Although Penn GSE is a relatively small school of education, our nationally renowned faculty and students are involved in hundreds of initiatives throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area, ranging from high-quality afterschool programs to research that sparks national conversations to the development of an acclaimed public school partnership with the School District of Philadelphia.

Talented Teachers & Counselors

Our teacher education and counseling programs are united by their extraordinary commitment to Philadelphia and their history of developing leaders for urban education. Graduates of our programs successfully engage their students in academics, emphasize civic engagement, and employ research-based pedagogical strategies.

Penn GSE’s Urban Teacher Education Program

(UTEP) has been preparing teachers in – and for – Philadelphia schools since the University of Pennsylvania first began offering education courses. Today, our vibrant 10-month program emphasizes collaborative, ethical, and visionary teacher leadership for urban education.

The Penn GSE - Teach for America Program

(TFA) is the only TFA-affiliated program at an Ivy League institution. In less than 10 years, our TFA program has graduated over 1,000 teachers, many of whom continue to teach in the Philadelphia region.

Innovative Urban Schools

Penn GSE has been deeply involved with West Philadelphia public schools since our founding in 1914, forming powerful and successful partnerships for public education.



Read More About Our Work In Urban Schools

Effective Professional Development

Professional development is essential to nurturing effective teachers and education leaders, and Penn GSE’s centers and initiatives offer an array of unique professional development programs to the Philadelphia education community.

Led by Dr. Diane Waff, the Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) has worked with teachers in Philadelphia for more than 27 years. PhilWP engages K-12 practitioners across the city in developing curricula that address Common Core State Standards for reading and writing, strengthening practice, and designing standards-aligned, project-based curricular units.

The Penn Center for Educational Leadership (PCEL) at Penn GSE offers a variety of professional development services focused on putting emerging research into practice. PCEL comprises several initiatives aimed at fostering effective educational leadership, teaching, student learning, and organizational change.


Committed Service & Civic Engagement

Civic engagement and community service are central to Penn GSE’s mission. Our academic programs and research initiatives are infused with a commitment to social justice, and many of our students and faculty make engaging in public an integral part of their work.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Howard Stevenson is currently working on the innovative Barbershop Project with fellow Penn Professors John Jemmott and Loretta Sweet Jemmott. Capitalizing on the influence and long-term stability of neighborhood barbers, the Barbershop Project has trained over 150 Philadelphia barbers to educate their young male customers on violence prevention and HIV/AIDS reduction strategies during haircut appointments.

Led by Dr. Harris Sokoloff, the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE) fosters community engagement in school and government decision-making processes. Whether tackling the City budget, undertaking school facilities planning, or recommending community-friendly upgrades to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, PPCE is an effective resource for Philadelphia communities.

Relevant Research

The University of Pennsylvania is a world-class research institution, and GSE faculty and students are consistently engaged in research efforts throughout the Philadelphia region.

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP)-Penn Graduate School of Education Shared Solutions is a formal research partnership launched in September 2014, with the aim of assisting the District’s school turnaround and new schools efforts. The researcher-practitioner partnership is comprised of Penn GSE faculty and students along with SDP leadership and staff, led by Dr. Tonya Wolford, Deputy of Research and Evaluation at the SDP. The initiative is funded with seed money from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) within the U.S. Department of Education.

Drs. John Fantuzzo and Dennis Culhane collaborated on the development of the Kids Integrated Database System (KIDS), a groundbreaking citywide database that integrates information collected by health, education, and social services agencies in Philadelphia. KIDS enables practitioners and researchers to identify patterns of risk and resilience and improve service delivery to the city’s most vulnerable populations.