School & District Management

Still Full of Life, 114-Year-Old Philadelphia School Faces Closure

By Benjamin Herold — December 16, 2011 1 min read

Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School, now 114 years old, could be living out its final days.

A tiny K-4 elementary school at Howard and Cambria Streets in the heart of one Philadelphia’s toughest neighborhoods, Sheppard is one of nine schools slated for closure as part of the School District’s facilities master plan. At a community meeting this week, District officials will make their case for closing the ancient building and reassigning its students.

But the people who are closest to the school argue that Sheppard is exactly what a neighborhood school should be. Its intimate family atmosphere harkens back to a style of education that is quickly fading away, says Principal James Otto. And Sheppard is one of the few remaining institutions left helping to hold together an otherwise struggling community, says parent Stephanie Rivera.

To get a better feel for what might be lost if Sheppard is shuttered, Philadelphia Public School Notebook reporter Benjamin Herold and photographer Jessica Kourkounis spent a day inside the school and created this slideshow, which was produced in partnership with WHYY’s NewsWorks.

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