In a neighborhood where over 90% of parents send their kids to private/charter schools, Lynsey and her husband Dan Larson are thrilled to recommend Mifflin.
We recently left behind two sets of grandparents and a bursting babysitter Rolodex in our home state of Delaware, and relocated to East Falls. In the past 5 months, this neighborhood has validated for us that home is where you hang your hat…and walk in the park, ride bikes with the neighbors, drink a tremendous amount of coffee, and enjoy a pretty sweet little life.
Just when we thought our parenting record couldn’t look any better, we struck gold. This is the story of why we chose to send our kids to East Fall’s neighborhood public school, Thomas Mifflin, and why we’d do it all over again.
Five Reasons Why We Chose Thomas Mifflin —
And why we’d do it all over again
ONE: The Teachers From Lindback Award winners to 26 year veterans, Mifflin is bursting with committed and innovative educators. The teacher retention rate fluctuates from 87%-93% yearly. This is a point of pride for everyone in the Mifflin community, and it should be a metric worth boasting about for all of East Falls.
We were armed with this information when we enrolled at Mifflin, what we didn’t yet know was just how engaged these teachers are. On the first day of school in the middle of the massive yard swirling with anxious parents and excited kids, Mr. Monahan knelt in front of our daughter asking about her necklace. We tiptoed away and watched as she followed him around the blacktop like a little duckling.
A few weeks into the school year, we couldn’t beat back our parental curiosity and requested a conference. Before we could blink, we had a date on the calendar. At the meeting, Mr. M shared our daughter’s progress, what her routine looked like, how she was adjusting socially, and what his goals were for her and her classmates. This went on for over an hour.
As we left, it became apparent to us that he wasn’t the only one still working in the building when 5pm came and went. Grit is a trait we’ve always admired in teachers, and it’s evident that the teachers at Thomas Mifflin are some of the grittiest.
TWO: Proximity Our morning commute is 5-7 minutes door to door, varying by how many bugs we stop to rescue from their squished sidewalk fate. It is without a doubt that the ability to walk to school was a major contributing factor in our choice.
East Falls has a serious village vibe, and a convenient morning stroll complete with familiar faces and fresh air really reinforces this. Aesthetics and convenience aren’t everything, but they do impact our quality of life.
THREE: Access to Administration Our daughter previously attended public school in Delaware. It was a fantastic experience. The teachers and administration communicated openly with parents and always made us feel welcome. Based on the reviews we sourced online like this one quoted below, we felt confident we’d find the same family environment at Mifflin:
“Mifflin has a strong and loving family atmosphere. The principal, support staff and faculty are all excellent! The students feel loved, empowered and academically challenge.”
Our hopes were realized when we registered at the school in August. Arriving unannounced, we snagged a personal tour of the beautiful building with a very kind Principal Mason.
Since that time, the patience and empathy of the administration and faculty has been unwavering. We continue to meet staff who know our children (and all of the students) by name. When we inquired as to how we can be more involved as parents, we received immediate feedback of how/when/where we could help and learn. It’s clear that if you’re interested in engaging with Mifflin administration, they’re waiting with open arms.
FOUR: Community Mifflin is a beautifully diverse school. As you approach the school yard before the bell rings, you’ll notice one exceptional commonality, and that’s the shared human experience of sending our tiny people out into the world for another day.
Whether it’s a shared laugh with the grandpa whose grandson is chirping about what’s on the lunch menu today as he skips down the hill, or rubbing the sleep from your eyes as you shout “morning” to the mama who’s got her arms full of backpacks and lunchboxes, or waiting atop the school yard steps with the other parents who are checking the time and giving one last wave… It is impossible not to feel connected.
FIVE: Transparency Mifflin isn’t perfect. The Philadelphia School District Progress Report notes room for improvement, specifically in the area of PSSA achievement. However, there are some seriously bright spots indicated in this public data.
For instance, the climate rating at Mifflin has been steadily improving, earning them a “model” rating in their parent survey participation rate as well as the responses themselves. For us, school climate beats test scores…any day. For many parents this may not be the case, and that’s okay too. There’s a continuous debate going on about the value of standardized testing and what metrics matter most.
This debate highlights the benefits of engaging in your child’s education and establishing goals and priorities. Sure, there are several areas in Mifflin’s annual performance report that require attention. The fact that this data is public, accessible, and current makes us feel empowered when it comes to our kids’ education.
We don’t like a lot of mystery, can you tell? This same transparent reporting standard does not exist with Charter Schools, and that’s where things get fuzzy for us. Even if Charters choose to share their data, they are not held to the same standardized metrics as public school reporting.
Parenting is hard and personal. That’s why we didn’t call this piece 5 Reasons Why YOU Should Choose Mifflin. Loyalty, enthusiasm, and data aside, the welfare of our children comes first…always.
After nearly a semester as Thomas Mifflin parents, we can confidently say we made the right choice for our family, and we’re excited about what the future holds. We’ll continue to support the teachers, staff, and students any way we can; even if it’s just by singing the their praises from the historic rooftops of East Falls.
There’s something magical happening here at Mifflin, and we’re honored to be a part of it.
Learn more about Thomas Mifflin School with the Friends of Mifflin on Facebook or at one of their monthly meetings. Or stop by the school for a personal tour.
Thomas Mifflin School
3624 Conrad Street