-eight hundred minutes of additional instruction over the course of a school year. That’s more than sixty-three hours or almost eight additional days of instruction — time for whole units on Reconstruction or coordinate geometry! Assuming that, all told, McCurry spends an hour teaching and practicing this routine, his short investment will yield a return in learning time of roughly 6,000 percent, setting his students free to engage their minds several thousand times over.
Lemov writes later: “Time is water in the desert, a teacher’s most precious resource”. This is something McLaughlin took to heart: at the center of his academic plan was an enviably simple strategy: prioritize time for reading. McLaughlin knew that teachers, reading specialists and computer programs would be able to work within student ability levels and take care of the daily minutiae of learning. It was really a matter of creating the time to develop student reading skills. It was a plan to not be distracted by anything else, to keep reading as the number one priority. Students at Smedley have recess and field trips, and they have less academic classes like P.E. and art, but none of that impedes the first priority. Many schools acquiesce to the idea of valuing reading but functionally allow its priority to be impeded. So circulating reading groups were created at Smedley (McLaughlin had seen them operate when he was in Brooklyn) where in each classroom for almost half the school day, students rotate between guided reading with a specialist, reading a book with the classroom teacher, or working on the computer in an individually tailored reading program. “Bucket number one” could not be derailed by things like handing out papers or a teacher trying out the latest pedagogical technique.
2nd grade teacher Marjorie Thomas has seen the implementation of this priority firsthand: “I was shocked at the organization Mastery had, there was already a plan set in place… We have 3 reading blocks: the curriculum is intense but it’s working.”
The prioritization of time for reading is central to understanding Smedley’s success, but as any urban educator knows, the way it is implemented cannot be overlooked. The way that McLaughlin led Smedley’s staff was key to maintaining the early resilience, and the sustained focus on bucket number one; it was a leadership that listened.
Marjorie Thomas described how this functioned at Smedley in contrast with her experience elsewhere: “Here, there is a whole different atmosphere in the building. Brian has his positive attitude, he believes in Mastery, you can tell he believes in it. He involves staff in ideas, his door is always open. There was no ‘we don’t care: do this’ ”. She had no trouble listing things that had changed from the the start of the year because of leadership that listened to teacher input: recess and lunch detentions, having all students go on field trips, bathroom schedules.
In addition to those changes, the school also made two major adjustments six weeks into the year. One was a self-contained classroom for students with severe social-emotional struggles called the ‘K-Pod’. Another was changing classrooms in grades 3–5 from being self-contained to a more middle-school model where students go from one class to another. The latter change was in response to teachers stating that it would be the best way to reduce their stress. Assistant Principal for Instruction, Rickia Reid says, “We do what we say but we listen. We know that we serve teachers and they need to be part of the process”.
The important thing was not to change the schedule or to no longer have self-contained classrooms, though having a mid-year survey reveal that 90% of Smedley’s staff felt satisfied with their job cannot have failed to encourage McLaughlin. What was important was to create a staff culture where everyone worked together for the good of the students. What other reason could there be for why Smedley’s deans were willing to answer 47 calls a day in 100 degree heat in September?
Combining an open-doors approach with a plan that prioritized time for reading and a resilient attitude that believed in the ability of all students to achieve, is why ‘Deadly Smedley’ is no more. In its place is now a building full of motivated teachers and students. Marjorie Thomas can’t help pointing out specific students in classrooms we walk by who have transformed: “That student had a really horrible reputation last year for fighting with teachers, now he loves math and helps out in the classroom, he’s a totally different student. And that student, he used to cry all the time last year, he didn’t do anything but ran out of the room. Now he is very good in math and reading and is excelling more every report period.”
Ask Heather Gansky about the great change in student achievement at Smedley, and you’ll get a big smile: “That is the biggest motivation… I see that growth!”
 Pennsylvania State Standard Assessment
 Gibbons, T. J., & Gelles, J. (1996, October 3). Women Shot Dead Waiting at School. Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. B01.
 Administrators initially learned about the term when interviewing Smedley students prior to the turnaround
 Lubrano, A. (2010, November 29). Scarred by violence, moved to take action: Ex-teacher writes cautionary tale for children after little girl is murdered. Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/111008399.html?viewAll=y
 Volk, S. (2007). Top 10 Drug Corners. Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/coverstory/top_10_drug_corners-38426414.html
 Crime statistics in Philadelphia can be found at: http://www.phillypolice.com/about/crime-statistics/. This graphic shows the particular statistics in detail: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2804/4203618608_f220c6d4cb_o.jpg
 Bradford, T. G. (1837). The Encyclopedia of Geography: Comprising a Complete Description of the Earth. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.
 Weber, C. A., Kosmin, I., & Kirkpatrick, M. (1990). Workshop of the World. Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania: Oliver Evans Press.
 Bissinger, B. (1997). A Prayer for the City. New York: Random House
 Higginson, T. W. (1886). A Larger History of the United States of America to the Close of President Jackson’s Administration. New York: Harper & Brothers. p281.
 Wright, D. J. (2001). It Takes a Neighborhood: Strategies to Prevent Urban Decline. Albany, New York: The Rockefeller Institute Press. p48.
 Innumerable news stories and testimonies from locals attest to this.
 Franklin Smedley was a businessman in Frankford in the late 1800s and early 1900s, who participated in a number of educational initiatives in the area in a time when educational opportunities were sparse.
 Full comparative statistics: Reading 9%, state average 64%, School District of Philadelphia, 40%; Writing 3%, state average 62%, SDP 35%; Math 12%, state average 74%, SDP 52%
 “Franklin Smedley Elementary School”. (5/31/05). Parent quote from http://www.trulia.com/schools/PA-Philadelphia/Franklin_Smedley_Elementary_School/. Retrieved 4/4/10.
 Wilson, B., & Corbett, H. (2001). Listening to urban kids: School reform and the teachers they want. New York: State University of New York Press. p63.
 Ibid, p63–64.
 Ibid, p64.
 Benard, B. (2003). Fostering resilience in urban schools. In B. Williams (Ed.), Closing the achievement gap: A vision for changing beliefs and practices 96–119. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. p132.
Ayers and Ford, quoted by Bernard, take it a step further: “Teachers must believe their students can experience a future that is full of hope, promise, and potential, or they should, quite simply, not teach our children.”
 Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. p7.
 Ibid, p231.