Philly needs teachers. This statement has been repeated so many times since the 90’s that it is beginning to feel like a mantra. Drawing teachers to Philadelphia and then keeping them there seems to be an unending battle with Philadelphia students suffering the majority of the repercussions. One developer in Philadelphia thinks he has an idea that might help. D3 Real Estate plans to offer teachers in Philadelphia discounted rent when they rent from their Oxford Mills development in Fishtown.
Greg Hill of D3 Real Estate described the program:
“Although we are not educators and we’re not necessarily experts in that field, we do believe that if we can create a good working environment and a good living environment that’s affordable, it helps those very dedicated professionals do what they do best.”
This program offers a nice incentive for teachers who want work and live in Philadelphia. D3 Real Estate is able to accomplish this benefit thanks to “financing subsidies and historic tax credits.” Teachers may be the ones receiving the discount, but the real value is what this program may do for Philadelphia’s students.
Teach For America to Move Its Headquarters to Fishtown
As if having Philadelphia business’s do their part to encourage the success of Philadelphia schools weren’t enough, D3 Real Estate’s Oxford Mills development was announced as the soon-to-be headquarters of Teach For America’s Greater Philadelphia branch. Locating their offices near to discounted housing for Teach For America’s teachers was an opportunity on which they simply could not pass.
Teach For America – Greater Philadelphia works with Philadelphia schools and communities to promote an improvement in Philadelphia schools with lower funding and struggling student populations. Since 2003, Teach For America has sent more than 250 teachers to Philadelphia and Camden, NJ schools. Many of their alumni have gone on to become leaders in the Philadelphia public and Charter Schools development. Everyday Teach For America corps members make a difference in Philadelphia students’ lives.
Philadelphia Teacher Retention Programs Initiated
Rent incentives and Teach For America programs bring teachers into Philadelphia. The City now has the challenge of retaining those teachers. A recent study of Philadelphia schools (PDF) conducted by the by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) found that a shocking number of Philadelphia educators felt overworked and underappreciated.
Philadelphia is certain to continue its efforts to encourage talented educators to spend their careers in Philly. What the Oxford Mills apartments project shows us is that Philadelphia business-owners are community members that are glad to participate when city government offers incentives.
The City is taking it one step further by making efforts to honor Philly’s best educators. Philadelphia will honor 59 excellent educators from Philadelphia public high schools by awarding them the Distinguished Teaching Award. This award recognizes teachers who truly strive to elevate Philadelphia school systems with their dedication, talent, and years of service. The award comes with a $3,500 prize from the Lindback Foundation and is awarded just in time for summer vacation. How great is that?
These efforts on the part of the City and the community are steps in the right direction, and many living in Philadelphia have high hopes that the coming decade will be a period of renewal and accomplishment for Philadelphia schools.