schoolkids denardo Back to School for Area Students

Summer vacation is officially over for most children in the region. It’s the first day of school in Philadelphia and many other nearby towns.

KYW’s Mike DeNardo reports that Mayor Nutter, schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman, and other officials rang handheld bells this morning outside the new Willard Elementary School to ceremonially ring in the new year.

ackerman1stday denardo Back to School for Area Students

by KYW's Mike DeNardo

It’s become tradition for Ackerman to walk a student to school on the first day. On this day, she escorted second-grader Shermya Ancrum-Brown to school (in photo at right):

(Ackerman:) “Have you met your teacher?”

(Shermya:)  “Yes.”

(Ackerman:)  “What’s your teacher’s name?”

(Shermya:)  “Miss Fox.”

Kindergarten teacher Naomi Brickle says even teachers get butterflies on the first day:

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I love being a teacher. I love being the first one to help start their building blocks. It’s the greatest feeling.”

There are big changes for 13 of Philadelphia’s 265 schools this year. Seven low-performing schools were converted to charter schools, and six so-called “Promise Academies” — schools with low performance targeted for improvement — had their staffs overhauled with the aim of boosting performance.

KYW’s Paul Kurtz reports that so-called “Million Father Marches” have been going on in hundreds of cities across the country, and today was Philadelphia’s turn.

The theme is violence-free schools as dads, uncles, guardians — any male figures — are being asked to take their kids to school, pick up a copy of the roster, and become more involved as a parent throughout the school year while pushing the concept of nonviolence.

This is something that Bryant Lee says he’s always done with son, Tamir:

“He’s probably the most important thing in my life, so I have to make sure I’m there, every day of school. It’s important for us as African-Americans fathers to set an example for our kids so they don’t end up in jail or dead.”

An estimated 800,000 men in 600 cities across America are expected to take their children to school this year.

KYW’s Kim Glovas reports that now that school has started, parents may start worrying about how their child will do in classes this year. A local expert has some study tips.

Dr. Stephen Jones is an engineering professor at Villanova University, but he is also a study skills expert.  He says to get your child off on the right foot, set up a plan that will be used every day for homework or studying:

“What I find is really important is to eliminate distractions.  And those distractions may be friends, those distractions may be in the environment where you study. I always tell students in terms of playing music in the background, if it’s loud music that it makes you want to get up and dance, that’s not going to allow you to study.”

Jones also says put personal electronics — such as  iPods, cell phones, and other devices — in another room so your child won’t be tempted to answer that text message.

For more tips, you can visit Dr. Jones’ web site,

(Photos by KYW’s Mike DeNardo)