Chester, Pa.—The Widener Partnership Charter School, Pennsylvania’s first university-based charter school, appointed April Thomas of Chesterbrook, Pa. as principal/CEO effective February 27. Thomas replaces Dr. Darlene Davis who is stepping down to address family medical issues.
Thomas joined Widener as assistant principal last August after serving most of the last seven years as assistant principal for school culture for Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia. During that period, she also served eight months as a turnaround assistant principal at Germantown High School.
As assistant principal, Thomas works closely with students, teachers and families to enhance the positive school climate; helps shape and lead the professional development program for teachers, and assists Dr. Davis in implementing curriculum modifications and development, according to Dr. Paula Silver, chair of the Widener Partnership Charter School Board of Trustees.
“Whenever a school’s administrator steps down, concerns about leadership and continuity understandably arise,” Dr. Silver wrote in a letter to parents on November 20. “We are most fortunate to be able to make, we believe, a seamless transition in leadership. In just a few short months, Ms. Thomas has made her mark as a dynamic academic leader. All who have had the opportunity to interact with Ms. Thomas have praised her as a wonderful addition to our school.”
Thomas holds master’s degrees in reading and educational leadership from Arcadia University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She is certified in Pennsylvania as a principal and reading specialist and holds English certification for grades 7-12.
“I believe I have found my professional home at Widener Partnership Charter School and I am committed to taking the school to the next level,” Thomas said.
Since her appointment in July 2013, Dr. Davis made significant contributions to the school’s academic program and culture. She led successful efforts to redesign the language arts and mathematics curriculum, enhanced the partnership between the school and families and implemented an aggressive professional development program for teachers.
“We are very grateful for the contributions Dr. Davis has made to our school and we wish her and her family well,” Silver said.
Widener Partnership takes a holistic approach to education that emphasizes a low student to teacher ratio, the social and emotional development of each student, a close partnership with parents and caregivers, and the inclusion of music, art, physical and health education and foreign language instruction as integral parts of the curriculum.
Because it is affiliated with Widener University, the school receives a variety of supports from the university including education faculty and students who support and enhance the instruction of classroom teachers, graduate students from social work and clinical psychology who provide a range of services to the children and their families, and the use of university facilities such as the Science Teaching Center and the Art Gallery.