Student Remembers Church Shooting in Montgomery County

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The gunman who opened fire on a congregation in Sutherland Springs is dead, but people around the nation are still grieving the loss of the 26 people he murdered.

Five days have passed since Michael Kelley opened fire at members in First Baptist Church. Four people, including two children, are still hospitalized. And some are in critical condition.

Images from the massacre remind Temple Junior Mike Williams of a shooting that happened in his church just last year.

Williams was present when an altercation over a chair in Keystone Fellowship Church in Montgomery County made him fear for his life.

“I remember looking around and seeing people crying and people running out the door. I thought, ‘okay we’re all about to die,'” he explains.

Williams remembers the sound of two shots being fired.

“You just hear two bang, bang, two loud shots. And at first I wasn’t sure what it was, but you could smell the gunpowder. And I was like ‘oh my gosh some guy has a gun in the church,'” he said.

The gunman’s shots were fatal. The victim, Robert Braxton III, was 27-years-old and William’s friend. Williams described Braxton as funny and caring.

Much like the community in Sutherland Springs, Keystone Fellowship Church is small and close knit.

“I’m in some suburban town where people leave their houses unlocked. I would never think something like that would happen,” Williams said.

Bryan Miller, the Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call, says killings like this happen because political action stops when the prayers do.

“It also bothers me that we’ve allowed this situation to continue to the point where sanctuaries–houses of worship–are now being invaded by people that are intent on mayhem, which I think is a horrible thing,” he explained.

Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based organization that focuses on eliminating gun violence in Philadelphia. Miller is calling on Philadelphia’s communities of faith to step up and hopes his movement will spark others around the country.

Miller also hopes his organization will inspire politicians to enact laws that would prohibit the sale and possession of semi-automatic weapons. He wants to see change in the next couple of years.

“I’m optimistic to believe that over the next 10 or more years, we’ll see a major change,” he said. “The public is in favor.” 

Williams is also optimistic about the future. He says hope is how his church got through the loss of Braxton and how the families of victims in Texas can too.

“Don’t lose hope,” he said. “You may have lost a family member, you may have lost a close loved one, but don’t lose hope. Don’t lose faith.”

TSG’s New Sexual Assault Bill Faces Criticism

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1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. It’s a huge issue on college campuses and Temple is no exception.

Temple Update spoke to one student who was sexually assaulted 2 years ago. “I did not want that to happen. Nobody wants to have to feel like a victim,” she said.

The assault happened when another student came into her dorm room. The students knew each other, but the situation got worse when he started kissing her, although she tried to push him away. He also bit her arm.

The survivor says her assaulter texted her the next day and asked if she was okay. “He texted me, did it hurt? Was it bad? I was like of course it’s bad,” she said.  

And that’s when it all started to sink in. “In the moment, I was just shocked that it happened,” she said.

She reported the incident to Temple Student Conduct and they started investigating. Pictures of her bruised arm and the text from her assaulter, were all used to build her case.

She says her assaulter hired a lawyer who prepared dozens of questions. In the end, it wasn’t enough to prove she gave consent. He was ultimately proven guilty, put on probation and immediately removed from university housing.

Now, the survivor says she is trying to move on. But she still remembers the night it all happened. “It’s not just the physical bruises, its a social bruises,” she said.

Unfortunately, her story is not unusual on college campuses. That’s why Temple Student Government says its trying to do more for survivors. On Monday, parliament members passed the 60 Day Hearing Act. It’s a binding resolution that encourages Temple Student Conduct to investigate sexual assault cases within 60 days of them being reported.

The resolution originated from At-Large Representative Olivia Farkas. After is was tabled earlier this month, she solicited the help of other parliament members like Jacob Kurtz who says the bill “allows [survivors] to control their story line and control what happens to them.”

He argues that Temple’s sexual assault cases take too long to be heard. “The complainant would make the complaint and then it would take 6 months to actually get a hearing, which is quite frankly absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

All parliament members voted to pass the bill on Monday, but some, like Kamal Jain, wanted to postpone the vote. He was part of the group who originally tabled the bill earlier this month. He wanted to table it again at TSG’s most recent meeting, but was outnumbered. He says he still needs some clarification on exactly how beneficial it would be for survivors. 

His primary worry is that this bill would violate the due process rights of the accused. As it stands, the bill allows survivors to delay hearings to gather evidence, but not the accused.

Members behind the bill don’t see that as an issue. “Is it infringing a little on their rights? Maybe. But I think at the end, the rights of the survivor…should be prioritized a little more,” says Kurtz.

Andrea  Seiss, Temple’s Title IX Coordinator, is worried about the victims too. She handles all reports of sexual assault and there’s one thing she always assures survivors: “there’s no pressure. There’s no time limit,” she says.

It’s because some survivors just aren’t ready to face the person who assaulted them. So in reality, cases that took longer before, will still take longer now. “It’s not bad to be saying, ‘hey we’d really like to be putting this parameter out there’…as long as they’res an understanding that sometimes, we may not be able to stand by the 60 days” she explained.

Even Seiss says she doesn’t feel uncomfortable with how long cases are taking right now. According to her, most cases take 30-40 days.

The survivor we spoke to said her case took less than 60. She also said she’s not comfortable with Temple regulating the speed of these types of cases. “I don’t think its a good idea to try and regulate how quickly things should or shouldn’t be heard because there are things that do take more time for things to come to light” she said.

Parliament, on the other hand, is just happy they’ve started a conversation about sexual assault and that they’ve secured their place in Temple Student Government. “This is our legacy as the first parliament because this is the most important resolution that we’ve passed.”said Kurtz.

 

Note: If you have experienced or witnessed any incidence of sexual assault, Temple has several resources you can turn to including:

Tuttleman Counseling Services

Student Health Services

WOAR (Women Organized Against Rape 24 Hour Hotline)

-Title IX Coordinator

-Campus Safety

Wellness Resource Center

Student Conduct

-Risk Reduction & Advocacy Services

Library Construction Back on Schedule Following Setback

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Temple University’s new library is on the rise, but Temple’s construction manger, Dozie Ibeh, says getting here wasn’t an easy process.

Construction began on the library last year… But then complications slowed their progress. The original design included concrete, which put the project over budget.

“Thats why I say it’s an iterative process. You establish a budget you design a building. You get out of the market what the market tells you and as a department, you have to adjust accordingly.”

To adjust, they changed the library’s structure from concrete to steel…saving the university ten million dollars, as well as changing how they’re installing glass.

These adjustments put the project back on track.

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll meet our schedule, but its still construction and anything can happen,” admitted Ibeh. “What you’ve been observing in our business is that it takes a long time to get out of the ground. You’re observing a lot of waterproofing a lot of foundation walls.”

Currently, the Book Vault is being constructed, and the walls are going up, letting students catch a glimpse of the work being done behind the fence.

One thing’s for sure: it can only go up from here.

Board of Trustees Halt Plans to Increase Meal Plan Prices

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Temple’s Board of Trustees voted last Tuesday to increase meal plan prices by 6 percent. Temple’s Chief Financial Officer, Ken Kaiser said this increase was mostly due to the soda tax, which he expects to cost the university $400,000.

Temple Update reached out to Kaiser multiple times, but he declined to comment.

Mayor Kenney. however, was quick to respond to these allegations by issuing this statement:

“Universities across the country have been raising meal plan fees because families are increasingly chaffing at tuition increases and universities still want to pay for their ever-growing administrative salaries and new, expensive buildings and amenities. Temple’s own administration staff has grown by 40 percent in recent years, they are planning to build a multi-million dollar stadium, their new 24 story dorm includes flat screen TVs, and, sure enough, they have a history of raising their meal plans fees to cover those costs – by 2.5 percent in 2015 and 4.3 percent in 2014.”

That’s what brought the hikes to a halt. Temple University responded with this statement:

“In the wake of the Board’s action, the City and Mayor Kenney have appropriately raised valid concerns about the accuracy of the numbers related to the impact of the soda tax on Temple students who choose the university’s room and board plan for 2017-18. For this reason, the University will review the calculation and impact of the soda tax before enacting the meal plan fee for the coming year. We note in this regard that the soda tax accounts for approximately $68 of the proposed meal plan fee of $1,444.
Finally, we want to make it clear that the University enthusiastically supports the Mayor’s program to expand quality pre-K opportunities for children in Philadelphia. This critically important program is already providing benefits to approximately 1,800 children from every neighborhood, and its objective is directly in line with Temple’s mission to make a quality education accessible to every child.”
The Mayor then commended Temple for agreeing to reconsider the effects of the soda tax.
Some students, however, are still worried. Sophomore Bridget Warlea said any increase would put a strain on her family. “I think it’s really ludicrous that it’s not fair. Especially since we weren’t at the table to make these decisions,” she said.
TSG President Aron Cohen is trying to calm some of these fears. “The average student will pay $68 in taxes due to the soda tax, but if you’re on a 10 meal plan versus a premium meal plan, obviously that will vary, so we’re not charging every student the same fixed dollar amount,” he said.
The Board of Trustees will vote on this topic again, so be sure to stay with Temple  Update for more on this developing story.

‘Stadium Stompers’ Return to North Broad Street

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The Stadium Stompers are back, after months of silence.

Lining the street shoulder-to-shoulder, protesters from Stadium Stompers, a campus group dedicated to stopping Temple’s plans for an on-campus stadium, blocked traffic on the Cecil B. Moore intersection of Broad Street.

“The stadium will cause pain. It will cause disruption. It will cause traffic problems…the stadium will cause a problem in this community,” said one organizer.

Protesters argue Temple’s $1.25 million traffic study, in addition to the stadium, is a waste of money. That’s why they decided to stop rush hour traffic. Temple Senior, Cornelius Moody, a longtime member of Stadium Stompers, explains “we’re doing our own traffic study where we show that it’s clearly it’s very inconvenient for people to have traffic disrupted and that’s exactly what the stadium would do,” he said.

The university, however, says the Stadium Stompers have the wrong idea. The $1.25 million won’t only be used for a traffic study, it’s also for “designs, usage options and other feasibility studies.”

Despite this fact, protesters like Denise Ripley, who has lived on Jefferson Street all her life, wants the University to listen to her demands. “I’m scared again for the same type of reaction because Temple is doing it again, they don’t have no respect for the residents,” she explained.

The University released this statement about the group yesterday:

“Temple continues its careful efforts to consider the future of a university stadium. That decision will be made by what is best for the university and the North Philadelphia community.”

The Stadium Stompers meet twice a month at the Church of the Advocate. Their next meeting will be next Wednesday. They say they have plans for more protests in the future.

Temple Addresses Concerns of International Students Amidst New Immigration Policy

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Temple University is addressing international students’ concern as their ability to travel in and out of the country remains uncertain.

The Trump Administration recently signed an executive order suspending the immigration of nationals from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. After the news broke yesterday that multiple immigrants from the Middle East were being sent back by officials, Temple University President Richard Englert is addressing the situation in an email to staff and students.

Protestors at the Philadelphia International Airport after immigrants were turned away from entering the United States.
Protestors at the Philadelphia International Airport after immigrants were turned away from entering the United States.

 

“We advise all nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen to consider delaying international travel at this time, as it is not clear how re-entry will be affected by the new regulations. We hope the coming days and weeks will provide greater clarity, for the benefit of you as individuals and for Temple and other institutions of higher education,” the statement read. “Temple prides itself on being a community of diverse scholars, many of whom come to us from foreign nations. We are committed to enabling our faculty, students and visitors – both from the U.S. and from locations around the globe – to contribute to the vitality of the education we provide and the role we play in the local, regional and global economy. We embrace diversity as integral to our mission of education and discovery. Temple is a better university because of this diversity.”

Those who may be affected by the Trump Administration’s policy should reach out to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

President Englert said the University will continue to seek clarity on the situation and will release more information as it becomes available.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

SEPTA Strike is Over: What You Need to Know as SEPTA Returns to Service

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Updated: 12:30 11/10/16

Student commuters are returning to their normal routine as SEPTA returns to full service.

Kelly Antonacci spoke with students and community members as they waited for a subway at Cecil B. Moore station. One high schooler, Desiree Hill, said she was happy that SEPTA was back on track.

“I had to walk everywhere. And my job is in West Philadelphia on 52nd and Market and that’s far from here so it made it a struggle.”

After six days of negotiations, service was restored on all subways, buses, and trolleys. The contract ensures fair wages, pension improvements, and affordable health care for workers. It also fixes problems related to scheduling and poor working conditions.

Updated: 4:30pm 11/7/16

SEPTA officials and TWU union members reached a 5 year contract deal early Monday morning.

Service to the Broad Street line began early Monday, but ran on a 20 minute delay for a majority of the day. Bus service has also been restored as well.

Kevin G. Clark, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Temple University, sent an email notifying students, faculty, and staff that shuttle services provided during the strike will end Monday at 10pm.

SEPTA is to be up and running on it’s normal schedule in time for Election Day on Tuesday.

Updated 11:30pm 11/4/16

An injunction filed by SEPTA that would have required members of the Transit Workers Union to return to the job has been denied.

“We are committed to bargaining a new agreement as soon as possible. That will happen at the bargaining table – not by rushing into court in a pointless attempt to restrict workers’ rights,” said the TWU in a statement released earlier this afternoon in response to the injunction.

Moving forward, a hearing on Monday will review SEPTA’s request for workers to return to the job for Election Day. There are concerns that voter turnout will be effected by the lack of public transportation, a potential problem SEPTA is attempting to get ahead of.

But voting on Election Day isn’t the only concern.

SEPTA’s original injunction claimed the continuation of the strike is a “clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Philadelphia and the region.”

There’s no word as to why the judge denied SEPTA’s injunction, but negotiations will continue between both parties leading up to Monday’s hearing.

Temple Update will continue to keep you updated on the strike as negotiations continue to unfold. Follow us on social media for the latest.

Updated 10:15am, 11/3/16

Regional Rail lines are seeing extensive delays as the SEPTA strike heads in to day three.

Picketers took to the Regional Rail tracks Wednesday night, causing confusion, delays, and cancellations of rush hour trains. SEPTA obtained a court injunction to force the workers off the tracks so transportation services could be restored.

Temple Update’s Kelly Antonacci spoke with a Regional Rail passenger who said he paid over $30 for a cab in order to avoid delays. “It wasn’t horrible, I did wait about an hour at Jefferson Station just to get here today. Yesterday I took a cab because it just wasn’t feasible to wait,” David Thomas.

Other passengers say they support the strike, and believe SEPTA workers’ demands to be reasonable.

“It’s definitely frustrating and its inconvenient, but I also understand why they’re striking. I think they do deserve bathroom breaks and things like that,” said student Rachael Cohen.

Uber saw a 41% increase at rush hour this week due to the strike, while over 2,000 first time Lyft users signed up for the rider sharing service.
Uber Pool has expanded their coverage are to include all affected SEPTA stations for the duration of the strike.

Continue to follow Temple Update on social media and online for the latest on the SEPTA strike.

Updated 5pm, 11/1/16

Temple University has sent out a TU Alert, informing students and faculty that Regional Rail is experiencing delays and cancellations due to SEPTA strike activity.

An announcement on SEPTA’s website says “a significant number of trains will be canceled tonight as several rail yards are blocked. Picketers are preventing crews from getting to trains. Passengers are urged to seek alternate means.”

No word as to how long these delays will continue.

Original Post: 11am, 11/1/16

More than 5,000 SEPTA employees walked off the job at midnight, forcing commuters to find a new form of transportation Tuesday morning.

SEPTA subways, buses, and trolleys are all out of commission until a deal is reached between SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 234 City Transit Division. Negotiations continued throughout the night, but no deal could be reached, leading to the walk off of SEPTA workers.

Service on the Broad Street Line, Market-Frankfurt Line have been halted, but service on the Regional Rail, Morristown High Speed Line, and Suburban buses have continued uninterrupted.

In a statement from Temple University, Kevin G. Clark, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said that the University has joined a local consortium to offer free, supplementary shuttle service to students, faculty and staff who present valid OWLcards or Health System IDs when boarding. The shuttle between the Main, Health Sciences Center and Ambler campuses will also continue as usual. These shuttles will run from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m, and are expected to make stops every 20 to 30 minutes. The shuttle stops are as follows:


South Philadelphia Rout

Broad Street and Pattison Avenue
Broad Street and Snyder Avenue
Broad Street and Passyunk Avenuesepta
Broad Street and Washington Avenue
Broad and Locust Streets
Broad and Chestnut Streets
City Hall (near the Masonic Temple, 1 N. Broad St.)

North Philadelphia Route
Broad Street and Polett Walk
Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue
Broad Street and Allegheny Avenue
Broad and Ontario Streets
Broad Street and Erie Avenue
Broad Street and Olney Avenue
15th Street and Cheltenham Avenue
Cheltenham and Ogontz Avenues

West Philadelphia Route
Kent Road and Market Street
63rd and Market Streets
58th and Market Streets
42nd and Market Streets
36th and Market Streets
30th and Market Streets
22nd and Market Streets
15th and Market Streets

In addition to shuttle services, Temple is also providing parking at Lot No. 7 (Norris Street between 11th and 12th streets) and
15th Street Lot (15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue) for $8 a day. Limited parking may also be available at the Cecil B. Moore Lot, Montgomery GarageTuttleman Lot, where you can pay by the hour.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

McGinty and Toomey to Debate at TPAC

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It’s one of the most important races in the country right now and it’s coming to Temple’s campus next week.

Democratic candidate for the Senate Katie McGinty, and Republican candidate Pat Toomey will go head to head in the second of two debates at Temple Performing Arts Center next Monday.

It’s a high stake election. If McGinty wins Pennsylvania’s seat, it could tip the senate from red to blue.

It’s also an election that has gotten personal. A press conference at Senator Toomey’s Philadelphia office led to attacks from Katie McGinty about “man[ing] up.” She has criticized his refusal to condemn Donald Trump for his comments about sexual assault last week and for his refusal to apologize.

“Either Senator Toomey does feel that these kind of disgusting behavior we’ve seen from Donald Trump are absolutely alright, that should be disqualified. Or Senator Toomey is not telling the truth,” she said. She also criticized him for his ties to Wall Street.

Toomey, on the other had, criticized McGinty for her policies, saying it’s her economic plan that make her a bad choice for the Keystone State. In a phone call with Temple Update, Toomey said he “think[s] the economy is not working for Pennsylvania residents because of failed policies that unfortunately she supports.”

He also told us he wanted five debates, not two. “Katie wouldn’t agree, so that’s all we’re going to get.”

He said he’s feels confident going into the debate that has the possibility to sway undecided voters in his direction. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m really hoping we can engage with the audience.”

These topics were major issues in the first debate and 6abc anchor, Jim Gardner, the moderator for the second debate, says they’re going to be issues again in the second one. But he says it will get heated.

“I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to have moments of acrimony. Hopefully we can keep it reasonable,” he said.

He also wants to keep to the issues. “It’s difficult because you don’t want to seem disrespectful, you don’t want to seem like you’re scolding candidates because that doesn’t make me look very good,” he said.

Although keeping the candidates in line will be hard, he says he’s excited to be part of such an important debate. “This is a vitally important race, I personally just really enjoy political reporting.”

Gardner plans on asking questions about the economy, gender equity, social issues, Planned Parenthood, immigration, climate change and terrorism. If you have a question to ask, he says he will be asking questions from the audience. You can also ask questions on social media.

The debate will start at 7pm on Monday, October 24 in Lew Klein Hall at TPAC. It is presented by the Pennsylvania league of Women Voters and 6abc, where it will be broadcasted live.

Residence Halls Face Delays in Mail Deliveries

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Freshman Timothy Bovitt had a difficult star to his college experience. He ordered a textbook for his Race and Diversity GenEd. After a week of waiting, it still didn’t come. “I started to get kind of worried because it was like okay, for this week I want you do do readings one through three. I was like I can’t do any of those readings,” he said.

He received the textbook a few days later, but by then, he says he was already far behind the rest of his class. “I was stressed out of my mind,” he said.

Bovitt’s situation is not uncommon. Many students living in residence halls have been facing the same problem. It’s because Philadelphia’s Postmaster General told the United States Postal Service to stop delivering mail and packages to each dorm. Instead, they’re delivered to a makeshift mail room in the basement of Morgan Hall.

Ray Daiutolo, a representative for the Postmaster General, says it’s because an audit revealed this is Postal Service policy and that they’ve been doing it wrong for years. According to the United States Postal Service (USPS) website, “mail is(supposed to be) delivered in bulk to a designated representative of the school or property, who then becomes responsible for further distribution to students and residents.”

Daitulolo says that although this change was made to be in accordance with USPS policy, it’s also saving them money.  He also says he alerted the University that this change would be happening in January, in order to give them time to prepare. The change was not put in place until July.

However, it’s now up to Temple’s Maintenance Operations to sort and deliver the mail to each residence hall after it arrives in Morgan Hall. Bill Jalbert, Director of Maintenance Operations, says that although the Postmaster General alerted Temple University in January, he wasn’t told about the changes until the Spring. “As I recall, we were given very little information as to when it was going to occur,” he said.

That’s why he says his team wasn’t ready for the task.

“We had no mail room. We had no person trained to do mail delivery. We had no system in place to record the mail that was received,” he said.

Hundreds of packages are received each day and they’re being sorted by one man, Lester Hinton. “Yesterday, I scanned about 400 and something packages, and that’s light,” he said.

He doesn’t just sort the mail, he also hand delivers it to each residence hall. “I’m not going to say that I’m overwhelmed because they didn’t know.”

Hinton and Jalbert say that eventually, delivery times should get quicker.

“Once we get used to it with work, work, and more work…we can just pace ourselves,” says Hinton.

“Bear with us. By the time the next rush comes around, I think that will be Halloween, we’ll have your goodies for you,” Jalbert added.

If delivery times don’t improve in the next couple of weeks, Jalbert says to order from second party carriers like UPS. He also suggests using Amazon lockers, if you’re ordering from Amazon.

 

Temple Partners with Local School, Provides New Technology

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Josh Gurloff’s computer lab at Duckrey Elementary School is filled with new Macintosh desktops as school kicks off for the 2016-2017 school year.

This wasn’t always the case.

When Gurloff, a computer science teacher, came to the school three years ago, he quickly realized that teaching kids computer science at his new school would be no easy task. “When I came on, we were kind of behind the ball when it came to technology… We had computers that were ten years old, laptops that were falling apart, batteries that were exploding. Nothing was really functioning well.”

Gurloff admitted that such a situation made it tough to teach kids to use web applications.

“It’s very tough to teach a kid how to learn, how to read or how to use certain web applications when its running too slow for them to actually see the results they’re actually working on.”

It not only made it hard for Gurloff to teach, but it also made it hard for his students to learn.

“Most of them didn’t work or had something wrong with them. Either the headphones didn’t work or the keys didn’t work,” said seventh grader Nadir Thomason.

That’s why Temple’s Computer Recycling Center partnered with the school.

“Temple sees the struggles that we go through because they’re here, right here, in the community with us,” said Gurloff of the partnership.

The university donated almost 200 computers to Duckrey Elementary School, along with boxes of wires, surge protectors, modems, keyboards, and mice. Although not all of desktops have been installed, the plan is to have computers installed in each classroom. Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, Dr. William Hite, says they’ve already made a difference. “When paired with the investments that we’re making as a  school district, it becomes very important in providing students with the tools they need to be successful.”

Temple’s partnership with Duckrey goes beyond new computers.

Temple’s School of Education is partnered with the elementary school to provide teaching assistance and educational enrichment for both students and staff.

“The partnership is all designed around how we can get smarter about how do we impact children and who to we instruct children better, how do we lead schools better how intervention, how we do instruction,” said Hite. “We are very excited about that partnership and we’re going to watch that because if it’s successful here, it could then be replicated in other places.”

Gurloff hopes this partnership continues…because he says it’s an important one.

“Without Temple we wouldn’t be where we are.”