Ronald Tomalis recently spent about 90 minutes at MaST Community Charter School, and Pennsylvania’s education department secretary liked what he saw.
“I’m impressed, guys,” he told school officials at the end of the Sept. 20 tour.
The visit by Tomalis to MaST, a kindergarten to 12th-grade school at 1800 E. Byberry Road in Somerton, was timed to coincide with the legislature’s consideration of charter school reforms.
Perhaps the jewel of the school is the media center/library, which features, among plenty of other amenities, a Plexiglas-covered interactive floor projection screen.
“This is a beautiful facility,” Tomalis said.
The third-graders were using Educreations, a video tutorial creator application on an iPad. Alexa Doerr typed in, “Hi Mr. Tomalis,” and he gave her a fist bump.
The students love coming to the media center.
“We have a lot of technology,” said third-grader Christopher Hendershot.
Tomalis moved on to the center’s newest addition, a Promethean Active Table, which allows for interactive learning by four students. After he and third-grader Anwar Sabeih played a melodic tune on a piano app, the two high-fived each other.
In the school’s television studio, seniors Harrison Hancock and Stephanie Sabu interviewed the state official, while third-grader Morgan Cheeseman provided a weather forecast.
The secretary visited the virtual fitness center, where kids were playing Wii bowling, tennis and balance board. He took a turn at bowling and knocked down seven of 10 pins.
Astronomy Club members showed him the giant telescope on the roof. The students have gotten a great view of Jupiter and the moon, and are even able to see people walking in the Comcast building in Center City.
In the technology lab, Tomalis watched students creating a movie scene.
“It’s a good way to practice designing stuff,” freshman Sean Cunningham told him.
“I think it’s fun, and we definitely learn something,” said classmate Anthony Zampirri.
Tomalis, who was given MaST goodies from the Panther’s Paw store, said he felt “energy” as he walked through the school. He credited the school’s leadership with making good things happen.
The secretary was joined on his visit by state Reps. Ed Neilson (D-169th dist.) and Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.).
Neilson said successful charter schools must have strong parental involvement in this era of limited state budget dollars.
“They have a great parent base here that supports the school,” he said.
Boyle said that MaST, which was named the U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Education Reform’s National Charter School of the Year in 2007, gives families a high-quality option that helps keep people in the Northeast. He’s proud the school is in his district.
“MaST is a wonderful community asset,” he said.
The MaST enrollment is 1,316, with another 3,000 on the waiting list. CEO John Swoyer was glad to show off the school to the state’s education leader.
“I thought it went well. The kids were excited that he was coming, and his conversations with the kids were good,” he said. ••EndFragment