PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s been a year of triumph and tragedy for Overbrook High School. The district launched its 21st Century Schools model at three schools, including Overbrook, which provides students with industry-based career paths.
Overbrook’s entire senior class has been accepted to a college or a trade school. But the achievement is also marred by grief. Five students were shot and wounded in two separate incidents near the school this year. Overbrook Principal Dr. Kahlila Johnson has guided her school community through it all.
“Although we have had things that have happened that are very traumatic in our community and our city, there are a lot of young people who are doing a lot of good work,” she said.
Johnson is one of seven principals singled out for their excellence by the Lindback Foundation Awards, an honor given to principals for their leadership and humanitarian contributions. Each awardee is given a $20,000 prize, which Johnson will use to upgrade the school’s outdated library.
“It’s a space that’s outdated. It’s a space that needs to be refurbished,” she added.
Heather Mull Miller, principal of Hunter Elementary in Kensington, is also being commended. She said virtual learning during COVID-19 took its toll on her students.
“That connection that makes us human – that self to other people – that connection was completely lost,” she said.
Utilizing banners, posters and T-shirts, she rebuilt a sense of belonging and helped her students feel psychologically safe in classrooms.
“That has paid off,” she said. “Because when kids want to come to school, they come to school. And when I have butts in seats, kids learn and kids grow.”
The seven principals include:
Amanda Jones, Hon. Luis Munoz-Marin School
Dr. Crystal Edwards, William D. Kelley School
Dr. Alphonso Evans, Allen M. Stearne School
Heather Mull Miller, William H. Hunter School
Diana Garcia, Frances E. Willard School
Lillian Izzard, Thomas A. Edison High School
Dr. Khalila Johnson, Overbrook High School