Republished with permission from the Fallser:
No one knows Thomas Mifflin School better than Terry Jann. An alumna of Ethan Allen School, Lincoln High School, Community College, and Pennsylvania State University, she has entered many a classroom as a student, a teacher, and, currently, a School Based Teacher Leader. Living in Center City during her first teaching assignment in North Philadelphia, she craved greenery. “I came to Mifflin because there were trees,” she recently noted.
In the 1970s Ms. Jann taught first, second and fourth grades, putting her Bachelor of Education degree to immediate good use. As programs changed, so did Ms. Jann. She moved from being a fulltime classroom teacher to a woman wearing many hats. “I learned to be flexible,” she quipped. New programs, Title I funding, standardized testing, “No Child Left Behind,” and five different principals in the past 35 years, mean her institutional memory and an ability to juggle old and new tasks help keep Mifflin humming along.
Her current title is School Based Teacher Leader, so she spends time in classrooms assisting with the math curriculum. As testing coordinator, Ms. Jann is responsible for the distrubution, pickup and delivery of tests for the 265 student body. Bench Marks, which are reading and math tests administered to grades 3-8 every 6 weeks, evaluate how students are doing compared to their peers in the School District. Then there is Terra Nova in the spring, a national test for grades 1-8. Finally, as well as the “No Child Left Behind” PSSA, a yardstick for grades 5-8. Throughout the school year Ms. Jann orders materials ranging from texts to pencils to Macintosh computers.
When the School District conducts staff development training, Ms. Jann attends the sessions then does “turn around training” at Mifflin. Since she is also the liaison with local community organizations and institutions such as East Falls Tree Tenders, Medical College of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia University she links the projects with the faculty. Probably not last, and certainly not least, she writes grants for programs to enrich the curricula.
In looking back over the past 10 years, Ms. Jann finds “the advances in computer technology amazing.” Students can go to the computer lab and immerse themselves in “First in Math” or Study Island. Both are online programs that can be accessed from any computer. Using the MACS the games modes for reading and math help the students improve their skills in these subjects. For the faculty Schoolnet provides detailed testing results which give them the opportunity to track and compare students individually and collectively. Therefore, according to Ms. Jann, they can see the students’ strengths and weaknesses and where they need to improve.
This September Ms. Jann will meet and greet new Principal, Allyssa Schmitt, a new head secretary, the start of the eight million dollar capital refurbishment, International Baccalaureate accreditation, and the raison d’etre for the school, the students. Yes, Ms. Jann is right: “Mifflin, always an adventure.”