By Amara Rocker
West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (WPCNS) is a grassroots group that aims to bring the vibrance of our community and all of its resources into our local neighborhood public schools, with a focus on Lea Elementary. The Lea Visual Arts program, a collaborative effort to improve school climate through innovative interior design and visual art throughout the school’s hallways and stairwells, is a recipient of a 2011 Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grant in the amount of $1,999. Many thanks to WPCNS member Justin McDaniel for his grant writing assistance with Lea Visual Arts program founder, Yvette Almaguer.
The Greening Lea Committee, led by WPCNS members Julie Scott, David Hincher and Jen Martel, has successfully applied for a Community Design Collaborative planning grant to green the Lea schoolyard, with the Enterprise Center CDC serving as the fiscal sponsor. The Collaborative proposed that the Lea project, along with another school, John B. Kelly, be part of a design charette exploring urban school sites next spring.
The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC)’s Open Books, Open Minds program and its volunteer librarians have transformed the Lea Library! Additions include a giant teddy bear surrounded by bear-related stories, a plush reading rug, a tiny rocking chair reading nook with reading lamp, and a book display about the ocean, complete with sea shells. The piece de resistance is a book display about caterpillars and butterflies, complete with a butterfly net and a terrarium containing butterfly eggs that have hatched into caterpillars and spun cocoons (though every student knows the proper term for cocoon is “chrysalis”). More important than the cosmetic changes are the stellar library services, brought to Lea by the volunteer librarians in collaboration with Lea’s teachers. We-PAC has quickly become one of the most popular and beloved programs at Lea.