ABOUT PENN ALEXANDER SCHOOL
The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School is the result of a historic partnership among the University of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to build a model university-assisted, K-8 public school for West Philadelphia children. Befitting this “first” public-private partnership, the school was named for Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, a distinguished graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a woman of many “firsts.” Founded in 2001 at 43rd and Locust Streets in Philadelphia, the school is dedicated to providing high-quality public education to neighborhood children through a child-centered, research-based program.
In June 1998, the University of Pennsylvania, School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers announced an unprecedented commitment to public education: the creation of an exemplary neighborhood school. The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School was developed with the participation of parents, teachers, university faculty, community members, and neighborhood groups. The School opened with Kindergarten and first grade in September 2001. The phase-in of all grades (PreK-8) was complete in 2004, and our school currently serves students in grades K to 8.
THE PENN PARTNERSHIP
Penn’s partnership with PAS is a campus-wide endeavor. The University provides the school with an operating contribution of $1330 per student—an amount that helps to keep the student-teacher ratio low (20:1 for kindergarten and 24:1 for grades 1-8).
A large number of Penn schools, departments, and programs are working with PAS to enrich the students’ educational experiences. Penn Graduate School of Education is closely involved, contributing expertise and hands-on effort to Penn Alexander by providing Penn student teachers in the classrooms, professional development courses and workshops for staff, and enriched curriculum in math and science. Through the field education component of Penn Social Policy and Practice, Penn students support the growth and development of PAS students. Penn students from all across the campus serve as tutors and mentors. The University also maintains the green space surrounding the school and cooperates with the community and the school in developing the grounds for use by students and West Philadelphia families.
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
Our namesake, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (1898-1989) earned five degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, establishing a series of historical firsts along the way. She was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science in Education in 1918, compiling a “clean sweep” of most distinguished grades in her senior year. Her talent and drive were so compelling that she was offered a prestigious University Scholarship to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she earned the Master of Arts degree in 1919 and the Doctor of Philosophy in 1921, both in Economics. She was the first African American in the nation to earn a Ph.D. in Economics. Three year later, Sadie became the first African American woman to enroll in Penn’s Law School. Again she stood out among her peers. In 1926, in recognition of her high standing, the faculty named her an associate editor of the law review, another first and one of the highest honors a law student can earn. She graduated in 1927 and passed the Pennsylvania bar examination, yet another first for African American women. In 1974, she was awarded her fifth degree at the University of Pennsylvania, an honorary doctor of laws degree. This was the first of seven such honors by colleges and universities around the country.
Last modified: December 3, 2020