June 1, 2016

Michael Farrell named as next principal for Penn Alexander School

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Michael Farrell
On June 1, the School District of Philadelphia announced the appointment of Michael Farrell as the next principal of the Penn Alexander School (PAS), a partnership school with Penn’s Graduate School of Education. A native of West Philadelphia, Farrell currently serves as the founding principal of Thomas Elementary School, a Mastery Charter School located in South Philadelphia.  Prior to his work at Mastery, Farrell worked at the Science Leadership Academy.  He began his career as a special education teacher at Philadelphia’s Independence Charter School.

Farrell was selected by Superintendent William R. Hite in consultation with a committee of teachers; School Advisory Council, Home and School, and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers representatives; and University of Pennsylvania and School District officials. Penn GSE’s dean Pam Grossman co-chaired the search consultative committee with Assistant Superintendent Sean Conley. Founding PAS principal Sheila A. Sydnor, who is retiring at the end of the school year, will assist in the transition process.

“Michael comes very highly recommended by all who have worked with him, and we are confident that he is the right person to build upon Principal Sydnor’s incredible legacy,” Grossman said. “We are excited to welcome Michael into the Penn Alexander family.” 

 Penn Alexander, formally known as the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, is the result of a historic partnership among the University of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to build a model university-assisted, K-8 public school for West Philadelphia children. Befitting this first public-private partnership, the school was named for Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, a distinguished graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a woman of many “firsts.”  Founded in 2001 at 43rd and Locust Streets in Philadelphia, the school is dedicated to providing high-quality public education to neighborhood children through a child-centered, research-based program.  Located in a diverse West Philadelphia community, the Penn Alexander School serves approximately 550 neighborhood students. Penn GSE has shepherded the partnership since the school’s inception, and offers a range of ongoing resources to the school – ranging from an after-school math club to student teachers to professional development. Many of the school’s faculty are Penn GSE graduates. In 2016, Penn Alexander was nominated as a U.S. Blue Ribbon School by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for its success in closing the achievement gap. The school was also a City Leader among kindergarten through eighth grade schools on the 2014-15 School Progress Report.

 “The academic and student program that has been built by Principal Sydnor and the committed team over the past 15 years is truly a shining light for public education in our city,” said Principal-Elect Michael Farrell.  “I have no doubt that Dr. Alexander would be proud of the opportunities the school has created in her name. I’m excited to join this vibrant community and build on the school's successful legacy.”