Letter from the Principal

Dear Team,

There is no other school in the world like Overbrook Educational Center.  We have the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia Public School District. Slightly under 1/3 of our student population is blind or visually impaired (VI). We currently have four VI classrooms and in 2016 we also started a life skills program for students with visual impairments in grades K-2. We expanded the program by adding a 3-5th grade life skills class in 2017 and a 6-8th grade life skills class in 2018.

OEC is an extremely unique place and the entire OEC family is proud of this distinction. Our purposefully designed vision program is led by a team of experienced, incredibly knowledgeable, and specially trained staff who have had valuable experience working with children who have vision deficiencies. Our vision program is what makes OEC the exceptional school it is today.

One of our primary values is that we honor diversity.  With such a unique population of students who do not have the ability to see fully and in some cases at all, students at OEC learn how to truly respect and appreciate everyone.

At OEC, we have a committed, dedicated staff who consistently use restorative practices to solve conflicts. The “O” in OEC represents the importance of “Owning our actions.” We believe that students are continually developing and along with that growth comes errors in judgment.  The most important thing is that students learn from their mistakes and are able to reflect on their past decisions in order to improve and move forward.

The “E” in OEC reminds students to always “put forth their best Effort to excel.” Our ultimate goal is to be ranked #1 among all K-8 schools in the city. We improved our school’s rating from 29% overall in 14-15 to 62% overall in 15-16 to 63% in 16-17 and in January 2019 we received our 17-18 SPR of 66%. Teamwork will enable us to achieve our vision and move us into a “model” school as rated by the SPR.  We are 9% points away.

There is nothing more important than what the “C” in OEC stands for, to “Care for all.” This epitomizes the sentiment that helping others is what life is centrally about. At OEC, our VI population helps our general education population of students and vice versa in all aspects of learning. We honor diversity, partner with our community, and celebrate each other’s success.

Our mission is to prepare students to become positive, productive citizens who can live independently and with purpose to serve others. To help us reach our vision for success, our team has come up with 5 goals.

The completion of our goals cannot be done in isolation, however.  Teams are an essential part of the process. Our Foster Grandparent Program, Students Helping Students, Verge Mindfulness and Yoga, SquashSmarts, and Delaware Valley Fairness Project are just of few of the programs and organizations that support us in reaching our goals.

We are constantly looking for community partners, volunteers, and collaborators to provide resources, opportunities, and exposure to a variety of careers for our students.  Students and families at OEC deserve the best and my goal is to help provide them with as many opportunities as possible.

Students cannot achieve all of our goals as a school community or their personal goals without a guide, mentor, or coach. I urge all family and community members who are currently in this position to take it seriously.

The most influential person in my life was and is my dad. Seven years ago, he lost a courageous battle to cancer.  Even though my dad physically is no longer here, I feel his spirit every day. My dad taught me three main lessons that I want to share with you.

First, education is of utmost importance. Second, kindness is contagious and it must be practiced. Third, everyone has one of the following; time, talent, or treasure to share. Helping others is the primary purpose of life.  In whatever capacity that might be, everyone has the ability to serve. At OEC, we are preparing students to do just that by participating in service projects like our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

This is my fifth year as principal at OEC.  Previously, I taught high school English and served as an administrator in Newark, New Jersey.  My former supervisor, Principal Sam Garrison of Camden Street School, taught me that anything is possible if you dream big.  He always put children first and served as a valuable mentor to me. Without my dad, Mr. Garrison, and countless others, I would not be at OEC. I am both grateful and proud to be a part of the OEC Family.

Our doors are always open and we welcome all to visit. We invite you to come to OEC and see all the wonderful things happening in each of our classrooms every day. Students at OEC need you! Our unique population of students are amazing young people who have incredibly bright futures ahead of them. Come in and give your time, talent, or treasure to us and you will not regret it. I guarantee it. There is no place like OEC. I want you to be a part of the OEC family and our continuing journey to provide students everything they need to transform their dreams into reality.

With Gratitude and Best Wishes,

Meredith Foote